Skip to content

A resistance band back workout that’ll help you stand up straight

This four-move routine is quick and effective.

For many people, back strength likely isn’t a top fitness priority.

But intentionally working this area can pay big dividends—and that’s where this resistance band back workout comes in.

People tend to neglect their back muscles because, well, they’re in the back, ACE-certified personal trainer Sivan Fagan, owner of Strong With Sivan, tells SELF.

Instead, she says, people tend to focus more on their chest and biceps when thinking of upper-body muscles to target.

Working your back muscles is super important, though, both for everyday life and for strength training. Think about your posture, for instance.

Taking the time to work on your back strength can help improve your posture, since optimal posture requires muscular strength and endurance across multiple muscles on your backside.

This includes your rhomboids (an upper back muscle that connects your shoulder blades to your rib cage), rotator cuff (a group of muscles that help you lift and rotate your arm), mid to lower trapezius (the muscles across the back of your neck and upper back), and erector spinae (a set of muscles in your lower back).

When these muscles are strong enough, they can help counteract the forward shoulder hunch many people experience, especially when they spend a lot of time sitting.

Keep in mind, though, that ideal posture isn’t about getting yourself locked into one “perfect” position for hours—it’s also about allowing yourself time to move and change positions throughout the day, says Fagan.

This resistance band back workout will help you strengthen these all-important posterior-chain muscles. Just make sure you focus on your mind-muscle connection throughout the moves, says Fagan.

With mind-muscle connection, you focus on engaging the muscles that should be working when you do a certain movement, rather than allowing other muscles to swoop in and take over.

For example, when you’re doing a row, you’d want to focus on retracting your rhomboids instead of powering the movement with your arms.

Good mind-muscle connection will help the exercises be as safe and effective as possible, and bands really help with the process.

Another added bonus of the resistance band? You can pretty much use it anywhere. Resistance bands are super portable and convenient, which makes them good choices for traveling workouts or outdoor workouts—pretty much wherever you don’t want to lug your dumbbells.

And because resistance bands keep constant tension on your muscles, you’ll experience a slightly different challenge compared to free weights.

Feeling ready to fire up your back muscles and better your posture in the process? Keep scrolling for a four-move resistance band back workout created by Fagan that may just become a new staple in your routine.

The Workout

What you need: An exercise mat for comfort, and a resistance band. (You can use looped bands or ones with handles, whichever you prefer.) If you can, have several resistance bands of varying strengths on hand so you can switch from exercise to exercise as needed.

Fagan suggests a light resistance band for the first move, a medium-strength for the second move, and a heavy one for the third and fourth moves.


Superset 1


•Bow and Arrow

Superset 2

•Cuff Pivot

•Staggered Stance Row


•For Superset 1, perform 10 reps of the Pull-Apart and 10–15 reps per side of the Bow and Arrow. Try not to rest between exercises, though you should take some time if you feel your form beginning to falter. Complete three rounds total. Rest for 2–3 minutes at the end of Superset 1.

•For Superset 2, perform 10–12 reps per side of the Cuff Pivot and 8–12 reps per side of the Staggered Stance Row. Try not to rest between exercises. Complete three rounds total.

A band we like:

1 Pull-Apart

•Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Hold one end of a resistance band in each hand.

•Raise your arms straight in front to shoulder height, palms down, with your hands about six inches apart. The band should have a small amount of tension but not be taut.

•Now pull the band apart, extending your arms wide to each side until your upper body is in a T position, keeping your hands at the same height. Pause for 2 seconds when the band is fully extended.

•Return your arms to center.

•Complete 10 reps.

This move works on shoulder blade retraction, says Fagan. It hits your rhomboids and middle to lower trapezius

2 Bow and Arrow

•Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your core engaged. Hold one end of the band in each hand.

•Raise both hands to chest height and extend your left arm to your left side, keeping your right hand even with your sternum (Do not let your right hand cross the midline of your body). This is your starting position, so you may need to adjust the tension so there’s light tension here but not too much.

•Now pull your right hand to the right (away from your left arm), as if drawing back an arrow in a bow. Keep your elbow pointed out and elevated.

•Return to starting position. Do 10–12 reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

This unilateral exercise teaches you how to both protract and retract your shoulder blades, says Fagan. Along with your back, the move also works your shoulders, triceps, and chest.

3 Cuff Pivot

•Stand with your feet together and core engaged; hold one end of the resistance band in each hand. Hold the ends of the resistance band just below your chest (about even with the bottom of your ribcage), with your elbows bent and pointing out. You’ll likely need to wrap the band a few times to make it short enough for this move (so you feel slight tension on the band).

•Keeping your left hand perfectly still, pull your right hand out and toward the right, allowing the rotation to come from your shoulder, and your elbow to naturally rotate in toward your waist. Maintain a bent arm and focus on feeling your shoulder blades do the rotational work. Resist the urge to move your left arm.

•Return to your starting position. Do 10–12 reps on one side, then repeat on the other side.

This move really works the rotator cuff. To do it properly, make sure you keep your upper arm and elbow locked in place as you rotate just your forearm, says Fagan.

4 Staggered Stance Row

•Stand with your left foot ahead of your right, so you are in a staggered stance. (To make this position feel easier, widen your stance.)

•Loop your resistance band under your left foot, and hold one end of the resistance band in each hand.

•Bend your left knee slightly and hinge forward at the hip so your core is engaged and your back is straight. With your arms fully extended down toward your left foot, the band should have light tension. That’s your starting position.

•Do a rowing motion, pulling your hands toward your torso—keep your elbows, forearms, and hands in line with your ribcage.

•Extend your arms to return to your starting position to complete the rep. Do 8–12 reps on one side, then switch so the other foot is staggered forward and repeat.

This move is one of the best—and most challenging—exercises for working your back muscles, says Fagan. It works your lats, rhomboids, and mid to low traps.

This article originally appeared on Self US.

Share this article: