Strengthen your upper body with just a resistance band and this trainer’s five exercises

Try this trainer’s resistance band workout for toned arms and strong shoulders

Woman does upper body resistance band workout
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Don’t have room for a set of weights at home? Try resistance bands instead. These versatile training tools allow you to build muscle from the comfort of your home but can be easily stored away. What’s more, in our investigations into resistance bands vs weights, we found that you can actually achieve similar strength gains with either tool.  

Personal trainer Andrew Watkinson of Fitagain has put this workout together exclusively for Fit&Well, which uses a looped resistance band. Beginners should opt for a lighter resistance band when they do it, but you can increase the challenge with a heavier option if you need to. 

If you're looking for a full-body routine, try our full-body resistance band workout instead, or check out our resistance band leg workout, to build lower-body strength.

Andrew Watkinson
Andrew Watkinson

Andrew Watkinson is a Master PT with a level 4 back care qualification. He's also the founder of Fitagain, the only dedicated personal training gym in Devon, UK. 

Upper-body resistance band workout

  • Front raises 3x12
  • Chest Press 3x12
  • Single-arm bicep curls 3x12 (each arm)
  • Tricep single-arm extensions 3x12 (each arm)
  • Banded rows 3x12 (each arm)

1.Front raises

Sets: 3 Reps: 12

  • Begin by stepping on the center of a long resistance band with both feet, ensuring it's securely under your soles. Hold the handles of the resistance band in each hand, with your palms facing downward. Your feet should be hip-width apart and your arms should be fully extended by your sides. Maintain a straight posture and keep your core engaged. 
  • Lift both arms in front of you simultaneously until they reach shoulder height or slightly above. As you lift, exhale and focus on using your front shoulder muscles to perform the movement. Hold the raised position briefly to feel the contraction in your front deltoids.
  • Lower your arms back to the starting position in a controlled manner while inhaling.

2. Chest press

Sets: 3 Reps: 12

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and wrap the band around the middle of your back, grasping its ends in your hands. Ensure the band is taut and provides resistance. Keep your hands close to your body at chest height, with your elbows bent and your palms facing forward. 
  • Press your hands forward and away from your body while keeping your elbows slightly bent. Engage your chest muscles and exhale as you push. Fully extend your arms at the end of the movement, and hold the position for a moment to feel the chest muscles working.
  • Inhale as you slowly release the tension and bring your hands back to the starting position.

3. Single arm bicep curl

Sets: 3 Reps: 12 on each side

  • Stand on the center of a resistance band with your right foot, ensuring it's securely under your sole, and hold the ends of the band with your right hand. Your palm should be facing forward and your arm should be held down at your side. 
  • Exhale as you flex your elbows and curl your hand toward your shoulder, bringing your palm close to your bicep. As you curl your hand, focus on squeezing your bicep and maintaining tension in the resistance band. Hold the top position for a moment to feel the contraction in your bicep.
  • Inhale as you slowly extend your arm, returning to the starting position. Keep your elbows close to your torso throughout the exercise. Change sides when you’ve completed the set number of reps.

4. Tricep single-arm extensions

Sets: 3 Reps: 12 on each side

  • Loop one end of the resistance band under the heel of your right foot and secure it by stepping on it. Grasp the other end of the resistance band with your right hand and bring the band up and over your shoulder.  Your arm should be bent, with your elbow pointing upwards and your hand positioned behind your head. 
  • Exhale as you extend your right arm straight up, straightening your elbow. Focus on using your tricep to perform the movement. Hold the fully extended position for a moment to feel the contraction in your tricep.
  • Inhale as you slowly bend your elbow and return to the starting position. Complete the set number of repetitions and do the same exercise on the other arm

5. Banded rows

Sets: 3 Reps: 12 on each side

  • Loop the middle of the resistance band under both of your feet and secure it by stepping on it. Hold the ends of the resistance band with both hands, palms facing each other, and arms fully extended in front of you. Hinge at the hips while keeping your back straight and your chest up. Engage your core muscles, keep your feet hip-width apart, and maintain a soft bend in the knees.
  • Begin the exercise by pulling the resistance band toward your abdomen. Focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. Exhale as you pull the resistance band, engaging your back muscles. Hold the fully retracted position for a moment to feel the contraction in your upper back.
  • Inhale as you slowly release the tension and extend your arms back to the starting position.

Looking for some new workout equipment? Have a look at our guide to the best resistance bands

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.


Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.