The Best Resistance Band Exercises to Build Full-Body Strength at Home

by Evelyn Valdez

Certain situations call for home workouts! Like when a pandemic hits and gyms close down, or when you don't have time for a full gym sesh. Whatever the case is - home workouts can be lifesavers. But many hate resorting to them because of space issues, not having enough equipment, and simply not being in an inspiring environment. Having a well set up home workout space with a few key pieces of equipment can make a huge difference in how you see them. You don't need loads of gym equipment at home like dumbbells, a barbell, cardio machines, etc. You just need a few small, portable pieces like resistance bands, a stability ball, a jump rope, and more, that will help you get a quick home workout that will elevate your heart rate and continue building strength on the days you can't make it to the gym!

With that being said, we want to help you have as many home workout ideas as possible! To help we put together a list of the best resistance band exercises (specifically short and long fabric ones like our UPPPER resistance bands) to help you create full-body workouts at home whenever you need them. Before we dive into our long list of exercises, let's talk about why resistance bands are the perfect home gym accessory.

How effective are resistance bands?

Resistance bands are a gym bag must-have and a home gym must-have. What makes this the perfect piece of workout equipment? Well, here are a few favorite things about them...

  • Affordable: They are inexpensive! Depending on the type of band (long, short, fabric, latex) and the resistance level (extra light to extra heavy), they can run you anywhere between $10-25 a band. A resistance band set usually ranges from $25-50+. 
  • Versatile: There are so many ways to use these bands! You can use them alone to create a full resistance band workout or use it in addition to free weights to increase the challenge. Variety and versatility are key in strength training (and working out in general) because the muscles adapt quickly to movements you perform. Switching things up, doing a new movement, or adding an extra challenge by using a band can help you break through plateaus so you can continue making progress.
  • Perfect for all fitness levels: Anyone can use resistance bands because they come in different levels that range from extra light to extra heavy. Meaning beginners can start with a light band and then work their way up to a more difficult resistance, while more advanced lifters can use heavier bands or use them in addition to weights. They are also a staple accessory for those in rehabilitation from a sports or muscle-related injury.
  • Great for stretching and warming up: They make for a great warm-up tool! Extra light and light bands can be used to help warm-up the upper body and lower body by mimicking movements of exercises you'll be doing with weights. This will help prep them for the heavyweights they're about to lift. They are also commonly used for glute activation exercises.

And best of all they're effective at strengthening and toning muscles! When it comes to free weights vs resistance bands, many think free weights are the clear winner, although we agree that free weights are the best for building muscle, weight loss, etc, resistance bands put up a good fight! There's one huge advantage these bands have over weights: they apply a resistance throughout the full range of motion of an exercise. This means the targeted muscle group is working harder as it fights against the tension, in turn, this helps build strength effectively. In fact, the Sports Journal conducted a study to investigate the acute effects on power following the bench press exercise with a combination of elastic band and free-weights vs. free weight only. In the study, the group using resistance bands average lower body increase was almost three times better than the free weight group. The study concluded that “Experienced powerlifters and strength and conditioning professionals have claimed elastic band resistance combined with traditional training produces strength gains for several years”. [1] 

The point is, resistance bands are effective! Having a massive amount of weights at home would be nice, but not necessary. You can get by with resistance bands and a few other key pieces of equipment to help you continue making progress at home. And whenever you go to the gym you can take your set of resistance bands to make your workouts more challenging!

Best resistance band exercises

Hopefully, that information gives you the home workout motivation you need! Because we can't always make it to the gym, and when we can't it's better to be prepared than not at all and just skip your workout. 

Now, let's talk about exercises! Instead of giving you a full-body resistance band workout that gives you strict directions and an exact amount of reps and sets to follow, we'll be giving you a list of our favorite, and best resistance band exercises! That way you can create your own workout with them using the right resistance band level for you and the number of reps and sets that fit your fitness level. It's a long list so you can pick a few to create your own circuit or HIIT workouts at home! We'll be focusing on the whole body, meaning we'll have upper body and lower body exercises that you can choose from to make sure you hit multiple muscle groups.

