Arm workouts with resistance bands are the easiest way to strengthen your arms - 9 to try

Perfect to do from home or holiday.

Arm workouts with resistance bands: A woman working out at home
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Arm workouts with resistance bands might not look that challenging, but if you've ever tried to pull or push the taught elastic you'll know that they do, in fact, deliver a huge burn. 

Arm workouts target your biceps and triceps, the muscles that run down the front and back of your upper arms respectively. And while arm day might feel like the most skippable of days, you'd be silly to make that mistake. Research from The University of Glasgow found that upper-body muscle weakness is associated with a higher hazard for all health outcomes, including cardiovascular disease and cancer. Weak grip strength was even shown to be a bigger predictor for mortality than low physical activity. 

In short, having strong arms will not only feel great, but will boost your general wellbeing, too. Not to mention all workouts promise to boost those handy feel-good endorphins and, in turn, your mental health. And the resistance band workouts get a yes from team MC UK as a simple, accessible way to get a sweat on and challenge your muscles any time, any place.

Keen to scroll the best resistance band exercises to target and tone your arms? Below, personal trainer and Pilates instructor Rachel Lopez shares her take alongside mine (I'm a Health and Fitness editor and fitness instructor, meaning I know a thing or two about how to build strength and move well). Shop our guide to the best resistance bands, before you start.

Arm workouts with resistance bands: your guide

What are resistance bands?

Resistance bands are a great piece of kit that everyone should have in their gym bag. "Essentially, they're elastic bands used to strengthen your muscles that can be used as a part of your strength and resistance programming workouts," says Lopez. "They are exceptionally helpful for some forms of physical therapy, for example during post-injury rehab, and they accommodate a low impact, slow-paced way of rebuilding strength in isolated areas." 

The handy bits of fit kit tend to come in two lengths - short loops and long loops - and a variety of weights. "The heavier the band the more challenging it will typically be to pull apart. Light to medium bands tend to be more appropriate for the upper body exercises and heavier for the lower. Long variations of the band are great to help support you achieve movements like pull ups and chin ups," adds Lopez.

What are the benefits of arm workouts with resistance bands?

Working with resistance bands has loads of benefits, according to Lopez. These include: 

1. Isolating your muscles

Because resistance bands are typically lighter than weights, they're great to use in isolation exercises such as arm workouts. You can really target specific areas like biceps and triceps without other muscles taking over.

2. Adding resistance

"Resistance bands add resistance to bodyweight moves but can also be used to add resistance and control to weighted exercises, such as placing them around your knees during hip thrusts, which is great for when you need to break through a plateau," says Lopez. 

Studies, such as a SAGE Open Medicine report, find that resistance bands often offer similar strength gains to conventional resistance training, too.

3. They're transportable

"Resistance bands help you further your workout without the use of a weights while still achieving the muscular burn you're after," she adds. 

4. They're low impact

Last but by no means least, they won't put stress on your joints like high impact sports (we're looking at you, running and HIIT). "They're normally used for low impact workouts that strengthen the joints and ligaments in a sustainable way. These exercises are more accessible to a wider audience with a mix of abilities and experience," says Lopez. 

Sometimes resistance band are used for high intensity exercises like, say, jump squats, so just be mindful that this isn't always the case.

10 best arm workouts with resistance bands

1. Resistance band tricep workout by ACHV Peak

What? A 5-minute tricep blast.

Why? This is a great way to finish off an upper-body workout to hit your arms in a speedy fashion. "I have no complaints about this workout! It's really nice and straightforward," agrees Lopez. 

How long? 5 minutes.

2. 10-minute resistance band workout by Fit With Milk

What? Blast your arms - as well as your shoulders - with a long loop resistance band.

Why? "This is a very good all-rounder workout. She's really clear, has a nice pace and beautiful form making it very easy and safe to follow," says Lopez. 

How long? 10 minutes.

3. At home back, arm and shoulder workout by MadFit

What? Long loop resistance bands are used to target your upper body for an all-round strength workout.

Why? "I really love how she repeated the same sequence of exercises. From a strength perspective, this is great for busting a strength plateau. She switches up the resistance of her bands, using thicker resistance for her stronger muscle groups, which is great too - a really solid challenge. She has great form!" says Lopez.

How long? 10 minutes.

4. Bicep killer workout by Alex Crockford

What? A 10-minute workout for your biceps. 

Why? Another great finisher to tag onto the end of an upper-body workout or to do on busy days. "I love the functional mobility warm-up that will protect your joints. The programming is strong and the rest times are really well thought through," says Lopez.

How long? 10 minutes.

5. 15-minute no repeat upper-body workout by Zanna Van Dijk

What? Using a small loop, you'll work through high reps and not repeat any of the same moves. 

Why? Great for people who get bored and like to switch up their workouts, "this has a lovely pace and a good use of a variety of bands, making it appropriate for every level," says Lopez. 

How long? 15 minutes.

6. Banded arm workout by Britany Williams

What? A small loop band workout that is designed to target triceps and biceps with unique moves.

Why? "There's a nice mix of exercises in this workout - it would be a great way to compliment a compound workout," says Lopez. 

How long? 20 minutes.

7. Tricep and shoulder workout by Danica Osborn

What? A short loop band is used to burn the triceps and hit the shoulder muscles. 

Why? "I love how she highlights which muscles are working to forget mind-to-muscle connection and stability. She has great form and the exercises are really well executed," says Lopez. 

How long? 20 minutes.

8. Resistance band arm workout by Nicole Pearce

What? A 20-minute follow-along workout for biceps, triceps and shoulders. 

Why? "I love her explanations and the preview of the exercises is a really great addition. The exercises and pace are very good for beginners and intermediate levels," says Lopez. 

How long? 20 minutes.

9. Upper-body workout with resistance band by Olesia Shevchuk

What? A workout you can keep in your back pocket for the gym or home, using a small band. 

Why? "I love how it’s super clear where we are targeting and as she has brilliant form it's a good way to learn more," says Lopez. 

How long? 30 minutes.


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Can resistance bands tone arms?

Research has proven that they can, confirming them as an accessible and affordable way to take your home workouts up a level. Case in point: research, including this 2019 study, has shown that the unassuming bands are actually capable as providing the same level of intensity as free weights and machines in your local gym.

Aim for three sessions a week for a minimum of a month to see improved tone. Remember: consistency is key here.

Chloe Gray
Contributing Health Writer

Chloe Gray is a freelance journalist who writes and talks about health, fitness, and wellbeing through a feminist lens. She was part of the launch team for Stylist magazine's fitness brand, Strong Women, and has written for i news, Women's Health, Red magazine, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, and more. She's all about building mental and physical strength, eating delicious food that fuels you well, and making the fitness industry more accessible and enjoyable. She's also a qualified fitness trainer and research nerd, so you can be sure everything you read is backed by proper science.