Resistance band workout: Full body beginner and intermediate routines

resistance bands

If you’re missing the gym and want to stay consistent with our workouts. I’ve got a beginner and intermediate resistance band workout you can try.

I’ve also included exercise progressions and substitutions so that you can use this workout for as little or as long as you’d like.

This is an example workout I might create for one of my online coaching clients. If they had to train at home or while traveling, with limited access to equipment.


BENEFITS OF RESISTANCE BAND TRAINING

They’re very similar to resistance training, use multiple muscle groups, and can get your heart rate up. They can also add a level of difficulty or intensity to bodyweight exercises you’re already doing.

You can also use bands to help modify exercises that may be too difficult or bother an injury.  

Resistance bands are also easy to travel with, use outdoors, or in the home. Plus, they make for a cheap alternative to free weights if you’re looking to start a home gym. 

The two most common resistance bands are short loop bands and long loop bands. You can also buy them with handles or use bungee chords as an alternative.

RESISTANCE BAND WORKOUT KEY POINTS

Before you jump into the workout I want to cover a few important things.

1 – Progressive overload

Without this, it’s virtually impossible to get stronger or build muscle. In order to get stronger, build, or maintain muscle – The stimulus has to be more than it is used to. If you do the same thing over and over again nothing will change.

Two ways to apply this in these resistance band workouts is by:

  • Doing more reps each workout. If you get 8 reps on Monday. Try to get at least 1 more the next time you do it.
  • Slowing down the temp. Try taking 4 seconds, 5 seconds, or even longer to lower yourself in a push-up, or any other exercise. This will add difficulty to it.

2 – Good form

Every exercise had a demonstration video attached to it.

Focus on a full range of motion through every exercise. No half or partial reps unless specified. If you can’t work through a full range of motion think about modifying the exercise, working on mobility so you can, or trying the exercise without a band (if possible).

Move your body and the bands at a safe tempo. Generally, take 2 to 3 seconds to lower your body or the band. For example, take 2 to 3 seconds to lower yourself to the ground when doing a push-up. Or take 2 to 3 seconds to bring the band back up after a resistance band pulldown.

3 – Rest and recovery

The goal of training is not always to burn as many calories as possible. Its aim is to get you stronger and build lean muscle. The diet will take care of fat loss.

  • Getting quality sleep
  • Actually resting on rest days or getting in your meaningful movement
  • Practicing de-stressing techniques

Online fitness coaching

THE BEGINNER RESISTANCE BAND WORKOUT

The workout follows this format.

  • Lower body movement
  • Upper body pressing movement
  • Lower body movement
  • Upper body pulling movement
  • Core exercise
  • Cardiovascular exercise (optional)

For this workout, complete 8 to 20 reps of each exercise for 2 to 5 rounds. Rest as needed after each exercise and after each round.

If you’re able to get 8 resistance band chest presses Monday. Aim for more the next workout. Possibly working your way up to 20.

You can do this workout 3 to 4 days per week for as long as you’d like. Once you hit the high end of the rep range or it feels too easy, progress to the intermediate workout below. Or, try substituting in harder exercises.

Resistance band glute bridge, 8-20 reps

***

Resistance band chest press, 8-20 reps

***

Resistance band front squat, 8-20 reps

***

Resistance band bent over row, 8-20 reps

***

Straight arm plank, 20-45 seconds

***

Toe touch jumps, 8-20 reps

INTERMEDIATE RESISTANCE BAND WORKOUT

The workout follows this format.

  • Lower body movement
  • Upper body pressing movement
  • Lower body movement
  • Upper body pulling movement
  • Core exercise
  • Cardiovascular exercise (optional)

For this workout, complete 10 to 30 reps of each exercise for 3 to 5 rounds. Rest 10 to 20 seconds after each exercise and one minute after each round.

To add difficulty to this workout try focusing on tempo. For example, try taking 5 seconds to lower yourself while doing the Bulgarian split squat… straight fire!

Resistance band hip thrust, 10-30 reps

***

Resistance band pull-down, 10-30 reps

+++

Resistance band Bulgarian split squat, 10-30 reps per leg

+++

Resistance band push-up (or chest press), 10-30 reps

+++

Star sit-ups, 10-30 reps

+++

Mountain climbers, 30-60 seconds

5 MORE BAND EXERCISES TO TRY. PLUS, A BONUS WORKOUT.

Below are a few more resistance band exercises you can add to these workouts for variety. I’ve put the initials (LB) for the lower body, (UBP) for an upper-body press, and (UBPLL) for upper body pull. You can sub them in for similar exercises in the routine.

Keep in mind that the entire workout doesn’t need to be dedicated to resistance bands. Instead of a resistance band squat, you can always do a regular one. Instead of a resistance band push-up, you can do a regular one. 

