Elastic bands : 30 exercises program and buying guide

Resistance bands- Here is a complete muscle building program in 30 exercises to do at home. I also present the best kits available.

Building muscle with this accessory is quite possible. It's even much easier to work the whole body at home than with dumbbells. That's for sure! In addition, this equipment is much less difficult to use for a quick workout and to maintain a regular physical activity when you get older.

But, as I have already explained to you, there are rules to follow. I will first briefly explain to you why you should use the latex band kits for your workouts at home rather than the dumbbells.

SmartWorkout Elite

Table of Contents

Advantages of elastic bands in weight training

Progressive resistance

This is undoubtedly the main interest of this sports equipment to promote muscle volume in good conditions.

When you do sessions with free weights like dumbbells and bars, the resistance is constant. This is also the case with most bodyweight exercises. This means that you are putting constant stress on your joints, even when they are not in the best position to make an effort. We'll come back to this point in the next section.

It is very different with rubber bands. Indeed, they require a greater force as they are stretched. I think you can easily understand this principle. The more you pull on a latex tube, the more it resists. Of course, its size and the quality of its rubber or latex will determine its use. In the case of elastic bands used for sports, they are very strong.

This mechanical property makes it the equipment of choice for home sports. Indeed, you benefit from the following advantages:

  • The more the tension increases, the more your muscles have to force. This is perfect, since your muscles are precisely in the contraction phase when the effort required is maximum.
  • As the latex band pulls back to the starting position, you hold the resistance during the downswing.

Moreover, these same qualities allow you to use this accessory to facilitate certain exercises such as barbell pull-ups. Elastics can be used in many different ways in your workouts.

Respect of the joints

These technical features of the tubes allow for other benefits during their use. In particular, the bodybuilding elastics reduce the risks of joint and muscle injuries. Thus, they make it possible to perform movements that are too difficult with free weights or even with machines that tend to reduce joint freedom.

I admit that when you're 20 years old, you don't really care. I started getting injured after 27 years. Before that, I could do just about anything. After 50, it's not the same song at all 🙁

If you use dumbbells

During a curl with free weights, the biceps and joints must force from the start of the movement. This means that when the arm is extended, the muscle fibers must pull the load as they are stretched. Like a rubber band, a stretched muscle is at risk of tearing. Not to mention the risk to the tendons. In addition, the elbow joint will undergo enormous stress which can lead to tendonitis. I know something about it!

In fact, the biceps is only in good posture when the elbow passes the right angle. The same is true with your elbow joint. After that, when the muscles are fully contracted, they have almost no effort to make. The hand can only go so far anyway.

With a rubber band

It is very different because this sport equipment preserves the muscles, tendons and joints during the effort. Indeed, the tension will naturally follow the muscle contraction and accompany it. The progressive resistance will be stronger as the muscle contraction increases. It is thus perfect at the muscular and articular level.

Resistance is at its highest when the muscles are strongest and most contracted, not when they are weakest. The quality of the workout benefits greatly. This is an incredible advantage, because it is more difficult to progress alone with dumbbells. In fact, there is inevitably a moment when you need help to continue to progress with free weights.

If you're looking for how to make the best use of them, now here are 30 exercises to discover for your program with weight training elastics.

Program with elastic bands

Today, we are going to detail together an example of a 4-day “split routine” program. What I'm giving you today corresponds almost exactly to my weekly sessions. So I know this program by heart.

ALSO READ:  Resistance band or dumbbell: Which to choose?

However, I'm adding 2 back exercises, as I'm a fan of big, muscular backs. Not only for aesthetics, but also for back support. Well, I have a rotten back with hyperlordosis and osteoarthritis everywhere... so developing it is really a necessity for me.

You will find these 2 exercises as bonuses in the section "Assisted barbell pull-ups with elastic bands". Don't try it yet if you are a complete beginner. Give yourself 2 to 3 months before starting these bonus exercises.

Breakdown of bodybuilding sessions

The 4-day split routine program looks like this:

  1. Monday : Upper body session
  2. Tuesday : Lower Body + Shoulders session
  3. Wednesday : Rest
  4. Thusday : Upper body session
  5. Friday : Lower Body + Shoulders session
  6. Saturday : Rest
  7. Sunday : Rest

Adapt the days to what suits you best. But keep the rhythm 2 days of training / 1 or 2 days of rest.

