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Resistance bands are something of an oddity within the world of exercise because despite how useful they can be, there are still some who sneer at them for not being a pair of dumbbells. The fact is, that resistance bands have different strengths and weaknesses to more traditional weight training devices, they can still serve an excellent purpose, as long as you know how to use them.
Before we get into the best resistance band exercises though, let’s have a little look at why resistance bands work.
How do resistance bands work?
Resistance bands come in different colors, materials, strengths, and sizes, but the thing that always makes them work is effectively elasticity and their resistance to change. They want to stay the shape they are, your aim is to elongate that shape as much as possible. The more you move them away from their standard shape, the more resistance there is. This means you’ll have more resistance at the height of your movements than at the beginning, which can be excellent for both warming up, and then burning out at the end of a workout… in a good way.
Resistance bands offer a variable intensity naturally, and as long as you know how to utilize that, you can achieve pretty incredible results. The aim with each of the exercises we’ve listed today is to put them at the beginning of your workout to warm up a little bit, then at the end of the workout to really hammer the stress into your muscles, and get the best possible results from each session.
The Best Resistance Band Exercises
1. Resistance Band Squats
The humble bodyweight squat is pretty much always guaranteed to absolutely hammer your legs. This is true no matter how many of them you do, because you can always make the reps a little longer, do a few more, or just mess around with them by holding the squat in various positions. With a resistance band though, you can add a little more oomph to the upward motion. Simply stand on the resistance band itself and one end in your right hand, and the other in your left. Now, slowly squat down as you would normally, and you’ll be able to feel the extra resistance as you stand up. This places a little more pressure on your quadriceps, so it’s great if you’re trying to work them all the way out.
2. Resistance Band Wall Pull-Downs
Working your back at home can get a little stale, as there are only so many ways you can do pull-ups and rows. However, with a resistance band you can actually hit your back quite well from different angles. For this exercise, stand with your back against a wall and hold the band in your hands. From here, keep your arms locked as you bring your elbows down towards your hips, all while keeping them in contact with the wall. You’ll feel a bit like you’re making weird snow angels, but your back will feel a bit like it’s done something to upset you.
3. Resistance Band Push-Ups
You can level up your push-ups with a resistance band. For some people, that’s going to sound like some variation of hell, but for those of you that are still reading this intrigued, let’s explain. Stand up and slip your thumb through one end of the band, then do the same with the other hand. Make sure the bulk of the band is behind you now, and try to position it across your upper back. From here simply do some push-ups. The band will add resistance to the upward motion, which will help you really smash your chest, triceps, and shoulders as you go.
4. Resistance Band Biceps Curl
To hit your biceps, all you need to do is stand on the band, hold one end in each of your hands, and then do a biceps curl as you would normally. You can easily change the impact of this one by using different motions as you would with dumbbells. That means you can hit the standard curl, hammer curls, and reverse curls with no issues and no need to change the weights. If you’re finding some motions harder than others, just adjust where you’re standing on the band to alter the resistance.
5. Resistance Band Shoulder Press
This one’s going to feel a bit silly to set up, but it’ll be worth it. Stand so that you’re effectively inside the circle of your band, with your feet on one side of it. From here, stand up so the other side of the circle is in your hands, and your hands are at shoulder height. Now, just push your arms up as you would with a normal shoulder press. You might feel silly, but you’re going to look great.
If you’re only going to buy one thing…
If you already have a resistance band set, then go ahead and keep scrolling to check out the best resistance band exercises. If you do need some new gear, then consider some of the products below. Of course, you’ll need some resistance bands to do these exercises properly, but for some of these exercises, you may want a gym mat as well.
Fit Simplify Resistance Bands
Picking a resistance band is a lot of work, because there is an awful lot out there, and frankly, they all look the same. So, we’re going to help you out by choosing for you. The Fit Simplify Resistance Loops comes as a set of five, with a guide, and with a carry bag too. The joy of resistance bands is that you can combine different ones to make different levels of resistance, so you can always get the workout you need, and this set is perfect for that.
WALITO Resistance Bands Set
This is another top-rated resistance band set, and unlike the Fit Simplify set featured above, it’s a bit less, well, simplified. This more advanced set of resistance bands will let you perform more advanced strength-training exercises. Plus, it’s on sale. These bands can be stacked to provide up to 150 pounds of resistance.
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AmazonBasics Extra-Thick Exercise Mat
There are plenty of expensive gym mats for sale, but you don’t need to spend a lot to buy a good exercise mat. This AmazonBasics mat rolls right up when you’re done, and it’s extra thick for solid cushioning during your workout. We also included this product in our guide to the best mobility exercises.