Marcel Maurer with resistance bands

13 Amazing Resistance Band Exercises To Build Strength

Learn how to use resistance bands to build muscle in your upper and lower body.

By Team PelotonMay 18, 2023


Resistance bands tend to get overshadowed by other strength training tools like dumbbells, barbells, and kettlebells. But in truth, resistance band exercises have many advantages, making them a staple for your fitness routine. 

While resistance bands are often used as a tool for injury rehabilitation, in reality, resistance band training is ideal for a complete, full-body workout., You shouldn’t be sleeping on the benefits of including resistance band workouts in your routine as a way to strengthen your upper and lower body without introducing extra strain or heavy impact. 

Learn more about why resistance band exercises are so amazing and13 highly effective resistance band exercises that will benefit your entire body. 

Resistance Band Training: Why Should You Do It?

So, what’s the big deal about resistance bands, and why are they worth adding to your routine? Resistance bands are simple, stretchy elastic bands that usually have looped handles and can be purchased in varying degrees of tension and lengths. Much as with weights, it’s recommended you have a light, medium, and heavy band, but you can still have a highly effective workout with a single band in your arsenal. They’re also lightweight, so they’re portable and easy to store, making them perfect for travel and for use in small spaces. 

The physical benefits of using resistance bands for workouts are vast. They can be used to target big muscle groups, but are also known for targeting smaller, stabilizing muscles that are harder to target with dumbbells and traditional weight training. Studies have shown that resistance band exercises can improve balance, mobility, gait function, and flexibility over time.

They use oppositional force to target muscles in a low-impact way without relying on gravity to create resistance, and you can alter the intensity of your workout by using the different types of bands - using a heavier band to create more resistance with your own body weight. 

Below, we will break down some of the most popular resistance band exercises you can try that will help you build both upper and lower body strength and endurance. 

Resistance Band Exercises for Upper Body Strength

Resistance band exercises offer versatility: a way to build upper body strength without having to rely on heavy weights or bulky gym equipment. Here are a few examples of upper body resistance band exercises you could try at home: 

  1. Single arm bicep curl

    Hannah Corbin doing a single arm bicep curl

    This will help you work out your biceps using your entire body weight as the resistance. Your starting position is standing on the band with your feet shoulder distance apart. Hold a handle in each hand, keeping your arms straight by your side with your palms facing in front of you. Bending your elbow, lift one arm toward your shoulder, contracting your bicep but keeping your range of motion limited to your forearm. Slowly lower your arm back down. Repeat on the opposite side.

  2. Lying chest press

    This will work your arms, chest and shoulders. Your starting position is lying flat on the floor with the resistance band underneath both shoulders, holding on to the handles with each hand. Keep your upper arms on the floor, and your forearms perpendicular to the floor, holding the band up. Extend both arms straight above you, as if you’re pulling the band toward the ceiling. Slowly lower your arms back down. 

  3. Overhead shoulder press

    Marcel Maurer doing an overhead shoulder press

    This will work your arms and your shoulders. Start by standing on your lightest resistance band, holding the straps in both hands at shoulder height. Keeping your palms facing forward, reach your arms straight above you, a little wider than shoulder-width apart. Lower the band back down to your starting arm position, with control.

  4. Single arm triceps extension

    Matty Maggiacomo doing a single arm tricep extension

    This is a great way for you to work your triceps with some extra resistance. As your starting position, stand with your left foot slightly in front of your right, and step your right foot over the center of your resistance band. Hold both handles in your right hand, and lift your right arm straight above the top of your head with control. Keeping your elbow close to the side of your head, slowly lower your right forearm behind the back of your head until your elbow is bent at 90 degrees. Then slowly lift your arm back overhead. Repeat on the opposite side. 

  5. Bent over row

    Matty Maggiacomo doing a bent over row

    This exercise works your arms and back. Begin by standing on your resistance band. Keeping your core engaged, bend both knees and then hinge forward slightly at the waist, holding a handle in each hand and keeping your hands near your knees. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you lift the bands toward your ribs in a rowing motion, then straighten your arms to lower the band.

