May 30, 2021 10 min read

Ready for a chest workout that works all of the muscles in your chest, is low-impact, and can be done from your home gym?  Then look no further than these top resistance band chest exercises.

You can craft an entire resistance band chest workout with just these exercises.  You’ll sculpt lean muscle with the help of a simple elastic band.  Be wary though, because resistance band exercises look simple but they can be just as challenging as lifting heavy weights.

fitness model in gym close up

Which Chest Muscles Are You Working?

The chest area is one of the largest muscle groups in your body.  Also known as the pecs, the chest is made up of 4 key muscles including the:

  • Pectoralis major
  • Pectoralis minor
  • Serratus anterior
  • Subclavius

First off, the pectoralis major is the primary muscle within the chest.  Its key function is to move the shoulder to induce movement of the humerus.  The humerus is a bone in your arm that extends from the shoulder to the elbow.  Having a strong pec major is key to having an overall strong chest.

Second, the pectoralis minor is a thin muscle that lays beneath the pectoralis major.  The pec minor is what’s known as a stabilizing muscle.  Stabilizer muscles help to balance the body while it performs a movement.  Having strong stabilizer muscles leads to overall greater muscle strength.

Third, the serratus anterior is another stabilizing muscle located underneath the pectoralis muscles.  In addition to providing stability, it helps facilitate upward rotation of the scapula, such as that required to lift free weights overhead.

Lastly, the subclavius is a tiny muscle that sits horizontally on the very top of your ribs.  It stabilizes the clavicle when your pec major facilitates movement of the arm.  Not only does it stabilize, but it also protects the rib cage area from potential damage.

Overall, the pec major is where most of the strength in your chest comes from while the other three muscles stabilize and help facilitate movements.  The great thing about resistance band training is that it targets each of these muscles. 

Unlike free-weight dumbbell exercises that tend to isolate your primary muscles and neglect the stabilizing ones, resistance bands do just the opposite and work every muscle in the entire muscle group.  That takes us next into all of the great benefits of doing resistance band training.

The Benefits of Chest Training With Resistance Bands

Resistance bands tend to be looked down upon, especially by heavy lifters.  Because they look like a measly rubber band, it’s easy to underestimate resistance bands’ ability to help build muscle

 

However, those skeptics would be surprised to know how great of a tool they are for strength training.

These are the top benefits of chest resistance training with resistance bands:

1. Resistance bands are a full-body muscle-building tool: As I mentioned above, individual resistance band exercises target entire muscle groups.  They strengthen both the primary and stabilizing muscles within the big muscle group.Also, resistance band exercises tend to work more than just the specific muscle group that you’re targeting.  For example, many resistance band exercises aimed at building a stronger chest also require stabilization from your core muscles.  As a result, you get the double benefit of building a strong core and a strong chest.  That makes resistance band exercises a great full-body workout.

2. Resistance band exercises are low-impact: Unlike other forms of exercise such as lifting heavy weights, resistance band exercises are super low-impact, meaning that they’re easy on your joints.  That’s because resistance bands add tension to your existing body weight whereas free weights add weight on top of your joints.If you have existing pain in your joints or are worried about injuries, resistance bands are a safe way to go.  You don’t need a personal trainer to help spot you during the exercises.

3. Resistance bands are versatile: You can work out almost every muscle in your body, anywhere, and at any time with resistance bands.  They’re super versatile in several ways including:

  • The wide range of muscle groups they work
  • The wide range of exercises you can do with them
  • The ability to take them anywhere with you

You could do a full-body workout with resistance bands without ever leaving your home.

1. Resistance Band Pullovers

Start by wrapping a resistance band around a secure piece of equipment such as a weight rack, bench, or even a table.  Wrap the band no more than one foot off of the ground. Get into starting position on the ground by lying flat on your back with a neutral spine and knees tucked so that your feet come near your glutes. 