Here’s a full-body circuit to try that mixes in bodyweight and resistance band exercises. Complete 8 to 20 reps of each exercise for 3 to 5 rounds.

Choose exercises that challenge you but that you also can perform with good form in the desired rep ranges.

ARE RESISTANCE BAND WORKOUTS GOOD FOR BEGINNERS?

Yes.

You can continue to work on basic exercises like the squat, press, row, and hip hinge. While adding a challenge due to the resistance of the bands. This is a great way to add progressive overload for someone that has been doing a beginner bodyweight plan.

They also don’t take up much space which is great if you prefer to train at home. You can also travel with them or use them for outdoor workouts.

WHAT RESISTANCE BANDS SHOULD A BEGINNER USE

There are 3 main types of resistance bands I’ll go over quickly. All of which can be used for similar, but also different exercises. 

Long loop bands 

long loop bands

These are like giant rubber bands with varying degrees of resistance usually signified by color and band thickness. These are great for general strength training and assisting with pull-ups. You can use them for most exercises at home or in the gym. Get some here.

Tube resistance bands with handles

resistance bands

These resistance bands have handles that make exercises like rows, chest presses, overhead presses, and curls easy. They are excellent for travel. If you want bands to help with pull-ups these would not be a good fit. You can grab some resistance bands with handles here.

Mini loop bands

mini loop bands

These bands are great for lower body exercises. Specifically, training the butt. Surprisingly, you can also do upper body exercises if you get creative with them. They come in fabric, latex, and synthetic rubber. You can get mini loop bands here

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU DO RESISTANCE BAND TRAINING?

How often you train will be determined by many different factors such as age, training age, intensity, sleep, and stress. Because resistance bands often provide less training load and demand you may be able to train with them more often. 

In my opinion, treating resistance band training like any other workout is in your best interest. 3 to 4 days per week is usually enough for most people, their schedules, and lifestyle demands. 

DO RESISTANCE BANDS MAKE YOUR BUM 🍑 GROW?

Instagram models would definitely have us believe this now, wouldn’t they?

Muscle growth comes down to training with progressive overload and eating in a calorie surplus (more calories than you need). You don’t have to train with resistance bands to grow your bum but they can help to activate muscles in your glutes.

Focusing on exercises like various squats, deadlifts, lunges, and hip thrusts will be enough to grow your bum. With or without resistance band training. 

For an in-depth video on effective booty training, Jeff Nippard has an excellent video.

CAN YOU GET BIG ARMS 💪 WITH RESISTANCE BANDS

Basically the same answer as above. 

Not to beat a dead horse but progressive overload and a calorie surplus over an extended period of time is needed. 

ARE RESISTANCE BANDS BETTER THAN WEIGHTS? DO THEY REALLY WORK?

I hate putting things in a box like this. 

If you’re more likely to train with resistance bands consistently than you are with weights then yes, they are better for you. If not, then your better off training with weights. Resistance bands can provide enough stimulus for beginners or someone that has taken a long layoff from exercise (3) to build strength.

But most people will outgrow resistance bands rather quickly and will need to find another way to apply progressive overload to their workouts. 

For more on how to do this, check out our guide on getting started with strength training

CAN YOU GET RIPPED WITH JUST RESISTANCE BANDS?

resistance band diet and nutrition

Yes and no.

To get “ripped’ you need to lower body fat to levels that will allow you to see muscle. Lowering body fat is done by creating an energy deficit (calorie deficit). Or eating fewer calories than your body needs over an extended period of time. 

My personal philosophy is that workouts are to build muscle and get you stronger. Nutrition is for fat loss or weight maintenance. If your goal is to lose body fat, here are a few simple principles to apply while doing the resistance band workouts.

This is an excerpt I send to my online coaching clients.

There is room for all types of foods in your diet.

The super “clean” ones and the “not so clean” ones – I see you pizza. Simply understanding that calories play a role in this is important.

If your goal is body fat and weight loss every single diet can help you do this provided it helps you create a calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit is created by taking in fewer calories than your body needs over an extended period of time. If you do this one thing consistently you will lose body fat and weight.

Calorie Deficit Chart

This can be done by creating a slight deficit over an extended period of time. Some days you’re under your calorie needs and other days you’re over

Calorie deficit graph

You can do this by weighing food portions and tracking your calories in an app like MyFitnesPal.

Or you could follow a specific diet like keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, or vegan and eliminate entire food groups (or macronutrients like carbs or animal protein) to do this.

 

How diets work

This can be done by improving the quality of foods you eat, eating less calorie-dense foods, and controlling portion sizes by using your hands

As you can see, there are a number of ways (and many more) to go about doing this one thing. Hell, you may find that a combination of a few works well, or that using different approaches at different times based on your goals and needs works best.