Reminder of the essential rules for mass gain

Remember these few important reminders:

  1. Volume gain is optimal during sets of 8 to 12 repetitions. Beyond that, you will mainly work on endurance. While below 8 reps, you will mostly be building strength.
  2. Keep rest times fairly short. Usually 30 seconds is enough.
  3. You should not be able to perform any additional reps at the end of a set. If not, it means your resistance choice is too low. It will therefore have to be increased.
  4. At the beginning, write down the resistances you used in the last session. Gradually, you will realize that you have memorized your previous results. 

Organization of the sessions

For each muscle or muscle group, you will perform 3 different exercises, 2 to 4 sets per exercise. For some of them, you may use several elastic bands at the same time.

Here's how you can break down your sessions:

1. Work on the upper body muscle groups

These are the exercises scheduled for Monday and Thursday in our example. You will divide them into 3 groups:

  1. Pectorals
  2. Backbones
  3. Biceps & Triceps

Allow 45 to 60 minutes for your resistance training session with the elastic tubes. Let's get started!

Progressive resistance for pectoral muscles (15 minutes)

First follow this video to do the pecs with this accessory:

EXERCISE 1: Standing press

This movement replaces the bench press in traditional weight training.

Number of sets: 4

Number of repetitions: 20 (warm-up) / 12 / 10 / 6 to 8

You really have to give everything you have on the last 2 sets1 minute rest between each set (up to 2 minutes on the strongest resistance)

EXERCISE 2: Chest fly

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 12 / 10 / 8

1 minute rest between each set

EXERCISE 3: Spreads

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 16 / 12 / 10

1 minute rest between each set

Back muscles (10 minutes)

NOTE : For the 4 to 6, you will link them with a maximum rest time of 15 seconds. Take just enough time to change the elastic bands.

For my training, I prepare the bands on 2 anchor points to have more intense sessions. For example, you do exercise 4 and you immediately continue with exercise 5, then exercise 6.

You repeat this sequence 3 times. At the end you add a set of exercise 4 to finish.

EXERCISE 4: Wide grip pull-ups

Wide grip pull-ups
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 4

Number of repetitions: 20 (warm-up) / 16 / 12 / 10

30 seconds rest between each set

Feel your back work well before increasing the resistance. There's no point in adding elastic tubing if your arms are working instead of your back.

EXERCISE 5: Standing Row

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 15 / 15 / 12

30 seconds rest between each set

Do not squeeze the grip so that the biceps do not work instead of the latissimus dorsi

EXERCISE 6: Side extensions

side extensions for the back after insanity
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 16 / 12 / 10

30 seconds rest between each set

Do not squeeze the grip so that the biceps do not work instead of the latissimus dorsi

2 minutes of rest (prepare the material for the next cycle)

Biceps and Triceps (12 minutes)

NOTE : Work movements 7 to 12 in pairs (7 & 8 / 9 & 10 / 11 & 12).

This will allow you to save time while recovering a little more. For example, you do exercise 7 and you immediately do exercise 8 with the same resistance. You repeat this sequence of exercises twice. Follow the same procedure for 9 and 10.

You proceed in the same way for the movements 11 and 12 by repeating 3 times the sequence. There, you can take different bodybuilding elastics by working on 2 anchor points.

Take a little rest only when really necessary. You have to suffer to gain muscle mass.

Watch this video to see extensions and kickbacks for triceps:

EXERCISE 7: Triceps kickback 2 handles

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 16 to 20 / 12/ 12 

30 seconds rest between each set

EXERCISE 8: Hammer Curls for Biceps

Number of sets: 3 per side

Number of repetitions: 16 to 20 / 12 / 12 

30 seconds rest between each set

EXERCISE 9: Forward Tricep Extension

Unilateral triceps extension
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 3 per side

Number of repetitions: 12 / 10 / 8

No rest (change hands)

EXERCISE 10: Side Bicep Curls

Bicep Curl Elastic Bands
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 3 per side

Number of repetitions: 12 / 10 / 8

No rest (change hands)

EXERCISE 11: Triceps Extension

See the video above for its execution.

