Skip to main content

6 effective resistance band workouts to tone your triceps

Get tone, not bulky

Man with blue resistance band
Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

Resistance training challenges you physically and mentally, helping you build strength and tone. Dumbbells and barbells are often preferred, though bodyweight exercises like planks and pushups are also popular. Resistance bands may not look like much. However, the fitness version of rubber bands is a worthy addition to your workout toolbox. The versatile bands are thin enough to fit even in a smaller home. However, even sprawling fitness studios and gyms often have resistance bands on hand.

There’s good reason — one 2019 study showed resistance bands were about as effective as standard gym equipment for building strength. Bands offer other benefits, too. You can control the resistance in a workout based on where you hold the band. The lightweight nature makes resistance bands ideal for people cleared to resume working out post-injury.

Resistance bands can give various parts of the upper body a workout, including the triceps, helping you gain mobility in your arms and functional strength for lifting all the heavy items in your home. Grab a resistance band and give these six moves a try.

A man with red resitance bands
Pavel Danilyuk / Pexels

What do the triceps do?

A major upper-body muscle group, the triceps run down the back of your arms from the shoulders to your elbows. Without the triceps, we wouldn’t be able to extend our elbows. You may not think much about reaching to grab a can high up in a kitchen cabinet or bend your arm to button a shirt in the morning. You can thank your functioning triceps for that.

Man using a teal resistance band outside
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

6 resistance band workouts to tone your triceps

The biceps are located at the fronts of the arms and therefore, often get more attention on arm day. However, strengthening the triceps is essential for building functional strength and preventing upper-body injury. Resistance bands can help you do both, allowing you to build definition without bulk.

Tricep kickbacks 

  1. Loop the resistance band underneath your feet and stand at the midway part. The feet should be hip-width distance apart.
  2. Hold the resistance band in each hand. Bend arms at a 90-degree angle with elbows grazing your sides.
  3. Bend at the knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips.
  4. Keeping the back straight, extend your arms straight behind you. Stop before you lock the elbows.
  5. Slowly return to the start.
  6. Repeat 10 to 20 times for a total of 3 to 5 sets.

Overhead extension

  1. Stand with one foot less than hip-width distance in front of the other.
  2. Loop the resistance band under the feet. You should be standing around the midway part.
  3. Grab an end with both hands, looping it around your hands to add more resistance.
  4. Pull the arms overhead.
  5. Slowly return to the starting position.
  6. Do 10 to 20 times for a total of 3 to 5 sets.

Cross-body press down 

  1. Anchor the band on something steady overhead, such as on a pull-up bar. (A sturdy closet rod also works.)
  2. Position yourself on the side of the bar, about a foot away. Your left hand should be closest to the bar.
  3. Bend your right arm at the elbow and grab the band. You want your hand facing your body, a smidge below the shoulder.
  4. Pull the band across the body with your right hand. Stop when your arm is straight down by your side.
  5. Slowly return to start.
  6. Do 10 to 20 reps. Switch sides.
  7. Do 3 to 5 sets on both sides.

Reverse grip pull-downs

  1. Anchor the band above your head, such as a pull-up bar or closet rod.
  2. Keel on the floor about a foot from the bar.
  3. Grab the band, leaving both palms facing you.
  4. Keeping the arms close enough to your sides to graze the body, pull the band down.
  5. Stop when your arms are bent at a 90-degree angle, and elbows are next to the hips. Squeeze the shoulder blades and triceps.
  6. Slowly return to start.
  7. Do 10 to 20 reps 3 to 5 times.


  1. Wrap the resistance band around the body directly underneath your shoulder blades.
  2. Kneel on the floor in a plank position with wrists directly under the shoulders and back straight. (You can modify the move by placing the knees on the floor. Keep the lower back from caving in.)
  3. Lower the chest to the floor as you would for a regular pushup.
  4. Return to start.
  5. Repeat 10 to 20 times for 3 to 5 sets.

