Exercises to Build Total Body Strength

We know how much space kettlebells and dumbbells can take up in your home. But the truth is you don’t need a whole lot of fancy equipment to get the most out of your at-home workout. Resistance bands are space-efficient, highly portable, and they’re great for every level of fitness. Since they rely on your bodyweight for resistance, they’re extremely flexible and can make even the simplest workout extra tough.

There are a variety of resistance bands out there, but the three most popular types are looped resistance bands, elastic band tubes with handles and mini bands. Looped resistance bands, which basically look like a giant rubber band, are commonly used in advanced powerlifting and sports performance workouts to do lifts like the barbell squat and bench press. Elastic tubes are thin, cylinder-shaped tools with handles at each end and are used for strength exercises, from bicep curls to shoulder raises. Mini bands are small, flat, looped elastic bands, typically placed above the knees or ankles for mobility and stability work, or as part of a dynamic warm-up.

How much resistance you’ll get is determined by the stiffness of the band and how far it’s stretched. Exercise equipment manufacturers will likely include the amount of resistance each band has, but in general, the wider or longer a band is, the more resistance it has.

If you have one, two or all three types of bands, you’re in luck. We’ve got 10 resistance band exercises to help you build strength and stability — right where you are.

1. Band Pull Apart

Targets: Chest, triceps, rhomboids (upper back)
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and head facing forward (a). Hold a resistance band in front of you with your arms extended straight out. There should be 4-6 inches of band left at the ends where your grip stops (b). Pull the band apart by bringing your shoulder blades together so that the band touches your chest (c). Slowly return to the starting position by bringing your arms back down in front you at eye level. This move should be done slowly and under control. Repeat for 8-10 reps (d). You can use a therapy band for this exercise, if strength bands are too difficult.

2. Upright Row

Targets: Shoulders
How to: Stand with the band under your feet, shoulder-width apart. Shoulders should be back, spine straight and head facing forward (a). Hold the top of the band with a pronated (overhand) grip, hands close together and arms straight down in front of your body. This is the starting position (b). Lift your hands towards toward ceiling, raising them to about chin height, while keeping the hands close to the body. Your elbows should point to your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor (c). Return the bands back to the starting position (d). Repeat for 8-10 reps.