The Best Resistance Band Exercises for Weight loss and building muscles

Best Resistance Band Exercises

15 Resistance Band Exercises for Men & Women to Tone Your Entire Body, Build Muscle or Lose Weight

It is hard to name a more versatile, transportable and inexpensive piece of workout equipment than the resistance band. For approximately $10-$15 you can acquire a resistance band which you can easily transport anywhere.  Even with the same resistance band you can vary the intensity of your workout simply by adjusting how you are holding the band. You can allow for more slack in the resistance band to make a movement easier or reduce the space between the anchors on the band to make them more intense.

Do Resistance Bands Really Work?

“Resistance Bands can be used to lose body fat by increasing metabolic rates through improvements in lead body mass. Resistance Band exercises are muscle building strength as well as fat burning intensity movements'', says Aaron Guyett, CSCS, Director of Education for Living.Fit.  By arming yourself with just one or two resistance bands, some knowledge about movements and an expertly created plan, you can train for any goal you want. You will most likely never outgrowth the need for just a couple bands if you know how to adjust the intensity of any movement. 

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Constant Tension

When using free weights like dumbbells or barbells. There is a point in any lift in which you are not actually using force on the load. With resistance bands you can adjust the slack in the band with each workout session so that there is always tension on the band. The result of this is actually more work for your muscles to help you build and tone. 

Safety First

Just like you have heard of risk versus reward in investing. You can think of your workout as the investment you are putting in yourself. In that manner, risk versus reward applies here as well. Resistance Bands can be safer than free weights while still building similar rewards in the form of the fitness payoffs you receive. You can still build muscle mass, tone and burn fat without having to be as concerned above injury like freight weights. This is certainly not to say there is no risk, maintaining correct form is incredibly important in any workout, but you don’t risk weight falling on you if you were to fail. This makes resistance bands ideal for all types of people. 

Workout + Workout Add On

You can do a workout with just a resistance band or you can also introduce them into other workouts with dumbbells, kettlebells and barbells to make certain movements more challenging. 

Types of Resistance Bands

If you were to search ‘resistance bands’ in a search engine, all manner of results will pop up. There are several types of bands that create resistance. The demonstrations below contain resistance bands or what some people like to use as ‘pull up assistance bands’. Here are a few different types of resistance bands:

  • Resistance Bands or Pull Up Resistance Bands:  The advantage of bands like these are that they are a bit larger in length. Why is that important? You can make a long band shorter, but not a short band longer. That means you can adjust how you hold resistance bands like these to increase the level of resistance, they also allow for greater range of motion. If you need to create more resistance you can simply loop them around more than once. Bands like these are also used as pull up assistance bands by looping them over a pull up bar and through themselves, then placing your feet at the bottom. The resistance actually helps you perform pull ups. These types of bands are also used with barbells, dumbbells or kettlebells to make a particular weight load more challenging. You can wrap them around either of these, then perform a traditional movement with the same weight to make it more challenging like barbell deadlifts, kettlebells swings and more.
  • Mini Bands: Resistance Bands like these are ideal for movements you are doing with legs. They are smaller in length so you do not have to loop them around multiple times. These are commonly used for movements like leg extensions, lateral steps and some shoulder movements.
  • Loop Bands: In a lot of ways these are similar to Mini Bands and traditionally used for movements to build legs and glutes. Sometimes these have been used in yoga workouts as well.

Can I work out with resistance bands everyday?

Like any workout plan, you should take rest days. No experienced trainer would recommend that you do any workout every single day. You will quickly burn out which will have the negative effect of actually not reaching your goals because you won’t have the energy or strength you need when it is time to workout. However, you can workout with resistance bands almost every day. “You should follow an expertly crafted workout plan by an experienced professional”, says Guyett, “This reduces the risk of over training, under training and makes it more likely you will reach your particular goal whether that is building muscle, losing fat or both.

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Can you get ripped from resistance bands?

