The best chest workouts with resistance bands

Use the best chest workouts with resistance bands to build upper body muscle without weights

Man performing a resistance band push-up
(Image credit: Future)

The best chest workouts with resistance bands are a great way to strengthen your upper body and build muscle without a set of weights. Since resistance bands are light, portable, and have several strengths, you can do these exercises anywhere, even when you're short on time or traveling. 

All you'll need is a set of the best resistance bands (opens in new tab) to get started. Rather than single-looped or flat bands, these sets come with bands of varying strengths stored in a convenient carrying case and are often bundled with accessories like door anchors and handles. 

These are helpful when using resistance band chest exercises, as you'll need to attach the bands to a fixed support for moves like chest presses, pullovers, and crossovers. But there's also a push-up variation that requires no supports, anchors, or attachments as you loop the band around your back instead. 

To help you build upper body strength, we've rounded up the best chest workouts with resistance bands to get you started. These five moves make a great routine on their own, or you can incorporate a few into your regular training to work your chest, shoulders, and arms. 

Best chest workouts with resistance bands

There are five moves in this resistance band chest workout, and the aim is to do between 10 and 15 repetitions of each before starting the next exercise. You can do a single round, or repeat the routine up to four times for an extended upper body workout. 

1. Resistance band push-up

Man doing a resistance band push up

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The push-up (or press-up) is a staple bodyweight exercise for building upper body strength. Before you start on this variation, it's important to perfect your form and learn how to do a push-up (opens in new tab) to get the most from your training. You can increase the resistance by choosing one of the higher strength bands for this exercise. 

  • Wrap the loop of the band around the palm of your left hand and pass it behind your back, grabbing the other end in the palm of your right hand.
  • Enter a push-up position, with the band in between your palms and the floor, legs extended behind you, back flat, stomach and butt muscles squeezed tight.
  • Lower to the floor in a slow, controlled manner, keeping your elbows tucked in towards your sides.
  • Hold at the bottom of this move, with your forehead and chest hovering just off the ground and press back up explosively.
  • The heavier the band, the more resistance you will feel at this portion of the move and the harder it will work the chest muscles.

2. Chest press

Woman performing a resistance band chest press

(Image credit: Future)

This move is also one of the best chest workouts you can do at home (opens in new tab) and it's a great way to build strength or use as a stepping stone to a chest press with dumbbells. 

  • Lay down on an exercise bench or on the floor and loop the band around your back, grabbing one end in each hand. 
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other, keeping your feet firmly on the ground, and press the band up with both hands, leading with the chest. 
  • Keep your shoulders connected to the bench or floor, so that you're using your chest muscles for the press.
  • Stop just before your arms lock out at the top, hold for a few seconds, then slowly reverse the press, lowering your arms back to the start position. 

3. Chest fly

Woman performing a resistance band chest fly

(Image credit: Future)

Due to the amount of stretch that’s required for this move, you will need either a thin, lower gauge closed-loop band or tube resistance bands with a set of handles attached to each end. And the longer you take on the lowering (eccentric) portion, the more work your muscles have to do.

  • Loop the band around a pole or other anchor at chest height and stand side-on to the band. Take a few steps away to allow space to increase the resistance. 
  • Extend the arm closest to the band out to the side and grab the non-anchored end. Then pull the band across your body to the other side of your chest. 
  • Squeeze and hold this position for three seconds before slowly returning to the starting position. 
  • Repeat the same amount of repetitions on each arm. 

4. Resistance band crossover

Man performing a resistance band crossover

(Image credit: Future)

If you're training at the gym, you'd often do this move using a dedicated cable machine, but you can get similar chest-building results with this resistance band variation. 

  • Loop the band behind your back at chest height, with one end in each hand. Extend each arm out to the side in a T-position to increase the band's tension. 
  • Take a step forward with one foot, then pull the bands down towards your front, keeping your arms extended with a slight bend at your elbow as you move. 
  • When the bands meet in the middle of your body at around waist height, hold the position for three seconds, before slowly returning to the starting position. 

5. Resistance band row

Woman performing a resistance band rows

(Image credit: Future)

You'll be on your back on the floor for this move, so roll out an exercise mat or one of the best yoga mats (opens in new tab) if you can for some support. 

  • Take a seated position on your mat, with your back straight and legs out in front of you. Loop the band around the soles of your feet and hold one end in each hand. 
  • Sit tall and engage your core, with your hands in front of your and elbows slightly bent.
  • Pull the band back until each end is by your side and your elbows are behind you. Slowly return to the starting 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.

An automotive and technology writer by trade, Leon keeps in shape by lifting heavy objects inside and riding various machinery outside. Leon is an Editor who has written for Wired Uk, The Sun, Stuff Magazine, and Fit&Well's sister title, T3. Now though, Leon is working for The Gear Loop covering just about everything from hiking to kayaking. 

With contributions from