8 Effective Exercises You Can Do With 1 Resistance Band

If you've ever tried to pack dumbbells in your suitcase to bring along on a trip—or even just had to haul them from one room to another—you know they leave something to be desired in the portability department. And for those who can't perform load-bearing exercises due to joint or mobility issues, or who are recovering from an injury or surgery, free weights might not be the safest way to build and strengthen muscle. And, of course, not everyone has access to a fully equipped gym with cable weight lifting machines.

But these limitations don't have to lead to muscle neglect. By using bands in place of weights, you can still get a full-body resistance workout without the extra volume or impact. They also allow you to target specific muscles more precisely than you could with dumbbells. Plus, when you're short on time and can only squeeze in a few minutes of exercise, resistance bands provide a quick, but effective, alternative and also make a weightless, hassle-free travel companion.

Need some inspiration to snap you into action? Celebrity trainer and FORM Fitness gym owner Morit Summers provides some of her favorite resistance band moves.

Lateral Monster Walks

This exercise very effective at targeting the gluteus muscles and stabilizing the hip.

  • Place the band underneath your feet and hold the handle crossed in front of you wherever comfortable.
  • Sit into a partial squat (hips back, knees slightly bent, chest up).
  • Take 10-12 steps to one side, staying low and not allowing the band to pull your feet together.
  • Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 steps on both sides.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Squat to Overhead Press

This move helps to build core strength and shoulder stabilization and strength while working all of the muscles in the legs.  

  • Place the band underneath your feet and hold the ends in each hand behind your shoulders.
  • Squat down by driving your hips back, bending the knees and keeping the chest up.
  • On your way up from the squat, extend your arms straight up to the ceiling. Come to a full stop at the top and maintain control of the resistance bands. 
  • Slowly bring your arms back down to your shoulders.
  • Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Standing Alternating Row

This exercise specifically works on your back, lats, rhomboids and traps, helping to promote proper posture. In order to stay in the bent over position, you are also using the lower back, core and hips to keep from falling over.  

  • Place the bands underneath your feet. Hold the ends either by the handles or, to make it harder, grab onto them in a lower spot.
  • Hinge your hips back, while maintaining a neutral spine and a slight bend in the knee.
  • Alternate sides by pulling the resistance band. Bring your hands as close to your chest as possible.
  • Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Reverse Fly With Lunge

The reverse fly targets the posture muscles, hitting the rear delts and the mid traps. Meanwhile, the back lunge is working the glutes, hamstrings and quads. In order to do these two movements at once, you are also working on stabilizing the body with core strength.

  • Hold the band with both hands, palms facing the ceiling. As you step back into a lunge, pull the band apart. 
  • Relax your shoulders away from your ears and focus on your back doing the work.
  • Bring the hands back together as you stand up from your lunge.
  • Alternating legs, repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Plank With Rotation

A plank targets basically every muscle in the body. By adding in the rotation, you are focusing on your obliques as well as your rear delts to pull the band apart.

  • Start in a plank position.
  • Place one side of the resistance band under your palm that is staying on the floor.
  • With the other hand, grab the resistance band and rotate your body all the way open, while keeping your arm straight and using your rear deltoid to pull the band apart.
  • Switch to the other side. Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps on each side.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Plank With Hip Extension

The target here is a solid plank while getting in some extra glute work.

  • Place the band under one of your palms and place the handle around the opposite foot.  
  • While holding the plank, pull one knee into your chest and then extend that leg straight back by pushing against the resistance band.
  • Switch sides. Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Standing Core Rotation

This core exercise will target all the muscles in the abdominal area.

  • Place the resistance band underneath one foot and grab the handle with your hands together.  
  • With straight arms out in front of you, exhale and twist from the hips, bringing your arms above the shoulders while keeping them straight.
  • Alternate sides. Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

Lateral Raise

This exercise targets your shoulders, specifically your medial deltoid.

  • Place the resistance band underneath your feet.
  • Grab the handles and simply bring your arms straight out to the sides.
  • Repeat for two to three sets of 10-12 reps.

Image courtesy of Morit Summers

While weights have their place in a workout regimen, bands provide a low-impact, lightweight alternative to dumbbells for those who are recovering from injury or just want to mix up their resistance program.

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Member Comments

good pictures Report
I think that band exercises are effective, but after using them and getting hurt with them (slipping off) I don't prefer them. Report
I am pleased to see steal person demonstrating!!! Report
So good. And I'm impressed to see a heavier person demonstrating the exercises. It's encouraging. I have always found skinny people doing exercises on a weight loss app not very realistic. Report
Thank You.............. Report
I will have to work up to some of these! Report
Excellent! Report
Thanks. Great ideas! Report
Great info. Report
Never thought of this. Have to dig my bands out. Report
This is helpful, thank you. Report
I like this! I appreciate the pictures, too! Report
Great article. I'm going to pack my exercise band next time I travel. So convenient. Report
Interesting exercises Report


About The Author

Melissa Rudy
Melissa Rudy
A lifelong Cincinnatian, Melissa earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from University of Cincinnati before breaking into online writing in 2000. As a Digital Journalist for SparkPeople, she enjoys helping others meet their wellness goals by writing about all aspects of healthy living. An avid runner and group fitness addict, Melissa lives in Loveland with her guitarist husband and three feisty daughters.