Upper body 

These 10 exercises will be focused on the following major upper body muscles: biceps, triceps, back, shoulders, and chest. Just a heads up, you'll be able to do these with any type of long band, but our directions will be written specifically using long fabric loop bands without handles (not the rubber ones with handles).

  • Standing bicep curls

How to do it: Loop the band under your feet, stand with both feet on the resistance band shoulder-width apart. Grab the band and hold it palms facing forwards. Lift your arm toward your shoulders until you get a good contraction on the biceps, hold for a few seconds, then lower slowly back to the start.

  • Seated single-arm bicep curl

How to do it: Sit on a chair or bench with your feet wide. Loop one end of your band under your right foot and hold the other end in your left hand, lean forward to rest your left elbow on your left thigh. If the band is too long, wrap it around your hand so it's taut enough that you feel tension. Rest the hand you're not using at your side or place it on your right thigh. With your core engaged and back straight, perform a bicep curl by pulling your left hand toward your left shoulder. Focus on engaging your bicep, and pause for a moment at the top of the movement. Then return slowly back to the starting position. Complete the set amount of reps, and switch to perform the exercise using your right hand.

  • Seated single-arm row

How to do it: Sit down on a mat, or the ground, with your legs extended in front of you and feet flexed. Wrap a resistance band around your left foot, and hold the other end with your left hand. If the band is too long, wrap it around your hand so it's taut enough that you feel tension. Keep your legs and core stable, focus on using your back muscles to pull the band backward until your hand reaches the left side of your body. Return back to start, complete the set amount of reps, and switch to perform the exercise using your right hand.

  • Bent-over row

How to do it: Loop the band under your feet, stand with both feet on the resistance band hip-width apart. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips. Make sure to keep your back flat and hands under your shoulders. Grab the band, palms facing in toward each other. Pull the band toward your chest, keeping elbows close to your body. Hold for a few seconds to feel the contraction on your back. Slowly straighten your arms and lower your hands back to the starting position.

  • Overhead tricep extension 

How to do it: Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other and place the center of the band under the back foot. Take the opposite end of the band with both hands, the band should be behind you (not in front), and extend your elbows above your head, your arms should be up towards the ceiling. Slowly lower the band behind the back of your head until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure to keep elbows close to the side of your head. Press hands back up overhead slowly. And repeat.

  • Floor chest press

How to do it: Place the resistance band on a mat, or the ground, so that it lays underneath your shoulders. Lay on it to make sure it's in the right position, once it is grab both ends of the band and get into a chest press position. Begin to extend both arms so they're pulling the band up, once your arms are in a straight position, pause, and lower them back to the starting position.

  • Chest flyes

How to do it: Wrap the band around the center of a sturdy pole, the band should be around chest height. If you don't have something sturdy, feel free to wrap it around your upper back and grab the ends of the bands so it extends in front of you. Now for those attaching it elsewhere, grab each end of the band and face away from where the band is hooked. Stand far enough forward so there's tension in the band, and stand in a staggered position so one foot is about a foot in front. Being to pull the band slowly so the ends meet in front of your body, your arms should be straight with elbows bent slightly. Pause to feel the contraction in your chest and then slowly extend your arms back to the starting position.

  • Single-arm overhead press

How to do it: Stand with the right foot slightly in front of the left and place the center of the band under the back foot, in this case, the left foot. Grip the other end of the band with your left hand and position it at shoulder level at a 90-degree angle, so palms are facing forward and in a shoulder press position. Press straight up and fully extend your arms. Pause, lower back down slowly, and complete the set amount of reps, and switch to perform the exercise using your right hand.

  • Front raises

How to do it: Loop the band under your feet, and stand on it hip-width apart. Hold the band in each hand with your arms at your side. Raise your arms straight in front of you until they're parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your torso, your arms should be at shoulder level. Hold that position for a few seconds then slowly lower back to the start.

  • Rear delts flyes

How to do it: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the resistance band with both hands and place them shoulder-width apart, make sure the band is flat. Hold the band in front of you at shoulder height. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band out and back until your shoulder blades contract. Pause for a few seconds and slowly return to the start.

Lower body

The following 10 exercises will be focused on major lower body muscles - hamstrings, quads, glutes. Some of these exercises are compound moves so you'll also be hitting multiple leg muscles and even engage your core muscles. These exercises use a combination of short and long bands. Again, we will be giving the directions specifically using our fabric resistance bands, but you're able to use any!

