Resistance bands are a seriously under-utilized piece of equipment. They have a ton of possibilities for effectively loading and training your muscles without the risks of traditional free-weights.
If you’re rehabbing a muscle group and don’t feel ready for free weight training, resistance bands are a great halfway point. They also have the added benefit of being extremely lightweight, which means you can stuff them into your suitcase when traveling and avoid crowded hotel gyms.
Resistance bands aren’t just for isolation exercises, either. They’re a great tool for adding extra resistance to full-body bodyweight exercises.
For instance, the simple pushup becomes much more challenging when using resistance bands to add extra resistance. With that in mind, below are 12 of the best full-body resistance band exercises.
Full Body Workout With Resistance Band
1. Bent-Over Row
Targets: Lats, biceps, rear deltoids
Begin by standing with both feet firmly planted on a resistance band. You want your feet to be roughly hip-width apart. Grab each end of the resistance band with both hands and your palms facing towards each other.
Keep your knees bent, your back flat, and your hands directly underneath your shoulders. Bend your elbows to bring the band toward your chest. Slowly lower them back down to complete 1 repetition.
Be sure to lower the bands back down slowly. Slow, controlled motion will allow you to effectively train the muscles you are targeting.
In addition, be sure to focus on driving your elbows backward instead of “pulling” with your hands. This will help you focus on your back muscles instead of primarily your arms.
2. Resistance Band Good Morning
Targets: Lower back, hamstrings, glutes
Stand with both of your feet on the band, again about hip-width apart. Holding one end of the band in each hand by your sides with your palms facing in, hinge forward at the hips.
Make sure to keep a gentle bend in your knees. In order to hinge properly, focus on pushing your butt out as your torso folds forward. Stop when your chest is parallel to the ground.
Then, push your hips forward to allow your chest to rise to the starting position, squeezing your glutes as you rise.
This is a great exercise to train the posterior chain. It’s also a great warmup before a weighted movement such as barbell squats.
3. Chest Press
Targets: Chest, triceps, shoulders
Start in a standing position with the resistance band looped onto something behind you. Grab each handle and hold your arms out to the side with your elbows bent about 90 degrees.
Stand in a staggered stance (one foot in front of the other) and make sure that you are standing far enough forward for there to be tension in the band.
Press the handles forward, focusing on using your chest muscles. Press until both hands meet in the center. Slowly allow your hands to return to the starting position to complete 1 rep.
This is a great upper-body pressing movement. Make sure to alternate your feet with each set. You can also play around with your hand position to stress different portions of your chest; try pressing with your palms facing inward, towards the floor, or towards the ceiling.
Targets: Quads, glutes, hamstrings, shoulders.
Begin by standing on top of the resistance band. Hold both handles directly beside your shoulders, as if you are about to do a shoulder press.
Begin the movement by squatting down until your hips are parallel to the floor. As you come up from your squat, simultaneously press upward with both hands until they are directly overhead and your elbows are locked. This is one repetition.
Thrusters are a great full-body fat burning movement. They have the unique benefit of training your upper and lower body simultaneously. These can be particularly challenging if done with the Tabata protocol of 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 8 total rounds.
Targets: Abdominals, shoulders, glutes, core
Begin by securing the band over an object above you. Stand to the right of the band with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Grab both ends with one hand.
Holding it directly in front of you, pull the band across your body towards your right hip, twisting your torso while you pull. Slowly bring the band back to your starting position.
This is a great exercise to effectively train your core muscles. Make sure that your switch sides between sets.
6. Lateral Walk
Targets: Glutes and legs
Begin in a shallow squat with the mini band looped just above your knees. Take a nice, wide step to the right with your right foot, stepping in this direction about 10 times.
Repeat this movement with your opposite leg to return to your starting position. You can use this movement as a warm-up for squats or as a great way to work your hip flexors, which probably need some love anyway.
Make sure keep your movements slow and controlled so that you can effectively use the muscles you’re targeting. This movement can be used in conjunction with exercises like thrusters to build an effective HIIT workout.
7. Glute Bridge
Targets: Glutes, abdominals
Begin by lying on your back with your hands by your sides, your knees bent, and your feet flat on the floor. Loop a mini resistance band around your thighs, ideally right above your knees.
Begin the movement by squeezing your glutes and pushing through your heels to lift your hips above the ground. Push until your body forms a straight line from your knees to your shoulders.
Hold this position, making sure to squeeze your glutes as hard as possible throughout the whole movement. Lower your hips slowly to return to the starting position.
Most people’s glutes are chronically under-activated, meaning your body doesn’t have them “turned on” by default. This can be problematic, as your body relies on your glutes to keep your lower back supported and healthy.
8. Lat Pulldown
Targets: Lats, biceps, rear delts
With the resistance band secured firmly above you, grab both ends of the band in each handle. Kneel on the floor with one knee laid flat on the ground.
Lean slightly forward, and drive both elbows back towards the floor to pull the band all the way down, ending with your hands beside your shoulders. Slowly allow your hands to return to the starting position to complete one rep.
Make sure to squeeze your back muscles for a couple of seconds in the bottom position of the movement to get the most out of this exercise.
Targets: Chest, triceps, shoulders
Begin in a pushup position with the band looped around your upper back, holding each end of the band.
With your elbows locked, arms fully extended, and hips parallel to the ground, bend your elbows to bring your chest all the way to the ground. Without releasing tension, forcefully push back up to the starting position to complete one rep.
When performing pushups, you can do the movement on your knees if traditional pushups are a bit too difficult.
It’s more important to have good form than to power through an exercise that’s beyond your strength level. As you perform the movement, make sure to keep tension on your muscles the entire time.
Targets: Glutes, quads, hamstrings
Stand with your right foot in front of the left, with the band underneath your right foot only.
Holding both ends of the band beside your shoulders, lunge forward with your right foot and rise slowly back up, keeping tension on your leg muscles the entire time.
Perform all of your repetitions with one leg and switch legs on your next set.
The lunge is a great alternative to the squat if you don’t have the mobility to perform a full squat just yet. It’s especially effective for the ever-important glutes.
11. Plank Jack
Targets: abs, shoulders, hip flexors
Begin in a pushup position with a mini resistance band looped around both feet and your feet about shoulder width apart.
Quickly bring both feet to about 6 inches past shoulder width and return them to the starting position. This is one rep and should take about 1 second to perform. This is a quick, explosive movement for your abs.
This exercise is a great addition to a resistance band HIIT routine. While it primarily stresses the abs, it also engages your shoulders and triceps.
12. Band Pull-Apart
Targets: upper back, rear deltoids
Begin by standing upright with one end of the band in each hand. Using your upper back, pull the band apart until your hands are stretched out straight to either side.
Using slow and controlled movement, bring the band back to the starting position.
The band pull-apart is one of the best ways to work your upper back and rear deltoids. Many people’s lack of upper back strength leads to poor posture.
This exercise is best used with very high repetitions (around 20 reps per set for about 3 or 4 sets.)
Resistance bands are one of the most versatile tools around for getting a great full-body workout. They are excellent for making any bodyweight exercise a little bit more challenging to burn fat or strengthen your whole body. Try out some of these exercises to add some variety to your workout.