33 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere

Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Literally Anywhere

Nothing beats resistance bands if you want to tone your body, add variety to your workouts, or boost your strength and mobility when traveling. Made from latex rubber, these lightweight tools provide a convenient way to challenge any muscle group—arms, legs, back, and core—when you’re on the go. While they’re not as heavy-duty as free weights or machines at the gym (or even water bottles), resistance bands are inexpensive and come in various shapes and sizes that accommodate different levels of experience.

What’s more: They target muscles in ways that other methods simply can’t. “You can replicate a lot of barbell lifts using bands because you can attach them anywhere for maximum engagement and resistance in different directions,” says Todd McCullough, CSCS*, owner of Kratos Fitness & Lifestyle in Orlando, Florida.

This is why we turned to McCullough and Chase Weber, CSCS*, a trainer from Barry’s Bootcamp Miami Beach, for some of their favorite band moves. With their help (and some virtual exercise inspiration from Instagram), we put together this list of exercises with resistance bands that will get your whole body involved so you can work up a sweat—no matter where you are.

Lower-body exercises

You work hard for your money, and you’re willing to pay a little extra, but you’re all about getting the most bang for your buck when it comes to exercising. Enter resistance bands (or mini bands), small, lightweight tools that allow you to squeeze in an effective workout anywhere and anytime. You can use them alone or add them to your current strength-training routine.

Before we get into our favorite lower-body resistance band exercises, here’s a quick refresher on the main muscles in the lower body:

  • Glutes: The largest muscle group in the body, located at the top of the legs
  • Hamstrings: Located on the back of the thighs
  • Quadriceps: Located on the front of the  thigh

Let’s get down and dirty with some toning exercises!

1. Front squat

Loop bands around your feet, holding an end in each hand with palms facing you.

Assume a squat position with feet hip-width apart and toes angled slightly outward.

Engage your core and keep your chest tall.

Push your hips back as you bend your knees to squat as low as possible.

Pause at the bottom, then stand up and repeat

2. Leg extension

How to do it:

  • Standing on the middle of a resistance band with your feet hip-width apart, hold the ends of the band in each hand, positioning your arms and wrists so that your palms face each other.
  • Keeping your feet on the ground and core engaged, raise your right leg straight out at hip height, then return it to starting position without letting it touch the ground. Do 10–12 reps before switching legs.

Muscles worked: Quadriceps (front of thighs), glutes (bottom)

Equipment needed: Resistance band

Watch for: Avoid arching your lower back during this move; keep hips aligned by engaging abs and keeping your core tight throughout the movement.

3. Prone (lying) leg curl

Works: glutes, hamstrings

How to do it:

Starting position: Lie on your stomach with the band looped around both feet. Flex your feet and pull your heels toward your butt. This is the starting position.

  • Initiate the movement by flexing your hamstrings as you curl your heels toward your butt until they are directly underneath you. Pause at the top of the contraction before lowering them back down to the starting position. Make sure not to overextend at the bottom of each rep by arching too much in your lower back; this will place unnecessary strain on it and could lead to injury.
  • You can change up how difficult this exercise is by either adding or subtracting loops from the band or simply using a thicker/thinner resistance band. Depending on what feels comfortable for you and what’s available in terms of equipment, you can make adjustments. Play around with different setups until you find one that works best for you!

4. Glute bridge

Make this move with a looped resistance band to hit your glutes, hamstrings, and core. First, place the band around your thighs just above your knees. Then lie on your back, bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor, and place them shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your glutes as you push through your heels to lower your hips into a bridge position. (Make sure to keep your core engaged throughout!) You should feel this move in the backs of the legs and butt. Pause for two seconds at the top of the rep before lowering back down.

5. Standing adduction

  • Tie your resistance band around your ankles, creating a loop.
  • Stand with your feet together and arms by your sides, holding the ends of the resistance band in each hand to maintain tension on the band.
  • Keeping both heels on the floor, step out into a wide stance with one foot, then step back in to touch toes together again. Repeat this move for 30 seconds or 12 to 15 reps (if you’re not using a timer), making sure to keep tension on the band across your feet to feel it working!
  • After 30 seconds or 12-15 reps, switch legs and repeat on another side for another 30 seconds or 12-15 reps.
  • Take 30 seconds to rest before moving on to the next exercises

6. Clamshell

Lie on your left side, with your head resting comfortably in your left hand. Bend both knees at a 45-degree angle, and place the band in a loop around the legs (just above the knees is best). Keep feet together so heels touch.

