Forget dumbbells—build upper-body muscle with this trainer's seven-move resistance band workout

The London Fitness Guy has shared his perfect vacation workout, but it’s also an ideal strength workout for people who don’t own dumbbells

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You don’t need dumbbells to strength train. All you need is a budget-friendly resistance band and this workout from personal trainer James Stirling.

Stirling, also known as London Fitness Guy, is a fount of minimalistic home workouts that can be done anywhere—and he recently shared an upper-body routine to work his chest, back, shoulders and arms.

The circuit is made up of six resistance band exercises—the bent-over row, biceps curl, kneeling overhead press, lateral raise, banded push-up and reverse fly—and a set of 10 burpees to finish each round.

It also includes three mobility-boosting warm-up moves to kick off the session, which I suggest you perform for 1-2 minutes per exercise before getting started.

If you don’t own a resistance band, it's worth buying one for your home gym kit. Here are three options worth considering, and here’s a chest workout with resistance bands to do with your new purchase.

Shop resistance bands with handles

How to do James Stirling's upper-body resistance band workout

Stirling recommends performing 15 reps of each exercise and five rounds in total of the main circuit.

However, that makes for a lot of reps, so it’s worth adjusting the reps and rounds to suit your level of fitness, and if you’re a complete beginner, also rest for 30 seconds between each exercise so your muscles have time to recover.

Stirling also notes the need to focus on the "slow, lowering phase" for each exercise. This is to keep the working muscles under tension for as long as possible during each set. The longer the muscles are under tension, the more they will grow.

I suggest aiming to make the lowering movement last two to three seconds, fighting against the resistance of the band, then immediately go into the lifting part of the exercise.

The burpees at the end of each circuit will spike your heart rate, helping you to burn calories and develop your cardiovascular fitness. Take your time, and step rather than jump back and forward, if the workout is becoming too intense.

Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. He is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer.