Try This Trainer’s Full-Body Resistance Band Workout to Improve Your Body Shape and Strength

If your at-home workout routine could use some fresh inspo—with changes to your body you can feel—this resistance band workout delivers the goods.

As a longtime gym-goer, I used to think resistance bands were inferior to free weights when it came to delivering high-impact workouts. Then, just as most fitness enthusiasts faced during the pandemic, there came a moment it was necessary for me to make my home exercise routine a little more dynamic. That was when I finally caved and decided to give the resistance band a try, quickly learning that I’d underestimated the effectiveness of these stretchy straps.

One of the characteristics of resistance bands that I’ve come to appreciate the most is that depending on the result you want, there’s a fitness band, or several bands, just perfect for every fitness level. If you’re like me—always on the lookout for a new exercise routine you can do at home, the office, or when you’re traveling—then all you need are a few simple, but fun, moves to get you hooked. That’s why I designed this full-body resistance band routine that’ll have you reaching for the bands for good. (Currently upleveling your home gym equipment? Check out The 12 Best Small Treadmills for Your Place, Say Shoppers Who Bought Them.)

The benefits of resistance band training

Resistant Band Workout 5 AdeditCourtesy Adam Meyer

Maybe it’s tempting to think that because resistance bands are light and compact, they’re not suitable for serious exercise. As a trainer and athlete, I’m here to change your mind.

A resistance band can sculpt your body while helping you build functional strength, if you know the moves to try. All you need to get started is a set of five elastic bands with varying resistance gauges: extra-light, light, medium, heavy, and extra-heavy. (To make it easy for you, here’s what I think is the best resistance band set.)

Why are full-body resistance band workouts so effective?

Resistance bands work so well because all your muscles know is tension. They don’t understand the difference between free weights, resistance bands, workout machines, a rock, or a heaping laundry bin. These are all simply loads that create tension in your muscles.

Resistance bands create constant tension throughout the entire range of motion. This tension more closely matches the natural “strength curve” of our muscles (or the difficulty of an exercise throughout the range of motion).

This constant tension results in peak muscle contraction, while maintaining resistance at the top of the movement. This differs from free weights, with which there’s no resistance once you lift the weight and are at the top of the movement.

How do you exercise with resistance bands?

The golden rule for any type of training is to always maintain proper form. Never sacrifice form to squeeze out a few extra reps. It’s far better to set the ego aside, drop the weight, or do fewer reps.

This full-body resistance band workout hits on each muscle group… so get ready to work. Be sure to pick a resistance that’s difficult enough, so you have a few left in the tank after the suggested amount of reps.

Ready to work? Let’s get started!

LEGS: Overhead Squat – 5 sets x 15 reps

overhead squatCourtesy Adam Meyer

Plant both feet on the resistance band. Squat down, then stand up, while pushing the band overhead with both arms.

The benefit of using a band for this exercise is that traditional barbell squatting causes a tendency to lean forward, putting strain on the lower back and risking injury. Pushing the band overhead with both arms maintains the key components of proper squat form: back straight, chest up, heels planted, butt down. (For good form with whatever type of resistance you choose, here’s how to correctly do a squat.)

PRO TIP: Keep your arms extended overhead during the entire movement. If that’s too difficult, reduce the resistance by adjusting your grip on the band.

BACK: Bent-over Row – 5 sets x 12 reps

Resistant Band bent over row workoutCourtesy Adam Meyer

Anchor the band under both feet, standing shoulder-width apart. Bend forward 45 degrees, keeping your back straight, chin up, and shoulders back.

Grip the bands farther down on each side for increased tension throughout the entire movement while keeping your palms facing inward. As you pull the band up, rotate your hands, so palms face outward at the top of the movement.

Pause and hold for one second before lowering the band.

PRO TIP: Pull with your back, not your arms. (Also, check out these 4 simple back exercises you can do at home.)

CHEST: Front Lifts – 5 sets x 12 reps

Front LiftCourtesy Adam Meyer

Keep the band anchored below both feet, which are planted shoulder-width apart. With both arms, lift the band straight up in front of you. Keep palms facing up throughout the entire movement.

Resistance bands are particularly effective for the chest. In particular, some research has suggested that combining resistance band training with the traditional bench press can increase strength in both athletes and non-trained lifters. (Check out these other easy chest exercises you can do at home.)

PRO TIP: Focus on pulling your elbows up and in, while squeezing your chest, for optimum muscle contraction.

SHOULDERS: Overhead Press – 5 sets x 10 reps

overhead pressCourtesy Adam Meyer

Similar to the squat, anchor the band beneath your feet. Squat down. Then drive the band straight overhead to begin the exercise.

Lower the band to roughly ear level, pause for one second, then lift straight up. (Sick of having rounded shoulders? Improve your posture with these simple shoulder exercises.)

PRO TIP: Keep your stance slightly wider than shoulder width to avoid leaning into the pushing movement.

ARMS: Bicep Curl – 5 sets x 12 reps

Resistant Band bicep curlsCourtesy Adam Meyer

Anchor the band under both feet at shoulder width. Grasp the band slightly lower for increased resistance. (Make sure there’s no slack in the band and that it’s tight throughout the entire range of motion). Rotate your hand inward at the top of the movement. Pause for one second; then slowly lower, maintaining constant tension throughout.

PRO TIP: Keep your thumb out and pinky finger up for optimal muscle contraction.

ARMS: Tricep Extension – 5 sets x 12 reps

Resistant Band tricep curlsCourtesy Adam Meyer

Just like the squat and overhead press, bend down; then stand up to extend the band straight overhead. Keeping your elbows fixed, lower the band down toward your back.

Pause for one second, then lift back up while squeezing your triceps to get a good burn.

PRO TIP: Look up while performing this exercise. Looking straight ahead causes the shoulders to lean forward and reduce your tricep strength.

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Sources

Adam Meyer
Adam is a health writer, certified holistic nutritionist, and 100% plant-based athlete. In addition to The Healthy, he has published with outlets such as The Beet, Livestrong, and others. With his wife and their two kids, Adam lives in British Columbia, Canada. That’s where you can usually find him running mountain trails, working out in his home gym, or writing in a coffee shop.