So you’re stuck at home, you want to maintain your fitness, you want to keep up with resistance training — you’re not just going to become a jogger, here — and you’d rather not break the bank on a home gym.
If all that’s true, there’s good chance you’ve picked yourself up a pair of resistance bands.
(Either it’s for those reasons, or you have a home gym that’s so elaborate that you’ve got all your barbells, plates, and kettlebells and you got to the point of experimenting with accommodated resistance, but we digress.)
Resistance bands are dynamite home workout equipment: they’re light, effective, and they’re hardest at the top of your rep, right about when you probably want the muscle to be working the most.
Since exploring new and interesting dimensions of home workouts is at the forefront of everybody’s minds right now, we rounded up the best resistance band workouts you can do at home.
Try to warm up with some calisthenics and mobility work — you know, a classic dynamic warm up — before launching yourself into one of these.
[Related: The Best Home Gym Equipment for Under $100]
Resistance Band Push Workout
This workout comes from famed bodybuilder John Meadows. It’s angled toward hypertrophy and strength — if you’re training with bands alone then you’re a bit better suited for higher rep and hypertrophy workouts than low-rep max outs.
3 x 10-12: Band Press
To warm up the pecs, just wrap the band around your back and push.
3 x max reps: Banded Push-Up
Perform regular push-ups if it’s too tough to do them with bands, just try to hit between 8 and 20 reps per set.
3 x 10-12: Single Arm Flye
Anchor your band to something chest height and pull it across your body with your arm.
3 x 10-12: Low Angle Crossover
Here’s when you step into the band and stand on the bottom, grab two corners underhand, and lift your arms with slightly bent elbows so that your hands meet at neck height. After these sets, you move onto shoulders.
3 x 10-15: Lateral Raise / Overhead Press Superset
You want to keep the raises somewhere between a front raise and a lateral raise, and pause for a quick second at the top of the movement.
After 10 to 15 reps you go straight into your overhead press, which is when you’ve stepped into the band and are pushing overhead. If you want to feel this move more on your anterior delts, just bring your hands closer together at the top of the movement.
3 x 10-15: Tricep Kickback
Wrap the band around a pole around elbow height, bend over a little and push your hands down, like a tricep press down you might do on a cable at the gym, just more horizontal because you’re anchored to a pole.
3 x 10-15: Tricep Pressdown
Just loop the band over the top of an open door and push them down like a regular cable pressdown.
Resistance Band Arm Workout
This beauty comes from James Grage, a bodybuilder and co-founder of supplement company BPI Sports, and he divides this workout into three supersets, each repeated four times. He keeps his heart rate up during his rest periods with jumping jacks or jumping rope.
The number of reps isn’t super important here; what’s important is that the last rep is hard.
- Tricep pushdown: 20 reps
- Bicep curls: 15 reps
- Repeat 4 times
- Jump rope between sets
Instead of standing on the bands, anchor the band in front of you around ankle height and curl them with a slightly neutral grip, so it’s similar to an EZ bar. Grage likes to do his exercises with a neutral grip as much as possible. On the fourth set, make the reps explosive — the benefit here is that while it’s easy to screw up your form on explosive reps when you’re using free weights, it’s a lot harder with bands.
- Preacher curl: 15 reps
- Overhead tricep extension: 15 reps
- Repeat 4 times
- Jumping jacks between sets
You’re hitting the same muscles from different angles, here. To perform a bench-free preacher curl with bands, you want to anchor the band in front of you so you’re pulling more or less perpendicular to the body.
During the overhead tricep extension, which you’re anchoring at foot height behind you, move from neutral grip to “pinkies out” as the move finishes. Again, make the last set for both of these exercises explosive.
- Behind-the-back cable curl: 15 reps
- Single arm pushdown: 15 reps
- Jumping jacks between sets
Anchor the band at elbow height. As curl completes, rotate hand from neutral to thumb turned outward to really emphasize the long head of the bicep — the preacher curl emphasized the short head, which is why this workout is great for total biceps development.
For the pushdown, stand perpendicular to the band and, with the upper arm and elbow fixed in place, push the band from your mid chest to your hip. Keep your palm facing your body, here, instead of facing your sides.
