The Ultimate Resistance Band Guide: Science, Workouts, and Hacks

What should be part of a resistance band guide? Everything! Science, workouts, and tips on how to get the most from your bands.

So that is what I did:

I have created a complete guide on resistance bands and at the end, included three super-effective workout programs – with thorough instructions.

Let’s dive in!

Why Resistance Band Workouts?

Resistance bands.

The solution to all your weights woes.


Maybe you associate resistance bands with old folks, or think that they are yet another exercise tool invented by marketers? If that’s the case, you’ve been getting it wrong.


You see:

Resistance bands are a cost-effective, portable way for you to build your strength -and if you don’t have one, you’re missing out!

They produce real results and can be matched to a range of fitness & strength levels.

Not to mention, they are gloriously simple things; a loop of thick elastic rubber.

I know it sounds silly:

Rubber bands. How can they make me stronger?

The fact is:

Simplicity is a beautiful thing! Especially when it comes to workouts!

If you are still not convinced that resistance band training is worth it; check out my article dedicated to rubber band science; do resistance bands work?

Let’s look at some of the benefits of resistance bands workouts:

The Benefits Of Resistance Band Workouts

Time Efficient Workouts

First and foremost, resistance bands will give you an incredibly effective workout.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming complex is better- although resistance bands are simple things, your muscles will be thoroughly worked by them.

Bands improve flexibility, endurance, and strength and offer a surprisingly comprehensive workout.

You can target every muscle group using a band and simply enhance the difficulty (and efficiency) of your classic exercises.

Resistance band training has been proven to increase the maximum strength and power for both beginners and “fit individuals”.

With a steady regime of band-work, you will see real results! It won’t be long before you start to notice your gains increasing with weights; lifting more weight with more reps and recovering faster.


Low Cost

A major deterrent to buying a set of weights is the cost.

You can spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on weights, racks, and machines for your home gym. Buying a gym membership isn’t much better; gyms are easily hitting the hundreds for an annual membership.


But a resistance band? You’re looking at less than $20. That’s barely more than a trip to the movies!

Kits containing bands of different thicknesses, instructions, and DVDs can get up to around $40 – that’s still a bargain once you understand the advantages of training with a resistance band.

Resistance bands are small, practical, and convenient in so many ways. Unlike a lot of gym equipment, they are totally portable.


Whip out your resistance band wherever you like and get your sweat on. Whether at home, the park, or an open space – the sky is the limit to your training.

Not to mention the added convenience of not having to go to the gym to build your strength!

Travel can be a real barrier to sticking to a strength training regime. It’s easy to pack your running shoes into your suitcase, but a set of dumbbells? Maybe not.

Luckily there is a solution:

Yet another beauty of the resistance band; throw it into your suitcase and take your gym with you on the road. In the hotel room, on the beach, the world is now your gym!

Not to mention the convenience of stashing your band quickly in any place around the home. If you don’t have a lot of room around your place, a resistance band ticks this box nicely; stash yours in a drawer or hang it up on the wall.


Free weights and machines often train your muscles in a fixed way. While this can make it easier to build up specific muscle groups, it’s not very useful at creating a versatile strength. -When you move the muscle in other directions you will see it is only good for that one particular motion.

That’s where resistance bands are fantastic. They are highly dynamic and your muscles will never be worked in the same exact way. There is an enormous range of movements involved with band workouts that will challenge almost every muscle in your body.

I’d like to see you use a bench press while doing a burpee. Most strength training techniques cannot be combined with other exercises, but bands can be incorporated into a whole range of mixed exercises!


There’s a reason that you’ll see a lot of older folks using resistance bands to stay fit.

If you compare two exercises with the same level of muscle activity (one with a resistance band, and one with weights), using a band puts far less force on your joints.

In short, you’re less likely to injure yourself using a band, -and you’re going to be able to keep using it into your very golden years!

Pumping iron on the other hand- there’s a reason you don’t see many people 60+ hitting the weights… Lifting is hard on your body; when you are young your body can recover much faster, however, the older you are the more strain you will experience.

But hold on:

Don’t write off resistance bands just because there are some silver-haired athletes using them.

Depending on how you use them, you can make an exercise as easy or hard as you like.

Even the strongest rhino will struggle with a 400-pound resistance band!


The Science Behind Resistance Band Workouts

Tension is the key here, the secret behind what makes bands such effective training tools.

The more you stretch a resistance band, the tenser it becomes. This is known as ‘progressive’ resistance, meaning that the further you stretch the band, the higher the resistance and the greater the strength you must apply to hold or stretch it.