The key to all of this is finding a way that works for you sustainably.

What this does NOT mean.

It does NOT mean calories are the only thing that matters.

  • Quality of food still matters
  • Sleep matters
  • Managing stress matters
  • Exercises matters
  • Your relationship with food matters
  • Building healthy habits and skills matter
  • Many things matter and play a role in whether you lose or gain fat.

Hell, the things above matter to more than just that. They matter to life.

But in the grand scheme of things calories matter most when it comes to fat loss. The things listed above can make doing that one thing easier or harder.

Want more simple fitness, smarter nutrition, and practical life advice?

Learn more 

MAKING WHAT, WHEN, AND HOW TO EAT EASIER

+++

1 – Nutrition isn’t all or nothing. Good or bad.

For some, it’s either they’re 100% on it and eating super clean or they’re 100% off it and #yolo

I’m not sure how we got to these ridiculously standards when it comes to nutrition but we have. Pizza, cookies, and wine are amazing and hard to resist. As your nutrition progresses you’ll notice that it will get easier, you’ll crave them less, or eating them just won’t make much sense.

But until then, show a little self-compassion and cut yourself some slack. Start with where you’re at and level up from there.

Maybe you’re at a zero right now. Just trying to figure all this shit out. Leveling up to 10% is huge. You can build off that momentum.

Currently eating healthy foods 50% of the time. Cool, leveling up to 60% is a win you can go from there.

At 75%? That’s awesome! Maybe you can level up to 80%.

2 – Uniform eating and the 1-2-3 method

You might not need to do this forever. But think about it until you’re consistently making progress.

Many people struggle with their diet because they’re not sure what to make. Or they don’t give much thought to it until it’s too late and they’re starving. Thus, reverting to convenience, what they’re familiar with, and old habits.

You can fix this by eating the same few meals for a week and adjusting them each week. This makes planning and prepping much easier. This also makes for one less decision you have to make each week.

I like the 1-2-3 meal method. You eat the same breakfast all week long. Rotate 2 different lunches and 3 different dinners with one of those dinners being a social meal.

For example:

  • Breakfast: Protein powder in oatmeal with almond butter and a piece of fruit
  • Lunch: Chicken salad with olive oil and an apple or Turkey with mixed veggies and rice
  • Dinner: Lettuce wrap burgers with a side salad and sweet potato, or salmon with asparagus and rice, or dinner out at a sushi restaurant

Uniform eating also helps you get a better idea of how much you’re eating each week. Thus, making adjusting serving sizes easier based on how you’re progressing.

I know what you’re thinking – “I can’t eat the same thing every day.” Odds are if you took a good look at the diet you probably already are.

3 – Plan and prepare meals twice per week

Any two days will work. Whatever works well for you and your schedule.

Why twice? To keep things fresh and give yourself the ability to change something up if you want.

Keep your planning and prep simple at first. Despite what you see on Instagram most meals don’t actually look like that. Buy chopped frozen veggies to save you prep time. Use fruit as a carb source instead of a sweet potato you’d have to cook. Rotisserie chickens and precooked protein can be useful when you’re pressed for time.

4 – Identify your “red light” foods

We’ve all got them. A few foods that for some reason or another just got us all ?. They’re too hard to resist.

Maybe they look pretty or taste too good. Sometimes they bring back a fond memory or evoke a certain feeling or mood you’re looking for. And sometimes they can even feel like they solve a problem.

Being aware of these foods is a very powerful thing. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid them completely. It may be best to avoid them or at least make them harder to get to.

  • Don’t keep them in the house
  • If they are in the house make them harder to get to and out of plain sight.
  • If you really want one of these things, get the best damn version of it. Don’t just settle for a donut. Google best damn donut near you and go out and get that one.
  • Make eating these foods fun and social thing or special occasions
  • Eat them slowly, enjoy the fuck out of them, and move on.

5 – What makes for a “good diet.”

You get to decide. What does a good enough diet look like for you? Not a perfect one but a good enough one. One that you’re proud of – most of the time ?

Instead of thinking about your meals as good or bad. Healthy or unhealthy. On the wagon or off the wagon. Try this instead.

  • This meal improves my performance.
  • My meal makes me healthier.
  • This meal helps me eat slowly and feel full longer.
  • My meal helps nourish me but avoids foods that don’t feel good to me.
  • This meal is enough to fuel me but not so much that it slows me down.
  • Etc.

Well, that got pretty epic for a resistance band article now didn’t it.

Cheers!

Personal coaching

###

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Photo by Louis Hansel @shotsoflouis on Unsplash

Photo of resistance bands: Expert reviews

GET THE FREE 5-DAY COURSE

START EATING, MOVING, AND FEELING BETTER TODAY.