Man cannot live on resistance bands alone. Yes, resistance bands will contribute to you getting ripped. However, there are a number of other variables that go into being ripped. Make sure you are fueling your body with the correct nutrition or you simply will not get there. As far as the workout portion goes, if your goal is to get ripped from resistance bands you should follow workouts with that specific goal which usually involve high repetition of movement and relatively low rest times between movements. Some type of cadence with 10-15 repetitions of a movement in a set with 20-30 rests between movements is ideal for working towards this goal.

Which Specific Muscle Groups are targeted with Resistance Bands?

  1. Arms: Resistance bands can effectively target the biceps, triceps, and forearms with exercises such as curls, tricep extensions, and hammer curls. By adjusting the grip and tension of the bands, you can isolate each muscle group and promote muscle growth and definition.

  2. Abs and Core: Resistance bands can engage the core muscles in various exercises, including pallof presses, standing rotations, and plank variations. These exercises not only strengthen the abdominals but also improve stability and balance.

  3. Legs and Glutes: Resistance band exercises like squats, lunges, and leg presses target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles. By incorporating resistance bands into lower body exercises, you can increase muscle activation and enhance lower body strength and power.

  4. Back and Shoulders: Resistance bands can effectively target the muscles of the upper back, shoulders, and traps with exercises such as rows, lateral raises, and shoulder presses. These exercises help improve posture, upper body strength, and shoulder stability.

Overall, resistance band training offers a versatile and effective way to target specific muscle groups, improve overall strength and flexibility, and enhance cardiovascular health. By incorporating resistance bands into your workout routine, you can achieve a well-rounded and balanced fitness regimen tailored to your individual goals and preferences.

How to Start a Resistance Band Workout Routine?

The first step in starting a resistance band workout routine is selecting the right band. Resistance bands come in various thicknesses and strengths, typically indicated by their color. Lighter bands are excellent for beginners or for exercises that require a higher number of reps, while heavier bands are suited for strength training and experienced users. It's crucial to have a range of bands to accommodate different exercises and progression stages.

Choosing the Right Resistance Band for Your Fitness Level

Before diving into a resistance band workout routine, it's crucial to select the appropriate resistance band for your fitness level. Resistance bands come in various colors or levels of resistance, ranging from light to heavy. Beginners should opt for lighter bands to avoid straining muscles, while more advanced fitness enthusiasts may require heavier bands to provide ample challenge.

Following a Resistance Band Workout Plan

It is scientifically proven that if you follow a plan for a specific goal as well as the correct nutrition, you are more likely to reach your goal. Think of your body as the result of a number of inputs and the result or outputs are the goals you want to reach. This means there are specific repetition ranges, rest times and fuel (nutrition) that needs to go into your body so the output is what you are looking for whether that is toning, muscle mass, strength, shredding or something else.

These are the best resistance band exercises for different goals as highlighted in Resistance Revolution. In this article we highlight the movements themselves that are part of some of the daily workouts, but to actually utilize them towards a goal you will need to adjust the amount of sets, reps and rest times you follow along with as well as additional exercises to reach that goal. Those are all available inside of the Resistance Revolution.

Banded Leg Power

Build powerful legs with this workout. Power building workouts follow a recommended set of reps and rest times compared to other workouts. These demonstrations are from Resistance Revolution

Overhead Squats with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build legs, shoulders, back, core strength and stability all in one movement. 

How: Step on the resistance bands with feet slightly wider than shoulders and then grab the resistance band with each hand. Press the resistance band overhead and stabilize it with your shoulders, core and back. Your arms should be as far apart as you need overhead to allow for a comfortable range of motion. You should never perform any movement that creates pain.  Lower your hips into the squat position to the point at which your glutes are level with or just below your knees. At no point in this exercise should you feel any pain. Listen to the cues above to help correct if needed.

Seated Calf Raises with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build your calf muscles

How: You can sit on a bench, chair, box, edge of the bed or you get the picture. Anything in which you are seated and your feet are on the ground. Place the resistance band beneath the balls of your feet on the floor or an object like a dumbbell for more range of motion at the bottom. The seated calf raise primarily works the soleus muscle which is the inside of your calf compared to the standing calf raise which focuses more on the outer muscles of your calf. Grip either side of the resistance band over your knees and pull tight to create tension in the resistance band. You can make this movement easier or more difficult based on how much slack you let out of your hands.

