If you’re finding yourself breezing through resistance band workouts, then you’re doing them wrong. This lightweight, portable, and adaptable gym accessory can have an impressive impact on your training, and it’s possibly one of the most affordable and effective pieces of equipment you can buy to strengthen, tone, and even grow your muscles.

While you might have used resistance bands as part of your stretching and work-up routines in the past, there’s a good chance you feel they’re a little too light compared with your usual dumbbell, barbell, and kettlebell exercises.

But, by incorporating some of our top arm-focussed resistance band movements into your workout, and focusing on controlled contractions of your muscles, you’re sure to see the same pump and feel a more significant burn than ever before.

It’s all about gravity.

Resistance bands aren’t just a must-have accessory because of their price and versatility. It’s because they allow for exercises that don’t require gravity to do some of the work.

For example, when you’re using a pair of dumbbells, you’re restricted to movements and positions that use a vertical plane of motion. Dumbbell press, curls, flys — they all rely on the weight pulling back towards the floor to create the resistance.

When using resistance bands, however, you’re able to do the same types of exercises with greater freedom of movement, while retaining the tension throughout the entire exercise, including the stages that allow you to rest using other weights.

Five exercises to tone, strengthen, and grow your arms.

You might find that using a resistance band makes some of these exercises a little easier to perform, but you can adjust the difficulty of each movement by switching for a thicker band, or one with a smaller loop. You can also try standing on the band with both feet to shorten it, or by double looping to reduce its size.

Bicep curl 21s

Sets 2 Reps 21

Bicep curl 21s are like a standard curl but, instead, consist of three movements broken down into seven reps per stage.

Grip each end of the band with your arms by your sides and palms facing forwards. Place one foot or both feet in the centre of the band to secure it to the floor. Standing straight, and keeping your elbows pinned to your sides, bring your hands up towards your chest but stop as you reach half-way through the movement. Lower back down, and repeat these lower-half reps for a total of seven.

After your seventh lower-half rep, bring your palms up in a curl motion until your elbows start to leave your side. You’ll now complete seven top-half reps, lowering the bands to the half-way point, and raising back to the top.

Once you’ve completed your seventh top-half rep, you’ll need to lower back to your starting position with your palms down and facing forwards and finish your set with seven full-motion reps.

Tricep kick-back

Sets 3 Reps 15

Depending on the length of your band and your chosen level of resistance, you can complete this exercise on each side individually, or simultaneously.

For single arm movements, start by holding one end of the handle and place the same-sided foot on the middle of the band to secure it to the floor. Then, take a small step back with your opposite foot to get into a split stance.

Bend forwards at your hips and lower your chest, so it’s at a 45° angle to the floor. Then, bring your right elbow to your side and keep it there throughout the exercise. With your arm starting with a 90° bend, press backwards, moving your hand behind you, extending the arm and tightening your triceps. Switch arms, and repeat.

If you’re doing the movement on both sides at the same time, then simply place both feet over the band, and ensure your body is in a comfortable position while bending forwards.

Pronated curls

Sets 3 Reps 12

This exercise is simple and looks almost exactly like your everyday bicep curl with a small alteration to help develop your forearms, grip, and your less-used bicep muscle. Start by getting into your bicep curl position. Band under your feet, back straight, and elbows by your sides. But this time, have your palms flipped, so they’re facing towards you instead of forwards.

Now, just like a curl, raise your palms and forearms until your elbows begin to pull away from your sides. Slowly lower your hands back to your starting position, and repeat.

Tricep extension

Sets 3 Reps 15

Commonly performed with dumbbells or EZ bars, tricep extensions are a great way to target both the large and smaller heads of your tricep.

Holding both ends of your band, place one foot on the centre to secure it to the floor, with the band coming up behind your body. Raise your hands behind your head with your knuckles facing the floor, and your elbows pointing forwards on either side of your head.

While keeping your elbows as close to your head as possible, extend your arms and raise your hands, pinching your triceps towards the peak of the movement. Make sure you stop before your elbows lockout, as this avoids any risk of an elbow injury, and keeps the tension on the muscle you’re trying to train. Lower and repeat.

Bent over row

Sets 3 Reps 12

This exercise is great for working your biceps, with the added benefit of incorporating your back if you extend the range of motion.

Begin by standing on the middle of the band with feet roughly hip-width apart. Hold onto each end of the loop with your palms facing inwards towards each other. Bend at the waist, lower your hips and stick your bum out. Try to add a slight arch to your lower back, and keep your head,
neck and upper spine in a straight line throughout the exercise.

Then, pull the band up, raising your hands towards your upper abdomen. Keep your elbows in, and focus on squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold the movement at the top for a second, and return slowly to the start position.