Rock out with the band! Resistance bands are a great addition to any strength training routine or rehabilitation program, and they come in a variety of sizes, lengths, and resistance levels.
They’re also portable and easy to store, so they’re perfect for home use, hotel workouts, or making the most of a small space at the gym. Just like free weights, exercise bands come in a range of resistance levels, from highly stretchable to heavy-duty strength.
The most common types of bands are tube bands with handles, loop bands (aka giant rubber bands), and therapy bands. If you’re in doubt, a fitness professional can help determine which band is right for you, depending on your fitness level and your specific workout plan.
For most exercises, try aiming for 2–3 sets of 8–25 reps per exercise. Ready, set, stre-e-e-etch!
1. Front squat
Stand on the band with feet slightly wider than shoulder width. Holding a handle in each hand, bring the top of the band over each shoulder. If the band is too long, secure it in place by crossing your arms at your chest.
Sit straight down, chest up, abs firm, pressing knees out over your toes. Rise back up to the starting position. Repeat for 8–12 reps.
Kick it up a notch with this quad builder. Anchor a loop band in a low position on a support (like an incline bench), looping the other end around your ankle with the band positioned behind you. Step away from the anchor to create tension on the band, and position your feet hip-width apart.
Shift your weight to your left foot and lift right leg from the floor. Extend knee until it straightens out in front of you. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 8–12 reps before switching legs.
Lie facedown and loop a band around your right ankle, anchoring the other end to a door for support. Scoot away from the anchor to create tension.
Tighten your core and bend your leg at the knee, bringing heel toward glutes as far as you can comfortably go. Slowly return leg to the starting position. Repeat for 10–15 reps, then switch sides.
4. Glute bridge
Salute those glutes! Tie a band around your legs right above your knees. Lie faceup with your feet on the floor, bending your knees to 90 degrees.
Raise your hips until your shoulders, hips, and knees align, contracting your glutes through the entire movement. Do 15–20 reps.
5. Standing adductor
Anchor a loop band at ankle height to a support and stand with your left side facing the support, wrapping the free end around your right (outer) ankle. Stand perpendicular to the band and step away from the support to create some tension (the good kind, of course).
From a wide stance, get into a quarter squat. Sweep your working ankle across your body, past your standing leg, squeezing thighs together. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 12–15 reps before switching sides.
Loop a band around your legs just above your knees. Lie faceup with hips and knees flexed to 90 degrees. Pull knees away from each other while contracting your glutes for 2–3 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat, aiming for 10–12 reps.
Take a load off for this one. Secure a loop or therapy band around an anchor (like the leg of a coffee table or chair) and sit with one leg straight out, wrapping the other end of the loop around the top of your foot.
Lean back, supporting your weight on your hands, and flex your foot forward until you feel a good stretch in your shin. In a controlled movement, bring your toes back up, flexing them toward your knee as far as is comfortable.
Slowly return to the starting position. Do 10–12 reps on each side.
Don’t sidestep these side steps! Step into a loop band or tie a therapy band around your lower legs, just above your ankles. Place feet shoulder-width apart to create tension on the band.
Start in a half-squat position. Shift your weight to the left, stepping sideways with right leg. Move standing leg slightly in, but keep the band taut. Take 8–10 steps before heading back the other way.
This one’s a bit of a balancing act. Anchor a loop band at ankle height and stand with your left side toward the anchor. Attach the free end to your outside ankle and step out to create tension on the band.
Move supporting leg back so foot is elevated from the floor. Lift working leg, slowly bringing looped foot out to the side, contracting outer glutes. If you feel wobbly, grab a support (like the wall or the back of a chair).
Lower back down to the starting position. Repeat for 15–20 reps on each side.
10. Seated abduction
To really show those thighs who’s boss, sit at the edge of a chair or bench and tie a loop band around both legs, just above your knees. Place feet slightly wider than shoulders. Slowly press your knees out, turning your feet in as your legs move apart.
Hold for 2 seconds, then bring knees back together. Aim for 15–20 reps.
Want to get ready for the gun show? Start in a forward lunge position, right leg in front, and place the middle of the band under your right foot. Grasp one end of the loop band with your right hand, resting your elbow on the inside of your knee (to target those biceps a little deeper).
With palm facing away from your knee, curl the band up toward your shoulder, squeezing your biceps at the top. Slowly lower back down. Repeat for 8–10 reps before switching sides.
12. Standing biceps curl
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart with feet placed over the middle of the band. Grab a handle in each hand, starting with your arms down at your sides.
With palms facing in front of you, pull your arms toward your shoulders by bending at the elbow until you get a good bicep contraction. Slowly lower back down. Do 12–15 curls.
13. Triceps kickback
Kick back and relax. Just kidding! Stand in a forward lunge position with your right foot in front, positioned over the center of the band. Holding each end of the band, position your arms at your sides with palms facing behind you.
Bend at your elbows (keeping them tucked by your sides) until your forearms are parallel to the floor. Next, press down your arms, pushing the band behind your body until your arms fully extend. Lower back down. Repeat for 8–10 reps.
Sit on a chair or bench, placing the center of a tube band beneath your glutes. Grab a handle in each hand and stretch your arms up, bending your elbows so your hands are positioned behind your neck.
With palms facing the ceiling, press your arms straight up until they fully extend. Lower back down. Repeat for 10–12 reps before switching sides.
15. Kneeling crunch
Attach the band to a high anchor (such as the top of a door or cable column) and kneel down, grabbing each side of the band. Extend your elbows out at shoulder level, engage your core, and crunch down toward your hips while contracting your abs.
Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
Anchor the loop or tube band near the top of a cable column or support. With your right side toward the support, grab the free end of the band with your arms stretched out overhead.