Step Back Lunge with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build power in your quads and glutes

How: Place the center of the resistance band under your foot and then one hand will hold an end of the resistance band on each side. You can pull the resistance tighter or grip closer to your feet to increase the resistance level. With the same foot that has the resistance band around it, step backwards while maintaining tension on the band into the lunge position. You will feel tension the most in the standing position, this creates far more engagement throughout the entire lunge because gravity is what creates resistance in the step back.

Upper Body Resistance Band Pump

The goal of these workouts in Resistance Revolution are two pump up your upper body with high repetitions and only 30 seconds of rest between movements. Over time you would want to do more sets each week.  These demonstrations are from Resistance Revolution

Overhead Press with Resistance Band


Purpose: Builds strong core, shoulders and back muscles

How: Step on the resistance band with one or both feet and then hold the other end of the resistance band in each hand. The goal is to press the resistance band over your head, lower it back down to chest level and repeat. You should keep your abs engaged throughout this movement and be driving the resistance band with your shoulders and back.  Keep your hands slightly in front of your shoulder and fully extend straight up. The goal is full extension at the top but can be adjusted based on your mobility. You should never feel strain in your lower back.

Helpful Resources:

  • Free Daily workouts with resistance bands here

         Fitness Equipment like resistance bands here

Push Ups with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Builds pectoral muscles, core and back

How: The resistance band will be wrapped around your upper back and through each hand. In this manner, it is simply making the traditional push up more challenging for you by creating that resistance as you push yourself back to the top. As in a traditional push up, make sure your ankle, knee, hips and ears are in perfect alignment down your body. Keep your abs engaged throughout the entire movement and don’t let your body fall out of being in a straight line. Keep your shoulders back and your chest proud (forward), after you lower yourself to the ground drive yourself back up primarily using your pectoral muscles and back to move you upwards.

Curls with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Tone and build your biceps

How:  Step on the resistance band with one or both feet. This can be one of the ways you increase the tension on the resistance band to make it harder or easier with the same band. Hold the resistance band with each hand. You will keep your abs engaged, back straight and bring your hands towards your shoulders by only using your bicep to do this. Your shoulders should be stable and not be what brings the band closer, this should only be done by pulling your hands toward you with the bicep. It is okay to slightly bend your knees or hips. Keep your chest proud and your shoulders back the entire time. To make this more challenging you can lower the band more slowly and let the resistance try to pull your arm down, resist that pressure to keep more tension in your biceps.

Resistance Band Core Engagement

Build strong core and ab muscles with these movements. You will keep your core tight and fight the force and tension the resistance puts on you.  These demonstrations are from Resistance Revolution

Pallof Press with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build strong abs, obliques, core and back

How To: This movement can be done kneeling or standing. In this demonstration you will be full kneeling (on both knees) with the resistance band anchored to something directly horizontal to you. You should be positioned at a distance that creates tension in the hand as you hold it directly in front of you and press outwards. The resistance will be pulling on you through the entire time of this movement and by engaging your abs to resist that force and stay facing perfectly in front of you, you will be building these muscles. This focuses on obliques, all abdominal muscles as well. Press your hands directly out from your chest like you would a close grip push up (obviously there is no floor in front of you) while resisting the pull on you front the resistance band.

Horizontal Pull Aparts with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build strong abs, core, back and chest

How To: In a standing position with your feet about shoulder width apart you will hold the band in each hand straight in front of you like a bar. You can adjust the tension of this movement depending on how you hold the resistance band. You can hold just part of the band in each hand or hold two sides of the band in each hand to make this even more challenging. Keep your abs engaged the entire time. Stretch the band apart by pulling it in opposite directions with each hand until each hand is at the lateral side of your body with your arms fully extended. The resistance band should be touching your chest at this point. As you bring your hands back in front of you, the resistance band will want to let the tension out as fast as possible, you can try to resist this tension to make this more challenging as you retract as well.  

