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June 06, 2021 10 min read

Your back contains some of the most vital muscles in your body and is an area of concern for many people when wanting to gain some strength. A weak back can also lead to serious and prolonged injuries, so it is important to keep your back up to par.

Training with resistance bands is a simple yet effective way to build a strong, muscular back. 

If you’re looking to get a huge stacked back, resistance bands can be one way of doing so. 

tube resistance bands

The Ins and Outs of Resistance Bands

If you’re new to resistance bands, they are a relatively simple explanation. Resistance bands are a type of exercise equipment made from an elastic material, typically rubber or fabric. Personal trainers or physical therapists may use them in rehabilitation programs. There are several different types of resistance bands and choosing the one you need depends on goals or and preference.

  • Loop/Power Bands. 
  • Tube Bands
  • Figure 8 Bands
  • Circle Bands
  • Therapy Bands

It may feel super powerful to pump some big iron, but resistance band strength training can be just as effective and rewarding. Furthermore, the use of resistance bands can suit certain lifestyles much better than training with machines, barbells, and dumbbells. Here are some of the many benefits of training with resistance bands:

  • Small, Lightweight, and Affordable: Bands are very easy to tote around when traveling and can be stowed away when not in use. While the cost of iron free weights can be a dollar per pound or more, resistance bands can start at just $30 for an entire set. One study found that training with resistance bands provides much of the same benefits as free weights, so no need to feel like you’re being a cheapskate for not buying that expensive barbell.
  • You Can Do Compound Exercises: Compound exercises are movements that engage multiple muscle groups. Utilizing compound movements for strength training will result in sessions that are much more efficient. Doing compound exercises typically results in more calories spent, more muscle growth, and overall better movement making your gym sessions a much better use of your time.
  • Engages Stabilizers: Training with resistance bands requires the use of your stabilizing muscles, which change depending on the movement. Stabilizers are the muscles that aren’t necessarily moving the weight but rather keeping parts of your body stable and balanced during the movement as the primary movers do the work. Having strong stabilizers is likely to improve all other aspects of your fitness as you’ll feel more grounded and balanced.
  • Versatile: While you can most definitely utilize resistance bands for muscle growth or endurance training, they are also an effective tool for stretching before or after your workouts or being a part of your cool-down and warm-up sessions. Furthermore, you can use a single band to easily get a full-body workout.

10 Best Resistance Band Back Exercises

As with most strength-building exercises, form is very important. While training with bands provides much more room for form focus, you must still be conscious and aware of your movement.

Opting for a movement that is slow and controlled over a rushed movement is much better when doing a resistance band workout. This is especially important for back workouts since back injuries are common.

1. Band Pull-Aparts

This exercise is amazing for improving posture, back strength, and getting some engagement in the triceps. Band pull-aparts do not require a lot of strenuous activity, so they can be done even outside of your workout sessions. 

To do a band pull-apart, begin by standing with good posture. This means looking forward and standing up with your back straight. Avoid tilting your hips in or out, think about having a neutral spine.

Next, take the resistance band and hold it out in front of you at the full extension of your arms and about chest height. Your hands should be at about shoulder length apart with little to no tension in the band. For this exercise, a therapy band, figure eight band, or tube band is best. 

Begin the movement by stretching the band horizontally with both hands in either direction. Squeeze the shoulder blades to maintain good posture and avoid a rounded upper back.

Finish the rep by moving your hands back to the starting position. If you find this too easy or feel a lack of back muscle engagement, try the same movement at different heights and angles.

2. Bent-Over Row

The bent-over row is a popular dumbbell and barbell movement, but it can also be done with resistance bands. In addition to your back, you can also get some hamstring and lower body engagement. For a bent-over row, a power band is best. 

Prepare for the exercise by standing on the middle of the band with both feet shoulder-width apart, leaving equal parts of the band on either side. Next, hinge at the hips until your torso is just above parallel with your feet. Bend slightly in the knees.

Start the movement by pulling the band towards your torso. Keep your elbows close to your body. Maintain good posture throughout and keep your shoulder blades squeezed.

Complete the movement by lowering your arms back down to the starting position. Avoid a movement that is rapid and sloppy.

3. Lat Pulldown

You’ve likely seen or done lat pulldowns in the gym on a cable machine. They can be great for improving posture, which is incredibly important for overall health, and engaging the rotator cuffs. There are two ways to do lat pulldowns with bands.

The first way requires that you have a secure anchor of some sort over your head. For this version, long tube bands with handles are best. After you’ve made sure your band is secure, sit on the ground with your legs underneath you in a kneeling position.

Begin the movement by grabbing the handles. Pull the bands down while engaging your core and maintaining good posture by squeezing your shoulder blades. Your hands should be about shoulder-width apart at the start of the movement and should end the movement slightly beyond shoulder width.

For optimal muscle engagement, pause when you’ve pulled the handles to about chest height. Then, finish the movement by returning to the starting position in a controlled manner.

The alternative way to do a lat pulldown with bands requires a small circle band. Simply put the band around either hand. Most find it easiest to maintain an open palm with fingers close together in a robot-like fashion.

Start the movement with your hands extended up above your head. Keep just enough tension in the band so that it stays around your hands.

While squeezing your shoulders and engaging the core, begin moving your hands down slowly towards your chest. As you move down, create more tension in the band by moving your hands further apart.

When you’ve reached about chest height, pause briefly before slowly returning to the starting position.

4. Reverse Fly

Reverse flies are a great upper body exercise. The reverse fly can be done with almost any band though smaller circle bands may be too small for a complete range of motion, which is important for muscle growth.

Simply hold the band much like you would for a bent-over row. This means standing on top of the band in the middle and bending at the hips so your torso is just above parallel with your feet. Bend slightly at the knees, as well, and be sure to maintain good posture even though you're in a bent position.

