The 12 Best Band Workouts for Full-Body Development
Resistance band exercises can help with strength training outside the gym. They're inexpensive and don't take up much space. That means they're also easy to toss into a suitcase so you can keep up your fitness routine on the go.
Bands can target just about any part of your body at different resistance levels. You can use them instead of dumbbells and other small-to-medium weights for an upper-body, lower-body, core, or total-body workout.
But band workouts can also serve as a warm-up to heavy lifting or as a low-impact way to increase the difficulty of bodyweight exercises in a home workout. Resistance bands are also a great tool for stretching at the end of a hard sweat.
We've compiled our favorite band workouts for women to help you target the areas you want to tone up. Let's get into it.
Lower Body Band Workout
The best resistance band workouts for your lower body target large muscle groups like the quads and glutes along with smaller ones like your calves. You can work your front and back legs using opposing movements along with balancing exercises that work to strengthen your stabilizing muscles.
Here are some of our favorites. You can do these in slower sets or combine them back-to-back for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Before you get started, get prepped with Cira Pregame to maximize the time you spend getting strong.
1. Banded Lateral Squats
Step into a loop band (or tie a knot in a straight band to make a circle) and start with your feet shoulder-width apart (minimal tension). Step your right leg out about 1 foot to create tension in the band, and exhale to squat, ensuring that your knees don't go beyond your toes and you maintain good posture. Then, step back in just far enough to keep tension on the band. Inhale. That's one rep.
Continue on the same side for 15 reps or for 30-45 seconds if you're doing it HIIT-style. Then, switch to stepping your left leg out instead for the next set. Do three sets on each side, alternating between right and left leg with each set until complete. For HIIT, do all six sets before taking a break.
2. Banded Single-Leg Deadlift
Do this exercise just like you would with a kettlebell or bodyweight. Start with both feet on the ground and the band wrapped beneath your left foot. As you bend down to grab the band, your right leg will lift in a straight line until it's parallel with the floor. Inhale. Keep your left knee soft as you stand up, holding the band for one rep. Exhale. Then, bend at the waist, lifting your leg again, releasing tension in the band as you inhale. And stand to create tension, exhale.
Do this move for 15 reps per set, or for 30-45 seconds for HIIT. Then, switch the band to your right foot and repeat on the opposite side. Perform three sets per side (continuously for HIIT).
3. Hamstring Bridge
This one is a little funky, but it's a great way to create resistance on your hamstrings.
Lie on your back with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Wrap the resistance band around your knees, which should be shoulder-width apart. Lift your butt while flexing your core and glutes, and slowly walk your heels out until they're about 2 feet farther from your body and your legs are almost straight. Then walk them back toward you until your feet are flat on the ground. Breathe steadily.
That's one rep. Do three sets of 15 reps, resting in between, or set a HIIT timer for 60-90 seconds and do the move continuously before taking a break.
4. Donkey Kickbacks
This exercise works hamstrings and glutes. The starting position for this one is on your hands and knees. Wrap a mini-band around your left ankle and right foot. Keep your left knee on the ground as you kick your right leg up and out and exhale, taking care not to arch your lower back. Then, return to the starting position and inhale. That's one rep.
Repeat on the same side for 15 reps and then switch to the right knee. Do three sets per side, resting between each.
5. Calf Raises
You can do these with both feet on the ground. To make it more challenging, raise one foot at a time. Place a band under your toes and stand up straight, holding the band at your shoulders and your feet hip-width apart. Exhale as you raise your heels until you're on your toes, and then inhale to lower back down just before your heels touch the ground.
Repeat, never letting your heels touch the ground, until you've completed 15 reps. Switch sides if you're doing one-legged calf raises. Do three sets, resting between each, or continuously for 60-90 seconds for HIIT.
6. Plank to Bear
This exercise is the perfect glute and hip exercise that also engages your pecs and core. Start in a plank position (like you're about to do a pushup) with a mini-band wrapped around the soles of your feet.