Banded Knee Drive


Purpose: Build strong abs, core, shoulders, biceps

How To: Hold a part of the resistance band with each hand out in front of you at about waste level. Keep your abs engaged as well as your entire upper body. You will ‘march’ one leg at a time up into the resistance band. Use the engagement in your upper body to resist this and keep your knee from pushing the resistance band upward. Your goal is to resist the force your knee puts on the band, which forces you to engage your abs and upper body. Alternate each side similar to a march.

Fat Burning Resistance Band Workout

These are full body movements designed for complete engagement of all the muscles in your body and burning fat.  These demonstrations are from Resistance Revolution

Deadlift to Bent Over Row with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Combination of movements to build hips, core, arms and back

How To: You can hold the resistance band a number of different ways to increase the resistance level. In the example above, both ‘sides’ of the band are under the feet and you are holding one end of the band in each hand.  Push your hips backward like you are lowering yourself to the bottom of a deadlift position. When you get to the bottom, you will pause, then row your arms back using your traps. Keep your elbows tight and drive them as high as you can. This creates lat and upper back engagement. Bring them to the bottom of the row and then execute the stand up from the deadlift. You should feel the tension in the band act as if you are weighted down.

Alternating Plank Rotation with Resistance Band


Purpose: Build strong core and back

How To: Start in a push up position with the resistance band around your upper back and one end in each hand.  Lift one hand up off the ground and bring it up as high as you possibly can above you. Keep your abs engaged and tight to resist the resistance band pulling you towards the planted hand.

Straight Leg Lateral Step with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Core and Ab engagement

How To: If you use something like pull up assistance bands you will most likely want to double loop them around your legs. Step into the middle of the bands then pull it up around your ankles.  If you have something smaller like Loop Bands or Mini Bands you just need to step into the middle of the bands, pull them up around your ankles. Keep your legs straight, knees locked and abs engaged. The goal is to create resistance for the outside of your hips. As you step outside you should step out into your functional range of motion you should still control. This should be a smooth step away from you and stepping in. You should still feel resistance as you step in. 

Resistance Band Exercises for Arms

It is all about the biceps and triceps in these movements.  These demonstrations are from Resistance Revolution

Standing Tricep Extension with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build tricep muscles and abs

How To: Stand with one foot or both feet on the resistance band. Grip the band behind you. You could technically do this with both hands, but one hand will be more challenging and is demonstrated above. Drive the resistance band up vertically with your tricep.  Keep your elbow stacked above your shoulder to isolate your tricep as well as try to keep your elbow exactly stable and next to your head. Keeping your abs engaged and chest proud. You should only be pushing this up with the back part of your upper arm (tricep muscle).

Single Arm Press with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Builds your arms, shoulders, traps and core

How To:  Stand with one foot on top and inside of the resistance band loop. Hold the other end in the hand on the same side.  Press the resistance band above your head. This is ideal to try and improve imbalances you have on either side. You might find out you are not as strong or have as much durability on one side, by isolating one side you can improve this. Drive the resistance band upward using your shoulders and traps and then lower it back down in a controlled manner, all the while engaging your abs.

Bow and Arrow with Resistance Bands


Purpose: Build arms and back

How To: Stand with one foot in front of the other holding the resistance band in each hand. By adjusting the distance between each hand you can increase or descend the resistance level of the resistance band. You will hold both arms out away from you to create tension in the band and then with one hand draw the resistance band back towards behind your head as if you are pulling back on a bow and arrow. You can double up the band around your hand or reduce the space between your hands to create resistance and make it more challenging to draw back the resistance band. You could also double loop the resistance band to make it more challenging.

Benefits of Resistance Band Training

  1. Improved Strength: Resistance band exercises challenge your muscles by providing constant tension throughout the movement, leading to increased muscle strength and endurance over time. As you progress, you can easily adjust the resistance level of the bands to continue challenging your muscles.

  2. Enhanced Flexibility: Resistance bands allow for a full range of motion during exercises, promoting flexibility and joint mobility. Incorporating dynamic stretches and movements with resistance bands can help improve flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.

  3. Cardiovascular Health: Resistance band training can also provide cardiovascular benefits when performed in a circuit or with high-intensity intervals. By incorporating resistance band exercises into a fast-paced workout routine, you can elevate your heart rate, burn calories, and improve cardiovascular endurance.

  4. Adaptability: Resistance band training is highly adaptable and can be customized to suit individual fitness levels and goals. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced athlete, you can easily adjust the resistance, intensity, and complexity of exercises to match your current fitness level and gradually progress over time.

  5. Portability and Convenience: Resistance bands are lightweight, portable, and inexpensive, making them ideal for home workouts, travel, or outdoor training. You can easily pack resistance bands in your gym bag or suitcase and perform a full-body workout anywhere, anytime.

Resistance Bands Are Nothing Without a Plan

Did you know that every time you workout you are taking on some risks? Yes, if done correctly, you will improve your life and research has shown that workouts do contribute to quality of life as well as reduce health issues. However, if not performed correctly you are taking on risks. What are some of those?

Designing a Full-Body Resistance Band Workout Plan

A balanced workout plan should include exercises that target all the major muscle groups, ensuring a full-body workout. I recommend starting with two to three workouts per week, focusing on different body parts each session to allow for adequate recovery. Each session should include exercises for the upper body, lower body, core, and cardiovascular endurance, tailored to meet individual fitness goals and levels.

Here's a sample weekly circuit workout plan using the 15 resistance band exercises listed, designed for beginners who aim to lose weight and build muscle:

Day 1: Full Body Circuit (Weight Loss Focus)

  1. Overhead Squats with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps
  2. Seated Calf Raises with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 15 reps
  3. Step Back Lunge with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 10 reps per leg
  4. Overhead Press with Resistance Band - 3 sets of 12 reps
  5. Push Ups with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 10 reps
  6. Curls with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 2: Active Rest or Light Cardio

Engage in light cardio activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling for 30-45 minutes to promote recovery and enhance fat burning.

Day 3: Core & Upper Body Focus

  1. Pallof Press with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps per side
  2. Horizontal Pull Aparts with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 15 reps
  3. Banded Knee Drive - 3 sets of 20 reps (10 reps per leg)
  4. Overhead Press with Resistance Band - 3 sets of 12 reps
  5. Push Ups with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 10 reps
  6. Standing Tricep Extension with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps

Day 4: Active Rest or Light Cardio

Engage in light cardio activities for 30-45 minutes.

Day 5: Full Body Circuit (Muscle Building Focus)

  1. Deadlift to Bent Over Row with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps
  2. Alternating Plank Rotation with Resistance Band - 3 sets of 10 reps per side
  3. Straight Leg Lateral Step with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 15 reps per leg
  4. Overhead Press with Resistance Band - 3 sets of 12 reps
  5. Curls with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps
  6. Bow and Arrow with Resistance Bands - 3 sets of 12 reps per side

Day 6: Active Rest or Light Cardio

Engage in light cardio activities for 30-45 minutes.

Day 7: Rest Day

Rest and allow your body to recover fully from the week's workouts.

Remember to perform each exercise with proper form and technique, and adjust the resistance band tension as needed to match your fitness level. Additionally, ensure to maintain a balanced diet to support your weight loss and muscle-building goals. As you progress, you can gradually increase the intensity, duration, or resistance of the exercises to continue challenging your body and achieving results.

Over Training

Somewhere in the last thirty years, it has been common to want to come away from a workout feeling like you ‘crushed it’. We feel rewarded when we feel hot, sweaty and tired. In a way, the brain tricks us into that immediate gratification in thinking we really accomplished something. However you can overdo it. When you overdo it you increase risk of injury, you create fatigue making your next workouts harder and you risk not reaching your goals for those reasons. Whether it is your entire body or a particular muscle group, this is a risk. You might inadvertently overwork a particular muscle group because of your lack of knowledge about anatomy and physiology, then setting yourself back. How do you prevent over training?

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Under Training

How do you know if you have done enough for your workout if the barometer is not that you should feel exhausted and sore? In a way this is a time risk too, you are wasting your time by not getting to your goals in the most efficient way possible. Yes, you are better off than if you did not do anything, but if you do not see the progress you want this can be discouraging. You might think you did enough to get the effect you want, but because not knowing how many reps, rounds or what movements to do, you run that risk. How do you prevent under training?

