upper body resistance band workout

Upper Body Resistance Band Home Workout

by Evelyn Valdez

What's not to like about resistance bands? They're versatile, light, portable, and are a great addition (or replacement) for free weights since they can be used to strengthen and/or maintain various muscle groups! Weights like, dumbbells and barbells will be a more effective option for strength training, but when you need a quick pump at home or while you're traveling, a resistance band will become your best friend! Not only that, you can even use them in addition to your upper and lower body workouts for warming up the muscles before heavy lifting or to add more resistance while lifting. The point is, resistance bands are definitely an inexpensive piece of equipment that you want for your gym and home workouts!

With that being said, we put together a full-body upper body resistance band workout that is great for people with little time and want to do a quick home workout, or just need a challenging workout on the road. Let's get started!

The Workout

Before we dive into the workout, let's talk details to make sure you have the best workout possible. We designed this arm workout with full upper-body strength in mind and picked 7 resistance band exercises that target all major muscle groups. That means, your back, biceps, triceps, shoulders, and chest. The first two are warm-up exercises to help get those muscles and joints limber and ready, but we still recommend doing light stretching beforehand. All of these exercises can be done by all fitness levels. If you want something more challenging do the workout with a heavy resistance band. You can use a light band if you're new to fitness, but if you're not, we recommend using a long heavy resistance band for a better pump. Other than a long resistance band, you'll just need a mat (not absolutely necessary), water, and your body!


  • Use a long resistance band with a resistance of your choice.
  • Do the suggested sets and reps for each exercise.
  • Take 30 seconds of rest in between reps, and a minute in between sets. Feel free to take more time if needed.
  • Move through every exercise in a slow and controlled manner making sure there's a constant tension in the band. Too much momentum can mess up your form and potentially hurt you.

Resistance band pull apart

This warm-up exercise works your upper back muscles and shoulders. Not only does it warm-up your muscles, but it can also help improve your posture and minimize slouching over your desk! Since this is a warm-up exercise, we suggest using a light band.

  1. Start by standing up straight and holding a resistance band out in front of you around chest height and with hands shoulder-width apart.
  2. Begin externally rotating the shoulders to stretch the band horizontally squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  3. Slowly return to the starting position

Recommended sets and reps: 2 x 15 reps

Resistance band overhead pull apart

Making sure your shoulders are warmed up before lifting is crucial because they can easily be strained or injured. Doing this warm-up exercise will help with shoulder flexibility and make sure the shoulders are fully prepared before any heavy lifting. We suggest using a light band for this exercise as well.

  1. Stand upright with feet hip-width apart and hold one end of your resistance band in each hand with an overhand grip (palms facing away from you).
  2. Begin to raise and extend your arms overhead, the band should have a small amount of tension. This is your starting position.
  3. Focus on using your shoulders and back muscles to pull the band apart by bringing your arms down behind your head bending the elbows slightly if needed. 
  4. Pause once the band reaches shoulder height.
  5. Maintain the tension on the band and extend your elbows to return to the starting position.

Recommended sets and reps: 2 x 15 reps

Resistance band push up

Like the chest press, push-ups are a key chest exercise that works more than just the chest. It works the shoulders, triceps, and other small muscles. It's a hard move that not a lot of people like doing, even with just bodyweight, but it's one you shouldn't neglect. The added resistance from the band will help fire up almost your entire upper body which is why we had to include it! 

To make it beginner friendly we will be giving directions for a modified kneeling push-up, but feel free to do a regular push-up if you want it to be more challenging.

  1. To start position yourself on all fours with hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Wrap the band behind your back and pin it on the floor with your hands.
  2. Get into a modified plank position, meaning your knees are on the floor and feet raised behind you making sure that your hands are on the floor in front of you pinning the band down.
  3. Begin to bend your elbows and lower your body as far as you comfortably can, or until your chest taps the floor. Remember to keep your core engaged.
  4. Push yourself back up to the starting position.

Recommended sets and reps: 3 x 10 reps

Biceps curl into a shoulder press

Instead of the usual resistance band bicep curls, we wanted to spice it up with an added overhead press. So now instead of an isolated movement, it's a compound one that works your biceps and shoulders!

  1. Stand in the center of the band and grab both ends of it with both hands. Your foot placement depends on how much resistance you want. Keep your feet close together for lighter resistance and shoulder-width apart for more resistance.
  2. Once you have your foot placement down, stand upright and being to curl the band towards you until your close to shoulder height.
  3. From there, push into an overhead press, your arms will rotate so palms are facing outward. Try to think of pulling back from your lats, not just raising your shoulders.
  4. Begin to go down back to the starting position.

Recommended sets and reps: 4 x 10

Bent over row

Luckily, this staple back exercise can be also be done using a resistance band. This exercise targets various back muscles including, lats, traps, rhomboids, and rotator cuffs. This is definitely one you want to master with correct form because those muscles will help you achieve your first pull up 😉 

  1. Stand with both feet on the resistance band with feet placed hip-width apart.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and hinge forward at the hip making sure that your back is flat and hands under your shoulders.
  3. Grab the band with palms facing in toward each other.
  4. Pull the band toward your chest, keeping elbows at your sides and close to your body.
  5. Hold for a few seconds to feel the contraction on your back.
  6. Slowly straighten your arms and lower your hands back to the starting position.

Recommended sets and reps: 4 x 15 reps

Front raise

This exercise is an isolated shoulder movement that works the front of the deltoids. Fortunately, you don't need a pair of dumbbells to feel the burn, a resistance band will do just the same!

  1. Stand on the resistance band with both feet about hip-width apart.
  2. Hold the band in each hand with your arms at your side.
  3. Keeping your back straight and chest up, raise your arms straight in front of you until they're parallel to the floor and perpendicular to your torso, your arms should be at shoulder level.
  4. Hold for a moment then slowly lower back to the start.

Recommended sets and reps: 4 x 15 reps

Overhead tricep extension

This exercise focuses mainly on the triceps but using a resistance band instead of a dumbbell really isolates the tricep muscle. The resistance is throughout the whole movement which ensures that other muscles aren't helping with the movement. 

  1. Stand with one foot slightly in front of the other and place the center of the band under the back foot.
  2. Take the opposite end of the band with both hands and extend your elbows above your head, your arms should be up towards the ceiling. 
  3. Slowly lower the band behind the back of your head until your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure to keep elbows close to the side of your head.
  4. Press hands back up overhead slowly. And repeat.

Recommended sets and reps: 4 x 15 reps

There you have it! Try this resistance training routine in the comfort of your own living room, or outdoors with your workout buddies. You can even use these exercises and create your own HIIT or circuit workout with them and you can even include a few cardio exercises in between to really get your heart rate up. 

In case you don't have a long resistance band yet, but want to give this workout a try then check out our long resistance band collection.

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