Keeping feet touching and core engaged, open your right knee up towthe ard the ceiling as far as you can while keeping heels together. Pause for two seconds at the top of the movement, then slowly return to the start position. Repeat for 12 reps or one minute (whichever comes first), then switch to the opposite side.

The clamshell exercise may help strengthen the hips and abs, often weak spots for many people—especially those who sit all day long. This move helps build strength in the glutes (another common weak spot) and can improve hip mobility for better movement mechanics overall. It’s worth noting that this is also an excellent exercise for decreasing knee pain from osteoarthritis by improving hip stability, increasing muscle strength around the knee joint, and decreasing inflammation in that area of the body.”

7. Plantarflexion

Plantarflexion is a simple exercise for strengthening your calf muscles, which are crucial for running, jumping, and climbing stairs.

How to do it: Loop a resistance band around the top of your foot and hold the ends in both hands. You keep your leg straight; press down onto the band with your foot. Resist it coming back up as best you can. Repeat until fatigued on each try it with two bands at once if. Try it with two bands at once if that’s too easy for you!

8 reps each side; Increase to 10 reps per side after a few weeks of practice; Increase the number of sets from 2-3 to 3-4 overtime *If this exercise causes you any pain, stop immediately and seek advice from a physical therapist or another specialist before trying again.*

8. Lateral band walk

Get into a squat position.

Place the resistance band around your legs, just above the knees.

Step out to one side, keeping tension on the band, your toes pointed straight ahead, and your knees in line with your toes.

Continue stepping sideways until you reach the desired distance, then return to starting position by stepping back to the center.

9. Standing abduction

Start by anchoring a band around your ankles. Then, standing with feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, place the band around your ankles. Engage your abs and glutes while leading with your heels as you step one leg out to the side (don’t allow the knee to cave in). Next, pull back against the band’s resistance and bring that leg back to the center. Keep your elbows straight throughout this move; don’t arch your back or allow the knees to go past your toes during these moves. Repeat for 10 reps on each side before moving on to the next move. And remember: if you feel pain in your knees during these exercises, stop immediately!

10. Seated abduction

  • Sit on the floor with legs straight and feet together. Wrap the band around the arches of your feet, holding one end in each hand.
  • Exhale as you raise your legs until they reach hip height.
  • Inhale as you bring them back down to start, keeping tension throughout the band.
  • Do 30 seconds total, alternating sides every 15 seconds, so each leg gets time to work independently. Advanced version: Add a twist by rotating your upper body toward the side of the working leg at the top of each rep (following it with your eyes).

Arm exercises

If you’re using a resistance band with handles, there are two options for securing it: stand on the center of the band and pull up on the handles to create tension, or use an anchor point. An anchor point could be a sturdy piece of furniture, a door handle (securely shut!), or another person holding onto one end.

For these exercises, you’ll need a light-to-medium resistance band.

11. Concentration curl

We’re not going to lie; this move is tough. It’s meant to be done with a mini-loop band (like these). Keep your elbow tight at your hip and avoid swaying or swinging to get the most out of it. At the top of the movement, only go as high as you can while keeping your elbow in close to your body—don’t let it move forward as you curl up. Finally, stretch the band fully at the bottom of the movement.

  • Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the ground
  • Grip handle(s) with one hand and place another hand on top of the thigh for stability
  • Keeping upper arms stationary, raise forearm until bicep is contracted and palm is facing shoulder

12. Standing biceps curl

Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and holding a band in each hand below your knee to do this exercise needs to do this exercise. Keep your palms facing up and your elbows by your sides. Your hands should be curled as if you were holding onto a ball. Begin by curling your hands up to your shoulders, keeping your elbows still. Slowly lower your arms back to the starting position to complete one rep.

13. Triceps kickback

Triceps kickbacks are the easiest resistance band exercises, but they’re still effective enough to add some definition to your triceps. As a traditional weight training exercise, this move is often made with a pair of dumbbells. But because resistance bands allow you to work against consistent tension, it’s even more effective with a band than weights.

To do a triceps kickback, start by holding the middle of the band in each hand and then bringing your arms up so that they’re bent at 90-degree angles on either side of your body, elbows held against your sides. Your wrists should be facing forward, and your hands should be facing back. Then slowly push both hands back until your arms are fully extended behind you (careful not to lock out your elbows). Keeping those upper arms locked at 90 degrees, slowly flex the elbows and return them to starting position.

