When it comes to toning up and building muscle at home, resistance bands are the unsung heroes. Although they do have their downsides against other exercise apparatus such as free weights, they are extremely effective at what they do; providing the extra steps to boost your progress and challenging your muscles along the way. They do it in a way that's totally unique too, which is why you need the right upper body resistance band workout to get it done, too.

In this list, we've compiled some of the most effective resistance band exercises that you can put into one awesome upper body workout. You can seriously hit every muscle you need to and make some huge results in your training, all from your home. All you need is the resistance band(s) of your choice to make sure you're getting the most of your efforts!

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man doing a resistance band bicep exercise

Starting with the classic bicep exercises, we have two of the best lifts to hit both the long and the short head of the biceps. This means that you’ll hit them properly and completely to help build that muscle tone you are looking for.

Bicep Curls

The first lift is the most common and is the classic bicep curl. Any upper body workout needs bicep curls (even from the NHS), and resistance band workouts are no different. To do it, you need to anchor the resistance band, probably by standing on it to ensure it doesn't move. Once you're comfortable with an underhand grip, pivot your elbows so the focus is where it should be, and lift the band!

Hammer Curls

Hammer curls follow the exact same structure, but with a slight twist on the grip. Instead of curling the band underhand, you need a neutral grip. This is the huge difference in muscle activation is what is the highlight here, so make sure your form is good, and you'll see the benefits.


man doing a resistance band chest exercise

The chest or pectoral muscles often seem difficult to train without weights or weighted machines, but your resistance bands can still help you out with the right upper body workout! Even just lying down on the floor with the band around you opens up a good range of exercises you can use to hit your chest.

Push Ups

The most obvious exercise choice to use the resistance bands for with your chest is the push-up. Push-ups are of course effective on their own, but with the addition of resistance bands, it's a game-changer. That added pressure on top of your body weight means your pecs are moving a huge amount of resistance.

Chest Presses

Chest presses are the next go-to exercise for chest in most pec workouts. They’re tried and tested muscle builders, so your toning regime will thank you for them. You may need more resistance for this exercise than you do with a lot of the others because of the size of your pecs in comparison to a lot of other muscles, but you’ll feel the resistance regardless. Just don’t lose your grip on the band!


woman doing a resistance band tricep exercise

Moving on to the other side of your arms from your biceps, however, are your triceps. They are much bigger than your biceps and need extra effort because of this. They’ll be the supporting muscles in your chest exercises too, so it’s wise to train the bigger muscle first to make sure you’re getting the most from your training.

Tricep Extensions

Tricep extensions are a great way to isolate your triceps, and you can do either single-arm reps or double depending on how hard you’re trying to hit them. Anchor the band, likely being stood on it again, with your elbows pivoted, and extend your arms upwards. This will mean your triceps do all of the work and it's ideal for an upper-body resistance band workout.

Kick Backs

Kickbacks are actually one of the very few exercises that have a bigger muscle activation than extensions do. It's an incredibly effective way to hit all three heads of the triceps too, making it a toning dream. All you need to do is pull the resistance band into your starting point at one side of you, anchored again, and extend the triceps behind you pulling the band with them.


woman doing a resistance band shoulder exercise

Shoulders are trained again to an extent with your chest, but they need time on their own for you to see real results. Although shoulders are harder to tone up than some other muscles, they’ll definitely build up your upper body strength as a whole even with a resistance band workout.

Shoulder Press

The shoulder press is the more intensive deltoid builder. You need to make sure that you can keep to your missionary form too for the best results. We’d recommend again anchoring with your own body weight, and with your arms starting at a right angle in your elbow, pushing straight upwards above your head.

Front Raises

Front raises as the name may suggest focuses a lot more on the front deltoid. Holding the band anchored under your feet with an overhand grip, all you need to do is raise your arms straight in front of you, and then slowly back down. The slower the movement, the better the contraction will likely be. Make sure you're not bending your arm at all and not getting caught in momentum.


woman doing a resistance band back exercise

Finally, we will finish off the mighty upper body resistance band workout by working the back muscles. The back is crucial to supporting you through your other exercises and in daily life, so it’s important to make sure you’re not leaving it out of your training routines.

Bent Rows

Bent rows are the most intensive back exercise you can do with resistance bands. It uses most of your upper back, while your lower back muscles still make sure you're keeping your form through it. To do it, anchor the band under you and bend forwards at your lower back so that you can use your lats to pull the band toward you. Try not to change the angle of your elbows to make sure it is you back that's doing the work.

Good Mornings

The lower back is so essential that it needs the attention on its own too in our upper body resistance band workout. Using the same positioning as above and holding the band as you are bent over. Straighten your back so that you are stood up straight and return again. This contraction of the lower back is what is controlling the movement, so take it easy and make sure you’re not curving your spine.

The Upper Body Resistance Band Workout

Bicep Curl3 x 10
Hammer Curl3 x 10
Push Up4 x 10
Chest Press4 x 10
Tricep Extension3 x 10
Tricep Kickback3 x 10
Shoulder Press4 x 10
Front Raises4 x 10
Bent Rows4 x 10
Good Mornings4 x 10

Download the plan here:

The actual structure of the upper body resistance band workout itself has a variety of set patterns. The reason for this is so that your supporting muscles are still able to perform well when it comes to the more compound exercises later on while still seeing the results you’re looking for.

The whole workout itself will take you around an hour with warming up and cooling down again, but it is a whole upper body workout after all!

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Before beginning any exercise or nutrition program, consult your physician, doctor or other professional. This is especially important for individuals over the age of 35 or persons with pre-existing health problems. Exercise.co.uk assumes no responsibility for personal injury or property damage sustained using our advice.

If you experience dizziness, nausea, chest pain, or any other abnormal symptoms, stop the workout at once and consult a physician or doctor immediately.