Targeting your upper body at home can be a challenge. Luckily, you don't need a rack of dumbbells or a fleet of weight machines. There are plenty of alternatives to barbell bench presses and pull-ups. In fact, all you need for this workout is a resistance band!
These exercises are best performed with long resistance bands that have handles. Some modifications will be suggested below for mini resistance band users.
Do: 20 reps of each exercise. Repeat the circuit 4 times or as many times as you can in 20 minutes.
Check out more of our 20-minute workouts here — we’ve got something for everyone.
Move 1: Resistance Band Shoulder Press
- Stand on the middle of the band. Part feet hip-width apart.
- Take both handles, pull each end at the outside of your shoulders. Your palms will be facing away from you.
- Brace your core. Slightly push your hips forward. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle, away from your body.
- Press up the band up and push toward the ceiling. Your arms should finish with elbows by your ears.
- Draw your elbows back down along the side of your body (without touching your body). Stop when you feel resistance in the lower shoulder blades.
Don't overextend your lower back to press bands over head. Lower the weight of your band if you begin to arch your back.
Move 2: Resistance Band Lateral Raise
- Step on the middle of the band with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the handles in the opposite hand so that the band criss-crosses in front of you, palms facing in. Pull the band away from your side to a 45-degree angle.
- Roll your shoulders back and down your spine. Pull up your pelvis forward and brace your core.
- Squeeze your upper back and lift your arms until you reach shoulder height.
- Bring your arms slowly down to keep tension in the band. Stop the band at 45 degrees to your side.
If you're using a mini band, take it in both hands and place your hands in front of your body. Pull one side of the mini band up to shoulder height. Bring back down to the start and repeat. Make sure to do the same number of reps on each side.
Move 3: Resistance Band Seated Row
- Sitting on the floor, extend your legs straight out in front of you.
- Place your band around your feet. Pull and hold your handles. Draw your shoulder blades back and down your spine.
- In one motion draw back the handles of the band by pulling your shoulder blades together and flexing your elbows.
- Stop once your shoulder blades meet in the middle of your spine.
- Draw back to the starting position by extending through the shoulder blades, back and elbows.
If using a mini band, loop it around your wrists. Start with your arms extended in front of you. Apply the same pulling mechanics as mentioned above.
Move 4: Resistance Band Single-Arm Fly
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Step on one side of your band. Hold the handle in the opposite hand to the foot that's on the band.
- Hinge your hips back and tuck your chin toward your chest. Pull your ribcage up toward your spine. Your palm should be facing up and your elbow should be slightly bent.
- Pull the band from a starting position at your foot or in the middle of your body. Pull across your body and up to shoulder height.
- Release the band back down to half way of your starting position (keep tension in the band).
For a mini band, hold it in both hands and change the starting position of the band to the middle of your body. The pulling motion will be the same.
Move 5: Resistance Band Triceps Extension
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, stepping on the band with one foot.
- Bring the band around your back and grab the handle with both hands, palms facing up.
- Brace your core and push down your ribs. Pull the band up over your head.
- Bring the band down your spine by flexing at the elbows until your hands reach the back of your head.
- Press (extend through the elbows) back up over your head toward the ceiling.
With a mini band, hinge your hips back and bring the band to the middle of your stance. Pulling the band on one side, flex your elbow. Pull the band toward the wall behind you, squeezing the back of your arm.
Move 6: Resistance Band Biceps Curl
- Step on the middle of the band, feet hip-width apart.
- Grab both handles, palms facing up.
- Flex the elbow as you pull up toward the ceiling.
- Stop the movement at full flexion of the elbow.
- Lower the arms back down to the starting position.
There are several modifications to this exercise: Position your arms wide (outside the body), narrow (in front of the body) or across the body; use only one arm at a time or sit while performing this exercise with a mini band.