If you have a resistance band with no handles, grab onto the band with both hands.  If you have a resistance band with handles, hold one handle in each hand.  Extend your arms straight above your head while stretching the band so that it has light tension.

Inhale to prepare, then exhale and pull the band over your chest with straight arms.  Pull it in towards your belly or for as far as you can handle the tension.  Once you’ve pulled the band as far as you can, release the tension by bringing your arms back overhead.

Throughout the entire exercise, make sure that:

  1. Your arms are straight with only a slight bend in the elbows
  2. Your core is engaged
  3. You are keeping your back straight from the lower back to the head

With the right form, this exercise will strengthen your chest along with your triceps and back.  If your starting resistance band does not feel challenging enough, switch to a band with more tension in it.

2. Standing Incline and Decline Chest Press With Resistance Bands

If you don’t have a pulley handy for incline and decline chest presses, you can use resistance bands and get the same results.  This is one of the best exercises to work all of your pectoral muscles. Start the incline chest press by setting up your door anchor about one foot off of the ground. 

Loop your resistance band through the door anchor and face away from the door while grabbing one end of the band in the right hand and the other end in the left hand.  You can use a band that does or doesn’t have handles. Get into an athletic stance with one foot in front of the other and knees slightly bent. 

Pull the resistance band up by your shoulders so it has light tension in it.  Your elbows should be bent to a 90-degree angle. Then, exhale and press your arms up on an incline.  Inhale to return your arms by your shoulders and then press again.  Be sure that you’re not pressing your arms straight up.  Rather, aim for a 45-degree angle above horizontal

Next, move on to the decline chest press by setting up your door anchor at the top of your door.  Loop your resistance band through the door anchor and face away from the door while grabbing one end of the band in the right hand and the other end in the left hand.  Again, you can use a band that does or doesn’t have handles.

Get into an athletic stance with one foot in front of the other and knees slightly bent.  Pull the resistance band into a starting position by your shoulders so it has light tension in it.  Your elbows should be bent to a 90-degree angle. Then, exhale and press your arms down towards the floor. 

You should be pressing on a decline so that your arms are angled about 45-degrees below horizontal.  Inhale to return your arms by your shoulders, then press again. Throughout both the incline and decline press, make sure that you’re:

  • Keeping your shoulder blades together
  • Not arching your back
  • Pressing your hands to their fullest extent

Not only will these exercises work your entire chest, but they’re also going to target your back and shoulders.

trainer working out with resistance bands

3. Resistance Band Push-Ups

Resistance banded push-ups add a little extra tension on top of your typical push-up.  As you push yourself up from the floor, it should become increasingly difficult the closer you get to the lockout thanks to the added resistance from the band.

To get started, get on your knees and grab hold of your resistance loop band.  Wrap the band around your back and hold onto one end of the band in each hand.  The wrapped band should sit underneath your armpits.

Get into a typical push-up starting position in a plank while still holding on to the ends of the resistance band in each hand.  Keep your hands and feet shoulder-width apart, your core nice and tight, and your spine neutral.  You should already feel the tension in the band trying to press you down towards the floor.

Inhale and drop down into the push-up.  On your exhale, press yourself back up to the plank position.  You should feel resistance from the band as you’re pushing yourself back up to plank.  If you’re not feeling the challenge, then tighten the band behind your back or grab one with more resistance.

4. Resistance Band Chest Fly

Chest flys are similar to chest press in which you can do them with resistance bands if you don’t have a pulley handy. Begin by wrapping a resistance band around a stable pole or looping it through a door anchor.  It should be placed at chest height. 

Hold one end of the band in each hand and face away from your door anchor.  You can use a band with or without handles. Get into an athletic stance with one foot in front of the other and angle your upper body slightly forward.  Hold your arms straight out from your shoulders with light tension in the band. 

Then, exhale and squeeze your chest to rotate your arms straight in front of your chest. Your hands should be touching one another and your arms should be mostly straight with only a slight bend in the elbows. Then, inhale and release your arms back to their starting position.