In one smooth motion, pull the band down and across your body to the front of your knees while rotating your right hip and pivoting your back foot. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 8–10 reps on each side.
Know when to walk away. Anchor a loop or tube band slightly below your chest on a cable column or support. Grasping the free end, create tension on the band and squat into an athletic stance.
Holding the band with both hands straight out in front of your chest and keeping your core tight, step laterally until the band is too tense to go any further. Slow and controlled, move back toward the column to the starting position. Repeat for 6–8 reps on each side.
18. Reverse crunch
Now flip it and reverse it. Anchor the band on a low support. Lie faceup, bending knees 90 degrees. Wrap the band around the tops of both feet and scoot back to create tension.
With abs tight and back flat, pull your knees toward your shoulders, contracting your abdominal muscles. Slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for 12–15 reps.
19. Russian twist
Sit on the floor with legs extended, wrapping the center of the band around the bottom of your feet. Hold the free ends in each hand. Slightly bend your knees, keeping feet on the floor, and lean back at a 45-degree angle.
Rotate the band right by bringing your left hand across your body and your right hand down by your right hip. Contracting your oblique muscles, bring the band toward your right hip while keeping your middle and low back neutral.
Return to the starting position. Rotate left then right for a total of 10–12 reps on each side.
20. Bent-over row
You can do it, put your back into it. Stand over the center of the band with feet shoulder-width apart. Bend slightly at your knees and hinge at your waist, keeping hips back. Grasp the band handles with your hands facing the outsides of your knees.
With elbows bent, pull the band up toward your hips, squeezing your shoulder blades together until your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Lower and row for 10–12 reps.
21. Seated row
Take a seat, but don’t get too cozy. With legs extended, place the center of the band behind the soles of your feet. Grab the band with both hands, arms extended and palms facing each other.
Sitting nice and tall, bend at your elbows and pull the band toward your core, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Slowly return to the starting position. Do 10–12 reps.
22. Pull apart
Stand with knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the middle section of the band with both hands at shoulder level with palms facing down. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band out and back until your shoulder blades contract.
Slowly return to the starting position. Stretch, squeeze, and release for 8–10 reps.
23. Lying pullover
No, this doesn’t involve pulling the covers over your head. For this effective pec and lat exercise, anchor the tube band in a low position. Lie faceup, grabbing the free end of the band with both hands and stretching your arms straight out overhead.
With elbows slightly bent, pull the band overhead, crossing your torso until the handle reaches your knees. Slowly return to the starting position. Keep it up for 8–10 reps.
24. Lat pulldown
Ready to work the upper back? Anchor the band overhead to a horizontal bar (or even a sturdy tree limb), pulling the free ends down at your sides. Kneel facing the anchor so the band is positioned in front of you.
Grip each end with arms extended overhead and hands slightly wider than shoulder width. Bending your elbows, pull the band down toward the floor while contracting your back muscles.
Once your hands reach your shoulders, slowly raise them back to the starting position. Rock out 10–12 reps.
Take this classic move to a new level. Get in plank position, draping the resistance band across your upper back. Loop the ends of the band through your thumbs and place your hands on the floor in starting position, facing toward the floor.
Contract your glutes and abs, then push straight up until your arms fully extend. Lower back down, chest to the floor. See what you’ve got for 5–20 reps (depending on your strength).
Next up: The upper chest muscles! In a right forward lunge position, place the middle of your band beneath your back foot. Grabbing a handle in each hand, bring the band to shoulder level.
Press the bands upward straight over your chest like a rainbow until your arms fully extend. Lower back down. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
27. Bench press
No barbell? No problem! Anchor a tube band on the bench legs and lie faceup on the bench. Grabbing a handle in each hand. position them at shoulder height (so your thumbs touch the front of your shoulders).
Extend your arms straight up overhead to full extension, moving your hands toward each other at the top. Lower back down. Repeat for 10–12 reps.
28. Standing chest press
Anchor the tube band on a cable column or sturdy support at chest height. Grab each handle with your back to the band. Step forward to reduce the slack, positioning your hands at chest height.
With elbows up and palms facing down, press the band straight out in front of you until your arms reach full extension, and squeeze those chest muscles. Return to the starting position. Press on for 12–15 reps.
29. Overhead press
Stand over the center of a tube band with feet shoulder-width apart. Grip each handle, positioning your hands at shoulder level with palms facing each other so your thumbs touch your shoulders.
Press straight up, rotating your palms forward as you fully extend your arms. Lower back down slowly. Repeat for 8–10 reps.
30. Forward raise
To hit the front of your shoulders, stand on the middle of the band with feet shoulder-width apart and grip the handles at your sides with palms facing in. Next, without locking your elbows, bring your right arm straight out in front of you to shoulder height.
Slowly lower back down. Raise the roof for 8–12 reps before switching arms.
31. Lateral raise
Build bolder shoulders with this isolation move. Stand with feet positioned over the center of a tube band, shoulder-width apart. Grip each handle with arms down at your sides and palms facing in.
Bending your elbows ever so slightly, raise your arms straight out to the sides to shoulder level. Slowly lower back down. Go for 8–10 reps.
32. Upright row
Stand proud as you target your traps. With feet positioned over the center of the band, shoulder-width apart, grip the band handles with your palms facing each other and position them just in front of your thighs.
Pull the band straight up the front of your body to shoulder level, keeping your elbows bent and positioned in a high V. Slowly lower back down to the starting position. Keep rowing for 10–12 reps.
Target your whole shoulder with this fierce move. Sit at the edge of a chair or bench, positioning your feet over the middle of the band. Cross the band at your knees, grabbing the handles with your palms facing each other.
Bend forward at your waist, back straight, and raise your arms straight out to your sides until the band reaches shoulder level. Lower back to the starting position. Fly away with 10–12 reps.