Learning basic moves with a resistance band will give you versatility in your exercise routine. These lightweight pieces of equipment are easy to pack, store at home, or find at the Y. Using one also doesn’t require much space.

“This would be a good workout on-the-go, whether you’re traveling for work or on vacation,” said the Y’s fitness instructor, Addie Carlisle. “You don’t need a lot of equipment.”

In the dozen years that Addie has led group exercise classes, she has often incorporated use of resistance bands. She likes how they keep muscles active throughout an entire exercise—rather than just the primary movement.

“When you do a bicep curl, you’re benefiting from the downside of the exercise because the band keeps tension,” Addie explained. “When you do the lat pull-downs, you’re getting that tension of the hold all the way up and all the way down.”

See for yourself by trying the 9-move routine below. It works all the major muscle groups—including a heavy dose of abs. Whether you’re new to resistance bands, or already a fan, this workout can adapt to your fitness level. Let’s get started!

The Workout

The Y offers a variety of bands in our centers. Thinner bands provide lower resistance, while thicker bands provide higher resistance. Some exercisers prefer swapping between a thicker band for leg movements, and a thinner band for arms. Choose a band you’re comfortable with before beginning your warm-up.

Warm Up

3 minutes of jump rope or treadmill


15 Reps of each

No. Exercise Instructions  
1 Squat into shoulder press with resistance band Stand on band with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold handles and squat down, keeping your weight in your heels. Pause at the bottom, and drive back up through your heels. At the top of the squat, press handles overhead into a shoulder press. Lower down and repeat.
2 Bent over back row into triceps kickback with resistance band Stand on band with feet shoulder-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Keeping your back straight, bend at the waist until almost parallel to the floor with your arms underneath you. Brace your core, keep elbows in, pull handles toward you, and contract your back. Holding your upper arms in place, use your triceps to fully extend your arm. Lower down, repeat.
3 Weighted sit-ups with resistance band Loop band around your feet and hold the handles at chest level. With a slight bend in your knees, lie on your back. Keep your feet firmly on the floor and raise your body into a full sit-up position, using only your core. Lower down and repeat.
4 Reverse lunge into bicep curl with resistance band Place right foot in the center of the band, holding the handles at shoulder height. Maintain your posture, step back with your left foot and lower until your front knee is bent at a 90 degree angle. Step in with your back foot, and, keeping your upper arms in place, lower your forearms to your sides. Bring your forearms back up to your shoulders and repeat.
5 Lat pulldown with resistance band Loop the band above you over a bar. Sit on your knees or stand if the bar is higher. Hold each end of the band slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Pull the band down to chest height, pinching your shoulder blades together to contract back muscles. Release and repeat. *If you don’t have a bar, hold one end of the band above your head and use your other hand to pull the band toward the floor.
6 Weighted oblique crunches with resistance band Loop the band around a pole. Lie on your back with your head nearest the pole and grasp a handle in each hand. With your arms straight, hold the handles by your sides, plant your feet firmly on the floor in front of you and crunch up, trying to tap your right heel. Lower down and repeat on the opposite side.
7 Hip bridges with resistance band Lie on your back with the band wrapped around your quads. (Loop the handles through each other to secure.) Bend your knees and plant feet at shoulder-width. Lift your glutes, driving through your heels. Squeeze the glutes as you come up, then lower back down.
8 Weighted push-ups with resistance band Wrap the band behind your upper back across your shoulder blades and hold a handle in each hand. If the band is too long, pull through until it’s taut. Place hands below shoulders with fingers pointing forward. Engage core so that your whole body moves in one line. Bend your arms, lowering your chest to the floor. Push back up. To modify, drop down to knees.
9 Russian twists with resistance band In a seated position, wrap the band around the soles of your feet and hold handles together at chest level. Bend the knees slightly and lean back to a 45 degree angle. Keeping the core engaged, twist side-to-side, bringing each elbow to meet the opposite hip.

Cool Down

Walk 3 minutes on treadmill