Beginner Total Body Resistance Band Workout

If you've got a resistance band, you may wonder exactly what to do with it and whether it's an effective tool for strengthening your body.

The band is great for adding a different type of resistance than you get from dumbbells. Because there's tension on the band throughout the entire movement, you'll fire up different muscle fibers, always a great idea when you're building strength.

With these exercises, you'll hit all the major muscle groups using the resistance band to build strength and endurance in your entire body.

Safety and Precautions

Resistance bands can break if they are damaged, causing potential injury. Be sure your resistance bands are free from defects and are anchored securely during use.

Do not perform any movements that cause pain or discomfort. Be sure you know how to properly perform each exercise with correct form. A personal trainer can assist you if you are unsure. See your doctor if you have any medical issues or conditions.


  • Level: Beginner to advanced
  • Equipment needed: At least one resistance band. It's great to have a variety of bands if you can so you can switch them up as needed.
  • What to Expect: Warm up with dynamic movements before beginning. Use a tension level that is challenging for you and vary your bands accordingly. Beginners should aim for one set of 12 to 16 reps; intermediates can aim for two sets of 16 reps; advanced exercisers can try three or more sets of 16 reps.


Warm-up with some light cardio to increase blood flow, then proceed with dynamic movements that mimic the types of movements you will perform during this workout. Examples include arm swings, wall angels, bodyweight squats, bodyweight lunges with hip openers, and gate openers.

The Workout

One thing to keep in mind is that some exercises will require different levels of tension. For example, you may be able to use a heavier band for exercises like chest presses or biceps curls. For that reason, having a variety of bands will allow you to get the most out of this workout.

Another thing to note is that you may need to adjust your hand position or the position of your body to get the most tension out of each move. If anything feels too easy, try using a heavier band with more tension.

Complete between one to three or more sets of 12 to 16 reps, depending on your fitness level and time constraints.

One Arm Chest Press

The one-arm chest press is perfect for working not only the chest muscles but the core as well since you have to hold your body steady as you move your arm through the exercise.

Safety Tip

Don't twist your hips or allow your back to arch or hyperextend. Brace your core and focus on moving only your arm.

How To Do it Right

  1. Wrap the band around a sturdy object behind you and loop one handle through the other.
  2. Hold the end in the left hand and step away from the anchor point until there's tension on the band.
  3. Begin the movement with the left arm bent, ​the band coming under the arm, and the elbow bent at 90 degrees, palm facing down.
  4. Squeeze the chest to press the left arm out in front of you. Come back to start and repeat for 16 reps on each side.

You can also do this exercise in a superset with the one-arm fly exercise, alternating each exercise.

One Arm Rotating Chest Fly

The one-arm rotating chest fly is another excellent move targeting the outer part of the chest and the core.

Safety Tip

Your feet should pivot with you as you rotate through the movement.

How To Do It Right

  1. Wrap the band around a sturdy object behind you and loop one handle through the other.
  2. Stand with the left side facing the anchor point, arms straight out to the sides and feet about hip distance apart, and hold the handle in the left hand.
  3. Stand far enough away that there's tension on the band. Rotate the left hand towards the right hand, keeping the arms very straight.
  4. Try to touch the left fingers to the right, feeling the exercise on the left side of the chest, shoulder, and arm. 

Release and repeat for all reps on the left side, then switch sides. 16 reps and switch sides.

Lat Pulls With Resistance Bands

lat pull starting position

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Lat pulls are another great exercise, this one working the lats, the muscles on either side of the back. You really have to focus on this one to make it work.

Safety Tip

Avoid this movement if you have shoulder impingement or experience any discomfort.

How To Do It Right

  1. Stand or sit and hold a band in both hands above your head.
  2. Start with your hands a few inches apart. You may need to adjust them to change the tension.
  3. Keeping the left hand in place, squeeze the back to pull the right elbow toward the ribcage.
  4. Return to start and repeat for 16 reps before switching sides.

Upper Back Squeeze

Women exercising with resistance band on beach
Hero Images / Getty Images

The upper back squeeze exercise is perfect for working the posture muscles of the upper back. You'll need to adjust the distance of your hands to make this one harder or easier.

Safety Tip

Move in a slow and controlled manner, not allowing the band to snap back. Keep the band in front of your chest and do not hunch your shoulders.

How To Do It Right

  1. Standing or sitting, hold ​the band in the middle, arms straight out in front of you, hands a few inches apart.
  2. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and open the arms out to either side, pulling the band apart and squeezing your shoulder blades.
  3. Return to start and repeat, keeping tension on the band the entire time. Repeat for 16 reps.

One Arm Rear Flies

One arm rear flies are the perfect move for working both the back of the shoulders as well as the muscles between the shoulder blades.

Safety Tip

Keep your spine neutral and brace your core to protect your back.

