How To Use Resistance Bands In Calisthenics Workouts


MAY, 2020

Resistance bands are elastic bands used in calisthenics street workout. They are a fantastic tool for warming up, muscle activation, resistance exercises, rehabilitation and assisted body-weight exercises. They are especially useful in calisthenics, as many exercises in calisthenics are often too difficult to achieve for beginners without assistance.

There are many different types of resistance bands, each with a specific purpose. Bands can differ in thickness, length and accessories. These differences dictate the intended purpose of the band. Thicker resistance bands are able to generate more force and therefore can make resistance exercises harder, while making body-weight assisted exercises easier.

Table of Contents
1. Long / Pull Up Resistance Bands
2. Short / Glute Resistance Bands
3. Resistance Bands with Handles, Ankle Straps, Door Anchors

Long / Pull Up Resistance Bands

Long resistance bands are usually about 1.2m long without being stretched. They can be tethered to various poles and bars for a huge diversity of exercises. They are particularly good for assisting in body-weight exercises, but can also be used to perform resistance exercises and warm ups.

resistance band set sqr

Long Resistance Band Warm ups

These bands are great for warming up the shoulders.

Dislocates are a type of dynamic stretch that helps open up the shoulders and start the flow of synovial fluid, which can assist in lubricating the shoulder joint.

Chest Bounces are a great way to warm up the anterior deltoids (front of the shoulders), but can also help with chest and back activation.

Shoulder Press will get your shoulders, triceps and core working. When warming up use a light band and concentrate on core engagement and preventing the back from arching.

Long Resistance Band Resistance Exercises

Bent Over Rows are a fantastic horizontal pull exercises that engages the back, especially the middle and lower trapezius and rhomboids. It’s great for building a strong back and fixing posture. The row can be done by tethering the resistance band to a vertical post or by standing on it, flexing the back to 90 degrees and pulling vertically up.

Front Press is a great exercise for the anterior deltoid (front of the shoulder) and biceps. To perform the front press step on the band with both feet and raise the band to chest height with straight arms.

Chest Press is a great way to work the chest and triceps. Tether the band to a vertical post and turn your body directly away from the anchor point. Push the band forward with one arm at a time.

resistance band asisted pull up

Assisted Body-weight Exercises

Pull ups are one of the hardest body-weight exercises for beginners. Resistance bands can assist in making the exercise accessible to all. To make the pull up easier, tether the band to a bar. Pull it down and place both feet inside while holding on to the bar.
The restoring force on the band will effectively decrease your bodyweight. The thicker the band, the easier the pull up will be.

Push ups can also be made easier using resistance bands. Again, you will need to tether the band to a bar. Pull the band down and slide through the band so that the band sits under your waist. Again the band’s natural tendency to snap back into place will make the push ups easier.

Dips are another exercise that can be made easier by resistance bands is the dip. For this exercise you will need to find some parallel bars. Clamp the band under each hand, or thread it over the ends of the parallel bars, and place your knees onto the band. The band will assist you on the upward phase of the dip.


Long resistance bands can also be used for shoulder rehabilitation. There are many useful exercises that can strengthen the rotator cuff and help reduce inflammation in the shoulder joint. The rotator cuff muscles stabilise the shoulder joint, and so therefore it’s important to keep them strong and healthy.

Internal rotation can be achieved by tethering the resistance band to a vertical pole. Stand side on to the pole and take the resistance band in the hand closest to the pole. Proceed rotate towards your body while keeping the elbow touching your hip.

External rotation is the opposite of internal rotation. Again, have the band tethered to a pole, except this time take it with the hand furthest from the pole. Stand far enough away so that you feel slight tension in the band. Rotate the hand away from the body while keeping the elbow touching your hip.

resistance band asisted pull up

Short /Glute Resistance Bands

Glute resistance bands are much shorter, about 20cm unstretched. They are generally used for working and activating the glutes. They can also be used for strengthening the rotator cuffs and wrists to a lesser capacity.

Warming Up The Glutes

There are several glute band exercises that can help activate the glutes before training. These are quite important, as our sedentary lifestyles keep our glutes in an indefinite relaxed state.

Crab walks are a great tool for warming up the legs and glutes. The glute resistance band needs to go just below the knees. While in a half squat, move sideways and focus on rotating the knees externally to maximise glute activation.

Monster walks are quite similar to crab walks. The band position and half squat are the same, except now you will need to walk forward.

Side to sides or tick tocks are a pendulum-like exercise is a great addition to a glute warm up. Place the band around your ankles and bring one leg up as high as you can to the side while maintaining straight legs and minimising momentum.

resistance band asisted pull up

Resistance Band Exercises For The Glutes

Glute Bridges are a great way to work the glutes, hamstrings and lower back. Lie down on the ground and loop the glute band just below your knees. Raise your hips as high as you can while externally rotating the knees. Hold this position for 3 seconds and repeat for reps.

Clam shells are another great glute exercise. Lie on your side and loop the glute resistance band just above the knees. Separate your knees as much as you can. Hold the maximum separation for 3 seconds and repeat for reps.

Resistance Bands with Accessories

Bands with handles make it easier to perform cable machine-like exercises. Sometimes these have a special anchor that can allow them to be secured by a door. This type of band is more advantageous for resistance exercise as you will have a more comfortable grip, but is less suitable for bodyweight assisted exercises as the extra accessories will only get in the way.

Resistance Exercises Using Bands with Handles

Bicep curls are a fantastic exercise for building bicep strength and size. Resistance bands can provide a convenient light-weight substitution to dumbells for this popular exercise. Ideally you will need a door, which will be used as an anchor point for the resistance band. Once secured underneathe the door, curl the band as you would a dumbell. 

Donkey kick is an exercise that can help strengthen the glutes. For this exercise you will need the door anchor and ankle strap attachment. Thread the door anchor underneathe your door and attach the strap to your ankle. Face the door and kick back as high as you can.

Written by Vic

Melbourne-based Personal Trainer, Calisthenics Athlete and the Founder of Street Workout St Kilda. Super passionate about bodyweight training and the art of movement.
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