Level Up: 5 Exercises that are Better with Resistance Bands

Jessica Thiefels, The Upside Blog by Vitacost.com

by | Read time: 4 minutes

Resistance bands are one of the best tools you can use to boost strength. I consider them a staple for home gyms where there isn’t enough room for a set of dumbbells. They can also be found at most fitness centers.

Not only are they readily available, but they’re perfect for leveling up a wide variety of exercises, from squats to crunches. We love using the Spri Xertube® for the following exercises. Here’s how to kick your workouts up a notch, whether you’re at home, the park or your favorite local gym.

1. Squats

There are so many ways to make your squats more challenging and adding resistance bands is one of them. Using a band, instead of weights, can also be more comfortable for some, and less intimidating as you start to level up your workouts.

Start by stepping on the band with both feet and holding the top of the band with both hands, palms facing up and sitting at shoulder level. Squat down and rise back up, pushing through your heels.


  • Squat + shoulder press: As you push up through your squat, push the band up over your head.
  • Squat + bicep curl: Hold the resistance band, palms facing in. At the top of the squat, drop your arms down, keeping elbows at your sides and curl them back up, as you would with dumbbells.

 2. Glute Kicks

Glute kicks are a great way to target your glute muscles (your butt) and strengthen your core, as you keep your body steady through the kicks. By simply adding a resistance band, you turn up the burn quickly and easily, getting more from the same movement.

Get onto your hands and knees, with wrists under shoulders and knees under hips. Hold the band down with your hands and loop your foot into the bottom of the band, the band pressing against the bottom of your foot.

Start with your knee bent, foot off the ground, heel pointing toward the ceiling and push straight up, extending your leg fully before coming back into the starting position. Do all reps on one leg and then switch to the other.


  • Kick + crunch: As your leg comes back down to the ground, bring it under your body, lift the opposite arm and touch elbow to knee for the crunch.

3. Pushups

Pushups are a foundational movement in fitness, which is why they’ve always been in any fitness test you’ve ever taken. There are many ways to make pushups harder, including adding resistance, so you’re not just working against your own bodyweight. This will create an added challenge for your entire body, including your core, quads, chest muscles and triceps.

Get into pushup position with the resistance band looped over the top of your body, resting against your back, each hand holding either end. You can do this in wide or close pushup position; start with the one you’re strongest in first. Push up through the resistance to the top of your pushup and then lower yourself down, just like you would normally.


  • 1-leg pushups: Raise one leg off the ground and lower down as you normally would. Be sure to alternate legs.

 4. Crunches

Crunches are a staple of the full-body workout, but people too often forget to progress, adding weight like you would with squats, deadlifts, bicep curls, etc. If you’re not ready for weight, but want to boost the challenge, add resistance instead. This will increase the burn, allowing you to build greater definition and stronger core strength.

Loop the resistance band around a sturdy poll and lay down in front of it, with the pole at your head. Reach back and take the band in each hand. Hold the band above at shoulder height, resting behind your head, and crunch up, using your core to pull your body up and slowly lower it back down.


  • Leg drops: Lay flat, loop your resistance band around the bottom of your feet, holding the top in your hands so it creates a long rectangle when you lay your legs flat on the ground. Lift your legs, keeping low back on the ground. Lift until hips are at a 90-degree angle and lower back down to start.
  • Bicycle crunches: Loop the resistance band around your calves and get into bicycle crunch position, hands behind your head and feet off the ground, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Crunch your body together as you bring your right knee to your left elbow; repeat on the other side.

5. Hip Bridge

You’ll target your core, glutes, quads and hamstrings with this simple exercise. The challenge becomes even greater when you add weight to the movement. Instead of holding a barbell or weight plate, though, grab a resistance band.

Lay on your back, knees bent, feet on the ground with two heavy weights on either side. Secure either side of the resistance band under the weight on each side so you’re under the band and it’s pressing against your hips. Slowly push your hips up into the band and gently lower back down, maintaining control in your core.


  • 1-leg hip bridge: Lift one leg and push your hips up into the air like you normally would. Slowly lower, switch legs and repeat.

How to keep boosting the burn

Other than changing exercises, you can make your resistance band workouts more challenging by choosing bands that are smaller, and therefore provide more resistance. You may find that having an entire set to choose from will allow you to pick and choose the best options for each specific exercise. The best part is you can do all of this at home or the gym—allowing you to level up anywhere, any time.

So what are you waiting for? Click here to grab your own resistance band!