(Almost) Everything You Need to Know About Chest Training with Resistance Bands
Though there is definitely still something to be said about hitting the gym and throwing serious amounts of iron all over the place, more and more people are discovering just how effective it can be to do a bit of chest training with resistance bands.
Long a favorite of people looking to tone, people looking to better stretch, and folks looking to rehab from injuries without having to do too much work that might jeopardize their recovery, resistance bands have been going through a bit of a renaissance of late.
Today these pieces of exercise equipment are found in gyms and fitness centers all over the planet, and not just the cheap “nine dollars a month” kinds of global gyms, either.
Some real “iron pits” also have resistance bands in them now, in large part because bodybuilders, athletes, and weekend warriors have discovered just how great a job these bands do at helping build bigger, stronger, more defined chest muscles.
Below we are going to run through (almost) everything you need to know about building a bigger, stronger, more defined chest – all while using resistance band training programs to get you there!
We highlight all of the myths and misconceptions of how resistance bands really work when it comes to exercising, we shine a light on whether or not you really can build big, strong muscles with resistance band work alone, and then we dig a little deeper into the benefits – and even some of the drawbacks – of resistance band training, too.
Later on we cover some of our favorite chest training with resistance band exercises you’ll want to start implementing ASAP, how to find the right resistance bands, and run through a quick FAQ as well.
By the time you wrap up this guide you’ll know pretty much everything there is about training with resistance bands, especially when it comes to maxing out your chest muscles.
Shall we jump right in?
Let’s do this!
There’s a lot of skepticism surrounding whether or not working out with resistance bands can actually help you build real muscle mass – especially in your chest, one of the largest muscle groups on the body.
A lot of folks still see resistance bands as a bit of a “fitness toy”, something used by folks that aren’t able to get to the gym or folks that are injured and need to rehab without subjecting their body to too terribly much stress.
In reality, though, you can build a big, strong, wide chest with the right resistance band program – and you’ll be able to do so from the comfort of your own home as well!
A big part of the success behind using resistance bands to grow your chest is the ability to alter the range of motion your chest exercises go through, something that can’t be done as effectively (or as safely) with traditional chest exercises like the bench press, for example.
With a bench press you can modify things a little bit (you can change your grip, angle the bench to the incline or decline position, and always add or take away more weight) – but you’re still going to be going through the same “up and down” range of motion.
This means that the same muscle fibers are going to be targeted over and over again, with some muscle fibers being ignored completely and others overtaxed like you wouldn’t believe.
With resistance bands, however, you’re able to attack your chest muscles from a variety of different angles by altering the range of motion (safely, no less). This results in recruiting more muscle fiber, full muscle recruitment, and even activating stabilizing muscles in the nearby area to really boost your strength and your growth potential.
That’s a game changer!
This is a big part of why so many serious athletes and bodybuilders like to step away from the iron every now and again and jump right into band workouts.
There’s no faster way to blow through a stall or plateau than by using resistance band programs specifically aimed at targeting and recruiting muscle fibers that would have otherwise gone ignored.
If you’re looking to build a bigger, stronger, more developed chest with just resistance bands you’re in luck. It’s not just possible, it’s pretty easy (when you use the rest of the inside information we highlight below)!
Before we get deeper into the actual nuts and bolts of the resistance band chest workout men (and women) are going to want to consider going forward, it’s important to highlight the big benefits you’re going to enjoy when you start using these fitness tools.
Though there are a lot of different advantages and benefits to using resistance bands in your chest program, the versatility of these fitness tools is off the charts.
Not only can the same resistance bands be used to target your chest muscles your back muscles, your arms, your legs, and your core – but you’re also going to be able to use these bands in different ways to target and recruit different muscle groups within your chest as well.
Make no mistake about it, some movements and exercises are definitely designed to be resistance band lower chest exercises whereas others target the upper chest area.
Others still target the width of your chest, some target the “depth” of your chest, and some really work to recruit your triceps and other stabilizing muscles to skyrocket your strength gains – allowing you to work harder, longer, and more intensely.
The versatility of resistance band style workouts is maybe their biggest benefit and reason enough alone to consider taking advantage of these fitness tools moving forward.
As we have highlighted a couple of times already, resistance band exercises and workouts give you an opportunity to laser target not just individual muscle groups like “your chest” but even to individual muscle groups within your chest as well.
You’ll be able to target your pectoralis major and minor muscle groups as well as the serratus anterior muscle groups – and you’ll be able to target them individually or in concert with one another just by changing the way you use your resistance bands.
