34 resistance band exercises that can be done anywhere
Grab a resistance band and try these mix-and-match exercises for a workout which can be done anywhere, any time!
Resistance bands are the ultimate do-anywhere workout tool. Small, easy to pack, and great for travelling, they can help you rehabilitate after injury, work under-used muscles, and add an extra dimension to your gym workouts. Here are 34 of the best ways to use resistance bands wherever you are. You'll need two bands for some of these moves, so grab your bands and get set!
7 exercises for your legs
This is a great movement to target the smaller muscles of the legs, and can be used as a warm up mobility exercise or as a killer finisher to your workout.
Place the band around your legs just above the knees. Crouch down into a slight squat, and walk sideways like a crab (keeping down in the squat position). You will soon feel the burn in your quads, glutes and hips.
12 paces each direction
Another good mobility exercise. Sit on the edge of a chair, with knees at right angle. Loop your band around your legs just above your knees. Your feet and knees are together.
Open and close your knees, without moving your feet. Feel the resistance in the outside of your hips and quads.
To vary this move, lie on your back with hips and knees bent at 90 degrees and feet on the floor. Loop the band as before.
Pull the knees apart by contracting your hips and glutes.
Resistance band stiff legged deadlifts
One of the biggest, baddest gym movements can be recreated with resistance bands. Here's how.
Pass the band under your feet and stand with feet wider than hip width.
Take hold of the band with both hands.
Keeping the legs straight (just a slight bend at the knees), bend forward to get a stretch in the back of the legs. Tip the glutes up to maximise the stretch.
At this point, shorten the band so you there is no slack.
Stand back up, thinking about pulling up with the hamstrings. The band will tighten to give you the resistance you need.
This variation on a classic squat will throw all the work onto your quads.
Stand on your resistance band with your feet wider than shoulder width, toes pointing forwards. Hold the band in both hands and hold the band at your chest.
Sit back and down into a squat, thinking about keeping your chest high and eyes looking forward. Don't tip forwards, but sit back as if onto a low chair.
From parallel (or lower), squat back up.
Resistance band leg extension
This flexion movement will isolate the quads so you can really feel the burn.
Loop the band around a firm anchor point like a post, pillar or even a heavy table leg. Put your foot through the band so it is around your ankle.
Turn and face away from the anchor point and step away until there is tension in the band.
Using the foot which is inside the band, lift the knee in front of you so it is at a right angle, and from here extend the foot out to straighten the leg.
Keep the foot flexed (toes pointing up) and lower back down with control.
12 reps each side
Lying hamstring curl
Anchor the resistance band around a table leg or similar sturdy anchor point.
Lie face down and loop the free end of the resistance band around one ankle.
Make sure there is no slack in the band.
Bend your leg at the knee, pressing your thigh down into the floor, and bring your heel in towards your bottom.
Slowly return to the start position with control.
12-15 reps each side
Glute bridges/hip thrusters
This is a great exercise for strengthening your lower back and shaping your glutes.
Loop your resistance band around your legs just above your knees.
Lie on your back, feet flat on the floor and hip width, legs bent at the knees.
Push into your feet and upper back to press your glutes up into a bridge. When your back is straight, squeeze your glutes and use the resistance of the band to create tension.
Slowly lower back down through your vertebrae.
7 exercises for your back
These are a great way to start the back portion of your resistance band workout as they work on flexibility and mobility.
Hold the band in both hands, with tension in the band.
Stand firm and strong with knees slightly bent.
Keeping your arms straight, pull the band apart so your shoulder blades retract. Feel the squeeze at the end of the movement, then return the hands to the start position slowly.
Experiment with your hand position - palms facing the floor or palms facing each other.
Band-supported pull ups
If you have access to a bar for pull-ups, use your resistance band to help you get more from this amazing back exercise.
Loop the band around the bar, and then underneath your knees.
Perform the pull up as usual, thinking about initiating the movement from your back (rather than pulling with your arms).
Bring your sternum up towards the bar.
Hold for a second, then lower slowly.
Lat pull downs
Now it's time to really get into those lats for a strong back and great V-taper.
Anchor the resistance band over something high (your pull up bar is ideal) and sit or kneel facing the anchor point.
Take hold of the band with both hands and extend your arms over head.
Bend at the elbows and pull the band downwards, bringing your elbows into your waist. Feel the squeeze in your back muscles.
