Whether you’re a fitness novice or avid enthusiast, incorporating resistance bands is an effective way to challenge your body and build strength.

These bands start as a light load but can pack a punch the further they’re stretched. As such, they’re an excellent alternative to free weights and less taxing on your joints and tendons (1, 2, 3).

Aiming for a balanced body in terms of strength, mobility, and flexibility is key to your overall health. However, due to many modern-day lifestyle habits, most of us have imbalances and can benefit from targeted workouts.

In some ways, our backside is more significant than our front. Our backs keep us upright and capable of daily activities ranging from the mundane to the strenuous.

All of your back muscles, with their fascial attachments, connect to your lower back. Keeping your back strong and flexible supports a healthy spine, less back pain, and optimal posture (1, 2).

Read on for the benefits and how-to of a resistance band workout for your back.

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Resistance bands offer a variety of options at an affordable price. They’re lightweight and portable, making them easy to travel with, store, and use in small spaces.

Bands are versatile in that you can change the direction of movements easily.

For example, a band can be wrapped around a stable surface at shoulder level to pull the band toward yourself, and then you can easily turn around to push it away. In a matter of seconds, you can transition your focus from one muscle group to the opposing muscle group.

Even without anchors or stable surfaces, there are plenty of options for a whole-body resistance band workout, or one with a specific focus, such as the back.

Using a resistance band for a back workout can eliminate erratic or jolted movements frequently seen during the use of free weights. The constant tension from the band forces the muscles through increased eccentric, or negative, training (1, 2).

The more you pull on the band, the more tension you have and the more it resists you in opposition. This deeply strengthens your back and protects against injury. That’s why bands are so popular in rehabilitative settings (1, 2, 3, 4).

Back and shoulders

These exercises target your upper back and shoulders. Your shoulder joint is one of the most vulnerable areas of your body, and strengthening it helps with daily activities and optimal posture.

Pull apart

  1. Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart, your torso long, and your core engaged, and hold the resistance band at shoulder height and shoulder-width apart.
  2. Exhale to pull your arms apart. Try to keep your arms straight and to your sides until the band is touching your chest.
  3. Inhale with control to return to the starting position.

Aim to keep your shoulders down to eliminate neck tension, and keep your ribs connected to prevent arching through your back.

Upright row

  1. Standing, step on the band with your feet hip-width apart and your hands together, holding the part of the band closest to you.
  2. Exhale to bend your elbows and lift them up in line with your shoulders, keeping your shoulders down.
  3. Inhale with control to return to the starting position.

Aim to keep your elbows high throughout the exercise, as well as your torso long and ribs connected.

Side raises

  1. Stand on the band and cross the ends in front of your knees. Hold the opposite end in each hand.
  2. Exhale, keep a slight bend in your elbows so they don’t lock, and lift your arms straight up to the side.
  3. Inhale with control to return to the starting position.

Aim to keep your arms straight and focus on lifting your elbows up.


The latissimus dorsi is one of the biggest muscles in your back, covering from your shoulders to your lower back. Strengthening it is vital to the overall health of your back.

Straight-arm pulldown

  1. Attach or wrap the band around an anchor point higher than shoulder level.
  2. Hold the ends of the band in each hand, shoulder-width apart. Keep your feet hip-distance apart and sit into a half squat, hinging forward slightly in the torso.
  3. Exhale to keep your arms straight and shoulders down, and pull your arms down to hip level.
  4. Inhale to control your arms back up.

Aim to keep your arms straight, shoulders down, and back straight.

Bent-over rows

  1. Standing, step on the band with your feet hip-width apart. Slightly bend your knees and keep your back straight and hinged forward to a 45-degree angle. Hold the ends of the band in your hands.
  2. Exhale, bend your elbows upward and back, close to your body.
  3. Inhale with control to release down.

Aim to keep your back and neck straight and your core engaged, and breathe throughout the movement.

Lower back and core

Your lower back and core are the deepest set of trunk muscles that work together. A strong center provides a sound and stable structure for your spine.


  1. Stand on the band with your feet hip-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Hold the ends of the band in each hand and hinge forward with a long, neutral spine.
  3. Exhale to engage your hamstrings and glutes to extend your hips to come up to a straight position.
  4. Inhale with control to return to the starting position.

Keep your arms straight when extending your hips and knees. Try to avoid thrusting your hips too far forward and leaning back.

Bird dog

  1. Start on all fours with your knees in line with your hips and your hands in line with your shoulders.
  2. Put one foot through the loop of a band and hold it in your opposite hand.
  3. Exhale to engage your core and reach the opposite arm and leg out to a straight position parallel to the floor. Try not to let your leg move out to the side of your body.
  4. Inhale with control to bring both your arm and leg back to the starting position.

Aim to keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Try not to shift your body as you reach your arm and leg in opposition. Use your breath to help support the movement.


  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet hip-width apart and flat on the ground.
  2. Hold the band at both ends, stretch it across your hips and press your hands into the floor.
  3. Exhale. Keep pressing down into your arms while simultaneously pushing your feet into the floor to lift your hips off of the ground. Contract your glutes and make a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
  4. Inhale with control to bring your hips down, keep your arms pressing into the floor.

Look straight up to the ceiling and keep your knees in line with your feet throughout the exercise. At the top of the bridge, aim to keep the front of your hips open with no arch in your lower back. Your weight should rest on your upper back and shoulders — not on your neck.

Targeted workouts can be done 2–3 times a week for best results.

Aim for 2–3 sets of 12–15 reps and a break of 45–60 seconds between each exercise.

As you progress, you’ll want to increase the number of reps or sets to challenge your muscles and increase strength.

Alternatively, you can maintain the number of sets and reps and increase the band resistance. Increasing the band resistance can be done by changing bands and using a thicker, more dense band, or by changing your hand position on the band to increase the length of pull.

Choosing and combining movements without breaks creates a superset, advancing the workout. You can also add the use of the band to a traditional workout with dumbbells and decrease the dumbbell weight.

Good quality movement that is controlled and uses your breath for support throughout will make your workout more effective. Consult your physician or personal trainer for guidance, especially if you’re recovering from an injury.

Regularly inspect your resistance bands and discontinue use if there are cracks or tears. Any crack or tear, despite how small, can result in the band breaking or snapping during an exercise.

When not in use, store the bands untangled, and ideally, hung up.

Stay mindful and respect your body. If an exercise is too difficult or hurts, stop and reassess. Lowering the resistance or number of reps and sets until you build more strength is beneficial in the long run.

Aim for proper form and alignment by using your breath, engaging your core, and moving with control.

Resistance bands are an efficient and challenging addition to your workout repertoire.

They offer the ability to work out in small spaces while being cost-effective and portable, allowing you to work out anywhere and anytime.

Adding resistance band exercises for your back is a great way to change up your workouts or get started building a strong and supportive back.