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June 13, 2022 8 min read

When you think of strength training, you probably think of dumbbells and barbells. While these pieces of equipment are extremely useful, a  resistance band can help provide strength and muscle gains too. They’re great for total body workouts and can give you a really killer arm workout for your next upper body day.

Resistance bands are versatile and accessible, and before you pick up that dumbbell for bicep curls again, think about using a band instead.

You might be thinking how you could get the same resistance band arm workout that you do with weights, but it could just be possible. Check out why you should be implementing bands into your upper body day more often.

Benefits of Resistance Bands

Resistance bands can provide less impact, but that doesn’t mean they’re easier than any other piece of equipment. They can help people of all ages and levels get stronger and can be used anywhere.

Less Chance of Injury

Although beneficial, the use of weights can also come with a risk of injury, and that risk  increases with age and frequency of training.

Resistance bands are low-impact since they don’t add the extra stress that weights may add onto your body. Although resistance bands aren’t 100% risk-free, they can be easier on the joints and can be especially useful for lifters recovering from an existing injury.

Strength Gains

In order to get stronger, you must apply resistance to your muscles. The stronger your muscles, the more resistance they can overcome. Training with free weights can help you build muscle and strength, but using resistance bands may  provide similar muscle activation.

Different types of resistance bands offer different levels of difficulty, and you’re able to adjust the resistance and reps when needed, so you can still practice progressive overload.

More Accessibility

Whether you workout in the gym, at home, or on your lunch break, resistance bands can be more accessible than free weights. Resistance band exercises can be done anywhere, and they’re significantly less expensive than dumbbells or barbells. They’re extremely versatile and just about any exercise you can do with free weights can be done with resistance bands. So whether you’re doing a home workout or headed to the gym, your resistance band can come with you.

Appropriate for All Ages and Levels

For younger or older lifters, weight training can be risky. For young adult lifters, growth plate injuries could occur with improper form, and this can result in pain or growth limitations. Resistance training is especially important as we age, but we are also more prone to injuries. Implementing resistance bands into a workout routine can be beneficial for beginner to advanced, and younger and older lifters.

Types of Resistance Bands

It’s just a band of elastic material, so what’s so special about it? There are different types of resistance bands that can be used for various reasons. There’s not necessarily one better than the other, but the best resistance band for you will depend on your goals.

Below are just a few of the more well-known ones:

Loop Bands

Likely the most common type of resistance band is the loop band. It’s all connected in one loop, making it popular for leg and glute work since you can wrap around your legs or ankles. Loop bands can be used for upper body exercises as well and can be wrapped on the arms or wrists. They’re typically made from latex, but you can get latex-free options, and you can get them in mini bands or larger sizes for exercises like pull ups.

Therapy Bands

As the name suggests, therapy bands are often used in rehabilitation since they are lighter and usually not a loop band. This allows it to be tied to an object for exercises or tied together at the ends if needed. Individuals suffering from a sport-related or recreational injury can use therapy bands to help target a specific area on the body to improve strength and flexibility.

Figure 8 Band

For upper body resistance band workouts, the figure 8 band can be ideal because it’s connected and shaped in a figure 8 formation, and it has handles on the sides, making it easier to hold onto. This band also helps to isolate muscle groups, which can be beneficial for rehabilitation exercises or pilates.

Tube Band

A tube band is longer than the typical resistance band and has handles on either end for easier holding. Because of the size and design, it can be especially useful for working the chest or back muscles in exercises like a banded chest press or row. However, they can be useful for other upper and lower body exercises and is one of the more versatile types of bands.

Resistance Band Exercises for a Killer Arm Workout

The resistance band can be used for just about every muscle on the body to help build strength. If you’re looking for an upper body pump, check out these arm exercises that can all be done with a resistance band.

Resistance Band Pull-Apart 

When you think of your arms, you likely think of your biceps and triceps first, but the shoulders contribute to a more sculpted upper body. The resistance band pull-apart primarily works the rear deltoids, but it also hits the upper back as well.

The rear delts are an often neglected muscle and not training them could result in imbalances or poor posture. Strong shoulders can help give the arms a well-rounded look.

How to do the Resistance Band Pull-Apart: 

  • A flat, non-looped band would be ideal for this exercise.
  • Hold the band up at chest height with your arms extended in front of you.
  • Keep your chest tall and core tight as you pull the band apart by squeezing your shoulder blades until your arms are extended out at your sides.
  • Slowly bring the arms back to the starting position.

Resistance Band Triceps Extension 

To build mass in your arms, you need to train your upper arm muscle, the triceps, because they take up about 2/3 of your arm. The triceps extension helps build your tricep muscles as well as shoulder stability. It targets all three heads of the tricep, which can help increase hypertrophy and strength in your arms.

To use a resistance band for this exercise, a long tube or loop band that allows you to fully extend your arms while standing on the middle of the band would be ideal.

How to do the Resistance Band Triceps Extension:

  • Stand on the middle of a long band and grab the ends of the band with both hands.
  • Stand upright with your core and glutes tight to help avoid arching of your lower back.
  • If you’re having a difficult time with this, stagger your stance so your right foot is on the band and your left foot is behind you.
  • Extend your arms above your head and don’t let your elbows flare out.
  • Slowly bend your elbows until they hit 90 degrees again and push the band back up.

Resistance Band Biceps Curl

A beneficial exercise for building arm muscle is the bicep curl because it isolates the muscle group. The bicep peak, which is the visible bump of your upper arm, can be built during this exercise.

Not only will this help to sculpt your arms, it can contribute to other pulling exercises like the deadlift or bent over row since your biceps play a role in the movement. If you have a tube band, it would work best for this exercise because the handles can simulate bars on a dumbbell or barbell.

How to do the Resistance Band Biceps Curl: 

  • Stand with your feet about hip-width apart, and the middle of the band secured under your feet.
  • Hold each handle with one hand and start with your arms extended down at your sides.
  • Keeping your elbows tight to your sides, curl the band up towards your shoulder height and slowly lower back to the starting position.

Resistance Band Shoulder Press 

The shoulders are important for keeping a balanced and well-rounded upper body. They help contribute to bigger, more toned arms. The shoulder press targets the shoulders, but it also recruits the triceps, mainly during the final extension of the movement.

This exercise can be beneficial for building overall strength and size in the upper body, as well as carryover to other pressing lifts like the bench press. Using a tube band for this exercise would be ideal.

How to do the Resistance Band Shoulder Press: 

  • Stand upright with your chest tall and core.
  • Your feet should be placed on the middle of the band to keep it secure while you press.
  • Grab the handles and hold each hand at about shoulder height.
  • Press your arms straight overhead until your arms are extended but not fully locked out.
  • Return slowly to the starting position.

Resistance Band Triceps Kickback

If you’re recovering from a shoulder injury or lack shoulder mobility, overhead work might not be a viable option. Even if you can’t do an overhead triceps extension, you can still work the triceps with the triceps kickback.

This variation eliminates the strain on your shoulders and allows for maximum contraction when the arms are fully extended. The kickback can help improve flexibility and stability in your arms, which is essential for your life in and outside the gym.

How to do the Resistance Band Triceps Kickback: 

  • Loop a flat band around a secure structure, like a squat rack, and stand close enough that there’s tension, but you could extend your arms behind you.
  • Hinge at your hips and keep your elbows tight to your sides.
  • Extend your arms behind you until your triceps are fully contracted and slowly return.

Resistance Band Push Ups

One of the best bodyweight exercises you can perform is the push up because it requires a lot of strength to push your own weight up. It’s best known for targeting the chest, but the push up also targets your shoulders and triceps.

Although it’s a strength exercise, do enough reps, and you can get your cardio in for the day. Using a resistance band helps to intensify this exercise because not only are you pushing against your weight, but now you’re pushing against the band as well. A loop band would be the most ideal since you can wrap it around your wrists.

How to do Resistance Band Push ups: 

  • Start in a plank position with your hands stacked under your shoulders, and the band secured around your arms or wrist.
  • Keep your elbows tightly tucked in towards your sides to help take strain off your shoulders.
  • Slowly lower your body to the ground by bending your elbows.
  • Make sure to keep your core tight to avoid arching your back.
  • When your chest reaches the ground, press back up until your arms are extended again.

Resistance Band Bent Over Row

A bent over row is not only good for the back, but the pulling motion relies on the biceps to help do the work. Using a resistance band can help build strength in your upper body, and it’s also a great option to use as a warm up before heavy rows or deadlifts.

The hinging motion recruits the glutes and the hamstrings as stabilizers, almost making it a full body workout. A flat, non-looped band or a tube band would be ideal for this exercise.

  • Secure the middle of the band under your feet and stand with your feet about hip-width apart and grab both ends of the band.
  • Roll your shoulders down and back and hinge at your hips while keeping your spine in neutral.
  • Keep your elbows tight to your sides as you drive your elbows behind you and squeeze your shoulder blades.
  • Slowly extend your arms to the starting position.

Wrapping Up

Although these aren’t the only resistance band arm exercises, they’re sure to get your biceps, triceps, and shoulders burning. They’re extremely versatile, accessible, and inexpensive compared to other gym equipment. Any lifter of any level can benefit from resistance bands, whether it’s in their workout or using it to warm up.

A proper warm up and a pre-workout like  this can make a huge difference in your training session. Since resistance bands can be used anywhere, you’ll have no more excuses not to workout.