Build Your Chest and Back With This Resistance Band Workout

With resistance bands, you can target the muscles in your back and chest from different angles.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

Resistance bands are inexpensive, versatile and easy to store — plus they deliver. This challenge builds full-body strength using only bands. Get all the details on the challenge here.

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!).

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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 and host of our 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge.

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.

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Scott created this back and chest resistance band workout as part of our 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge, but you can do this routine even if you're not participating in the rest of the month-long program.

If you're doing the challenge, follow the weekly rep scheme below. If you're doing this workout on your own, increase or decrease the reps and sets based on your fitness level. You should be able to finish all the reps with good form, but the last two should feel challenging.

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In between sets and exercises, rest for 20 to 40 seconds. You won't feel fully rested (like you were before your workout), but you should feel ready to tackle the next set.

Sets and Reps per Exercise

Glute Bridge Chest Press

Seated Row

Bent-Over Row to Lunge

Lat Pulldown

Week 1

1 set of 15

1 set of 15

1 set of 8 (each side)

1 set of 15

Week 2

2 sets of 15

2 sets of 15

2 sets of 8 (each side)

2 sets of 15

Week 3

1 set of 20

1 set of 20

1 set of 12 (each side)

1 set of 20

Week 4

2 sets of 20

2 sets of 20

2 sets of 12 (each side)

2 sets of 20

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.

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1. Long Loop Glute Bridge Chest Press

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Activity Resistance Band Workout
Body Part Back and Shoulders
  1. First, set up your band: Grab an end of a long loop with each hand.
  2. 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.
  3. Then, lie down on your back with knees bent.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Hold this position as you press your hands up and over your chest.
  7. Lower your hands back down to the start, stopping just before your triceps touch the floor, and repeat, holding your hips high throughout.

Tip

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.

2. Long Loop Seated Row

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Activity Resistance Band Workout
Body Part Arms
  1. 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.
  2. Bend your elbows and pull your arms backward. Think of squeezing your shoulder blades together as you pull.
  3. Slowly straighten your arms, then repeat.

Tip

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

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Activity Resistance Band Workout
Body Part Back and Legs
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Lower your arms back to the starting position with control.
  5. 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.
  6. Press through your right foot to return to standing, then bring your left foot back to the starting position and repeat.
  7. Do all your reps on one side before switching to the other.

Tip

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.

4. Mini Loop Lat Pulldown

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Activity Resistance Band Workout
Body Part Back
  1. Loop one end of a mini band around each forearm just above your wrist and extend your arms over you head.
  2. 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.
  3. Raise your arms back up with control and repeat.

Tip

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.

Follow Along With the Challenge

Use the calendar below to help you stay on track with the 4-Week Resistance Band Challenge. Do the workout (or rest day) listed, then check off each day as you complete it. (Get a printer-friendly version here.)

Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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