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The 10 best resistance band workouts

best resistance band workouts
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The great thing about the best resistance band workouts is that you can do them nearly anywhere, and with almost no equipment needed. Let’s face it: When it comes to cardio, there are plenty of ways to get your heart pumping outside or inside, without any fancy equipment. But when it comes to strength training, you often need some equipment, and most of us don't have the money, space, or motivation, to turn part of our home into a gym.

Not to mention the fact that it’s been hard to find a lot of the best home gym equipment, as people have been buying up dumbbells, exercise bikes, and treadmills by the thousands. That’s where the best resistance bands come in: because they’re easy to make, they’re also easy to find. And they’re also cheap. 

But what are the best resistance band workouts? I dug out my resistance bands and spent many hours following every half-decent resistance band workout I could find…so you don't have to! These are the best resistance band workouts I could find — so stop making excuses and pick one.

Although a lot of resistance bands are interchangeable — or, at least, a lot of resistance band workouts can be modified to fit the type of resistance bands you have — we made sure to include workouts for each of the larger categories: tube bands with handles, loop bands, mini loop bands, and flat/therapy bands.

Best resistance band workouts

Under 15-minute beginner resistance band workout

Length: 12:30
Equipment needed: Tube bands with handles

This is a great beginner's workout — whether you're new to working out with resistance bands, or new to working out entirely. It's short but intense; it's made up entirely of low-impact strength exercises, and none of the moves are cardio filler just to "keep you moving." The workout is well-organized, and the breaks between sets offer enough time for the instructor to explain the upcoming move so even total newbies will be able to transition seamlessly. In addition to the narration, the video also has audio and visual cues such as chimes, a countdown timer, and a progress bar. While this might not seem necessary, it is extremely helpful if you're trying to follow a workout video in a less-than-optimal setting, such as on the five-inch screen of a smartphone.

Full-body mini resistance band workout

Length: 25 minutes
Equipment needed: Mini loop band

A lot of "full-body" workouts are way too focused on big movement — literally, exercises that work out your entire body. This is a great actual full-body workout, and is divided between legs/lower body, arms/upper body, and abs, with full-body movements between each section. This workout isn't narrated, but each exercise is labeled and demonstrated visually in between sets — it's pretty easy to follow, and there are additional audio cues (chime) and visual cues (set countdown timer) to help you stay on track.

Full-body resistance band pilates

Length: 20 minutes
Equipment needed: Flat/therapy bands

Flat or therapy resistance bands are typically used for physical therapy rather than workouts. But not all workouts need to be for fat-burning or muscle-building. Pilates is an easy, low-impact workout that helps improve your flexibility, posture, and balance. If you don't do a lot of Pilates, stretching, or paying attention to your posture, figuring out exactly what you need to do is a little intimidating, which is why I like this full-body pilates workout: It's easy to follow and the instructor does a lot of explaining, but it's paced fast enough that you won't get bored.

Full-body resistance band training workout

Length: 25 minutes
Equipment needed: Loop band

This workout combines full-body strength training with bursts of HIIT. If that sounds super intense, that's because it is — you'll both love and hate this one. All resistance band workouts can be adjusted to fit your fitness level, but this workout is geared slightly more toward veteran gym-goers. It's not difficult to follow along, but there isn't as much instruction (especially before the exercise starts); total beginners may feel lost at times. Also, this video has a different feel than the other videos on the list — more candid and rough around the edges — which you may find works better (or worse) to keep you motivated.

Resistance band workout: Abs & core

Length: 10 minutes
Equipment needed: Mini loop band

The nice thing about this ab workout is that it's flexible enough to work for a range of fitness levels. It's easy to follow (each exercise is narrated and demonstrated in the breaks) and the movements are easy enough to perform if you're a beginner; a lot of ab exercises can be discouragingly difficult to get right when you're just starting out. But you'll still get a fantastic (and painful) ab workout if you're not a beginner.

Top 5 ab exercises with resistance bands

Length: 3 minutes
Equipment needed: Tube band with handle and anchor

This is more of a walkthrough than it is a workout — though, since you don't need to spend hours working out your abs, it still functions pretty well as a workout. This may not be the most polished video, but the exercises are spot-on — I did these exercises with resistance bands at the gym long before there was a pandemic. The only caveat for these exercises is that you will need to anchor your bands to something (such as a wall or a door) instead of using a normal workaround, because the angle is important.

Intense 5-minute resistance band bicep workout

Length: 5 minutes
Equipment needed: Tube band with handle

It's in the title: This five-minute workout is intense. It's really just five different types of bicep curls, but it's easy to follow (bicep curls aren't particularly complicated to figure out), it's intense, and it's only five minutes long. Anabolic Aliens has an entire series of 5-minute resistance band workouts — the supplementary workouts are definitely worth a look.

You only need this to build muscle

Length: 7 minutes
Equipment needed: Loop band

This isn't really a pre-designed workout (although you can follow it like it is), it's an instructional video on how to perform several of the more traditional lifts/exercises: Squats, push-ups with resistance, single-arm rows, deadlifts, bicep curls, tricep kickbacks, lateral raises, and seated in & out crunches. This is a must-see for any traditional gym-goers who might be skeptical about what they can achieve with resistance bands.

10-minute travel resistance band workout

Length: 10 minutes
Equipment needed: Travel bow-tie band

Although you can do most of these workouts almost anywhere, this 10-minute full-body routine is particularly convenient if you're on the go. It's a quick, low-impact routine that uses just one bow-tie style resistance band and requires very little floor space, but it still takes you through a variety of exercises for your upper and lower body. It's not necessarily the only workout you'll ever need to do, but it's a great way to get moving if you're short on time, and it makes a nice warm-up if you're not.   

48-minute upper body resistance band workout

Length: 48 minutes
Equipment needed: Loop bands

This is the upper body workout you've been looking for. This workout takes you through 16 exercises performed in quad-sets (three sets of each quad-set), with an intense — but doable — 40 seconds on, 20 seconds rest. The nice thing about this workout is that all the exercises are exercises you're used to doing in the gym — starting with tricep kickbacks and bicep curls and ending with seated pull-backs. This is a 48-minute workout so I wouldn't suggest jumping right into it, but once you're warmed up and comfortable with band workouts it'll definitely make you sweat.  

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