Do-Anywhere Upper-Body Resistance-Band Workout

You work. You travel. You’re busy. Fortunately, the only equipment you need for a solid workout is TSA-friendly and weighs less than a pound: a resistance band.

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At first glance, this workout looks simple: An upper-body workout using a band. And yes, this do-anywhere plan does hit all your major upper-body muscles in a circuit format.

But even though your upper half is hard at work, your lower body does not get a reprieve: For each move, you’ll assume a challenging stance or position and hold it for the duration of each exercise to improve balance, stability and core strength, amp calorie burn, and leave your legs shaking and quaking.

Do these moves in a circuit, performing one after the other with no rest between except to transition to the next move. Do four total rounds, and rest one minute between rounds.

The Resistance-Band Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Chair Squat Overhead Press 4 20
One-Legged Biceps Curl 2 (each leg) 15
Warrior III Back Row 2 (each leg) 10
Split-Stance Lunge Chest Press 2 (each leg) 15
Knee-Up Triceps Overhead Extension 2 (each leg) 15
Pilé Core Rotation 2 (each leg) 10
Chair Squat Overhead Press

Chair Squat Overhead Press

Stand on top of the band with both feet just inside hip width. Hold the handles at your shoulders, then bend your knees and hips as far as you can to “sit” in the air while keeping your torso as erect as possible. Hold this “chair” squat as you press the handles straight up overhead to full extension, then slowly lower to the start.

One-Legged Biceps Curl

One-Legged Biceps Curl

Stand with one foot in the center of the band, and lift your other foot off the floor alongside your standing leg. Hold a handle in each hand and pin your upper arms to your sides. Bend at the elbows to curl the handles up toward your shoulders. Pause briefly at peak contraction, then slowly lower to the start.

Warrior III Back Row with Band

Warrior III Back Row

Shorten the band either by looping it around your standing foot or making a coil on the floor, then stand with one foot on the band so it is secure. Extend your other leg behind you and hold a handle in each hand at your sides, palms facing inward. Hinge at the hips to fold forward, simultaneously lifting your rear leg and lowering your upper body until your torso and leg are parallel to the floor. Hold here as you drive your elbows up and back, pulling the band handles into your flank, then lowering slowly to the start, for reps.

Split-Stance Lunge Chest Press with Band

Split-Stance Lunge Chest Press

Anchor the band in a doorway or around a stationary object at shoulder height, and stand with your back to the anchor point. Get into a split stance lunge, with your front and back knees bent, and hold the handles at your shoulders, palms facing downward, elbows lifted to the sides. Hold in the split-stance as you press the handles away from you, straight out from your shoulders to full extension, then return slowly to the start.

Knee-Up Triceps Overhead Extension with Band

Knee-Up Triceps Overhead Extension

Anchor the band at knee height or below and stand facing away from the anchor. Hold both handles behind your head, elbows bent and lifted alongside your ears. Lift one knee to hip height and hold it there as you straighten your elbows to press the handles overhead to full extension, then slowly return to the start.

Plié Core Rotation with Band

Plié Core Rotation

Anchor the band at about chest height and stand sideways to the band anchor. Assume a wide plié stance with your feet outside shoulder width and your knees/toes turned out. Hold both band handles together straight out from your shoulders, and bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold here as you slowly rotate away from the anchor as far as you can while keeping your arms straight and your hips square, then slowly return to the start.

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