14. Overhead triceps extension

If you’re looking to work your shoulders, try the overhead triceps extension:

  • Place the band behind your back and grab the ends with your hands, raising them overhead to perpendicular to your body.
  • Keeping your elbows close together, bend at the knees and lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the floor while maintaining a straight back.
  • Extend both arms behind you until they are straight out (this is also known as “taco”). Then bring your arms back down until they’re parallel to the floor again, in line with your ears (also known as “yoga”).
  • Repeat this motion for 12-15 reps before switching arms.

Core exercises

As a certified personal trainer, I’m often asked about the best ways to improve core strength and stability. The answer varies from person to person, as everyone has different goals and levels of physical ability. However, there are some important guidelines for anyone looking to get in shape and boost their overall health. First and foremost: focus on form over intensity. Even if you’re doing an exercise that only feels like it’s working your abs (like crunches), it ensures you’re maintaining a neutral spine position1. Your neck should be supported by a pillow or other prop throughout any given workout set or routine if you find yourself straining it backward when performing ab exercises. If you have lower back pain, this tip is especially critical!

Worried that a high-quality core workout will require tons of equipment? Fear not: all of the following exercises can be completed using just a resistance band (you can do even those without one!) Or, for more advanced exercisers who want some extra challenge with heavier weight options, these moves can also be performed using free weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells—keep in mind that having good form is essential no matter what kind of additional resistance you choose.2

15. Kneeling crunch

Now that we’re all on the same page about a resistance band let’s move on to the exercises. I’m going to start with banded crunches because I believe knowing how to do traditional exercises with your body weight properly is important.

Banded crunches target your rectus abdominis and obliques. Using a lighter-resistance band, you can also perform these from a standing position, but kneeling crunches allow more control over your movement while targeting lower abs. I recommend starting there if you’re new to this exercise. To do them:

  • Hold one end of the resistance band in each hand at shoulder height.
  • Bend your knees and press your heels into the floor as you lie back onto your tailbone (as pictured in step 1). To keep tension on the band throughout this exercise, ensure that your hands are directly out from the shoulders at the chest level (step 2). (If they drop down by your stomach, it will be harder.)
  • Squeeze both sides of your abs and pull both handles toward each knee as you crunch down slowly (steps 3-4). Pause for a second at the bottom before releasing slowly back to the start position for one rep.

16. Woodchopper

  • The band color, length, and resistance: Light
  • How to set up: Start in a half-kneeling position with your right knee bent and your left leg extended behind you. Hold the band in front of you at chest level with an overhand grip.
  • Correct form: Exhale as you rotate your torso to the left, raising your hands overhead and toward the left side of the room. Inhale as you return to a half-kneeling position. Do all reps on one side before switching sides.
  • Breathing: Exhale as you rotate your torso; inhale as you return to start.
  • How many repetitions/sets: 3 sets of 20 reps per side

17. Anti-rotation band walkout

While holding a resistance band in each hand (you can also do this with just one), keep your arms extended to the side, so your body is in a “T” shape.

Step 2: Keep your core tight as you walk out as far as possible, keeping the band’s tension. Pause, then walk back to the starting position and repeat.

Step 3: Keep moving steadily, and don’t rush through it. If you want an extra challenge, try doing this while wearing wrist weights or ankle weights.

18. Reverse crunch

  • Lie down flat on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. You can place your hands out to your sides for support.
  • Place the resistance band around your feet, then grab one end of the band in each hand.
  • Contract your abs to lift your buttocks off the floor and bring your knees toward your chest, pulling on the band simultaneously.
  • Slowly return to starting position and repeat

19. Russian twist

Our bodies are made up of so many different muscles, and each one controls different things. However, one group of muscles is responsible for keeping our joints in perfect alignment, holding our skeleton together, and making all the other stuff work: the core. There are lots more muscles than that in the core, but we’ll focus on these four today.

The Russian twist will strengthen all four of these core muscles to keep your joints healthy and help you exercise without even realizing it. You can do this anywhere at any time; no equipment is required!

Back exercises

Resistance band exercises are a no-brainer. They’re portable so that you can do them anywhere, and they take up next to no space in your bag. And although the bands come in a variety of resistance levels—from light to heavy—they aren’t just for beginners. If you’re unsure which one to start with, go with a medium option (aka pink or black) that will provide some pushback but still be comfortable to use. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to any equipment and want to get your sweat on at home, here are our favorite bodyweight workouts that require zero gear.

Don’t forget that it’s important to keep your back strong (especially if you spend a lot of time sitting). That’s why personal trainer Holly Perkins invented these moves just for POPSUGAR using only resistance bands — but there are many other ways exercise bands can help improve your health too! So try these options out once or twice a week for the best results (and make sure you always warm-up before doing any exercise).

