Adding resistance to the classic body weight exercise, the push-up, seems almost impossible. You could put a weight plate or dumbbell on your back, but that's rather unwieldy and doesn't distribute the weight evenly.
In comes the resistance band. This strip of latex stretches and contracts like a rubber band to make your push-up efforts harder each time you rise back up to the top position. The easiest part of a push-up -- the last few inches when you return to a high plank -- becomes as hard as the lowest portion, during which you hover just above the floor. You'll emphasize the eccentric, or muscle-building, phase of the exercise when you add the band; a stronger chest is achieved by challenging your muscles throughout the entire range of motion.
The band also introduces instability to the push-up, which causes your muscles to respond differently than they might without the band.
How to Do a Resistance Band Push-Up
Use a tube-like band with handles or a strip of resistance band without handles to perform the resisted push-up.
Wrap the band behind your upper back and hold a handle or end in each hand. If the band is too long, choke up until it's taut.
Get into a push-up position, keeping the band in position -- at the top of the push-up position, you should feel no slack. Place your hands a little wider than your shoulders as they pin the band down. Brace your abdominal muscles.
Bend your elbows to 90 degrees and and rise back up to perform the push-up. You'll feel the most effects of the band as you return to the top position. Work up to three sets of 12 repetitions.
Do it right: As with any good push-up, prevent your hips from hiking up or sagging downward. Keep your entire body straight as a board as you press up and down.
Increase the Intensity
Resistance bands come in multiple levels of tension. They're usually color-coded, but which level each color indicates varies by brand. Start with the lightest intensity and work your way up. When you can easily perform three sets of 12 with a particular level, it's time to go up.
The resistance band push-up can be as effective as a bench press in terms of building chest muscle, showed a 2015 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. Using electromyography, researchers had participants perform either the bench press or resistance band push-up with the same load for a six-repetition max. After five weeks of training, both the resistance band push-up group and the bench press group made similar gains in strength when compared to a control group.