A Total-Body Resistance Band Workout You Can Do Anywhere

Resistance bands are one of the most versatile strength-training tools out there. Unlike dumbbells or kettlebells, which are obviously great but are large and heavy, resistance bands are small, lightweight, and easy to tote around wherever your workouts take you. They can be used to work pretty much every body part. And they don't put much pressure on your joints.

"Think about pressing a heavy dumbbell overhead and then quickly bending at the elbow to return to neutral. All the weight comes down into your elbow joint," Melody Scharff, a certified personal trainer at Fhitting Room in New York City, tells SELF. For some people, that can be uncomfortable or cause problems over time. When you use resistance bands, on the other hand, you maintain constant tension in the concentric (lifting) and eccentric (lowering) part of an exercise, so there's no external load putting extra pressure on you. You also are in full control of the resistance, eliminating the change you'll take on more than you can handle and risk injuring yourself.

Scharff adds that because of this, and because of their versatility, resistance bands are great for so many different groups of people. "I think they are a super approachable tool, so they are good for anyone just getting started in their workout journey. They are super portable so they are good for anyone who travels," she says.

To help you reap the benefits of resistance bands, Scharff put together a full-body workout that uses nothing more than your bodyweight and a resistance band.

The overall goal of the workout is to work many different muscle groups—"this leads to a more efficient workout," Scharff says. "In a full-body program like this, we move from one area of the body to another to allow for recovery while we're still working." To get the full benefits, Scharff suggests taking minimal breaks in between each exercise. "Not only are you getting stronger, but the constant movement and change from move to move is really going to keep your heart rate up." After each round and each circuit, rest for about 60 seconds. (Though if you need to rest more, that's totally OK. Do what feels best for your body.)

Scharff recommends beginners try this workout two to three times a week to reap the strength-building benefits. If you're a more advanced exerciser, try choosing a circuit or two to mix into a longer workout.

Modeling the workout below is Teresa Hui, a native New Yorker who has run over 150 road races. She will be running her 12th consecutive New York City Marathon this upcoming November, which will also be her 16th full marathon.

The Workout

What you'll need: One light-to-moderate weight looped resistance band, and one light-to-moderate weight resistance band with handles. You can also use a plain resistance band without handles (it is just not as easy to hold onto). There are lots of options here.


Bodyweight warm-up:

  • Inchworm—5 reps
  • Shoulder Tap—10 reps
  • Squat Thrust—15 reps
  • Air Squat—20 reps
  • Do 3 rounds.

Circuit #1:
Do each exercise for 45 seconds. At the end of each round, do 10 jump squats. Do three rounds.

  • Resistance Band Bicep Curl
  • Plank Up-Down (no band)
  • Resistance Band Lateral Walk
  • Resistance Band Glute Bridge
  • Jump squat (no band) — 10 reps
  • Do 3 rounds.

Circuit #2:
Do each exercise for 45 seconds. At the end of each round, do 20 jump lunges. Do three rounds.

  • Resistance Band Lat Pulldown
  • Push-up (no band)
  • Resistance Band Kneeling Crunch
  • Jump lunge — 20 reps
  • Do 3 rounds.

Circuit #3:
Do each exercise for 45 seconds. At the end of each round, do 10 jump squats. Do three rounds.

  • Resistance Band Upright Row
  • Resistance Band Hinged Row
  • Resistance Band Glute Kickback
  • Resistance Band Thruster
  • Jump Squat (no band) — 10 reps
  • Do 3 rounds.

Here's how to do each move:

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