Next, pick up the band in each hand and engage the core. To begin the movement by raising both arms out beside you while squeezing the shoulder blades. Aim for a full extension if possible.

Slowly return to the starting position. As you can see, this exercise emulates batting your “wings”, hence the name of the exercise.

5. Pull-Up Assist

Pull-ups are an amazing compound workout that can easily build muscle in your back. However, the majority of people cannot do pull-ups on their own depending on fitness level. While some gyms have pull-up machines with a built-in assist, this is not always the case. This is where resistance bands can be helpful.

Prepare for the exercise by securing your band to a pull-up bar. To do this, simply throw the band over the bar and loop one end of the band through the other. Pull it taught to create a knot around the bar. The best type of band for this exercise is a powerband as they are typically sturdy enough to support a lot of weight. 

Put one foot in the band and wrap the other foot behind the banded foot. Grasp the bar and squeeze your shoulders together. Keep your chest up and out to avoid a concave chest.

Begin the movement by pulling your weight up, thinking about your elbows as the main driving force. Engage your core and maintain a tight shoulder squeeze. You’ll notice the band is helping the movement by forcing your bodyweight up.

Finish the movement by slowly returning to the starting position. You’ll want to maintain a slow and controlled motion both to avoid the band slipping and poor form. If you cannot complete a full pull-up with the band, the resistance may be too light and a heavier band is needed.

6. Face Pulls

Face pulls are essential when working on your upper body. For a resistance band face pull, you’ll need a spot to anchor your band. The best place is a pole or hook in which you can fully tie and secure the band around.

Once you’re sure the band is tied securely around an anchor, prepare for the movement by extending your arms in front of you and grabbing the band with both hands about six inches apart.

Begin the movement by moving the band towards your face while also pulling it more taught. Bend your elbows as you move closer to the face. Maintain neck positioning with a forward gaze and good back posture by squeezing your shoulder blades together.

Slowly release the pull by returning to the starting position.  While this movement is amazing for improving back and posture, it can be dangerous if the band is not secured or good form is not kept.

7. Superman Pulldown

Supermans are a great tool for increasing core stability, lower back strength, and even glutes. For this movement, you’ll need a soft surface like a yoga mat.

To prepare for the movement, lay face down on your mat. Using a small circle band, extend your arms up with the band wrapped around your hands, keeping your arms slightly elevated off the ground. It may be most comfortable to use a robot-like hand position to keep the band from slipping.

Begin the movement by simultaneously moving the band towards you, bending at the elbows, and raising your legs slightly off the ground. Move your hands away from one another as you move them closer to your head to create more tension.

Young and muscular man during workout with a resistance rubber band on a street.

8. Single Arm Row

Rows are one of the best movements for strengthening your back and even upper arms. Even just on this list, there are three different types of rows. Not only are they effective, but they are also relatively simple to do even for the most inexperienced athlete.

To do a single-arm row, grab a smaller circle band. Loop one end of the band around the right foot and hold the other end in the right hand. Next, hinge at the hips and bend slightly at the knees.

To begin the movement, start by slowly pulling the band up to your body, keeping your elbow close. Maintain good posture and an engaged core throughout. Switch to the left side after you’ve completed the goals for your right.

In single-arm exercises such as this one, it may be helpful to anchor your other arm by holding onto an object to avoid unnecessary movement.

You can also do this movement by securely tying a band to an anchor and standing in an upright position.

9. Upright Row

The last (but not least!) of the rows for this list: the upright row. While the primary movers in this exercise are your shoulders and upper arms, the back is also important. To do this movement, a power band is recommended.

Start by standing on the band with your feet hip-width apart. Grab the band with both hands and check in with posture, being sure to squeeze the shoulder blades while looking forward.

Begin the movement by dragging the band up your body to shoulder height, utilizing an overhand grip. Your elbows should be bent at the top of the exercise, much like the pose someone would assume when imitating a chicken. Make sure to engage the core and use slow and controlled movements.

Once you’ve reached the top of the movement, simply return to the starting position.

10. Banded Deadlift

This one is for all our lifters out there who just can’t imagine not picking up a barbell or dumbbell. A banded deadlift can be especially helpful if you find yourself struggling with form or full engagement.

To do a banded deadlift, you’ll need a barbell and two power bands. It helps if you have a lifting platform with hooks, however, you can also use your feet to anchor a singular band.

For set up, simply load the barbell as you would for a conventional deadlift. Since there will be added resistance, start lighter than you normally would. Next, take one band and hook it to the right front anchor, run it over your barbell, then hook it on the right back anchor. Do the same for the left side.

If you don’t have a platform set up with anchors, take one power band and loop both ends on either side of a loaded barbell inside the plates. Stand as you would for a conventional deadlift while also standing on top of the band. Your feet will act as an anchor.

With either setup, you’ll want a shoulder-width stance. Begin the movement by hinging at the hips and bending the knees slightly. Grasp the barbell outside of your legs on either side. Be sure to keep a good posture with squeezed shoulders and a high chest.

Next, drive the weight up by pushing your feet into the floor and lifting with your back. Drag the bar up your body until you reach an upright position. Then, lower the weight back to the floor in a slow and controlled manner.

Resistance Band Back Exercises: Last Take

Getting a strong back will not only improve your lifts in the gym but is also likely to make a large impact in your daily life, as well. Having a strong back will decrease the likelihood of injury and should have an impact on posture.

Whether your goal is to get super ripped or just improve your general health and strength, resistance bands can be easily incorporated into your workout sessions. Additionally, it is important to emphasize back days, which can only be enhanced with the use of resistance bands.