Resistance Band Chest Exercises for Building Muscle Mass
Doing resistance band chest exercises is a great way to diversify your workout and stimulate faster growth in your pectoral muscles.
Of course, we all know the king of chest exercises will always be the mighty bench press. If your dream is to build the biggest chest on the block then, to put it simply, the bench press is the royal road.
But to really maximise the art of chest expansion, you need to think beyond just lifting heavy weights. Certainly that should still be the core of your workout, but if your aim is perfection, your training needs to be more scientific.
Through the wonders of science we can now find solutions to problems which once seemed impossible. The big problem with lifting heavy weights all the time is that, after a while, it doesn’t seem to do anything anymore.
Here is something every serious weight-lifter can relate to:
You spend countless hours every week in the gym throwing around heavy weights, but your body hardly changes. You seem to be stuck in maintenance mode, neither improving nor declining, and the joys of rapid gain have become a distant memory.
This is where many people take drastic measures – extreme dieting, excessive supplementation, even substance abuse. Or they’ll train much heavier than they should and get injured for life.
Having myself suffered a few bad training injuries in the past, I believe it’s very important to train smart and train in a natural way which lets you make long-term gains without ruining your health.
So how can doing resistance band chest exercises help you build muscle mass?
This is the science part:
The elastic property of resistance bands produces something called variable linear resistance. Which basically means that the level of resistance increases as the band is stretched. This matches the strength curve of your muscles, meaning they’ll encounter the highest resistance at exactly the right place.
Introducing an element of variable linear resistance into your training has been proven in many studies, such as this one, to improve strength and performance faster compared to using weights alone.
There are many other benefits which you can read about in more detail here. But the main point is that diversifying your workout by using resistance bands is one of the best ways to break through a training plateau and stimulate faster gains in strength and mass.
Best resistance bands for chest exercises
For doing chest exercises with resistance bands you need a strong band, it needs to be a good length and it needs to be versatile.
I recommend two types of band – the first one is a gym resistance loop:
The length of the band (208cm circumference) is ideal for doing intense strength exercises. It comes in different resistance levels, from light up to insanely heavy. And, being a loop, it can be used in many ways.
The other band is a resistance tube with handles:
The resistance tube comes with a door anchor which lets you easily attach it at any point on a door frame. This makes it super useful for doing two-handed exercises at various angles of movement.
Overall, the best resistance band for chest exercises is probably the 208cm loop because you can do more exercises with it. But the resistance tube is also great for working your chest and is well suited for doing two-handed exercises. It just depends on your preference.
Being a nice guy, I’ve included instructions for using both kinds of band. Enjoy!
Resistance band chest exercises
#1 Resisted Push Up
A great alternative to bench press, especially if you don’t have access to a gym. Sling the resistance loop around your back with the ends looped around your hands. Then do push ups as normal. This adds extra resistance to this classic chest exercise, giving you a more intense workout.
If you’re using the resistance tube, just keep your hands on the handles or a bit further down on the tube for extra tension. You may find the band slips off your back the first few times until you work out the best position.
#2 Single Arm Chest Press
Working one arm at a time ensures you work both sides equally and also engages your rotational core muscles. You’ll need to attach the loop at one end to something solid. Then, keeping a solid stance, press the band forward as if you’re doing a reverse punch. You can adjust the resistance level by standing either further forward or back. To increase the resistance a lot, you can double up the band.
With the resistance tube, use the door anchor to secure it to the door frame. You can do the movement one-handed by holding both handles in one hand, or two-handed as shown here. Adjust the height of the door anchor as you like.
#3 Incline Chest Press
The incline chest press will put more focus on the upper part of your chest, as well as working the front of your shoulder and triceps. Get into the position by stepping on one end of the loop and getting into a forward stance with the band held in front of you. It might feel a bit awkward at first but you’ll soon get used to it.
You can do the same movement using the resistance tube by stepping on the middle of the band. Or use the door anchor to fix the band behind you as low as possible on the door frame.
#4 Single Arm Fly
Flyes are an isolation exercise which focus on your chest muscles. Using the 208cm loop, fixed at one end, you can stand side-on and stretch the band horizontally across in front of you until your hand is at your centerline. You can keep your arms slightly bent but not too much.
With the resistance tube, flyes can be done two handed, similar to how you would do them using weights or a machine.
#5 Assisted / Resisted Dips
Dips are an excellent upper body strength exercise which hit your chest muscles as well as shoulders and triceps. The bands can be used in two ways: either to make dips easier or harder. If you’re not used to doing dips and you want to make them easier, try doing assisted dips with the 208cm loop:
But if you’re already a dip master and you want to make things more difficult, do them with the band slung over your shoulders like this:
You can also do these with the resistance tube but you may have to experiment with different ways to hold onto it.
If the above exercise aren’t enough for you, try upping the ante with some advanced calisthenics exercises. These are super difficult to master. To get yourself gradually used to the movement, you can use a resistance loop to make it easier, same as with the assisted dip exercise above.
#1 Assisted One-Arm Push Up
One-arm push ups are one of the best chest exercises you can do, but very few people can do them well. To get yourself used to the movement, use a resistance loop around your waist and secured above you which will take some of the weight off. As the exercise gets easier, move to lighter bands until you’re doing it unassisted.
#2 Assisted Planche Push Ups
The planche is one of the hardest calisthenics exercises. If you can pull it off, you will impress anyone. Doing the planche will give you an intense isometric workout focussed on your chest, shoulders and core. Start doing assisted planche push ups using the resistance loop to assist you. Again, move to lighter and lighter bands until you can do it without.
#3 Assisted Muscle Up
A muscle up is a pull up followed by a dip. It will work your whole upper body, with the second part of the movement hitting your pectoral muscles. The hardest part is the middle of the movement where you transition from pull up to dip. This is where a resistance loop can help you by taking some of the weight off until you’re strong enough to do it unassisted.