There’s almost no other exercise that can be called a “bread and butter” exercise like the chest press when it comes to tone the chest and building some proper pecs – and there are a lot of different variations of the chest press you can do with resistance bands.
In the first part of this article, we will show you how to execute a chest press with resistance bands properly and in the second part, you find some tips to make the chest press harder and more effective to get you the pump you’re looking for.
Chest Press With Resistance Band
Let’s jump right into how you do the basic chest press with resistance bands.
Band VS Weights & Machines
Doing your chest press with a resistance band gives you several advantages over doing them with a machine or with free weights.
- Follow the natural strength curve of your muscle! The resistance of a band will always increase the more you stretch it and that’s also the natural strength curve of your muscle, having the most power in the full contraction. With a cable machine or weights, you often fatigue in the expanded part of your muscle without fully fatiguing the whole muscle.
- Stability, control & core! When you do work with a band, your body needs to hold the band in more than one direction so you will also work a lot on your stabilizing muscles and your core as well.
- Variations & Home Workout! If you want to train your chest at home you are normally stuck with push ups and have little to no space adding weight or using less weight to get the optimal training resistance. Bands also give you different angles to work your upper and lower chest with a chest press easily.
- Joint Friendly & Less Disbalances! When using a bar you’re more fixed in your hand position and put more stress on your joints while bands let you get in a more natural hand position and prevent injuries.
There are also more reasons to favor resistance bands over traditional free weights or machines, like reducing the stress on your joints, getting more peak contraction, and many more. But we’re talking here about doing a chest press, so if you’re interested in background info about what benefits resistance bands give you in strength training and bodybuilding, check it out here.
How To Chest Press The Right Way
The main purpose of the chest is to bring your arms forward and together at the same time. What you do is you need to anchor the band to a door or anything else with a lot of weight (Make sure to follow our guide for door anchors here to not get it snapping into the back of your head, this hurts!) about chest height.
Now you take the band and step forward so you will feel some stretch in your chest (you need to remove all slack in the band).
Do put your shoulder blades together and down (imagine putting your shoulders into the back-pocket of your pants) and keep your chest high and up – this will turn your shoulders up and prevent that they will do a big part of the work instead of your chest doing the work during the chest press.
Now push forward but also bring your hands together to the middle at the same time. Your chest does not primarily push your army forward, it also brings them to the middle of your body and that’s exactly the movement you need to do here when doing the chest press with a resistance band.
Keep in mind that this is also one of the biggest advantages of doing the chest press with a resistance band… you’re not limited to a machine or a bar, you can move your hands towards the middle to get the full peak contraction.
Important Do’s & Don’ts!!!
⓵ Back Position & Rounded Shoulders – the primary mistake many people dow ith the chest press is rounding the shoulders and adding the front delts and triceps into the equation. Those muscles will lower the work your chest has to do and you will train your chest less!
Keep your shoulder blades back and your chest up and high and press and you will immediately feel the difference in the contraction.
⓶ No Slack – slack is a big mistake when training with resistance bands. The band should already be stretched a little bit so you feel a force pulling you back a little bit. If you have a slack here you will lose a lot of time under tension when doing your chest press!
If you’re not possible to get the band into a full contraction with the chest press without having a slack you need to use a lighter resistance band (below you find tips how to increase the force with a lighter resistance band).
⓷ Grip – this is a common mistake with weights and bars, but also many people doing the bench press with a resistance band make the mistake to loose tension in their wrists and start letting the weight pull the wrists in a bad position as you can see in the image.
Always mind your wrists and check if they are straight, otherwise you will put so much tension on them that you might hurt yourself or, best-case scenario, loose power and get less reps with your bench press than that you actually could do.
⓸ Press Together – the primary movement of the chest is not just pressing, it’s also bringing your arm in. You will leave a ton of potential of full contraction on the table if you just press straight and not bring your arms together in the end to get the full squeeze.
Try to implement that last movement and you will feel a different burn after your set.
⓹ Leg Position – your chest is a big muscle and you will need a lot of resistance to really work it. With resistance bands this means you will also need to stabilize that force and when you have your feet parallel not he ground the band will very likely pull you backwards.
