If you’re looking for new ways to build strength without wielding weights, turns out you only need one resistance band and a hot 30 minutes to improve your functional full-body strength.
When it comes to falling down the YouTube rabbit hole, we’re as guilty as the next person. Before you know it, you’re deep-diving into Chris Hemsworth’s 250-rep dumbbell workout and hitting purchase on the best adjustable dumbbells to build an engine Thor would be proud of.
But if high-rep, heavy-weight workouts aren’t your bag, save time and money with one of the best resistance bands and your exercise mat instead. You don’t need to spend hours in the gym — the workout takes just 30 minutes from the comfort of your home and still kicks up a burn.
It’s the creation of mobility and functional fitness instructor Julia Reppel, who said, “I included three different levels for you to work at your individual capacity.” Each exercise is a follow-along EMOM (every minute on the minute), and the three levels offer a set rep range to finish before the next minute (and exercise) begins.
Reppel promises to fire up your upper body, core, and lower body, sandwiching the core-torching routine between a gentle mobility warm-up and soothing cool-down series.
We checked out the comments, and they warned us it was sweaty. Find out what happened when we grabbed a band, set a timer, and put this 30-minute full-body resistance band workout to the test.
What is Julia Reppel’s 30-minute full-body resistance band workout?
Reppel explains everything you need to know in the YouTube video, but here's a snapshot of the full workout:
Warm-up: 40s on/ 10s off
Spinal curl to inchworm: Tuck your pelvis towards your spine, tuck your chin towards your chest, then slowly roll down into a forward fold position, allowing your arms to fall towards your feet. Walk your hands in front of you into a high plank position while maintaining a soft knee bend. Reverse back to your starting position – your chin and head should come up last.
½ Kneeling tootsie roll: Kneel on your right knee, toes untucked. Sit on the ball of your left foot (toes tucked) in a half squat, then begin to roll your left knee in its full range of motion, clockwise and anticlockwise, remaining on the ball of your foot. Switch sides for the next 40s.
EMOM (every minute on the minute). Aim to finish reps with 10 seconds to rest before the next minute starts.
External rotation ‘pull aparts’: Hold one half of your band in an underhand (supine) grip position, shoulder-width apart. Pull the band apart, locking elbows close to your hips throughout, then release back to your starting position. Keep shoulders back and down and avoid hunching.
Good mornings: Stand feet hip-width apart and single wrap the band under your feet, then wrap around your shoulders. Maintain a soft bend in your knees, then hinge forwards at your hips while keeping your back flat and pushing your bum behind you. Once your chest is parallel to the floor, slowly return to stand. Learn good form for Good Mornings.
Shoulder shrugs: Stand feet hip-width apart and single wrap the band under your feet, then hold it to shoulder level in front of you in an underhand grip. Drive the band up in an overhead position. Keep your arms extended and push your shoulders into shrugs.
Plank to S/A row: Double wrap your resistance band to something in front of you, a table leg or pole, for example. Start in a high plank position, shoulders stacked directly over wrists. Grip your resistance band like a handle, then row inwards towards your hip, keeping your elbow locked close to your body. Switch sides after 60 seconds.
Cool-down: 30-40s on/ 10s off
Child's pose: In a kneeling position, bring big toes to touch and sit your knees apart, bum pressing towards heels. Reach your hands in front of you on the mat, forehead resting down.
I tried Julia Reppel’s 30-minute full-body resistance band workout — here's what happened
I used a thin, long-looped resistance band, cranked up the music, and put this workout to the test. If you’ve never used a resistance band before, you might wonder, do resistance bands really work? These little elastic magicians conjure fire into the muscles of any exerciser brave enough to use them.
Resistance bands are looped rubber bands frequently used to bridge calisthenics (bodyweight training) and weight training. But physiotherapists also favor them during injury rehabilitation. They provide resistance for your muscles and joints to work against and offer a mega tough workout depending on the thickness of your band.
This resistance band workout focuses on your entire body, so I chose a lighter (thinner) band that I could shorten or lengthen depending on the exercise – although you could opt for several interchangeable bands instead.
Reppel has cleverly programmed her workout to be as effective as possible in a short timeframe, achieved by working you for almost the entire minute with little rest between exercises (10 seconds of rest begins to feel like one second pretty quickly). But most importantly, everything is functional and focuses on improving your ability to perform everyday movements like squatting, pulling, or how to do a push-up.
My shoulders were on fire within a few minutes; Reppel seemingly takes inspiration from Pilates-esque techniques, repeating small motions (for example, shoulder shrugs) for high reps against your band to build intensity. You don’t need to go heavy to feel the effects, either. Combining a plank with a single-arm row (despite sending me into sweat mode) helped challenge my core balance and keep me on my toes – literally.
I shortened my band by double-looping it to closely mimic a glute band for the lower body exercises and decreased the distance between my hands to make the upper body exercise more challenging.
Would I recommend this workout?
Absolutely — it was deceivingly tough and reminded me that you don’t need to lift heavy to build full-body strength. Research — like this study — even indicates resistance training with elastics can result in similar strength gains as exercise performed with ‘conventional devices.’
They’re ideal additions to the best beginner HIIT workouts but also for anyone recovering from injury or trying to improve flexibility. What’s not to love?
Next: I just tried Chris Hemsworth's 200-rep bodyweight workout — and ouch, here's what happened.
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Sam Hopes is a level III fitness trainer, level II reiki practitioner, and senior fitness writer at Future PLC, the publisher of Tom's Guide. She is also about to undertake her Yoga For Athletes training course. Having trained to work with mind and body, Sam is a big advocate of using mindfulness techniques in sport and fitness, and their impact on performance. She’s also passionate about the fundamentals of training and building sustainable training methods. When she's not writing up her experiences with the latest fitness tech and workouts, you’ll find her writing about nutrition, sleep, recovery, and wellness.