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 12 / 10 / 6 to 8

30 seconds rest between each set

Give your max on this exercise. You have to burn your triceps 😉

EXERCISE 12: Preacher curls

preacher's curl
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 12 / 10 / 6 to 8

30 seconds rest between each set

Give whatever you have left by doing it fairly slowly.

NOTE: As an alternative to number 10, you can do hammer curls for the brachialis and increase the volume of the arm.

Assisted pull-ups with resistance band

This is a supplement for the more motivated or those with more experience 😅

If you really want to develop your latissimus dorsi, I recommend these 2 exercises. They require the use of a pull-up bar. You must integrate them before exercise 4 in your session. Careful, it stings!

BONUS 1: Wide grip pull-ups

Do pull-ups - Overhand pull
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 10 / 10 / 10

1 to 2 minutes rest between each set

If necessary, help yourself with a loop resistance band or by leaning on a chair. 

BONUS 2: Close Grip Pull-ups

Do pull-ups - Supine pull-up
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 2 to 3

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Number of repetitions: 10 / 10 / 10

1 to 2 minutes rest between each set

As for the previous one, you can help yourself with a loop band or by leaning on a chair. 

2. Work your lower body and shoulders

Now is the time to talk about Tuesday and Friday exercises. 

In this model, I separate the shoulders from the upper body for convenience. Indeed, your sessions will have about the same duration. Especially since the abs session will be very concentrated (no rest time).

What if you want to spend more time on the legs?

In this case, I advise you to do 2 more sessions per week. For example, you can reserve 30 minutes for abs and shoulders on Wednesday and Saturday. As you want. The important thing is to do 2 sessions per week for each muscle/muscle group with at least 2 days of rest between each session. I am of course talking about rest for the muscle, not for you?

The exercises are divided into 3 groups:

  1. Legs
  2. Abdominals
  3. Shoulders

Allow 40 minutes for your session. Let's go !

Leg and gluteal series (20 minutes)

EXERCISE 1: Squats with a band loop

Number of sets: 4

Number of repetitions: 20 (warm-up) / 16 / 12 / 12

1 minute rest between each set (up to 2 to 3 minutes on the strongest resistance)

EXERCISE 2: Sissy squats

I show in this video how to make them with hanging straps or without equipment. But you can replace the straps with a resistance band since the objective is simply to stabilize you during the movement.

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 12 / 12 / 10

15 to 30 seconds of rest between each set

EXERCISE 3: Side lunges

Number of sets: 3 per leg

Number of repetitions: 12 / 12 / 10

15 to 30 seconds of rest between each set

EXERCISE 4: Hamstring Curls

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 20 (warm-up) / 16 / 12

Stand up between each set to get the blood flowing

30 seconds to 1 minute rest between each set

EXERCISE 5: Calf raises

Calf extension with resistance band
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 3 per calf

Number of repetitions: 20 / 20 / 20

No rest (just switch legs)

No rest – Attack the abs directly

Abdominals with resistance band (10 minutes)

Unlike everyone else muscle groups, I recommend that you do this series with almost no rest.

Why ?

The muscles of the abdominal muscles are very resistant and recover very quickly. Do not try to give them a big volume, unless it is important for your aesthetic. Sometimes, developing too much volume in the abdominal muscles gives the impression that you are gaining a belly.

It is more interesting to give them a great endurance, because they are muscles solicited permanently. That's why it's better to burn them in a long series.

NOTE: If the 6, 8 and 10 are too difficult for you at first, do them without them. resistance bands.