Resistance Band Back Workout
There are a lot of really quick band workouts for the back out there, but the most thorough comes from IFBB pro bodybuilder Fouad Abiad. He suggests that you hold the peak contraction in all your reps for a one-second count.
4 x 15-20: Close Grip Pulldown
You want to stretch and warm up everything with these, the primary goal being to loosen up the shoulders and engage the lats and teres.
4 x 12: Seated Cable Row
Anchor the pole at chest height and bring your wrists to your ribs. Ensure you’re not lifting your shoulders, here — keep your shoulders decompressed and your elbows down to ensure you’re hitting your mid back.
4 x 8-10: Bent-over Row
Abiad calls this the meat and potatoes of the workout. One can simply step on and grab a thick band for these, but Abiad distinguishes his bent-over cable rows by using a bar — you can grab a steel bar from a hardware store for 10 bucks or use a tough broom handle. A Swiffer will probably break. But again, the bar isn’t absolutely necessary.
3 x 15: Standing Pulldown
These reps should be slow and controlled, so you might want to use a lighter “weight.” Remember this isn’t like a lat pulldown; your arms are straight and they’re shoulder width apart. Again, keep your shoulders down.
3 x 12: Lying Pullover
This move also hits the lats as well as the hard-to-target serratus muscle. If you have a bench, do these on it, otherwise it’s fine to do them on the floor. Focus on form, not weight.
Resistance Band Leg Workout
Warm up with 30-50 goblet squats — just hold something heavy, John Meadows here suggests a bucket full of protein powder, but he’s John Meadows, who we’re reusing simply because he really knows his sh*t — and start with…
3 x 10: Bulgarian Split Squat Superset
Throw your back leg up on a couch or chair, with the band looped under your foot and holding it in front of you. On the last rep, hold at the top for 10 seconds, then move into 10 bodyweight Bulgarian split squats. Rest for two or three minutes and go again.
3 x 15-20: Single Leg Glute Raises
Don’t arch your spine and throw pressure onto your low back, here. Keep the back neutral so the core and the glutes get fired up. This will be hard enough for most people with their bodyweight, but you can loop a band over your hips if you want extra resistance and you have a couple of anchor points you can move to either side.
3 x 10-12: Stiff Leg Deadlift
Stronger folks might want to have two bands, each under one foot, or you can get a thicker band and loop it under both feet and behind the neck. (Which is technically a banded good morning. Meadows says you can go up to 20-25 reps if you’re doing those.) Just keep your legs straight and feel your hamstrings ignite.
3 x 15-20: Terminal Knee Extension
Anchor a band to a pole (or something) at knee height, wrap it around the back of your knee, and just bend and straighten your leg. These are good for your vastus medialis oblique, the “teardrop” muscle” on your quads.
3 x 10-12: Step Squat
Loop a big band under your front foot and around your shoulders — not your upper back, which won’t have enough tension — and step up onto a step. The higher you go, the better the workout.
Max sets x 10 reps: Bodyweight Calf Raises
Step onto a step, do ten calf raises, perform a full 10-second hold on the last rep, then just keep repeating this set (no rest!) until you can’t anymore.
Resistance Band Full Body Workout
A lot of full body band workouts out there will neglect the back because they’d rather keep things fast paced and bicep centric.
That’s fine if that’s what your priority is, but if you want a decent full body, strength focused workout, this one from Tanner Wideman is surprisingly simple. It’s short, but you’re meant to repeat it three times. (Ignore the text on screen at 11:45, where he called a side bend an overhead extension.)
- 10 x slow butt kicks
- 10 x slow high knees
- 10 x torso rotations
- 20 x arm circles (10 forward then 10 back)
- 15 x Bent over rows
- 12 x Band pull aparts
- 15 x Bicep curls
- 8 x Overhead tricep extensions
- 15 x Band push-ups
- 12 x Overhead press
- 8 x Side bends
- 20 x Toe touches
- 20 x Front squats
- 15 x Romanian deadlifts
- 10 x Squat jumps
Resistance bands are so cheap, so lightweight, and so useful that it’s a no brainer to make them one of the first stops on your quest for an effective home gym. Take one of these workouts for a spin, and we think you’ll agree.
Featured image via MilanMarkovic78 /Shutterstock