20. Bent-over row

Ready to build up your back? Start with a bent-over row. This exercise works your latissimus dorsi (lats), rhomboids, and middle traps, explains personal trainer Jamie Fitch, CPT. Your lats are the biggest muscles in your back, so strengthening them is key for both posture and overall back health. You’ll also get some bicep work done since the biceps help powerfully pull the arms towards the body.

A single resistance band will do the trick—just make sure the band offers enough resistance, so you feel challenged throughout.

How to do it: Grab one end of a resistance band in each hand with your palms facing down and feet about hip-width apart. Bend forward at your hips as much as possible until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings (avoid rounding through your upper back). Keep tension on the band by pulling it up toward the shoulders while squeezing shoulder blades together. Extend arms straight down again and repeat 15 more times, keeping the stomach tight to support the lower back.

21. Seated row

How to do it: Sit on the floor with your feet on top of the resistance band, knees bent. Hold an end in each hand and lean back slightly until there is tension in the band. Your arms should be extended straight toward the ceiling, palms facing each other. Pull your arms toward you until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle (your hands should still be above your chest), feeling your upper back muscles contract. Pause for one second at the bottom, then slowly release back to the start position. Do 15 reps.

22. Pull-apart

  • Hold your resistance band with both arms extended out to the side, at shoulder height.
  • Keeping your elbows straight, pull the band apart from so that your hands meet in the middle of your body.
  • Slowly return to starting position and repeat for 8-12 reps for 3 sets.

23. Lying pullover

Lying pullovers are great for hitting your chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, triceps.

Do it without a band: Lie on the ground with your arms extended above your face and palms. Slowly lower them behind your head until you feel a stretch in your chest. Then raise them back to the starting position. That’s one rep.

How to do it with a band: Attach the resistance band to something sturdy or get a partner to hold one end of the resistance band behind you as you lie on the ground with legs bent at a 90-degree angle and feet flat on the floor. Grab each side of the resistance band just below it’s secured with both hands at shoulder-width apart, extending them over your face and pressing palms together. Slowly lower arms back behind head until there is tension in the resistance band before bringing them back up over face to return to start position. That’s one rep.

How many reps? Do 10-15 reps or 3 sets of 8-12 reps if you’re using heavier weights that allow no more than 8-12 reps per set while maintaining proper form throughout each set. Start out doing 3 sets but work up to 5 sets per workout session as strength increases overtime allowing you do more reps per set within the 10-15 rep range while maintaining proper form throughout each set; if not able break into heavier weights that allow no more than 8-12 reps per set while maintaining proper form throughout each set yet then keep doing three sets within 10-15 rep range (or whatever rep range can maintain proper form) until strength improves enough overtime to break into heavier weights that allow no more than 8 reps per set while maintaining proper form throughout each set; once able break into heavier weights then increase from 3 sets up to 5 sets of 8-12 reps per workout session within 2 weeks time (continue doing 3 sets for two weeks but after two weeks bump up from 3 sets up to 4

24. Lat pulldown

Anchor a band above you and hold the ends with an overhand grip. Pull the band down and slightly back with your elbows in line with your shoulders.

  • Keep your back straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together, and control the movement as you move back up to the starting position. Don’t lock out your elbows at the top of this movement.

Chest exercises

The benefit of resistance band exercises is that you can do them anywhere: in the living room, in the office, on a plane! The only equipment you need to get started is a resistance band. These bands come in different levels and strengths, so not all bands are the same. Your resistance band should be between 4 and 10 pounds. If it’s too heavy or light, you won’t get much out of it.

A great place to start is with these 33 Resistance Band Exercises You Can Do Anywhere.

25. Push-up

Grab a resistance band and set it up in a plank position with the band around your back and arms extended. Make sure your body forms a straight line from head to heels.

Bend your elbows and lower your body until you are just slightly above the floor. Keep your elbows close to your body as you lower to form about a 45-degree angle when bent.

Push back up to the starting position, squeezing your chest as you do so. Keep engaging those shoulders as you do push-ups throughout this exercise routine!

Do as many push-ups with proper form as you can while maintaining good posture

26. Incline chest press

Put your back on a bench and hold the band in both hands straight out at chest level. You can do this exercise one arm at a time, but we’re going to focus on doing it with both arms simultaneously.

Keeping the band tight, bend your elbows to bring your hands toward each other as if you were doing a hug and trying to touch opposite shoulders.

