Can you get an effective arm workout with resistance bands?
YES! I love strength training and heavy weights.
But resistance bands challenge your muscles in new ways.
Instead of lifting a weight, your arm muscles are under constant tension with resistance bands. This means your arm muscles are actually working harder with each rep due to the time under tension.
Research shows that resistance bands are a comparable alternative to dumbbells when it comes to muscle engagement, specifically in upper body exercises (Journal of Human Kinetics). Resistance band exercises for arms can be great for not only building strength, but also increasing flexibility and mobility in your upper body.
Other benefits to using resistance bands include:
Greater muscle stimulus and control (you have to maintain tension on the band throughout the entire movement).
Stabilization and core activation.
Variety of exercise options.
Inexpensive and easy to travel with or store in a home gym.
Although it’s only 15 minutes, this arm workout with bands hits all the upper body muscles — shoulders, back, biceps, triceps and chest muscles!
15-Minute Resistance Band Arm Workout
Six of the best resistance band exercises for your arms, that you can do absolutely anywhere.
This is one of my favorite arm workouts to add onto a run. I throw a mini band in the bottom of my stroller, run the kids to the park and do this resistance band arm workout while the kids play at the park.
It’s also a great quick and effective upper body workout when you’re short on time or traveling.
Mini Loop Resistance Band.
I recommend light to medium resistance. You want to be able to move throughout the the full range of motion with each arm exercise, but the last 2-3 reps should feel challenging to complete.
Push Ups (beginner: band on upper arms, advanced: band on wrists)
Kneeling Shoulder Press
Kneeling Lat Pull Down, Right
Kneeling Concentration Bicep Curl, Right
Plank + Alternating Row
Kneeling Lat Pull Down, Left
Kneeling Concentration Bicep Curl, Left
Tricep Press Down, Right
Tricep Press Down, Left
6 Resistance Band Exercises for Arms
1. Banded Push Ups
Targets: Chest, shoulders, triceps, abs and core.
Beginner: Place the band around your upper arms (bicep/tricep area) to help push you back up to the top of your push up.
Advanced: Place the band around your wrists to increase the intensity.
How to do Banded Push Ups:
Place the mini band around your wrists or upper arms.
Start in high plank position with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, weight evenly distributed amongst all 10 fingers.
Hold this position, maintaining a straight line with your body, gaze slightly in front of you.
Slowly lower your chest down towards the ground, elbows fall back towards your body. Maintain a straight line with your body — head, chest and legs in one straight line.
Then push back up into high plank position (pushing your body up in one straight line from head to heels).
Maintain tension on the band during each rep.
Modification: Drop to your knees and place the band around your upper arms to help push you back up to the top of your push up.
2. Kneeling Shoulder Press
Targets: Arms, shoulders, chest, back and stabilizing core muscles.
How to do a Resistance Band Shoulder Press:
Start in a kneeling position (option to perform this standing if you have knee pain). Loop the resistance band around your wrists.
Bend your elbows to 90 degrees, hands out in front of you, palms facing in towards each other. Spread your hands apart to create tension across the band.
Maintaining this tension, straighten your arms as you press them overhead while keeping your shoulder blades pulled down. Fully extending your arms overhead.
With control and constant tension on the band, lower arms, bringing the bands back down to the starting position.
3. Kneeling Lat Pull Down
Targets: Arms and lats (the largest muscle in the upper body and biggest back muscle).
How to do a Resistance Band Lat Pull Down:
Start in a kneeling position (option to perform this standing if you have knee pain). Loop the resistance band between your thumbs and hold both hands overhead; arms fully extended overhead.
Keeping your left hand steady, pull your right elbow down and out, engaging your back muscles and pulling your shoulder blade down. Right arm should pull down to a 90 degree bend, shoulder and elbow parallel.
Slowly, release the tension, bringing your right hand back to the starting position with control.
Repeat, staying on the right side for the entire 40 seconds. Switch to the left side for the second set.
4. Kneeling Concentration Bicep Curls
Targets: Both the long and short heads of the bicep muscle (upper arm).
How to do Resistance Band Bicep Curls (Single Arm Concentration Curls):
Start in a half kneeling position, left knee on the mat with toes of left foot tucked under and right foot on the mat. Bring your right foot out towards your right side and loop the resistance band around the arch of your right foot and your right hand.
Slightly hinge forward at the hips and press your right elbow into the inside of your right thigh. Then curl your right palm up towards your right shoulder. Performing a single arm concentration curl.
Control the tension on the band as you lower your right hand back down to the starting position.
Stay on the right arm for the entire 40 seconds. Switch sides for the second set.
5. Plank + Alternating Row
Targets: Arms, shoulders, chest, back, triceps, abs and core.
How to do a Plank and Row with Resistance Bands:
Start in high plank position with the resistance band looped around your thumbs. You can always modify your plank with both knees on the ground.
Hold this plank position as you pull the band and your right hand back towards your right hip. Pulling your right elbow up to meet your right rib cab, while trying to keep both hips square to the ground.
Lower your right hand back to the mat with control, and repeat the row on the left hand.
Modification: Drop to your knees and perform the rows from your knees. Or add an incline by placing your hands on a chair or bench.
6. Tricep Pressdown
Targets: All three heads of the tricep muscle (back of the upper arm).
How to do a Resistance Band Tricep Kickback:
Start with feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent. Option to slightly stagger your feet (pictured above).
Hold the top of the band at your left shoulder with your right hand. Then loop your left hand/palm through the bottom of the resistance band.
Slightly hinge forward at the hips and perform a ‘tricep kickback’ on the left arm; extending the left arm long behind you as you pull the band band back towards your left hips/butt (left arm straight).
With control, slowly return your left hand to the starting position.
Stay on the left arm for the entire 40 seconds. Switch sides for the second set.
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