Ask The Trainer: Full Upper Body Workout With Just Exercise Bands

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If you think exercise bands are wimpy, or too girly, think again!

You can forget the bench and heavy weights, all you need is a band for a simple, adjustable and effective workout.

If used correctly, exercise bands can pack a punch. “In some ways they can be more effective than using the machine,” said April Sharrock, a trainer at Ascent Fitness in Denver. She said that’s because a band engages your stabilizing muscles as you move through multiple planes of motion.

That means you can get a complete workout with just a few adjustments, starting with a row. Fix your band to something stable, and pull back. Start with a neutral grip for one set of muscles. Then turn your palms up and keep your elbows in for another. Then, palms down and elbows out to your sides.

“This gives you a really nice fully back workout just by changing your hand position,” April said.

Next up, a chest press. Step in and press forward.

Stay there for a fly, just soften your elbows, palms facing each other and press out. April said, “Now squeeze like you’re squeezing the 2 pec muscles together. Squeeze.”

Now, using your foot as the anchor point, step on the band and stretch your arms overhead for a tricep extension. “You have to control so much from this position, so many ranges of motion, so many planes of movement.”

Same goes for the biceps. You have to control the movement both up and down. April said, “When you use the band, as opposed to a machine, there’s really no rest, there’s no break.”

Finally, finish up with some straight arm raises. Aim for 30 seconds to a minute.

April suggests doing 20 reps for all these exercises, three times. If that’s too easy, you need a stronger band. The darker colors like blue, black and purple are stronger. Red, yellow and green are easier strengths.

If you have a question for the trainer, email

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