Unlike the chest press where you’re pressing your arms forward from an evident elbow bend, with chest flys, your arms should be straight and you should feel a squeeze in your pecs. 

The movement is a rotation from your shoulder joint that squeezes your pecs together, not a press from the chest. This exercise is one of the absolute best for building upper body strength in your chest specifically.  If you want to get the most out of chest flys, be sure to:

  • Squeeze your pecs as tight as you can
  • Go for the full range of motion by pulling the band until your hands touch
  • Keeping your elbows up as you pull the band forward

As long as you follow these simple form rules, you should maximize the potential benefits of the exercise.

5. Reverse Chest Fly With Resistance Bands

Reverse chest flys are almost the same as regular chest flys.  The only obvious difference is that you face towards your anchor point rather than away from it. Get started by either wrapping your resistance band around an anchor or looping it through a door anchor. 

Make sure that it’s set up at chest level.  Stand facing the anchor with your arms straight out in front of you at chest level and your feet in athletic stance with both knees slightly bent.  Then, grab one end of the resistance band in each hand.  There should be mild tension in the band as you stand in this starting position.

Keeping your arms straight, elbows up, and palms facing towards one another, exhale and pull your arms out to the sides of your body so that they’re even with your shoulders.  Then, inhale and slowly release the tension by bringing your arms back out in front of you. If you’re doing it right, you should feel:

  • A squeeze in your chest when you return to starting position
  • A pinch in your shoulder blades as you pull your arms back

You’re basically doing the opposite movement as the regular chest flys by starting the movement with your arms out in front of you and ending by sticking them straight out from your shoulders.  This movement is not only great for your upper chest, but it’s also particularly good for your upper back and shoulders.

Strong man working with resistance band

6. Single-Arm Crossovers With Resistance Bands

Single-arm crossovers work one-half of your chest at a time.  You can start with your right pec and then move on to your left pec.Start by looping your resistance band through a door anchor.  Place the anchor at the top of the door so that the anchor is higher than your head.  You only need one end of the resistance band at a time to do this exercise, so tie a knot around the other end of the band so it stays in place.

Grab onto the free end of your resistance band with your right hand and step away from the anchor while keeping your arm straight.  There should be light tension in the band.  Line up the entire right side of your body with the band and stand with your feet a little greater than hip-width apart. 

If you’re in the correct position, your right arm will create one long line with the resistance band and the entire right side of your body will be facing the door anchor.On an exhale, squeeze your right pec to pull the band across your body so it comes straight out in front of you. 

Inhale to release the tension in the band and return your right arm to the side.  You should feel considerable tension in your core for stabilization throughout the movement.Once you’ve done your reps on the right, switch to the left side.

7. Resistance Band Chest Press/Bench Press

Last but not least, ditch the barbell for a resistance band to perform the bench press.Start by wrapping a resistance around one of the legs of a flat bench.  Lay on the bench with a flat back and then grab one end of the band in each hand.  Pull your knees in so that your feet sit flat on the bench and come close to your glutes. 

Hold your hands slightly above chest level so that your elbows form a 90-degree angle. Exhale and press your arms straight up over your chest, working against the band tension as you extend your arms. On an inhale, drop your arms back so that your elbows are at 90-degrees again. 

When you're ready, do the next rep. If this isn’t enough tension for you, you can also do the traditional bench press with a barbell and attach a resistance band to the bench for extra resistance.

Final Thoughts on Resistance Band Chest Exercises

When you’re ready to step your home workout chest routine up a bit, then opt for these resistance band exercises.  Or, transport your bands to the gym with you to add extra resistance to your existing weight training routine.

If strength training with resistance bands isn’t much of your thing, then you can use them for stretching and lengthening your muscles.  Regardless of how you use resistance bands, the point is that you don’t want to miss out on their benefits.

Bonus tip: Switching things up is essential to building new gains. Give these top 7 chest exercises a try to mix things up a bit!


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