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5 effective resistance band exercises to target your chest

5 effective resistance band exercises for a developed chest

Resistance band.
Kelly Sikkema / Unsplash

Using resistance bands when exercising has grown in popularity. Compared to dumbbells, they are also considered more convenient as they are usually much cheaper and easier to carry around. For many people, they may be a more suitable alternative to dumbbells and can still give your chest a solid pump.

That being said, what are the best resistance band chest exercises?

Man performing a TRX chest press.
Anastase Maragos / Unsplash

What are the benefits of having a strong chest?

Your chest muscles contribute to overall upper body strength, which can help you maintain good posture and make many everyday activities easier. Because a stronger chest can handle more weight and pressure on it, it also makes it easier to do more vigorous exercises that can help burn fat and promote weight loss.

Additionally, strengthening your chest through resistance band workouts is also linked to better breathing because the rib cage can expand more, thus increasing lung capacity. Not only can this be beneficial for athletes, but better lung function can also improve the quality of life for asthma patients.

Woman doing resistance band chest press.
Miljan Živković / iStock

Can you build your chest with only resistance bands?

A resistance band can provide a solid chest workout on its own, but if possible, you should still include other chest workouts. However, it is still widely believed that resistance band workouts are very effective — they can provide a resisting load just like barbells, dumbbells, and other exercise equipment. 

While there is some progressive overload you can take advantage of, resistance band workouts have been scientifically proven to be just as effective as workouts using dumbbells, no more or less.

The upside is that resistance bands can add more variety to your workout routine, which can prevent it from getting too boring. They may also limit your range of motion, but that is also an upside, as they can help prevent overextension of arm muscles or resulting injuries.

Banded push ups.
Michael Edwards / iStock

5 effective resistance band chest exercises

Chest press

This version of the chest press has the same effects on your chest muscles as dumbbell presses, along with additional strength in your arms and shoulders. There are various variations depending on how you position the band, but the most common form is wrapping it around your back.

Instructions:

  • Stand upright and wrap the center of the band around your back, holding the ends near your shoulders with your elbows slightly behind your body.
  • Brace your core and push your arms straight in front of your chest and shoulders until they are fully extended. Then, slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 4 to 5 sets of between 10 to 20 reps.

Chest flys

On their own, chest flys focus more on the inner muscles of the chest, but they are still effective in increasing upper body strength. Unlike most of the listed exercises, where the band is used to increase the workload, resistance band chest flys are actually easier because they distribute resistance more evenly across the body.

Instructions:

  • Stand upright and wrap the center of the band around your back, holding the ends near your shoulders with your elbows slightly behind your body. Your palms should be facing each other.
  • Slowly bring your arms out and around like you are hugging someone. Pause when your hands touch, keeping a slight bend in the elbows. 
  • Squeeze your chest muscles and slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Banded push-ups

This variation provides the same benefits as regular push-ups, including strengthening your core and chest muscles. Using a resistance band, however, makes it more interesting by increasing the resistance you’re pushing against.

Instructions:

  • Stand upright and wrap the center of the band around your back and the ends on your hands. The band should stay this way throughout the exercise.
  • Get on all fours and come into a push-up position, forming a straight line from your head to your feet. Ensure that the ends of the band are centered on your palms.
  • Engage your core and lower yourself close to the floor until your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Then squeeze your chest muscles and push your body back up using only your hands. You should feel extra resistance from the band as you come up.
  • Repeat for 2 to 3 sets of 5 to 15 reps.

Incline chest press

This variation works almost exactly the same way as a regular banded chest press. The two key differences are that you are stretching the band upward instead of forward, putting more resistance on the upper pecs.

Instructions:

  • Step on the center of the band with one foot, and bring your other foot forward so you are standing almost in a lunge position. The further your back foot is, the more resistance you will feel. You should be holding the ends of the band near your shoulders with your elbows slightly behind your body.
  • Brace your core and push your arms straight out in front of your chest and shoulders, then slowly return to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 15 reps.

Straight-arm pullovers

Normal straight-arm pullovers work on various muscle groups but especially focus on the chest muscles. Adding a band increases the resistance you’re pulling against to give you a challenge.

Instructions:

  • Wrap the center of the band around the leg of a nearby bench or another sturdy structure, such as a metal post.
  • Lie on your back with one end of the band in each hand, the band anchor behind you and in line with your head. For the starting position, your arms should be stretched out behind you, with your biceps by your ears. You can have your legs extended or your feet planted on the floor and knees bent.
  • Tighten your core, and, while keeping your arms straight, pull against the band to bring your arms up until the are straight above your chest.
  • Pause here for a moment before slowly releasing your arms back over your head to the starting position.
  • Repeat for 3 to 4 sets of 10 to 12 reps.
Man with blue resistance band
Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

Do resistance bands reduce chest fat?

Unfortunately, no exercise methods can target chest fat. Using resistance bands can help, but not even the best chest workouts target chest fat specifically without burning fat on other parts of the body. However, a stronger chest can improve performance and endurance by doing more effective aerobics exercises.

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Christine VanDoren
Christine is a certified personal trainer and nutritionist with an undergraduate degree from Missouri State University. Her…
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