  6. Lateral shoulder raise

    Andy Speer doing a lateral shoulder raise

    This will help you build and define your shoulders. Stand up straight as your starting position. Step onto your resistance band with both feet, holding a handle in each hand. Raise your arms straight out on either side with palms facing down, until your elbows reach shoulder height and your arms are in a T. Keeping your arms straight, slowly lower them back down. 

  7. Chest fly

    This will work the front of your chest and your shoulders. Begin by standing up straight, and run your resistance band across the back of your shoulders, holding a handle in each hand and keeping your arms slightly bent. Keeping your shoulders steady, pull the handles toward the front of your body until your hands meet in the middle, in front of your chest, with your elbows slightly bent. Slowly return to your starting position. 

Resistance Band Exercises for Lower Body Strength

Resistance band exercises provide a practical and efficient way to build and strengthen key lower-body muscle groups, such as the glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calves. Go ahead and give the following exercises a try:

  1. Front squat

    Hannah Corbin doing a front squat

    This will help work your inner thighs, hamstrings, and hips. Begin by standing on your resistance band with your feet slightly wider than your shoulders. Hold a handle in each hand, and keep your hands close to your shoulders. Squat down, keeping your core engaged, then slowly rise back up to standing. Repeat 10-15 times. 

  2. Leg extension

    This will help work the fronts of your thighs. Your starting position is sitting down. Wrap the band around your right ankle and then step on the band with your left foot. Extend your right leg straight out in front of you at the knee, hold for a breath, and then return it back down. Repeat 8-12 times on each leg. 

  3. Glute bridge

    This is a powerful way to work your glutes. Begin by lying flat on your back, looping your band around so that it circles your thighs. Bend your knees, then slowly lift your hips off the floor by squeezing your glutes, pulling your legs against the band for extra resistance. Slowly lower back down. Repeat 10-15 times.

  4. Standing glute kickbacks

    This is a great way to add extra resistance to your glutes and get in some core work.  Begin by looping your band around your ankles, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Balancing on your left foot, slowly kick your right leg back, keeping your toes pointing down and your leg straight. Lower your leg back down, with control. Repeat on each leg 10-15 times.

  5. Split squat

    This will help you work your quads and your hamstrings. Begin by standing on the middle of your band with your left foot, then step your right foot behind you in a split squat position. Hold the band’s handles in each hand, keeping your hands against your shoulders, your elbows pointed toward the floor and your palms facing up. Slowly bend both knees into a lunge position without moving your arms. Then slowly straighten your legs. Repeat on each leg 10-15 times. 

Tips for Using Resistance Bands Safely

As you begin to incorporate resistance bands into your fitness routine, it’s crucial that you prioritize safety to ensure you get the most effective workout possible – without hurting yourself. 

  • Choosing the right resistance band is crucial. Depending on what you want to accomplish and the types of moves you’ll be using your band for, you will want to ensure you’ve got the right band for the job. This means you’ll likely want a set of bands that come in different resistance amounts (typically light, medium, and heavy), so that you can switch between bands for a more effective workout and protect your muscles from overloading them with stress and tension from a too-taut band. (Plus, the last thing you want is for a band to snap as you increase your range of motion or be so loose that you can’t challenge your muscles.)

  • Keep the bands out of UV light and extreme temperatures. Since your resistance band is made of rubber, storing it in a location subject to extreme temperature fluctuations will cause it to become brittle. In heat extremes, it may even start melting. 

  • Inspect resistance bands every time before use. Even if you’ve stored your band properly and kept it clean and well-maintained, it can always wear down as you continue to use it. You don’t want your band to snap or rip, especially while your muscles are extended, as this could lead to injury, so you’ll want to give it a once-over before every use just to make sure you’re good to go. 

Use Resistance Bands to Your Advantage

If you’re ready to start working out with resistance bands, be sure to check out the resistance band classes available on the Peloton App to strengthen your muscles, increase your range of motion, and complement your cycling and running workouts. The Peloton App features resistance band classes designed for Full Body, Upper Body, Glutes & Legs, Lower Body, and Core. 

Just remember that, no matter how you’re utilizing your resistance band, you can’t go wrong. Resistance bands are a win-win addition to any fitness regimen, and will hopefully remain a staple in yours.


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