Pull apart

  1. Kneel or stand straight with feet hip-width distance apart.
  2. Grab the band with both hands, palms facing down, and fingers toward the wall.
  3. Where you put your hands depends on the resistance you want. However, hands should be in one line with the shoulders when you bend your elbows straight in front of you. The elbows should be just below the shoulders.
  4. Move at the elbows, keeping shoulders static as you extend the arms. Squeeze the triceps.
  5. Slowly return to start.
  6. Repeat 12 to 15 times for 3 to 5 sets.
Fit muscular sports man doing bicep curl exercise with resistance band in the open air
Atstock Productions / Shutterstock

A quick note on resistance exercises

Though resistance bands allow you to control resistance and are often recommended to people returning from injury, it’s important to discuss any new workout with the doctor helping you manage your care. Your doctor can tell you when you can return to working out and which exercises are safe and to avoid (at least temporarily). Additionally, as with any training, form is crucial in preventing injury. A personal trainer can help you perfect yours so you get the most out of your workout.

Editors' Recommendations

BethAnn Mayer
Beth Ann's work has appeared on and In her spare time, you can find her running (either marathons…
Bouldering: A beginner’s guide to this full-body workout
Bouldering is a great way to get some exercise and build strength. Here's what you need to know
A man bouldering.

Rock climbing can be a little intimidating, with all the steep inclines, ropes, and requisite knots. But we’re not all trying to free solo El Capitan like Alex Honnold. Many of us just want to get some quality exercise somewhere other than the weight room.
Bouldering is a tremendous full-body workout that’s fun, improves balance and agility, and requires relatively little in terms of gear. It’s a type of rock climbing, but is generally rope-free, meaning you don’t have to learn how to belay. As such, there’s often more lateral movement than vertical, but it’s wonderfully demanding all the same. Keep reading to learn how to boulder.

How to boulder as a beginner
Find a route: Start easy if you’ve never climbed before. At the bouldering gym, getting started is as easy as finding a route. At most bouldering centers, the routes are color-coded by level of difficulty. The easier routes will have larger holds and less demanding aspects. As you work your way up, you’ll notice the holds get smaller, more spread out, and tend to cover trickier rock faces and inclines.
Chalk up: Get comfortable chalking while you’re climbing as you’ll want to keep your palms as blister-free as possible. Practice dunking each hand into the bag, leaving the other hand available for stability.
Rest: Rest is key, especially when you start to take on longer routes that involve 30, 50, or 100 or more holds. Take advantage of spots on said routes where you can relax at least most of your body either by balancing or wedging yourself in position.
Practice routes: Going through a route mentally is a great way to plan your attack at the gym. Imagine where your major limbs will go as you move from hold to hold. Soon, your trained eyes will see the smallest of outcroppings and dents in the rock as places you could clasp onto. And nobody is going to dock you points early on if you don't stick fully to the route map. Use all the holds you need early on until you get a feel for it.

Read more
The ultimate calisthenics workout plan for stronger legs
Calf raises, squats, and more
A man doing sumo squats in a park.

Calisthenics is a form of strength training that uses one’s body weight as the resistance, often requiring little to no equipment. These calisthenics leg exercises help strengthen the muscles of your lower body, as well as your joints. This can help to improve mobility and range of motion, allowing you to perform various types of movements.

Anatomy of the lower body
Various muscle groups in your legs work together to allow you to move and maintain proper posture. Strengthening your leg muscles through leg workouts can give you a strong foundation that allows you to do various types of movements. The quadriceps (quads) are located in front of your thighs, going above your knees. These muscles allow you to extend or flex your knees or, in simpler terms, straighten and bend your legs. The glutes are located behind your hip, where your buttocks are. These are what help you stand upright and allow you to move your body forward.

Read more
How to lose belly fat: Thanksgiving food swaps that won’t derail your fitness goals
Thanksgiving food swaps for a healthier meal
a bird's eye view of a dinner table

Thanksgiving can be a time to enjoy seasonal favorites — and ask for second and third helpings. If you're trying to figure out how to lose belly fat or weight right now, you may be concerned about this food-centric holiday. Let's stop there for a second. Though health and nutrition goals are good, one dietician shares the importance of framing.

"Aiming to eat healthier during Thanksgiving is not about weight loss but rather embracing a food philosophy that prioritizes feeling good both during and after a meal," said Kelsey Costa, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for the National Coalition on Healthcare. "Through healthier alternatives, individuals can still relish the full flavors of seasonal foods without compromising their comfort and well-being."

Read more