This is a great advantage resistance bands have over free weights and machines, where resistance is controlled by gravity.

Let me explain:

This is where your ‘strength curve’ comes into play. Anyone who’s ever lifted a bench press knows that your strength changes a lot throughout the movement- usually the lower the bar is, the weaker you are (a.k.a. ‘the sticking point’), and your strength is at its peak at the top.

To make the bench press into an exercise with progressive resistance we would slowly add weight to the bar as you lifted it, and you would feel the same amount of strain throughout the whole motion.

This right here, is what gives resistance bands a real edge over other forms of strength training like weightlifting.

As you stretch the band, your muscles are worked consistently throughout the movement, optimizing your powerband.

Training with a resistance band will increase your ability to get past the sticking point.

Not only does this make it an effective training method, but it also means it is an excellent way of preparing to maximize your progress with free weights!


Resistance Bands Exercise vs. Free Weights

While bands are much more portable and versatile than free weights, there is one point we ought to consider.

If you are looking to continually increase your maximum strength (a.k.a. ‘make gains’), free weights might eventually be better suited to your purpose…


There is no limit to how much weight you can stack on with free weights. In theory, you could keep piling on the weight forever until you looked like the Hulk.

Bands, on the other hand, have a limit to their resistance. After your body is accustomed to the resistance, you cannot add to it.

Luckily, you can find a range of bands with different thicknesses- these change the amount of force needed to stretch the band any given length. If you are looking to progress with your band workouts, try using a thicker band.

But even if you decide free weights are better suited, there are still huge advantages to using a resistance band. The science proves that you will make more progress with free weights if you are also training with a resistance band.

If cost, storage, and practicality are factors, resistance bands are the winner.

Now. Let’s get straight to the meat of it; here are some exercises to get you started with your brand new resistance band!

The exercises are broken down into key muscle groups: shoulders, arms, legs, chest, back, and abs.

Note that several (if not all) of these exercises use more than one group, but we are talking about the target muscle group- the one doing the bulk of the work.

PS! I only use looped bands for my resistance band workouts, and I suggest you do so too. I find these both more practical, -and they do also offer the highest resistance levels.


13 Resistance Band Exercises: From Shoulders to Legs

Shoulder Exercises

Overhead Press

The overhead press strengthens your shoulders and triceps for an upwards ‘pressing’ motion (the name is a bit of a giveaway). These muscles assist in the bench press motion, so you are getting two for the price of one!

8-12 reps

  1. Sit with your knees on the center of the inside of the band. Keep your back straight and core tight.
  2. Hold the band, just to the side of your shoulders, palms facing forward.
  3. Pull straight up, pressing the rubber band towards the ceiling.
  4. Slowly lower arms down to the starting position, -the band should be just above your chest.

Upright Row

This is an extremely efficient exercise not only for your shoulders but additionally parts of your chest.

10-12 reps

  1. Standing on the inside center of the band, place your feet a shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the band, palms facing each other in front of your thighs.
  3. Pull directly upwards until your hands reach shoulder level, elbows bent.
  4. Slowly lower arms down.

Forward Raise

Targeting your pecs and shoulders, this exercise is normally done with a barbell. The core muscle used for this exercise is the front deltoid- around the contours of your shoulders.

8-12 reps

  1. Standing on the center of the band, place your feet a shoulder-width apart.
  2. Hold the band in front of you, arms shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bring your arms forwards, raising your arms until at shoulder height. Your arms should be as straight as possible throughout the whole movement.
  4. Slowly lower your arms down.


Arm Exercises

Standing Bicep Curl

Usually done with dumbbells and other free weights, this exercise works both your biceps as you pull up, and your triceps as you lower down.

12-15 reps

  1. Standing on the center of the band, place your feet a shoulder-width apart.
  2. At the side of your thighs, hold the inside of the bands -palms facing forwards.
  3. Bending at the elbow, pull hands upwards towards your shoulders as far as possible.
  4. Slowly lower arms down.

Triceps Extensions

Working primarily on your triceps, this exercise will also build your forearm muscles and utilize parts of your biceps.

12-15 reps

  1. Stand with your right foot forward on the center of the band, knee bent.
  2. Hold each side of the loop at your sides, palms facing behind you.
  3. Keep arms in at sides and bend elbows, making them parallel with the ground.
  4. Push arms forward until arms are straight.
  5. Slowly lower arms back to starting position.

