The best chest workout with resistance bands to level up your training

Grab your resistance bands and get ready to build muscle and strengthen your chest

Woman using resistance band to perform a chest workout
(Image credit: iStock / Getty Images Plus / Miljan Živković)

Resistance bands are often seen as an alternative to dumbbells if you want to save money and space in your home gym. And while they are cheaper and smaller than free weights, that doesn’t make them a sub-standard choice if you want to build muscle. Even if you’re in a well-stocked gym you can get a great muscle-building chest workout with resistance bands. 

“To create muscle growth, we always need to work to a challenging stimulus,” Florida-based personal trainer and Living.Fit contributor Jesse Grund (opens in new tab) says. 

“A resistance band can be a beneficial tool for muscle growth as it provides variable resistance,” Grund adds. “That means the distance from where the band is anchored can increase the force necessary to create movement. Bands also allow for velocity-based movement in a safer way and require more control on muscle lengthening—eccentric contraction in technical terms—which, we know from research, can produce muscle growth as much as contractions can.”

Grund says tube resistance bands or thin closed-loop bands work best for chest exercises. If you don’t own any already and are in need of some guidance, our round-up of the best resistance bands will help. Or if you’re looking to develop your chest without any equipment, try this home chest workout plan.

5 of the best chest exercises with resistance bands

Grund has shared a chest workout with resistance bands. Depending on your fitness levels, Grund suggests completing 10 to 12 reps of each exercise below for three or four sets. He recommends having 30 seconds to a minute’s rest in between each set.

About our expert
Personal trainer Jesse Grund
About our expert
Jesse Grund

Jesse Grund is a strength and conditioning coach and owner of Unconventional Strength (opens in new tab) gym in Orlando, FL. He also contributes to Living.Fit (opens in new tab). Along with being a National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) certified strength coach, Grund has a masters in applied exercise science from Concordia University, Chicago. He specializes in strength and performance, and works with a range of clients, from professional wrestlers to golfers. 

1. Single-arm resistance band chest fly

Man doing single arm resistance band pec fly

(Image credit: Living.Fit)

To perform this move you’ll need to use either a tube resistance band, or a thin closed-loop band which you can attach to a strong and sturdy anchor point. Grund has used a tube resistance band in this example. Remember to repeat on the other side. 

  • Attach your resistance band to an anchor point at chest height. 
  • Stand side on to the anchor point and hold one end of the band with your closest hand.
  • Step away from the anchor point until your arm is horizontal, with a slight bend in your elbow and there’s some tension in the band.  
  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and brace your core. Keeping a neutral spine throughout, use your pec muscles to pull the band across your body until your arm is in front of you in line with your sternum. Return to the start under control. 
  • Do all of the reps on one side, then swap.

2. Resistance band incline press

Man doing resistance band incline press

(Image credit: Living.Fit)

You’ll need a weights bench set to a 15° or 30° incline for this move. If you don’t have something suitable, skip this exercise. 

  • Attach your resistance band to an anchor point behind you, or place it around your back. Either way, there should be some resistance band in the starting position.
  • Lie on an incline bench with your feet firmly on the floor and hold the ends of the band by your chest. 
  • Push the ends of the bands away from you. Return to the start position. 

3. Banded push-up

Man doing banded pushup

(Image credit: Living.Fit)

Mastered how to do a push-up? Then progress to a banded push-up which increases the difficulty of the move. 

  • Wrap the band across your upper back below your shoulders. Lie face down on the floor holding the band in both hands, with your hands next to your shoulders. There should be slight resistance in the band. 
  • Exhale and push yourself up and into a plank position with your hands shoulder-width apart and feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Be sure to engage your core and keep a neutral spine.
  • Inhale through the nose and lower your chest to the floor slowly. Let your elbows flare to the sides. 
  • Exhale and push yourself back to the starting position.

4. Resistance band Pallof press

Man doing resistance band Pallof press

(Image credit: Living.Fit)

A Paloff press works your chest but also helps to develop your core muscles. 

  • Attach your resistance band to an anchor point at chest height. 
  • Stand side on to the anchor point and hold one end of the band in both hands in front of your chest.
  • Keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, a neutral spine and engaged core, step away from the anchor point to create tension in the band. 
  • Extend both arms out in front of you, resisting the pull to the side. 
  • Return to the start with control. 

5. Resistance band floor press

Man doing resistance band floor press

(Image credit: Living.Fit)
  • Wrap the band across your upper back below your shoulders. 
  • Lie on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat and your lower back pushed into the floor.
  • Hold the ends of the resistance band to the sides of your chest, with your upper arms on the floor and forearms vertical. 
  • Extend your arms straight up. Pause, then lower slowly to the start position.

Why use resistance bands for chest workouts?

Many people compare resistance bands vs weights (opens in new tab) when they're looking to build muscle. Both increase the resistance on your muscle, but bands place the muscles under constant tension

This means you're working your muscle during the pushing and pulling portion of the move. And if you have a controlled lowering or "eccentric" phase to return to the start position, this tasks your muscles all the way through the movement. 

While a set of the best adjustable dumbbells (opens in new tab) can be a great investment, weights are often expensive and hard to store, whereas resistance bands are generally quite affordable and easy to pack away after your workout. 

But switching to resistance bands doesn't mean you're taking an easier route or working your muscles less. A study published in the scientific journal Frontiers in Sports and Active Living (opens in new tab) found that resistance band deadlifts "produced higher force when compared to free weights".

This increased force, combined with the constant pressure on your muscles thanks to the resistance band's elastic force, helps to tax your muscles and work them harder. This, in turn, will help them grow. 

How do the best chest workouts for resistance bands build muscle

If you're performing these resistance band movements, you're working to tax your muscles, and they might be sore the next day. The reason they're sore is something called delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS) caused by lots of very small tears in the muscle fibres.

Don't worry, these tears are totally normal. The muscle repairs these tears over time, leaving it bigger and stronger than when it started. Think about filling in a crack in the sidewalk with cement, then spreading another layer of cement on top. If you do that once a week, soon the layer of cement will be much thicker than it used to be. 

The cement is your muscles: over time, your muscles get thicker and stronger. However, in order to do this, you'll need a good source of protein to consume after your workout, which acts like cement mixture. Great sources of protein can be pulses like peas and beans, legumes, soy, lean red meat and white meat such as chicken or turkey. 

Try and eat a good-size serving of protein as soon as possible after a workout in order to help your muscles grow. Alternatively, you can check out our guide to the best protein powder for weight loss (opens in new tab), which offers a convenient low-carbohydrate muscle-building solution.

Becks Shepherd

Becks is a freelance journalist and writer with more than 7 years of experience in the field. She writes health and lifestyle content for a range of titles including Live Science, Top Ten Reviews, Tom’s Guide, Stylist, The Independent, and more. She also ghostwrites for a number of Physiotherapists and Osteopaths. 

Health has been a big part of Becks’ lifestyle since time began. When she’s not writing about the topic of health, she’s in the gym learning new compound exercises. And when she’s not in the gym, she’s most probably reading.