Randomness Equals Calamitous

There are so many workouts there! Everyone posts and shares their workouts. There has never been more access to different workout ideas than there are today. However, by simply doing a new workout you come across each day on the internet, you combine both risks above.  Your body is unique and your goals are unique. If you move from one workout to the other you can easily miss out on key movements you should be doing to reach your goal or do way to many of one thing to risk injury and burn out. 

Expertly Crafted Plans

Following an expertly crafted plan is a guaranteed way to reach your goals when combined with proper nutrition.  Decades of research have gone into the material trainers consume to earn certifications and degrees. Countless studies have been done to understand what types of rep schemes and rest times are needed for a specific goal like building muscle, toning or losing fat. We recommend working with a trainer who holds designations like CSCS or has years and years of experience and client testimonials regarding their work. While not all trainers will choose to focus on courses and certifications and not all courses and certifications are perfect, it does show an effort and willingness on the part of someone who has been to a lot of these to improve their knowledge. Client testimonials or reviews are another way to gauge the success of the person whose directions you are following. 

The Best Resistance Band Workouts

If you do not have access to a personal trainer with the above experience, we can help. Our team has decades of experience along with the training and certifications to back it up. They have worked with thousands of clients over the years. Our team teaches trainers at 5 major gym chains how to move with various pieces of equipment.

Resistance Revolution


How Does This Program Work:

  • A resistance band program designed to improve strength, fat loss, and mobility, by focusing on five engaging days of strength, mobility, and fat-burning.
  • The focus of these exercises are on muscle-building strength and fat burning intensity, along with full body mobility warm-ups and cool downs before and after the workouts.

Band Shred: Four Weeks Fat Loss Program


 

This program requires minimal equipment, but will yield awesome results. Harness the elastic power of bands to build athletic strength and power while shedding body fat with this full body program. In this program all you'll need is a few bands and your own bodyweight. It's going to challenge you and free you from the gym which for some is a much needed break. It is also ideal for when you travel!   

Answering some FAQ's

Q. Can resistance bands reduce belly fat?

A. While resistance band exercises can strengthen and tone abdominal muscles, spot reduction of fat in specific areas, such as the belly, is not possible. However, incorporating resistance band training into a comprehensive fitness regimen that includes cardiovascular exercise and a healthy diet can contribute to overall fat loss, including reduction of belly fat over time.

Q. Can I lose weight with resistance training?

A. Yes, resistance training, including exercises with resistance bands, can contribute to weight loss by increasing muscle mass, which in turn boosts metabolism and helps burn more calories throughout the day. Additionally, resistance training promotes fat loss and improves overall body composition when combined with proper nutrition and cardiovascular exercise.

Q. How many calories do you burn in a 15 minute resistance band workout? 

A. The number of calories burned in a 15-minute resistance band workout varies depending on factors such as intensity, individual weight, and specific exercises performed. On average, a 15-minute resistance band workout can burn approximately 100 to 200 calories. However, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts or circuits that incorporate resistance bands may result in higher calorie expenditure.

What Makes Living.Fit Different?

Why not just follow random workouts from social media or Youtube?  The difference is expert programming. Following an expertly crafted program (this can still be fun) is how you get results, not random workouts. 

We Build Science-backed and Evidence-based Workouts That:

  • Build muscle & burn fat. 
  • Burn 50 to 120 calories per 10 minutes, depending on your lean body mass, intensity, and conditioning
  • Are consistent & structured
  • Expertly made for you, take the guessing out of making your own each day
  • Proven and thoughtfully designed for long term results
  • Fresh workouts with variety
  • Hit the 'easy' button. Simply follow along with video or print your PDF with instructions
  • Plus, learn how to use equipment properly with hundreds of movement demos in our movement libraries
  • Keep workouts challenging and exciting. 20-40 minute workouts

More Questions?

We are eager to help you reach your fitness goals. Start by signing up on this page to know when we publish more posts like this. You can also email us at info@living.fit with your fitness related questions. 

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