The Best 5 Upper Body Exercises to Do with Resistance Bands

Strengthen the muscles in your upper back and arms with these quick workout moves.

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Band row

01-resistance-bands_band-rowMichael Bambino & Co.

  1. Anchor a resistance band to a secure implement (such as a railing or a bed frame) at about chest level. Grab the handles and step back until the band develops a moderate amount of tension. Set your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees, and lower yourself down about 6 inches into a quarter squat.
  2. Pull through your shoulder blades and elbows and bend your arms to pull the band in toward your rib cage, as if you were rowing. Pause for a full second in the contracted position.
  3. Extend your arms to let the bands back out. Repeat for the suggested number of reps.
What it does: This resistance band move strengthens the muscles in your upper back and the front of your arms. Form tip: When rowing the resistance band in, think about drawing your shoulder blades together. You can also get full-body, mix-and-match workouts to help you burn fat, tone muscle, and reboot your body in my new book 60 Second Sweat.

Alternating band row

02-resistance-bands_alternating-band-rowMichael Bambino & Co.
  1. Anchor a resistance band to a secure implement (such as a railing or a bed frame) at about chest level. Grab the handles and step back until the band develops a moderate amount of tension. Set your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees, and lower yourself down about 6 inches into a quarter squat position.
  2. Pull through your shoulder blades and elbows and bend your arms to pull the band into your rib cage, as if you were rowing.
  3. Holding your left hand against your rib cage, extend your right arm out to let the band back out. Then immediately bend your right arm to pull the band back into your ribcage.
  4. Switch arms. Holding your right hand against your rib cage, extend your left arm out to let the band back out. Then immediately bend your left arm to pull the band back in toward your rib cage.
  5. Continue alternating arms for the suggested number of reps on each arm.
What it does: This resistance band move strengthens the muscles in your upper back and the front of your arms. Form tip: When rowing the resistance band in, think about drawing your shoulder blades together.

Power band row

03-resistance-bands_power-band-rowMichael Bambino & Co.
  1. Anchor a resistance band to a secure implement (such as a railing or a bed frame) at about chest level. Grab the handles and step back until the band develops a moderate amount of tension. Set your feet about shoulder width apart, bend your knees, and lower yourself down into a half squat, with your thighs parallel to the floor.
  2. Explosively—with as much force as possible—push your hips forward and straighten your legs while simultaneously pulling through your shoulder blades and elbows and bending your arms to pull the band in toward your rib cage, as if you were rowing.
  3. Immediately squat back down to the starting position while simultaneously extending your arms to let the band back out. Repeat for the suggested number of reps.
What it does: This resistance band move strengthens the muscles in your upper back and the front of your arms, while developing full-body power and explosiveness. Form tip: Focus on coordinating the movement of your arms and legs. Your arms should be extending as you go down into the squat, and your legs should be fully straightened as your hands come in toward your ribs.

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Band pull-apart

04-resistance-bands_band-pull-apartMichael Bambino & Co.
  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Using an overhand grip, hold a light to moderate resistance band with your hands about shoulder width apart. Keeping your arms straight, raise them directly out in front of you.
  2. Keeping your arms straight, pull the band apart until the band contacts your chest.
  3. Pause for a full second with the band contacting your chest before returning to the starting position. Repeat for the suggested number of reps.
What it does: Strengthens the muscles in your upper back and rear shoulders. Form tip: Moving your hands out farther on the band makes this exercise easier, and moving your hands closer together on the band makes it harder. Experiment with your hand position to find the ideal tension.

Bent-over band lat pulldown

05-resistance-bands_bent-over-band-lat-pulldownMichael Bambino & Co.
  1. Anchor a moderate resistance band to a secure implement (such as a railing or a bed frame) at about chest level. Grab the handles and step back until the band develops a moderate amount of tension. Set your feet about shoulder width apart. Push your hips back and bend over until your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. Your arms should be straight out in front of you.
  2. Pull the band handles in toward you, keeping your knuckles up and elbows out, until your hands nearly reach your shoulders.
  3. Pause for a full second in this position before letting your arms back out, and repeat for the suggested number of reps.
What it does: Strengthens the large muscles in your back that run along the sides of your spine, as well as the muscles in the front of your arms. Form tip: Squeeze hard from the underarms, as if you were crushing oranges in your armpits, to maximize the contraction in the target muscles.

For more expert workout plans to help you at home or at the gym

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