The pectoralis major is the “primary” muscle group in your chest, makes up the bulk of the mass of this muscle, and is fan shaped and moves across the chest area of your body.
The pectoralis of minor sit just beneath the major muscle group, is shaped sort of like a triangle, and is responsible for adding a lot of extra strength to this area of the body while also improving your shoulder range of motion.
Finally, the serratus anterior muscle group in the chest provides a lot of extra depth to your chest area.
If you’ve ever seen bodybuilders with highly developed lower chest muscles but a real “flat spot” across the top of their chest – as opposed to the well-rounded development someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger had in his prime – you know exactly what this muscle group is capable of.
Resistance band workouts allow you to target these different groups, recruit more muscle fibers in them, and maximize your results all at once.
Don’t sleep on the adaptability resistance band workouts, either.
These bands can be used in a multitude of different ways. The ability to add resistance in a variety of different ways – and from multiple different angles – is a huge advantage you won’t get with any other fitness tool.
Again, this all circles back to the ability for resistance bands to hit your muscle groups throughout your chest from multiple different angles in ways not possible with traditional exercises and exercise equipment.
The load that you put on a barbell is going to be about as “static” as it gets.
200 pounds of resistance is 200 pounds of resistance when you’re talking about iron plates.
With a resistance band, however, you have the ability to sort of play with the resistance it produces – increasing or decreasing it – just by changing the way you set up or use them.
The further you stretch your resistance bands the more dynamic resistance they produce, something you can instinctually feel the first time that you start to use this fitness equipment. The opposite is true as well.
This allows you to really tailor the amount of resistance that you’re working with in a way that traditional equipment can’t offer.
If you’re feeling particularly tired or worn out towards the end of chest training with resistance bands, simply shorten up how far you are stretching your bands and the dynamic resistance will lower. If you are feeling particularly energized and really want to ramp up the intensity, stretch those bands even further to push yourself.
Finally, it’s important to highlight the fact that resistance bands really are available anywhere and everywhere you want to use them.
You can throw them in a backpack, and a suitcase, or in the trunk of your car and have them available on a 24/7 basis. That’s not something you can do with a bunch of dumbbells, an Olympic barbell, or a bench station.
The best workouts are the workouts that you actually do – and the availability of resistance bands guarantee that you are always able to knock out even a quick workout that targets your chest and helps you grow bigger and stronger!
Though there are an almost unlimited amount of resistance band chest workouts you can run through (made possible by the infinite flexibility and adaptability of these fitness tools), below we highlight some of our favorites.
Some of these are lower chest resistance band exercises, others target the higher areas of your chest, and some of them are more “all-in-one” approaches that work to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible.
Let’s get right into it, shall we?
There isn’t a better chest workout on the planet you can do with resistance bands than “press ups” – basically push-ups but with the added resistance multiplier your favorite bands bring to the table.
Fantastic for activating both the major and minor pectoral group, as well as the serratus anterior, you are also going to be able to get your arms, your back, and even your core in on the action as well.
The reason that these exercises are so effective is because they introduce dynamic tension across the entirety of the press up movement. The harder you work, the harder your resistance bands work for you!
Pulling off this movement is really simple and straightforward, too.
Place one end of the band underneath one of your hands, run it across your shoulders, and then squeeze down with your other hand. Then all you have to do is go through the traditional press up/push up movement and you are rocking and rolling!
These chest presses are a great lower chest resistance band exercise, but also helps to target the inner chest area as well. Your inner chest is often overlooked and ignored with other exercises (especially traditional chest exercises like the bench press), but that’s not going to be a problem here.
You will need to find a pole or something solid that you can wrap your bands around to do this exercise correctly. That shouldn’t be too tough, though.
Wrap your resistance band around that pole, face the opposite direction, and then pull your resistance bands towards you and then out in front of you. After reaching as far out as you can forward you’ll want to slowly bring things back (like you are bench pressing while standing up), rinsing and repeating for as many reps as you like.
Because you are really going to be stretching your resistance bands to the max with this particular movement it’s not a bad idea to start with lighter resistance options or bands that are designed to be stretched out further than normal.
Start the movement (one of the best resistance band lower chest workouts of them all) by placing the band down on the floor and then stepping on the middle of it with both of your feet.
Reach down and pick up both opposing ends of the band and then start raising them up to your shoulders – keeping your elbows slightly bent but trying to keep your arm as straight as possible, too.
Run through a traditional chest fly movement from there, returning your arms back to the “start position” down by your waste before cranking out another rep.