Diamond Push-Ups

Works your triceps as crazy, but will at the same time give both your chest and shoulders some bang for the buck.

10-15 reps

  1. Get into a push-up position, but with your hands placed under your chest – index finger and thumb touching each other forming a “diamond”. The band should be under your palms and across your back.
  2. Complete a push-up, pushing the band into the ground.
  3. Finish push-up when arms are fully straight.
  4. Slowly lower body down back into starting position.

Chest Exercises


The classic push-up gets a revamp with the added difficulty provided by the resistance band. It is sure to work your pectoral muscles more than ever.

Good luck!

10-15 reps

  1. Get into a push-up position, with the band under palms on the ground and across your back.
  2. Complete a push-up, pushing the band into the ground.
  3. Finish push-up when arms are fully straight.
  4. Slowly lower body down back into starting position.

Bench Press

Another enhanced classic, this will work towards developing an even level of strength throughout the press. Note that a bench or some other sturdy piece of furniture to lie on is required for this exercise.

10-12 reps

  1. Anchor the band under the legs of the bench.
  2. Lie face-up on the bench, holding the band by your shoulders.
  3. Press upwards until arms are fully extended.
  4. Slowly lower arms back to starting position.


Ab Exercises

Reverse Crunch

Here’s a great one for that 6-pack so many are looking for. Working both your abs and back, the reverse crunch is a fantastic exercise for those without lower back issues. All your core muscles are worked: obliques, rectus abdominis, and transverse abdominis.

12-15 reps

  1. Secure the band to a low point.
  2. Lie on your back with knees bent, feet hooked over the middle of the band.
  3. Pull knees towards shoulders, stretching the band.
  4. Slowly lower legs back to starting position.

Kneeling Crunch

The resistance band will place constant tension on your core muscles throughout this movement- a pumped-up version of the regular crunch for enhanced results.

12-15 reps

  1. Secure the band to a high point (door frame, etc.).
  2. Kneeling on the ground, hold each side of the band.
  3. Bending at the waist, crunch down as far as comfortable using your abs.
  4. Slowly return to starting position.


Back Exercises


The deadlift has a big claim to fame: this exercise works more muscles than any other. While it focuses on your back, your lower and upper muscle groups are effectively worked.

12-15 reps

  1. Loop the band double, and lay it on the ground. Stand on the band, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Grab the loops at each side of your feet, palms facing back. Get into a squat position.
  3. Perform a squat, keeping your back rigid and your chin up.
  4. Finish when standing fully upright.
  5. Return to the squat position.

Important: Remember to keep your core tight throughout the whole movement!

Lat Pull-down

Similar to the pull-up, Lat Pull-downs work your latissimus dorsi- this is the muscle group on either side of your spine.

12-15 reps

  1. Secure the band to a high point (door frame, etc.).
  2. Holding each side of the band, kneel on the ground facing door/anchor point.
  3. Pull band back towards your chest, pulling your shoulder blades together.
  4. Return to starting position, handles in front of the body.


Leg Exercises

If you are looking to build strong glutes, I have created a separate article dedicated to the buttocks; 5 Amazing Resistance Band Butt Exercises to Tone That A**!

Now, back to the legs:


Experience an enhanced metabolism as you work on your legs; building leg muscle is proven to stimulate your metabolism, and squats are one of the very best exercises out there. Adding a resistance band to your squats will really pump up the benefits of your squats.

12-15 reps

  1. Stand on the inside of the band, shoulder-width apart.
  2. Holding the band by your shoulders, palms facing up, elbows out, feet angled slightly out.
  3. Perform a squat, keeping your back rigid and your chin up, pushing out your butt.
  4. Return to standing position, pushing down on heels.

Hip Abductor

Flexibility and strength are combined in the hip abductor, strengthening your groin and quad muscles while opening up your hips.

10-12 reps

  1. Secure one end of the band to your outside ankle, one end to a low hook.
  2. Stand so that the band is tense.
  3. Pull your leg outwards, stretching as far as you can.
  4. Slowly return to starting position.


Resistance Band Workouts That Builds Muscle!

Take some time to plan out a week’s worth of workouts. Aim for three or four sessions a week, spaced evenly apart.

Using the exercises above, try to evenly target your whole body.

I have built all of these programs using the principles of “Myo reps”.

In short:

  • Exercise with a resistance whereas you cannot do any more than 2-6 repetitions during the “work sets”. That means you should not be able to do the 7’th repetition, if so you have applied to little resistance.
  • Keep you rest between the sets to a minimum. Everything from 5 – 20 seconds will do, – I personally have found my “sweet spot” at 10 seconds rest. This keeps the intensity high, and my muscles constantly on alert!