Bring the hands to shoulder-height and then extend back to the start position.
In the gym, pullovers are the classic move for lat development. Try them this way with your resistance band.
Anchor the band near the floor - the bottom of a table leg would be ideal.
Lie on the floor with your head near the anchor point, knees bent and feet on the floor. Relax your head and neck.
Take the free end of the band with both hands and pull it overhead so your hands end up near your knees.
Keep your arms straight (slightly bent elbows) throughout - focus on using the big muscles of your back, not your arms, to pull the band.
Return to the start position slowly.
Bent over rows
Stand on the band, with feet slightly apart. Lean forward so your back is parallel to the ground, with a flat back, chest high, and eyes looking slightly ahead.
Take hold of the band with both hands and row your arms back towards your body, using the resistance of the band. Send your elbows back behind your body and feel the squeeze in your back.
Control the release of the movement.
Seated rows are great for back width and density.
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out i front of you, and pass the band under your soles. Lean forward, take hold of the band with both hands, and sit up so your back is straight.
Keep a good posture throughout, with chest high and core nice and tight.
Pull your arms back, with elbows bent, squeezing your back and shoulder blades.
Vary your grip - palms facing each other, or palms facing the floor.
Control the negative part of the movement as you straighten your arms.
12 reps (or 6 with one grip and 6 with the other)
Single arm lat pull downs
Finish off with single arm lat pull downs, perfect for resistance bands.
Secure your resistance band over a high anchor point and sit on the floor, sideways on to the anchor.
Take hold of the hand with the arm nearest the anchor point, with your arm fully extended.
Without rocking or bending the body, pull the band down, bringing your elbow to your waist.
Hold the squeeze at the bottom of the movement for 1-2 seconds before returning to the start position.
15-20 reps each side.
5 exercises for your chest
Resistance band press up
Get into a classic press up position, on your toes, with hands under your shoulders but wider than shoulder-width.
Place the resistance band around your back, and put your hands on it where it touches the floor. You may need to adjust the band by bunching it up, to create resistance.
Perform the press up as normal, with extra resistance from the band around your back. The resistance will naturally get tougher at the top of your press up, so control the movement.
Resistance band bench press
If you have a bench, you can perform the classic chest exercise - the bench press - with your resistance band.
Pass the band under the bench and lie back as usual.
Take hold of the resistance band in both hands and press it overhead, squeezing the pectoral muscles as they contract.
Lower back to the start position.
Standing up, pass the band around a sturdy anchor point so it's at chest height.
Turn your back to the anchor point and take hold of the band with both hands.
Step forward, and lean forward slightly to create tension in the band.
Keeping your elbows high, press the band forward just like a bench press when you are lying down. Squeeze the chest muscles and hold for a second at the contraction.
Lower back to the start position.
Lying chest fly
Pass the resistance band under your bench and then lie back on the bench.
Take hold of the band with both hands and bring your hands together in front of your face, in a fly movement.
Feel the resistance in the centre of your chest, and squeeze the contraction.
Lower back to the start position with control.
Single arm isolation chest press
Pass the resistance band around a sturdy anchor point and then sit, facing away from the anchor, and at a slight angle (so you can press the band across the body).
Take hold of the free end of the band with one hand, and press it single-handedly in front of and across the body. The movement is a cross between a press and a fly.
Repeat on both sides.
15-20 reps each side
5 exercises for your shoulders
Stand on your resistance band, and take hold of it with both hands.
With your palms facing each other, press the hands overhead.
Control the movement as you lower the hands to shoulder height, then press again.
Stand on your resistance band and take hold of the free end with both hands.
With palms facing your body, row the band upwards, bending at the elbows and bringing the elbows up high (and slightly back).
The end position will see your arms and elbows forming a V-shape.
Control the movement as you lower the band.
Work on shoulder shape with this smaller isolation exercise.
Stand on one end of your resistance band and take hold of the loose end with one hand.
Keeping the arm slightly flexed at the elbow, raise that hand up to shoulder height with palm facing the floor, feeling the tension in the outside of the shoulder.
If this feels too easy, shorten the band and/or straighten your arm.
15-20 reps each side
Here's a similar exercise, for your front delts.
Stand on your resistance band and take hold of the free bit of the band with both hands.
Raise your arms out in front of you to shoulder height, feeling the resistance in the front of the shoulders.