The beautiful thing about this exercises that you can adjust the dynamic tension by bending your knees a little bit (reducing resistance) or trying to stretch further and higher before you initiate the chest fly (increasing resistance).
This is the same kind of chest exercises you’ll be able to pull off with a cable machine at any gym or fitness center, but you can duplicate it at home by looping a band around a tree, around a playset, or by sticking it inside of a door and then shutting it (making sure that it is properly anchored on the other side, of course).
Grab the resistance band, walkout a few steps to generate a bit of extra resistance, and then initiate the single arm crossover movement. The further away you step from the door the more resistance you are going to create, and the closer you are the lower the dynamic resistance will be.
Again, this really helps you to dial in the amount of resistance you’re working with, even on-the-fly. You can take a couple of steps towards the door towards the middle of your workout to push through a couple of extra reps you might not have been able to knock out otherwise!
A prone pullover is going to require you anchoring your resistance band under a decent amount of weight, tying it off on an “anchor”, or wrapping it completely around one of the legs of a bench (or something similar).
After you have anchored the resistance band, though, you’ll want to lay down with the band over your head. Grab the band with both hands, pull towards you, and then get your elbows flat on the ground.
Keep your elbows flat on the ground and begin the pullover movement lots of people like to do with dumbbells or cables at the gym. The further you are away from the anchor points the higher the resistance is going to be, and the closer you are the lower it ends up. Adjust as necessary to get a great workout that targets the inner chest area, the lower chest area, and the serratus anterior.
Finding the right resistance bands for chest training is never as simple or straightforward as just grabbing a set from Amazon, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best.
No, if you are serious about getting in a great inner chest workout with resistance bands (or a workout that targets your entire chest, for that matter) you’re going to need to invest in quality equipment capable of producing quality results.
Here are some important things to consider when buying great resistance bands!
The material your resistance bands are made from makes a huge difference when it comes to how comfortable they are going to be to use, how resilient and durable they will be over the long haul, and how consistent their level of resistance ends up.
A lot of quality bands are made out of latex rubber, which is a decent material all on its own – provided you don’t have any allergies to it. Non-latex options are available, though you may have to replace them a little more frequently than you would with the latex choices.
The type of band that you choose is going to make a major difference as well.
Resistance bands are typically available in three different varieties – flat bands (sometimes called compact bands), tubular bands (especially popular with those rehabbing injuries), and looped bands.
Flat bands and looped bands offer some of the best variable resistance you’ll find from these pieces of fitness equipment today, but tubular bands (generally) last a little longer and are more flexible. They can be used in ways that flat bands and looped bands cannot.
At the end of the day, it really all comes down to finding something that fits how you plan to use these bands going forward.
At the end of the day, it’s not a bad idea to consider buying multiple different bands just to find something that you can be really happy with.
Different kinds of bands can be used in different ways, with some more ideally suited to lower chest resistance exercises and others perfect for pulling off resistance band inner chest workouts.
Play around with different material choices, different resistance levels, and different construction types to mix and match a combination that makes the most sense for you.
You’ll also want to be sure that you have a full range of “weights” to pick and choose from. Resistance bands are generally color-coded to indicate just how much resistance they provide, and you’ll want as many different choices to pick from as possible – especially when you’re getting ready to blast a muscle group as large as your chest!
Resistance bands today are not just for rehabbing injuries, stretching, or doing a bit of “light work” until the bench opens up.
Bands today offer variable levels of resistance beyond what was available in the past, but the flexibility and adaptability in how you use these bands (doubling them up to double up the resistance, for example) is what makes them so useful for building a bigger chest.
The beautiful thing about resistance bands is that you can adapt them to your specific purposes.
If you want to “lift heavy” and maximize resistance with these bands to build more strength and generate more muscle mass, the opportunity is definitely there.
If, on the other hand, you want to “lift light” and shred – elevating your metabolism so that you melt fat all day (and all night) along – you’ll be able to do that with resistance bands as well.
The flexibility that resistance bands bring to the table is their biggest selling point, making them a fantastic training tool for people that are new to the world of bodybuilding and working out, folks that are a little older and might not feel comfortable throwing iron all over the place, as well as people that are rehabbing and recovering from injuries.
Bands alone (used creatively) can definitely help you achieve your fitness goals, but you’ll also want to make sure you square away your diet and cardio program, too.
As long as you are smart about how you use bands (and follow all manufacturer directions) you shouldn’t have anything to worry about as far as the safety of these fitness tools are concerned.