EXERCISE 6: Abdominal push-ups

Straight muscles - abs exercises with rubber bands
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 2

Number of repetitions: As many as you can 1 minute

15 to 30 seconds of rest between each set

EXERCISE 7: Side extensions

Abs - pulling for obliques
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 1 minute per side

Number of repetitions: as much as you can 

Note: Control the movement so as not to go too fast

Breathe 15 to 30 seconds before the next exercise

EXERCISE 8: Bicycle crunch

Number of sets: 1 minute

Number of repetitions: as much as you can 

You can add a resistance band for this movement like here:

abs exercise with elastic band - Bicycle crunch
Source: Bodylastics

Breathe 15 to 30 seconds before the next exercise

EXERCISE 9: Back to wall crunch

elastic abdo exercise - Crunch on the knees
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 1 minute

Number of repetitions: all you can give

Catch your breath 15 to 30 seconds before the next exercise

EXERCISE 10: Accordion

Women's abs - Accordion crunch
Source: Bodylastics

Number of sets: 1 minute

Number of repetitions: As much as possible (if you have energy left)

Recover 15 to 30 seconds before the next exercise

EXERCISE 11: Crunch facing the wall

Abs crunch with resistance band
Source: Bodylastics

Complete your abs!

10 minutes of pure happiness! You can not find ? Take short breaks whenever necessary in the beginning. But hang on! 

2 minutes of rest (prepare the material for the next cycle)

Strengthen the shoulders with the elastic bands (10 minutes)

NOTE: Strength movements 12 and 13 are quite fast. You can chain them without a rest period. For 14 to 16, I advise you to chain them. You do a 14 set, a 15 set, then a 16 set.

You repeat 3 times increasing the resistance of the elastic band. Your session will thus be a little shorter, while having a good intensity.

EXERCISE 12: External rotation (open the door)

Number of sets: 3 per arm

Number of repetitions: 20 / 20 / 20

The gesture must be quite fast with low resistance.

NOTE : This movement and the next are very important if you suffer from shoulder pain (rotator cuff).

EXERCISE 13: Internal rotation (close the door)

Number of sets: 3 per arm

Number of repetitions: 20 / 20 / 20

Same instructions as for the previous one. It's just the reverse movement.

EXERCISE 14: Shoulder press

This video shows you the military press behind and in front, followed by the front raises in the same series. You can actually chain them together if you like.

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 10 / 10 / 10

EXERCISE 15: Front shoulder raises

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 12 / 10 / 10

Do not take too strong a resistance to finish the repetitions in good conditions.

EXERCISE 16: Lateral Raises

Do your best on this exercise using a fairly light resistance. Add repetitions if necessary rather than forcing too much because the shoulders are quite fragile. You can lean your torso forward slightly to reduce stress on the joints.

Number of sets: 3

Number of repetitions: 15 / 12 / 12

It's over, CONGRATULATIONS!

You deserve a good shower, or even two… It's not for the sight, it's for the smell?

This program takes effort, that's for sure. But it will make you gain muscle and lose fat. It is obligatory.

Where to buy the best resistance kit?

Not easy to find the best rubber bands because there is a huge choice, but most of the material is worthless. In any case, it is very difficult to find great quality, even among the most expensive types of kits.

That's why I give you specific recommendations on the best equipment available for your geographical area.

In Canada and the US

If you live in North America, buy a complete set of tubular bands from Bodylastics. These are the ones I used to order before I found a good brand in Europe (see below).

ALSO READ:  How to choose your Resistance bands in 2022?

Their only drawback is the price, but the quality is impeccable and they will last you many years. Mine lasted over 7 years despite heavy use and harsh conditions when I lived in West Africa.

Bodylastics Anti-snapping resistance band sets...
  • What's new. New. New product. We now offer a new...
  • Nominated the best resistance bands by The Wirecutter,...
  • Patented pressure reduction and safety design:...

In Europe

If you live on the old continent, the best rubber bands are currently those of the company SmartWorkout. Their kits are more complete than the competitors and the material of the tubular bands is of very good quality. It is really a good product for a good price. Their lifespan is impressive and you have a 5 year warranty.

If you are not equipped, I recommend one of the 2 elastic band kits from the European brand SmartWorkout. Not only are they attractively priced, but you get free access to 3 workout programs and videos. In addition, you get 20 % discount with my links. Here's what's included in the Elite Pack:

  • 7 natural latex 100 % tubes, which can provide up to 120 kg of resistance;
  • 1 bar with integrated fasteners for attaching rubber bands;
  • 2 non-slip silicone handles for a better grip;
  • 2 neoprene padded ankle straps;
  • 1 thick easy to install door anchor;
  • 4 unbreakable stainless steel carabiners;
  • 1 compact bag to carry the kit anywhere;
  • 3 free weight training programs included (Express, SmartGains, Strong & Beautiful);
  • 1 user guide.
SW Elite Elastic Kit - EN

You can also purchase the SmartWorkout Pro package which includes exactly the same items except for the bar (click on the link to learn more).