The theory (and practice) behind this theory is that you make ALL the repetitions during your sets count.

Your muscles will be ripped apart from the very first repetition to the last…

Let’s look at the programs:

Resistance Band Workout Routine #1 – Chest, Legs and Core

1. Squats (legs) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

2. Push-ups (chest) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

3. Kneeling Crunch (abs/core) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

4. Hip Abductor (legs) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

5. Bench Press (chest) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

6. Plank (abs/core) 6 sets, keep in plank position for as long as possible without losing your form.

Resistance Band Workout Routine #2 – Back, Triceps and Core

1. Deadlifts (Back) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

2. Diamond Push-Ups (triceps) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

3. Reverse crunch (abs/core) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

4. Lat Pull-Down (back) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

5. Bench Dips without bands (triceps) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

6. Plank (abs/core) 6 sets, keep in plank position for as long as possible without losing your form.

Resistance Band Workout Routine #3 – Shoulders, Biceps and Core

1. Overhead Press (shoulders) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

2. Standing Bicep Curls (biceps) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

3. Leg Rises without bands (abs/core) as many as you can manage

4. Upright Rows (shoulders) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

5. Plank (abs/core) 6 sets, keep in plank position for as long as possible without losing your form.

Resistance Band Workout Routine #4 – Killer Total Body Workout

1. Push ups (chest) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

2. Deadlifts (Back) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

3. Squats (legs) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

4. Standing Bicep Curls (biceps) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

5. Diamond Push-Ups (triceps) 1×12-20 reps, followed by 5×2-6 reps.

6. Plank (abs/core) 6 sets, keep in plank position for as long as possible without losing your form.

Home Workout Routine #5 – Pick And Mix

Why don’t you play around yourself? Mix these resistance band exercises with bodyweight exercises and suspension training exercises to maximize your potential!

Building muscle at home is really pretty easy as long as you have some knowledge and the right equipment to support you.

Give it a go and I promise:

You will thank me later!

The ‘Big 3’

If you only take away 3 exercises from this post, don’t go past these:

  • Deadlifts
  • Squats
  • Push-ups

These are the most well-rounded exercises you can possibly do with a resistance band, and if you focus on these you are bound to see results, FAST.


Deadlifts engage your back, core, shoulders, legs, and arms; using more muscles than any other exercise and at the same time improving your posture.

This is due to the fact that this exercise utilizes all of the muscles that maintain your posture.

They will also build a very practical form of strength you can use in real life, whether carrying a bucket or lifting a sofa.


Squats are an essential exercise for your legs that promote muscle-building across your entire body and speed up your metabolism, -two factors that turbocharge your body’s ability to burn fat.

Using the muscles squats target you will be able to run faster and jump higher, like a true athlete. They also tone muscles everywhere in your body.


Push-ups are another full-body workout – you are building your abs, arms, and lower body when doing this never-dying classic.

They train your muscles to work together for greater strength.

Although push-ups are known as an exercise for your chest, they are also a brilliant one for your core.

Just feel the strain in your core the next time you do a push-up!

Using Resistance Bands Adds Extra Challenge

Using a resistance band as you do these 3 exercises will maximize all of their benefits.

At first, they are going to be difficult, oh so difficult, but don’t give up – the results will be worth it!

Final Words: Resistance Band Exercises Work!

So now you know about the magic of elastic…

If you are looking for a comprehensive workout, a cost-effective exercise that ticks a LOT of boxes, you can’t go past resistance bands.

    There are an infinite number of exercises that you can do with a band, not to mention the convenience of being able to take them wherever you like.
    The science behind resistance bands is solid, with a foundation of studies proving their benefits. Even for a weights-buff, they are going to make your time at the gym all the more productive; maximizing your strength and power.
    They can be used to augment so many classic exercises, supercharging them to improve the results of your exercise.
  • COST:
    They won’t break the bank, not like most gym memberships or weight sets. You can build up an arsenal of bands for easily under $50.
    Work out knowing you aren’t damaging your body, and enjoy a healthy lifestyle that will last into your twilight years.

No matter if you are a powerlifter, sprinter, long-distance runner, or couch potato, -resistance band workouts are going to make a massive impact on your fitness level.

Want to explore other ways of building muscle?

Visit my collection of strength-building articles, LOADED with content created to help YOU.

See you there.

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