Set one foot in front in a regular step (no matter which one, take the one that feels better) and the other foot will be able to hold against the resistance band a lot better when you execute the chest press.
Alternative Ways To Chest Press With Resistance Bands
With every version of an exercise, you will find people that really like it and others that don’t like it that much. If you have problems with the traditional way of doing the chest press as shown above (while executing it the right way), you might want to try one of the alternative ways.
Use A Bar – some people, especially people that are new to train with resistance bands, will not feel very comfortable with a chest press done with their hands being completely free.
In this case you can add a bar to the band and to the chest press like you would with weights.
You can simply use a door pull up bar for that purpose. This will give you more stability and you can shorten the band by simply wrapping it around the bar before you go into the chest press.
No Attachment Point – if you’re training somewhere where you don’t have a door or anything else where you can attach your resistance band, you can also wrap the band behind your back and do the fly with the resistance of your own body.
However, this should rather be a work-around than a permanent solution because you will not get that much chest activation in this position and the band will not feel super-comfy 😉
On The Floor – if it doesn’t feel that right doing the chest press standing and you feel better when you have a static resistance behind you, you can also wrap the band behind your back and get on the ground and do the chest press as you would do it with weights on a bench.
All other things like back and shoulder position apply here as well.
Different Grips – the awesome thing about resistance bands is that you can use multiple grips without changing your setup at all and with the chest press you have different options as well:
You can use the regular grip with your thumbs facing to each other, this is the normal way to do this.
Alternatively, you can also turn your hands by 90 degree and get into a position you would have when you do dips on a dip bar.
If you want to work your tricep more in this exercise, you can also use a reverse grip where you turn your hands to have your thumbs on the outside.
Try them out and see what you like most.
Incline/Decline – you can easily use the chest press setup with a different anchor position to work your upper or your lower chest by attaching the band to a ground-level or above head position and work in the opposite direction.
Get Your Pump
If that doesn’t get you that pump and feeling that your chest is basically exploding, here are some tips that will help you work that muscle to the ground.
Shorten The Band – many people make the mistake to use a band with a resistance level that’s simply too high for the exercise. The full effect of bands results from getting the right resistance and if you use a band that’s too heavy you can’t get a clean range-of-motion and clean reps and get lower progress.
Instead of taking a stronger band simply shorten the band, you use and you can do that perfectly by wrapping it around your hand once or twice and get the extra resistance without losing the ability to do clean reps.
That’s also one reason why I don’t like the resistance bands with handles attached to it and prefer the loop-style bands.
Push-Ups With Resistance Band – a real killer exercise for your chest is combining a traditional push-up with a band that will add extra resistance. It looks easy but I can promise you that you will get such a pump in your chest.
To do this right, wrap the band around your back BEFORE you go down to the floor, this prevents weird stretching until you’re in position. Also wrap the band below your shoulders, this will give you better control and you don’t have the constant feeling that the band might slip over your back.
A full deatailed article on push ups with resistance band you can find right here.
Single-Armed Chest Press – at a certain level you will find that you just can’t handle the resistance of the band with your stance, but you want to add more resistance.
In this case you will need to switch gears and go single-armed chest press and you don’t need that much resistance in your band when only one side of your body has to handle it.
A very nice extra here is that you’re able to lean in a little bit and get into the final squeeze at the end easier because you can push straight instead of getting your arms in “manually” at the end.
This is also a nice alternative if you can’t attach the resistance band somewhere strong enough, e.g. you have old doors or nothing else that#s strong enough to fixate the band.
Time Under Tension – compared to weights where you have the same force applied to any position of the movement, bands will add more resistance the further you stretch them – this will lower the time under tension your muscle has during a set in the starting position. Focus on doing the exercise controlled and try to hold it for a second or two in the fully contracted position and don’t let the band snap back but slowly go back to the starting position.
Full Chest Workout
Simply doing chest press is not a full chest workout as there are multiple muscles working in your chest – we have here a full chest workout with different exercises that will give you the strongest pump you can ever think of – check it out here.