What about the other packs at Amazon?

I've already been tricked into ordering several rubber bands from the American giant's website. It is difficult to find a good product, even if you rely on the reviews. I did manage to buy several acceptable models that I present in the table below:

Visual
TheFitLife 150lbs Resistance Bands - Fitness Resistance Band...
GJELEMENTS Bodybuilding Elastics - Set of Resistance Bands...
TOMSHOO Resistance Bands 5 Resistance Bands + 1...
Description
TheFitLife 150lbs Resistance Bands - Fitness Resistance Band...
GJELEMENTS Bodybuilding Elastics - Set of Resistance Bands...
TOMSHOO Resistance Bands 5 Resistance Bands + 1...
Our rating
2,5/5
4/5
4/5
Current price
35,99 €
49,99 €
33,99 €
Click for more information
Visual
TheFitLife 150lbs Resistance Bands - Fitness Resistance Band...
Description
TheFitLife 150lbs Resistance Bands - Fitness Resistance Band...
Our rating
2,5/5
Current price
35,99 €
Click for more information
Visual
GJELEMENTS Bodybuilding Elastics - Set of Resistance Bands...
Description
GJELEMENTS Bodybuilding Elastics - Set of Resistance Bands...
Our rating
4/5
Current price
49,99 €
Click for more information
Visual
TOMSHOO Resistance Bands 5 Resistance Bands + 1...
Description
TOMSHOO Resistance Bands 5 Resistance Bands + 1...
Our rating
4/5
Current price
33,99 €
Click for more information

There is no obligation to buy, but I assure you that you will not be disappointed when you see your muscles grow and your figure become slimmer. 

And if your wallet allows, invest in a few loop bands to vary your workouts. Because the wider ones are thicker, they provide a lot of resistance. This is what I use to do "heavier" sets for squats and deadlifts.

NOTE : This article is the 4th in a series intended to demonstrate the superiority of resistance bands over dumbbells for training at home. They are also called resistance bands. You will be able to achieve exactly the goals you set for yourself with this remarkable material.

FAQs on weight training exercises

Should I do sets of sit-ups before or after the session?

To work the abs, it's always best at the end of the session, since these muscles are involved in almost every resistance movement. Work them at least 3-4 times a week, since they have great recovery power and are so important in all other activities.

How can an ectomorph gain volume with rubber bands?

Favor sets with few repetitions (10 max) and longer rest times between sets. Do not do more than 3 sessions per week and not too long.
Focus on increasing the calories in your diet, i.e. the caloric surplus, especially through the consumption of proteins.

How to stay motivated to work out?

Try not to expect too much of yourself every day. Accept that you don't feel like it sometimes and tell yourself that it's okay. The important thing is to do what you can on the days when you are less motivated, but to do something anyway.
For example, if there's a workout you like that makes you feel a little more energized with motivating music, keep it on hand for those days when you're not feeling up to it. Tell yourself that you're only going to do 5 minutes of weight training before the shower and you'll often be surprised that you don't want to stop after the 5 minutes.

How do I maintain my elastics?

The truth is, you don't have to do much and your equipment will last for years, even without maintenance.
The only important advice is to wash them from time to time with soap and water. For example, you can take them with you in the shower after a session where you've sweated quite a bit. But that's really all the maintenance needed to make them last.

Where to hang a rubber band?

The models recommended in this article all come with one or more soft door anchors. Simply wedge this into the door and ensure that the door cannot open during the workout.
The elastic band passes through a reinforced fabric loop that won't damage it at any angle.

How to use the elastic band?

It is important that it be in slight tension from the beginning of the movement. Throughout the movement, the stretch will increase the progressive resistance, which is one of the many advantages of this physical preparation material.
However, you should be careful not to stretch it beyond 4 times its original length, which is just under 5 meters. In any case, users adapt very easily after a few sessions after their purchase.

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Last updated on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Some images are sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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