  • Glute bridge

How to do it: Put a short resistance band around your legs (above your knees). Start by lying on your back with knees bent so your feet are pulled towards your butt.   Stretch your arms out to the sides with your palms and toes facing the ceiling. Pull your belly towards your spine and lift your hips up as far as you can. Hold for a few seconds and return to the starting position.

  • Lateral walk

How to do it: Loop a short band above your knees and separate your feet to shoulder-width. Slightly bend your knees and lower into a half-squat position while keeping your chest up. Slowly step to the side with the right foot while doing a squat. Pause then step with the left foot in the same direction as the right. Then reverse the movement, that's one rep. Repeat until you do the desired amount of reps.

  • Hamstring walkouts

How to do it: Place a short band around your thighs, slightly above the knees, and lie down on your back facing up. Bend your knees, and lift your hips into the ground. Begin to lift and move your left foot a couple inches forward, followed by the right. Reverse the movement to the start 

  • Front squats

How to do it: Loop a long resistance band under your feet and stand on it with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bring the top of the band up to rest on the front of your shoulders, secure it in place by crossing your arms at your chest. Lower into a squat, keeping your back straight and chest up. Pause, then push up to the starting position.

  • Squat w/ side raise

How to do it: Place a short band around your thighs, slightly above the knees. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, and have your toes parallel or pointing slightly outward. Perform a squat, but as you come up lift your right leg up to the side and squeeze the outer part of your glutes. Step back, and lower yourself into a squat again, but switch sides and lift your left leg. Switch side with each repetition or perform a set amount of reps for each side.

  • Deadlift

How to do it: Wrap a long band around your feet and stand with feet hip-width apart. Hold onto the top of the looped band with both hands, and stand up straight. Bend knees slightly, hinge forward from hips until your chest is almost parallel to the floor, keeping back straight and core engaged. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Pause and hold for a few seconds then engage your glutes to slowly bring your body back up to the starting position.

  • Reverse lunges

How to do it: Place a short band around your legs just above your knees. Stand with feet hip-width apart. Start the exercise by stepping back about two feet with your right foot, keeping your hips facing forward. Then allow your knees to bend and descend until your knee is about to touch the floor. Your torso should still be upright and core engaged, don't lean forward or allow your back to round. Press back up by pushing through your back foot, maintaining balance as you return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep.

  • Side lunges

How to do it: Place a short band around your legs just above the knees. Stand up straight with legs together, place your hands comfortably on your hips or hold them together in front of your chest. Take a step, roughly about 2 feet, out to the right. Once your feet are on the ground, hinge forward at the hips pushing your butt back and bending your right knee to lower into a lunge. Pause, then push off your right leg to return standing upright. Repeat on the other leg to complete one rep.

  • Single-leg romanian deadlift

How to do it: Stand up straight with feet slightly staggered and loop a long band around your front foot. Hold the other end with both hands. Begin to hinge at the hips leaning forward and with a slight bend in your knees. Lower down until your hands go just below your knees. Pause, then slowly make your way back up to the start. Complete the desired amount of sets and reps, then switch to perform the exercise on the other side.

  • Good mornings

How to do it: Loop the band under your feet and stand on it with feet shoulder-width apart. Grab the band and wrap one end around your neck. Grab the band at roughly shoulder level and pull up slightly to reduce the tension on your neck. Bend your knees slightly, hinging back into the hips while keeping your back neutral. Pause for a few seconds then extend hip back to the starting position.

There you have it, now you have your own resistance band exercise guide! We tried to make the directions as clear as possible, but a tip for those who are still confused about how to do the move: mimic the exercise as you would do them with weights. Now you have 20 exercises to use for your next home workout! Get creative and create a total body circuit, or split it up by muscle groups and create a leg workout that gets your glutes fired up! 

If you don't have resistance bands yet, but are interested in adding some to your home gym collection then check out our UPPPER Resistance Bands! Our long and short bands come in a comfortable, durable fabric material, are available in three resistance levels (light to heavy), and come in various cute colors and designs! While you wait for your order to arrive, check out our bodyweight workout you can do at home 😉

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