For about $10, you can get an effective workout at home. One bow-tie or figure-eight resistance band can help tone your upper body and core in no time.

Irene Lewis-McCormick, CSCS
September 28, 2018

Bow-Tie Bands

These color-coded rubber latex tubes allow you to control the exercise intensity. Red is typically the most difficult, with medium to heavy resistance. Green offers medium resistance. Yellow bands are usually the easiest and the best choice for beginners. Several companies sell all three bands together.

Before you start, check for possible nicks or wear in the tubing. Other tips:

• Be sure the tubing is secure in your hand or around your foot during exercises.

• Maintain tension in the tubing by not allowing it to snap back or become slack during exercises.

Shoulder Raise

This exercise improves shoulder strength.

Step 1: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, grasping a handle in one hand at waist height with your palm facing down. Place the other handle under the arch of the opposite foot.

Step 2: Pull the handle up toward your shoulder, allowing your elbow to rise up and out to the side. Lift to shoulder height and then release down to starting position. Repeat 8–10 times and then switch arms.

Rhomboid Squeeze

Stand or sit for this back-strengthening exercise.

Step 1: Hold the tubing directly above your head with arms extended at chest height, one handle in each hand. Keep elbows "soft."

Step 2: Grasp handles with palms facing in and pull the handles apart, focusing on the muscles between your shoulder blades. Return to starting position. Repeat 12–15 times.

Standing Side-Leg Lift

This move tones your core and increases hip strength. Use a chair for balance, if necessary.

Step 1: Place the tubing under the arch and over the shoelaces of each foot. Standing with feet hip-width apart, keep the tubing under tension-don't let it go slack.

Step 2: Flex your knees and hips slightly, stabilizing your torso with your abdominal muscles as you lift your leg to the side, about 6–12 inches from the floor. Use your hip to lift your leg with control. Do 8–10 repetitions and then switch legs.

Biceps Curl

Strengthen the muscles on the front of your upper arms with this move. It also improves grip strength.

Step 1: Stand in a staggered stance and place one handle under the arch of the front foot. Grasp the other handle with the opposite hand and straighten that arm alongside your body.

Step 2: Bend your elbow and bring it toward your chest while keeping your arm close to the side of your body. Perform 12–15 repetitions and then switch feet and arms.

Standing Lateral Side Bend

This exercise works muscles that support your spine.

Step 1: Stand with feet hip-width apart and place one handle under the arch of your left foot. Grab the other handle with your left hand, palm facing in.

Step 2: Lean slightly from the waist to the side opposite the resistance band until you feel muscle tension, then return to the upright standing position. Do 10–12 repetitions, and then switch sides.