Resistance bands are a great way to add variety to your training and increase muscle fiber recruitment. They are also a great training tool to use in a time where you do not have access to iron plates and barbells, or are on the go and have limited space and equipment at your disposal.
In this article, I’m going to focus on how to use resistance bands to work your chest. I will also provide a sample resistance band chest workout.
The 7 best chest exercises you can do with bands are:
Resistance Band Floor Press
Resistance Band Crossover Flye
Resistance Band Flye
Staggered Stance Resistance Band Incline Press
Resistance Band Push-Up
Resistance Band Straight Arm Pulldown
Resistance Band Row
Note: It is important to note that resistance bands do have their limitations, such as their ability to add significant resistance for stronger individuals, so be sure to use these in conjunction with heavy loads (barbell, dumbbells, machines, etc) if you are truly looking to optimize chest strength and size.
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7 Best Chest Exercises with Resistance Bands
Below are seven of the best chest exercises you can do using resistance bands.
Two of the movements do not directly target the chest muscles, however they are vital to optimal development, injury prevention, and longevity on joint and tissue health for competitive bench pressers and individuals looking to increase chest strength and mass.
Related Article: 9 Banded Kickback Variations To Target Your Glutes
1. RESISTANCE BAND FLOOR PRESS
The resistance band floor press is a great exercise to isolate the chest and triceps while minimizing stress on the shoulder.
This limited range of motion pressing movement is also a great way to help reinforce proper back tension and scapular retraction for the push up and bench press.
When doing this, focus on fully extending the elbows and maintaining a contracted upper back, focusing on contracting the chest and triceps throughout the movement.
Related Article: Can You Build A Chest Without Bench Press?
2. RESISTANCE BAND CROSSOVER FLYE
The resistance band crossover flye is a variation that has the lifter cross one hand over the other at the end of the movement.
In doing this, you slightly increase the range of motion more than the traditional flye, which can lead to a deeper, more forceful muscle contraction.
If you do these, be sure to alternate which hand crosses over which every rep to maintain a sense of symmetry.
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3. RESISTANCE BAND FLYE
This classic single joint movement is great for isolating the pectoral muscles (chest).
This is similar to the crossover flye variation in that it is a great way to force a muscle contraction at the top of the movement, while also adding a loaded deep stretch as the hands move apart from one another.
In all flye variations, be sure to keep the scapula retracted and depressed down the back to keep the anterior (front) deltoid out of the movement as best as possible.
Related Article: 3 Awesome Resistance Band Shoulder Workouts
4. STAGGERED STANCE RESISTANCE BAND INCLINE PRESS
The staggered stance resistance band incline press is a unilateral pressing movement that also reinforces core and anti-rotational strength.
By changing the angle of the press (from low to high) you can also place more stress on the upper chest and front of the shoulders.
This is also a great movement to reinforce scapular stability and control that can translate over to the push up and bench press.
Related Article: Can You Build Muscle With Resistance Bands?
5. RESISTANCE BAND PUSH-UP
This is a variant of the classic push up, which is done by placing a resistance band around the back and performing push ups.
As you descend into the push up, less tension is on the bands, however as you push yourself up, the band resistance increases matching your natural strength curves. In doing this, you can create more forceful muscle contractions, increase triceps lockout strength, and progress your push ups using resistance instead of simply doing more reps.
You can also do these from a deficit (by placing your hands on a raised surface), which will increase the range of motion and further enhance muscle growth and strength.
6. RESISTANCE BAND STRAIGHT ARM PULLDOWN
This back exercise is beneficial for chest workouts as it helps create shoulder stabilizer and strengthen the muscles that assist the chest during pressing movements.
The lats, serratus, and scapular stabilizers are responsible for maintaining tension in the press during the push up, bench press, and flyes.
In doing so, you are able to create more force in a press to lift heavy, perform more reps, and do so in a way that protects the shoulders from injury.
7. RESISTANCE BAND ROW
The resistance band row is a great assistance exercise for chest workouts as it reinforces proper back positioning, builds back strength, and can help stabilize the shoulders during chest workouts.
Any strong bench presser and lifter knows that the bench press, squat, and deadlift are all dependent on a strong back. You can vary grips, widths of rows, and rep ranges to maximize growth.
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Sample Resistance Band Chest Workout Chest Workout
Below is a sample resistance band workout you can do at home or on the go, and requires resistance bands (use a variety of thicknesses for best results).
WARM UP: 10 MINUTES
Resistance Band Row: 3 sets of 20 reps
Resistance Band Pull Aparts: 3 sets of 10 reps
PART 1: 12 MINUTES
Resistance Band Push Up: 5 sets of 8-10 reps (make the tension heavy)
Immediately followed by regular push ups to failure. If you cannot perform regular push ups, then perform them from kneeling.
PART 2: 12 MINUTES
Resistance Band Floor Press: 5 sets of 10-15 reps. Choose a hard resistance, and make sure to fully lock out the triceps every rep.
Immediately followed by resistance band straight arm pulldown for 10-15 reps
PART 3: 12 MINUTES
Resistance Band Crossover Flye: 4 sets of 12-16 reps total
Immediately followed by incline wide grip deficit push up to failure.
Adding resistance band training into your current weight lifting routine can help you increase power production and add a new straining stimulus to your workouts.
It is important to note that while resistance band training can be an effective method to train without using heavy weights, it does have its limitations with individuals who are stronger, or are looking to maximize muscle growth and strength.
If you are looking to add these into your training program, be sure to also balance this with compound strength training as well for best results.
About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.
Mike has published over 500+ articles on premiere online media outlets like BarBend, BreakingMuscle, Men’s Health, and FitBob, covering his expertise of strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, fitness, and sports nutrition. In Mike’s spare time, he enjoys the outdoors, traveling the world, coaching, whiskey and craft beer, and spending time with his family and friends.