If a heavy bench press or reverse fly on a pec deck sounds intimidating or you don't have access to a ton of equipment, you can still get an effective back and chest workout with an often-overlooked piece of gear: a resistance band (or two!).
Resistance band exercises are the perfect way to add additional resistance to your push and pull muscle days, especially for beginners, says Tatiana Scott, CPT, personal trainer, founder of Fit With Curves
Combining chest and back moves into a single session is an efficient way to make sure your workouts are balanced. If the muscles in your back that help you pull aren't as strong as the muscles in your chest that help you push, this muscle imbalance can lead to aches, pain and injuries.
As you move through Scott's workout, rest 20 to 40 seconds between moves and prioritize form. You won't feel fully rested (like you were before your workout), but you should feel ready to tackle the next set.
Try This Resistance Band Back and Chest Workout
For this workout, you'll need a mini loop and a long loop band. If you only have one type of band, check out the modifications below each exercise.
1. Long Loop Glute Bridge Chest Press
- First, set up your band: Grab an end of a long loop with each hand.
- Bring it behind your back and "wear" it like a vest — the top portion will be across the backs of your shoulders and the bottom will be around your waist.
- Then, lie down on your back with knees bent.
- Bend your elbows and extend your arms out to the side so that your upper arm is parallel to the floor and your forearm is perpendicular to it.
- On an exhale, squeeze your glutes, press into your heels and drive your hips up toward the sky. Raise your hips until you form a diagonal line from knees to hips to chest.
- Hold this position as you press your hands up and over your chest.
- Lower your hands back down to the start, stopping just before your triceps touch the floor, and repeat, holding your hips high throughout.
To incorporate a mini band, anchor one end at your sternum and the other in the position described above (upper arm parallel to the floor and forearm perpendicular to it). Then, do the same number of presses on each side.
If you have trouble getting up off the floor, keep a sturdy chair nearby for assistance or do this move on a couch.
2. Long Loop Seated Row
- Begin sitting on the floor with a long resistance band loop anchored under your feet at your arches. Your legs should be extended straight out in front of you. Hold one end of the band in each hand with your palms facing each other.
- Bend your elbows and pull your arms backward. Think of squeezing your shoulder blades together as you pull.
- Slowly straighten your arms, then repeat.
To incorporate a mini band, loop one end around your right hand and grab the other with your left. Start with both hands extended straight out in front of your chest, then pull your right hand back to your right shoulder, keeping your elbow close to your body. Do the same number of reps on each side.
3. Long Loop Bent-Over Row to Reverse Lunge
- Start standing with your right foot on the middle of a folded long loop resistance band. Hold one end of the band in each hand.
- Step your left foot back a few inches, balancing on the ball of your foot, and tilt your torso forward about 45 degrees. This is the starting position.
- Bend your elbows and pull your arms up and back, keeping your elbows close to your side. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together as you pull.
- Lower your arms back to the starting position with control.
- Take a small step back with your left foot and lower into a reverse lunge. Bend your knees until both reach a 90-degree angle.
- Press through your right foot to return to standing, then bring your left foot back to the starting position and repeat.
- Do all your reps on one side before switching to the other.
You can also do this exercise with a mini loop band. Wrap the band around one foot and hold the other end with the hand on the same side. Make sure to switch hands when you switch legs.
Generally, reverse lunges are safe for sensitive knees but if these feel uncomfortable, simply take the lunge portion out of the exercise — your back still gets a great workout!
4. Mini Loop Lat Pulldown
- Loop one end of a mini band around each forearm just above your wrist and extend your arms over you head.
- Use the broad muscles that span the width of your back, your lats, to pull the band out and down until the band is behind your head.
- Raise your arms back up with control and repeat.
You can also do this move with a long loop resistance band or one with handles, as long as you're able to safely anchor it to a spot above your head.