Forget weights — this 8-move workout builds upper body muscle and all you need is a resistance band

a photo of a woman working out with a resistance band
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Resistance bands are extremely versatile and can be used to train various muscles in the body. While some choose to use bands to help them warm up their muscles before a workout or to increase their flexibility or mobility, we are about to show you how to use a band to strengthen your arm muscles — using eight exercises.

Resistance bands create tension in muscles during exercise, making your muscle fibers engage and contract. This tension triggers muscle adaptation, leading to increased strength, and hypertrophy, if you are implementing progressive overload into your banded workouts.

The best resistance bands on the market come in all shapes and sizes but for this particular routine, you will want to make sure you have access to a loop band. Often they will come in a set of varying levels of resistance. You can use just one band to get your arm muscles fired up, or if you want to make the workout more challenging and implement some progressive overload into the mix, then, by all means, bring in more than one band to this routine.

Keep reading to find out the moves…

What are the 8 resistance band exercises? 

Resistance bands add constant tension throughout an exercise, targeting various angles and engaging different muscle fibers, meaning it’s a great exercise tool for building strength in your arm muscles. 

Combining bands with traditional weight training, for example with some of the best kettlebells, can create a well-rounded approach to arm muscle development. But to get things started, here are eight banded exercises for toning and strengthening your arms. 

The workout was designed by fitness strainer, Britany Williams who you can watch demonstrate each move below. You will do three rounds of 12-15 reps each, resting as needed. 

Alt Pull Down:

Begin with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the resistance band with both hands, arms fully extended in front of and above your head. Alternate pulling one arm down towards the hip on that side, keeping a controlled motion. Switch to the other arm and repeat, alternating sides with each repetition. 

Lateral Extension:

Kneel down, securing the resistance band with one hand by your chest. Using the opposite arm, pull and extend the band straight out to the side, then smoothly return it to your chest. Repeat the lateral extension, focusing on maintaining proper form and controlled movements. 

Seated High Row:

Sit on the floor with legs extended in front, attach the band to one foot, and hold the other end with the arm on the same side. Pull the band back, perform a rowing movement, bringing the hand towards your chest, and then extend it forward. Maintain good posture throughout and engage your back muscles. 

Overhead Extension:

Bend one arm behind your back, holding the resistance band. The other hand, bent behind and positioned in the center of your back, grasps the other end of the band. Use the top hand to pull the band up and down, focusing on the triceps and maintaining a controlled range of motion.

Pull Back:

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms raised to chest height, and resistance band around wrists. Pull your elbows out, bringing the band toward your chest and then extend your arms forward again. Emphasize the shoulder blades' retraction during the pull and maintain a stable stance. 

Superman Y Pull:

Lie on your stomach, hands and feet on the ground, resistance band around your wrists. Lift arms, hands, legs, and head off the ground, pulling hands underneath the chin toward the chest as you lift before slowly returning to the original position. Repeat, focusing on engaging the back muscles and keeping a straight body line.

Tricep Press Out:

Stand with knees slightly bent, your body leaning forward, hands and arms placed behind your back with the band around your wrists. Push hands outwards as far as possible against the resistance, slowly bring back in again and repeat. Ensure a controlled movement. 

Seated Underhand Row:

Sit on the floor with legs extended, attach the band to one foot, and hold the other end with the arm on the same side. Pull the band back in a rowing movement, engaging the muscles of the back. Maintain proper form, emphasizing the underhand grip for this seated row exercise. 

a photo of a woman stretching out a resistance band with her arms

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the benefits of this upper body banded workout? 

This beginner-friendly resistance band workout targets various muscle groups in the arms and upper body, providing a well-rounded approach to building arm strength. For example, moves like the overhead extension and the tricep press out incorporate both overhead and forward extensions to isolate the triceps while helping to promote strength and definition. Meanwhile, the seated underhand row engages the biceps, forearms, and upper back.

Overall, this resistance band workout not only strengthens the arms but also promotes muscle symmetry, balance, and functional strength. Plus, the versatility of resistance bands allows for progressive overload, making it suitable for individuals at various fitness levels. 

Ready to give it a go?

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Jessica Downey
Fitness Writer

Jessica is an experienced fitness writer with a passion for running. Her love for keeping fit and fueling her body with healthy and enjoyable food quite naturally led her to write about all things fitness and health-related. If she isn’t out testing the latest fitness products such as the latest running shoe or yoga mat for reviewing then she can be found writing news and features on the best ways to build strength, active aging, female health, and anything in between. Before then she had a small stint writing in local news, has also written for Runners World UK (print and digital), and gained experience with global content marketing agency, Cedar Communications.

Born and raised in Scotland, Jessica is a massive fan of exercising and keeping active outdoors. When at home she can be found running by the sea, swimming in it, or up a mountain. This continued as she studied and trained to become a PPA-accredited magazine journalist in Wales. And since working and living in London, she splits her time between weight training in the gym, trying new fitness classes, and finding scenic running routes. Jessica enjoys documenting this on her fitness-inspired Instagram page @jessrunshere where she loves engaging with like-minded fitness junkies.

She is a big fan of healthy cooking and loves learning more about this area with expert nutritionists she has met over the years. Jessica is a big advocate for building healthy relationships with food rather than building restrictive attitudes towards it. When she isn’t eating or running she also enjoys practicing yoga in her free time as it helps her to unwind and benefits her performance in other sports.