Bring your left foot toward your left hand, engaging your core. Then, step your right foot toward your right hand so that both feet are now under your hips. Keep your back flat, and don't stick your butt into the air. Then, step your left foot back and then right foot back so that your body is now back to starting position. Breathe steadily. That's one rep. During the whole movement, you should keep your feet wide enough apart that the band never loses tension. This will engage your outer hips and glutes.
Do three sets of 15 reps or go continuously for 60-90 seconds.
If you're just working on your legs today, do all five of these exercises for a solid lower-body workout. If you're planning on a full-body, resistance-band workout, choose 2-3 of these exercises to pair with 2-3 from the next section.
Upper Body and Core Band Workout
Upper body exercises aren't just an arm workout. They work your core, shoulder (deltoids), pectorals, and back muscles. In fact, many movements in this section involve a lot of these at once.
Band exercises that engage several muscles simultaneously can help you get a total body workout in a pretty short session. Just like the ones in the previous section, these exercises can be done in three sets of 15 reps or using the HIIT method.
7. Standing Tricep Extensions
Wrap the band around the sole of your right foot and then stretch it up, extending your hands overhead and exhale. Slowly lower down, bending at your elbows, keeping your elbows close to your ears and inhale, then extend back up (exhale) for one rep. Keep your core engaged.
8. Banded Shoulder Press
This move works your deltoids, lats, and upper back.
Stand with both feet stepping on the band, about shoulder-width apart. Start with one end of the band in each hand at shoulder height. Keeping your back straight and your core engaged. Exhale as you lift the band up and your arms are fully extended above your head. Then, inhale as you slowly lower them back. That's one rep.
9. Lateral Squat to Cross-Body Row
This exercise works your quads, glutes, traps, deltoids, and triceps.
In a wide stance (about double hip-distance), toes facing forward, wrap the band under your left foot and hold onto it with your right hand. Shift your weight to your left side, bending your knee, and reach down with your right hand across your body.
Now, stand up and pull the band up with your right hand, exhaling and lifting your elbow parallel to the ground until your hand gets to shoulder height. Release back down into the left-legged squat position on the inhale. That's one rep. Do 15 on one side before switching to the right foot and left hand.
10. Banded Bicep Curls
Start in the same position as the shoulder press, but instead of lifting the band overhead, start with your elbows by your sides, arms extended holding the band, and palms facing forward. Keeping your elbows at your sides, exhale and lift into a curl. Slowly release down on the inhale. That's one rep.
Your body should be tense through the whole movement. Don't use your hips to lift.
11. Bent-Over Row
Start with one foot in front of the other like you're about to do a lunge, and step through the band on the front foot. Using the hand on the same side, pull the band up and back, shooting your elbow and shoulder blade backward rather than out wide. Then, release back to neutral on the inhale. That's one rep.
Keep your core under tension and don't hinge your hips during this exercise. This works your upper-back muscles, like the rhomboids and lats.
12. Plank Push-Ups
This works your abs, back, glutes, and chest.
Wrap a mini-band around your forearms, and get into the plank position, feet about hip-width apart. Start with your hands just under your shoulders and slight tension on the band. Then, bring your hands out wide, stretch the band, and exhale as you do a pushup. Bring your hands back together on the inhale. That's one rep.
As you can see, each of these exercises comes close to being a full-body workout on its own. Mix and match them with the list above to get your body pumping.
Band Workouts for Women
We've come up with a great list of band exercises geared for women at home or on the go. Bands are easy to store and pack, and they're less expensive than a gym membership or building a home gym. They also offer versatility, and you can access fun workouts like these without ever having to hire a personal trainer.
While we picked our favorite 12 exercises to share with you today, there are many more for you to check out. For other workout ideas, try these upper-body workouts and leg workouts for women. And take our quiz to find out which supplements are best for reaching your fitness goals.