Straighten your arms back out so that they’re almost locked and return to starting position, making sure that you keep tension in the band. That’s one rep. Do 10-15 reps for 3 sets (with 30 seconds of rest between sets).

If this is too easy, you can increase the difficulty by moving further away from the anchor point to create more tension in the band or by wrapping it around something like a door handle instead of tying it off. If it’s too hard, decreases the difficulty by moving closer to or wrapping the band around an anchor point or getting a lighter weight resistance band.

27. Bench press

  • Wrap the band under your shoulder blades and grasp one end in each hand, palms facing forward.
  • Lie with your back flat on the floor. Bend your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Press into the ground with both feet to lift your hips until they’re about parallel to the ground and you’re supporting yourself with only your upper back, arms, and heels of feet (your head should be up, too).
  • With a slight bend in your elbows, lower your chest toward the floor while maintaining tension in-band (don’t let it go taut). Pause at the bottom for a second or two, then press through palms to return to the start position (elbows should remain at 90 degrees; don’t lockout!).

28. Standing chest press

Step 1: Hold one end of the band in each hand or wrap it around your back. Step 2: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your knees slightly bent. Step 3: Extend both arms out to the side at chest height, then bend at the elbows to pull back toward your torso (like a hug).

This exercise works your shoulders, biceps, triceps, and chest.

If you want to increase resistance and difficulty, shorten the length of the band by wrapping it around your back more times.

28. Standing chest press

Position the band around your upper back and hold the ends with a neutral grip, palms facing each other. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, so there’s tension in the band. Keep your core engaged and back straight as you press forward, squeezing your chest muscles to push the band out. Keep your elbows at a 45-degree angle until they’re at shoulder height, then slowly lower them back to start. That’s one rep!

29. Overhead press

Hold the band so your hands are directly in line with your shoulders, each six inches apart. Keep your elbows tucked close to your sides and the band above your head. Press the handles straight up, going slowly and controlling the motion throughout.

30. Forward raise

Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent. Hold the band with your palms facing each other and elbows bent at a 90-degree angle. Raise the band to shoulder level, palms facing down. Keep your elbows slightly bent throughout the movement. Return to starting position.

31. Lateral raise

Target muscles: Deltoids, trapezius, upper back, core (stabilization)

Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart, and knees slightly bent. Hold a band in each hand with an overhand grip at your sides and palms. Keep your chest up and shoulders down as you lift your arms out to the side until they’re parallel to the floor. Slowly return to the starting position. That’s one rep. Do three sets of 12 to 15 reps.

32. Upright row

You can make this move with a long resistance band anchored to the ground or a shorter one that you hold. With your feet hip-width apart and knees slightly bent, grip the handle in each hand. Palms should face down with thumbs resting on top of your fingers. Raise your hands toward your chest until your elbows are higher than your shoulders, then slowly lower back down.

33. Bent-over rear delt fly

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold the band in each hand. Bend your knees slightly and hinge over at the hips, allowing your arms to hang in front of you. Exhale as you lift your arms out to the sides, squeezing your shoulder blades together at the top of the move. Keep your core engaged, and avoid rounding your back or hunching forward throughout this exercise.

Resistance bands are a great way to work out anywhere.

Resistance bands are perfect for all types of fitness training, whether you’re working on upper-body toning or focusing on lower-body strength. They make a great addition to any home workout routine (it’s easy to stash them in your tiny apartment), and you can also bring them with you when you travel. They come in varying resistance levels if you want a more challenging workout. There are so many different exercises you can do with them to target specific muscle groups.

  • Start standing in the middle of the band, feet shoulder-width apart. Hold one end of the band in each hand.
  • Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle to lift the band above your head until both arms are fully extended. Keeping your elbows close to your head, slowly lower the ends back down toward your shoulders.
  • Repeat for 10 reps.

Resistance bands are a great way to work out anywhere.

Resistance bands are perfect for all types of fitness training, whether you’re working on upper-body toning or focusing on lower-body strength. They make a great addition to any home workout routine (it’s easy to stash them in your tiny apartment), and you can also bring them with you when you travel. They come in varying resistance levels if you want a more challenging workout. There are so many different exercises you can do with them to target specific muscle groups.

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Meet Evie Austine, our passionate dietician with a flair for turning nutrition into a delightful journey. Armed with a degree in Nutritional Sciences and a taste for creating healthy yet delicious recipes, Evie is on a mission to make balanced living as enjoyable as it is nourishing.