How To Do It Right

  1. On hands and knees, hold one side of the band in the right hand and grab the other end with the left hand.
  2. Keep the right hand in place as you lift the left arm straight up to shoulder level leading with the elbow and squeezing the back and shoulder.
  3. Adjust hand placement to increase or decrease tension. 
  4. Repeat for 16 reps on each side.

Overhead Press

The overhead press targets your shoulder complex to build strength and stability.

Safety Tip

The overhead press is one of the more challenging exercises, and you'll want to be careful with the band here. Taking your band past its furthest tension point can stress the band and cause it to snap. If your band is tight, try doing this one arm at a time with the band secured under one foot.

How To Do It Right

  1. Place band under both feet if you have an easier band, one foot if it's tighter.
  2. Hold the handles in both hands and begin the move with the arms bent in the 'goal post,' wrists straight, and abs in.
  3. Contract the shoulders to straighten arms up and lower back down.
  4. Complete 16 reps.

One Arm Triceps Extensions

This simple triceps extension is perfect for working the muscles in the back of the arms.

Safety Tip

Keep the shoulders down throughout the movement and concentrate on squeezing the triceps muscles.

How To Do It Right

  1. Hold the band in both hands at shoulder level with the right arm bent so that it's in front of the chest, left arm straight out.
  2. Keeping the left arm straight to hold tension on the hand, contract the triceps to straighten the right arm.
  3. Return to start and repeat before switching sides.
  4. Complete 16 reps on each side.

Band Biceps Curls

man doing bicep curls
SolStock / Getty Images

Biceps curls are a classic arm exercise and the band adds a little more depth to the exercise. You really have to use your stabilizer muscles to keep the arm steady as you curl the band up and down.

Safety Tip

Do not use your hips or swing your body and keep your spine neutral. People often tend to hyperextend their backs to move the weight. If the weight is too heavy, decrease the resistance.

How To Do It Right

  1. Stand on the band and hold handles with palms facing out.
  2. Keeping abs in and knees slightly bent, bend arms and bring palms toward shoulders in a bicep curl.
  3. Position feet wider for more tension.
  4. Return to start and repeat for 16 reps.

Side Step Squat

Squat With Side Step

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Side steps squats are great for the glutes, the outer thighs, and the quads. Remember, when you squat, send the hips behind you so the knees don't go forward.

How to Do It Right

  1. Stand on the band with feet together, keeping tension on the band by holding a half-bicep curl.
  2. Step to the right as far as you can and lower into a squat.
  3. Step the left foot in and continue stepping to the right with a squat for the length of the room before switching sides.
  4. Continue pulling on the band to add tension. 

Band Lunges

The band makes an excellent tool for adding resistance to traditional lunges. As a bonus, you'll also get a little isolation work on the biceps.

Safety Tip

Move slowly and with control, bracing your core and balancing throughout.

How To Do It Right

  1. Stand with right leg forward, left leg back, and band positioned under right leg.
  2. Keep the tension on the band by bending elbows, and lowering into a lunge until both knees are at 90 degrees.
  3. Return to start and repeat for 16 reps on each side.

You may need to adjust the tension on the band, holding it closer to your foot, for example, to keep the intensity up.

Criss Cross Outer Thigh

The criss-cross outer thigh is an excellent move for targeting the glutes, hips, and, of course, the outer thighs. You might want to use a band with heavier tension for this exercise.

Safety Tip

Avoid this exercise if it aggravates your knees.

How To Do It Right

  1. Lie down with the legs up, band looped around the feet.
  2. Criss-cross the band for added tension and pull the elbows down to the floor.
  3. Keep the elbows down and the upper body relaxed as you open the feet, concentrating on squeezing the outer thighs.
  4. Come back to start and repeat for 16 reps.

Glute Kickback

Seniors woman using Resistance Bands
Nastasic / Getty Images

The glute kickback is just what it sounds like, a challenging move targeting your rear.

Safety Tip

Getting into the correct position can be tricky, and you'll want to ensure the band is secure around your foot, so the band doesn't snap back.

How To Do It Right

  1. Get on your hands and knees and wrap a resistance band around the right foot.
  2. Hold the handles in each hand and begin the move with the right knee bent and flex the foot while extending the right leg straight back, squeezing the glutes.
  3. Repeat for 16 reps on each side.

Make sure you keep your foot flexed to avoid the band snapping back.

Cool Down

Cool down with gentle stretching and/or light cardio.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Lopes JSS, Machado AF, Micheletti JK, de Almeida AC, Cavina AP, Pastre CM. Effects of training with elastic resistance versus conventional resistance on muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. SAGE Open Medicine. 2019;7:205031211983111. doi:10.1177/2050312119831116.

By Paige Waehner, CPT
Paige Waehner is a certified personal trainer, author of the "Guide to Become a Personal Trainer," and co-author of "The Buzz on Exercise & Fitness."