Don’t underestimate the efficiency of tension bands for getting in a great chest workout in which you can actually build lean muscle mass and strength.

Tension in a resistance band can be modified by changing your distance from the tubing’s anchor point. Resistance tubes come in varying degrees of tension as well.

For any chest workout, first warm up with light dumbbells, or if you don’t have any, use tension bands at light resistance.

After the warm-up, securely anchor the tension band for standing chest presses.

Step #1: Always perform chest pressing motions with one foot forward (and this forward leg is bent as though you’re starting to go into a lunge), and one leg back and straight (but not locked). This forward stance provides stability.


Step #2: Figure out how far you must stand, from the tension band’s anchor point, so that pushing the handles away from your chest, for a total of 12 times, requires a challenging to difficult level of exertion.

Press handles out all the way (just short of a full elbow-lockout). Do not short-change yourself by pushing out only part-way.

Push all the way out, and try not to pitch your body forward; strive to keep back vertical, though a little forward bend is fine.

Release the tubing, but with control; don’t let arms snap back to your sides. You want a good “negative” portion. Bring hands back so that they are just a little bit ahead of chest.

Now press out again for the next rep. Twelve of these should create a nice muscle burn for the first set.

Step #3: Immediately (no rest!) after completing the twelfth rep, hands just ahead of chest, step closer to the anchor point (keep your back to it).

How much you should step back varies and will require experimentation, but the objective is to allow enough reduced tension so that you can do another 12 reps (though if all you can do are 8, that is fine).

In other words, you’re performing drop-sets with tension tubes, to build chest muscles and strength.

So step back enough to provide reduced resistance, but don’t overdo it. This next set needs to be challenging or difficult.

If you can’t extend arms all the way, the tension is not reduced enough. Step back (closer to the anchor) a bit more, and try again.

Step #4: Repeat step No. 3 for a third set: a drop-set routine consisting of three sets total. However, if you want to do four sets total, then do so.

When you get to the third (or fourth) set, you may find that you’re not far enough away from the anchor to provide tension at the start of the repetition (the resistance band is slack when your hands are just ahead of chest).

If this happens, the remedy is to switch to a lighter-tension tubing and step far enough from the anchor to get tension from the beginning of the rep, and far enough away from anchor to make the work challenging or difficult.

Shutterstock/Ken stocker

Have the lighter-tension tubing ready so that you can rapidly affix it to the anchor between sets as you drop the sets, and quickly get back into position for the next set.

There should be no rest in between (other than the time it takes to adjust distance from anchor point and perhaps change tubing).

For the lighter resistance band, you may have to step really, really far away from the anchor to get a challenging level of tension. The tubing will not break.

Summary: Standing chest presses in drop-set form (3-4 sets, no rest in between), with less tension on each succeeding set, using possibly two resistance bands.

Press out all the way, just shy of a full elbow-lockout. Face both palms ahead, down, or towards each other.

Do six to eight drop-set routines (i.e., at least six drop-sets consisting of three to four sets). The last set of a drop cycle can be a standing chest flye. Time in between each cycle: 90 seconds.

If you follow these steps to a tee, your muscles will be killing you at the conclusion, because drops are a proven intensity technique for building muscle and strength.

Anchor points: Look around your house for any secure point with which to “thread” the tension tubing through, or wrap around.

Do some test runs first to make sure that the tubing does not fly off or dislodge the anchor point.

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of resistance bands for building chest muscle and strength.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image: Shutterstock/sozon