Whole-Body Wellness Challenge: 5 Upper-Body Resistance Band Moves

By the Editors of SilverSneakers |

Tone your top half with these strength exercises that are oh-so-effective (and gentle on your wrists).

The Whole-Body Wellness Challenge is rooted in the understanding that health isn’t just about fitness. This month, we’re sharing fun and easy ways to bring everything you love about SilverSneakers classes and your time at the gym to other areas of your life. You’ll find workouts, tips, and activities to help you build strength, eat healthier, sleep sounder, and be more present in your life so you can feel good—body, mind, and spirit.

Lifting groceries with ease, carrying sleeping grandchildren to their bed, doing fall yard work without (that much) fatigue. Working on your upper-body strength can make all these things a reality—and be a big confidence booster.

The trouble is that many traditional upper-body moves like planks, pushups, or even those with handweights can be hard on your wrists.

Enter resistance bands. “If you invest in any workout tool, I’d definitely recommend resistance bands,” says SilverSneakers instructor Shannon Thigpen. “They’re super effective at building full-body strength.”

Plus, they offer you a way to work all the muscles in your arms, chest, and back while being gentle on your joints. And that’s exactly what makes them a favorite. “We use them all the time in SilverSneakers classes,” says Shannon.

Here, Shannon shows you how to spin five common upper-body strength moves into an effective resistance band workout.

How to Use These Upper-Body Resistance Band Moves

You’ll need yourself, some open floor space, and an elastic resistance band with handles. If the band you have at home doesn’t have handles, you can make your own by tying a small loop at each end of your band. For extra comfort, slide a rolled-up washcloth through each loop to serve as your grip.

You’re welcome to try these moves without a band at first. This way you can get a feel for the range of motion. When you’re ready, opt for a lightweight band to begin. (Not sure what band is right for you? Here’s our beginner’s guide.) To change the amount of resistance on the band, simply adjust your hand placement—experiment to see what feels best for you.

To get started, press play on the video above and follow along as Shannon shows you how to do band variations of a biceps curl, an upright row, a back extension, a triceps extension, and a chest press.

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Aim to do 8 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. If you’d like to incorporate these into your routine, try to practice these moves one to two times a week for the most strength benefits.

As always, safety is key. The exercises here may be different or more advanced than those you’ll experience in a SilverSneakers class. If you have a chronic condition, an injury, or balance issues, talk to your doctor about how you can exercise safely.

Bonus Challenge: Try a SilverSneakers Circuit Class

Looking for more ways to work your top half? Try our Circuit class. It’s a 45-minute session that alternates upper body work with low-impact cardio. You’ll come away feeling strong and confident. See the latest SilverSneakers LIVE schedule and RSVP for classes here.

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