Keep your arms straight, and parallel with each other, as you raise and lower the band.
Put your resistance band around a solid support such as a door handle (both sides of an open door), pillar or post.
Face the anchor point, bend over slightly with a flat back, and take hold of the band with both hands.
Move your arms backwards in a fly motion, concentrating on the back of the shoulders. Feel a squeeze in the rear delts and upper back. This is a small movement (for a pretty small muscle!)
5 exercises for your arms (biceps and triceps)
The classic move for your biceps can be done with a resistance band.
Stand on your band with feet shoulder width, and take the free end of the band with both hands.
Keep your elbows by your side, and curl your hands up to your shoulders with your palms facing upwards.
Control as you lower back down, and straighten your arms fully.
Sit on a chair and loop the band under the chair. You need the band to be short, with a lot of resistance.
Sit with your legs slightly apart, take hold of the end of the band in one hand, and put the elbow (of the arm you're holding the band with) on the thigh of the same side.
Press your elbow into your thigh as you curl the band up towards your shoulder.
As the name suggests, this is a very concentrated biceps curl and quite a short, hard movement.
10-12 reps each side
Triceps kick backs
This isolated movement for the back of the arms will help shape the triceps.
Pass the band under one foot and then stand in a lunge position, with the band under the front foot.
Hold the band in both hands, and lean your upper body forward.
Keep your upper arms tight to your sides, press the hands up and back, squeezing the backs of your arms.
Finish with straight arms, palms facing the ceiling, then lower back to 90 degrees.
Sit down on your resistance band, so it's passed underneath your bottom.
Take hold of the free end of the band with both hands, and hold it behind your neck with your elbows bent, and your upper arms by the side of your head.
With your palms facing each other, keep your upper arms still, and press your hands up until your arms are straight.
Lower back down slowly.
Triceps press up
Get into a press up position - on your toes or your knees - with the resistance band around your back and chest.
Place your hands over the band where it rests on the floor.
Bring your hands under your shoulders and perform a press up, but keep your elbows tucked in so your arms brush the sides of your ribs as you lower down.
The band around your back should add resistance to the move.
Keep your elbows tucked as you lower down and press back up - the resistance is felt in the back of your arms.
5 exercises for your abs and core
Band resisted plank
Pass the resistance band around your upper back and get into a plank position, on your toes and forearms, with body perfectly straight.
Rest your forearms over the band where it rests on the floor.
Make sure there's no slack in the band - there should be light resistance just at the point where you hold your plank position.
Hold your core tight, don't sag at the hips or raise your bottom - keep a straight line from neck to heels.
Hold for 30s and repeat 4-6 times.
This is great for the obliques and waist.
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, and pass the resistance band around the soles of your feet.
Hold the band with both hands and slightly bend the knees to create resistance in the band.
Lean back so the body is at 45 degrees and then rotate the body from side to side with control, taking the band (in both hands) to the floor either side of your body.
15-20 reps (side to side)
This exercise doesn't look much, but targets the deep core muscles for a strong and shapely waistline.
Anchor your bands around a sturdy support just lower than chest height.
Take hold of the free end with both hands, hold it at your chest, and walk out from the anchor point until there is no slack.
Turn sideways on to the anchor point so your body is at 90 degrees to it.
From here, press the band out directly in front of you from your chest until your arms are straight.
Keep your body still, make sure the band is tight with full resistance, and simply press the band in and out from chest to straight arms.
Repeat with your body turned the other way.
15-20 reps each side.
Anchor your band above head height.
Stand sideways on to the anchor point, and take hold of the free end of the band with both hands overhead and arms stretched.
Pull the band from this top corner to the opposite, bottom corner, across the front of the body.
As you pull, twist the body, rotating at the waist and hips, and pivoting on the back foot.
Feel the twist in your core and return to the start position.
10-12 reps each side.
Kneeling ab crunch
No core workout is complete without a crunch, but here's a way to get a deep engagement with your abs.
Attach your band around a high anchor point, and kneel facing it.
Take hold of the band with both hands, and bring your hands to the sides of your head, ensuring there's no slack in the band.
Contract your abs and crunch down, shortening the distance between your ribs and hips.
Keep your hands where they are throughout the move to use the band as resistance.
Straighten up, maintaining the resistance in your abs throughout the move.