This Full-Body Strength Workout Uses Only a Towel

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Most of us are familiar with the benefits of a regular strength program and why it's so important to add this type of training to your exercise routine. Yet despite recommendations from fitness trainers and urgings from doctors, many people are resistant to give it a try. For some, it's the idea of fumbling through how to use complicated weight machines at the gym that gives them pause. Others find that the expense of purchasing costly dumbbells for a home workout has been an obstacle. Many people find themselves overwhelmed simply by the idea of understanding what kind of equipment you need to effectively target various muscles.  

No matter what your reason may be, the bottom line is that strength training doesn't have to be complicated or scary. In fact, a very simple routine using tools you already have in your home may be just what you need to get started. One of those tools is the towel. Versatile in many ways, a single bath towel can help you challenge muscles in your body from head to toe without ever needing to step foot in a gym. If you're already a regular exerciser, adding strength training to your plan could be the change in routine you've been needing. So head to your bathroom closet, grab a bath or beach towel and let's get started!

For this full-body workout, each exercise should be performed for one to three sets, with eight to 12 repetitions per set. If the exercise alternates sides, be sure to do the full set of reps on each side.

Rear Lunge

Muscles worked: hamstrings, quadriceps, glutes

Stand tall and place the towel under the right foot. Push the right foot back slightly so that you're on the ball of your foot. As your left knee bends into the lunge position (about 90 degrees), slide the right leg back, keeping the leg straight without locking the knee. As the left knee returns to a straightened position, the right leg slides back in to complete one rep.


Back Pull

Muscles worked: upper back, shoulders, biceps

Stand tall and grip the ends of the towel at chest level in front of the body. Hands should be shoulder-width apart with elbows bent at 90-degree angles. Raise your arms above your head and pull down, bending your elbows and bringing the towel down behind your upper back. Straighten your arms back above the head to complete one rep. Make sure you don't lean forward or tuck your chin, and keep the back straight throughout the movement.


Hamstring Curl

Muscles worked: hamstrings

Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Place the folded towel under both feet and bring your hips up high into a bridge position. Slide the feet out until the legs are almost straight and knees aren't locked, then slide back in to the starting position to complete one rep. Your hips and glutes should remain lifted through the entire exercise.


Alternating Knee Tucks

Muscles worked: abs, quadriceps, lower back

Start in a plank position with the towel under both feet. Pull the feet in toward the chest at an angle to the outside of your right elbow. Return to the starting position to complete one rep. Then pull the feet in toward the outside of the left elbow, alternating sides. Maintain good form during the plank with hips in line with the shoulders and the spine in a neutral position.  


Chest Press

Muscles worked: chest, shoulders, triceps

Stand tall and grip the ends of the towel at chest level in front of the body. Hands should be shoulder-width apart with elbows bent at 90 degrees. Slowly push the towel away from the body with one arm while pulling in with the other arm at the same time. Return to the starting position to complete one rep.


Biceps Curl

Muscles worked: biceps

Stand tall and grip the ends of the towel in each hand, looping the towel behind one leg just above the knee. Keep your elbows in close to the body and pull the leg up until the knee is at 90 degrees. This is your starting position. Pull the knee up as close to the body as possible while curling the lower arm. Lower down until the knee is back at 90 degrees again to complete one rep. This is the same motion as a traditional bicep curl, but uses the leg as resistance.


Figure Eights

Muscles worked: obliques, lower back, shoulders

Sit tall with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Grip the ends of the towel overhead and brace your abs tight as you lean back slightly. As you're leaning back, drop the towel down to the right side of the body, tracing a figure eight from the back of the body to the front. Sit tall again as you bring the towel overhead to complete one rep. This should feel like a rowing motion, moving from one side to the other.


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ZRIE014 4/12/2019
very helpful Report
DWROBERGE 4/11/2019
Great ideas Report
MOONDRAGON30 4/11/2019
Thanks for the article. Report
ARNETTELEE 4/11/2019
thanks Report
BGRAEF 4/11/2019
Great exercises, especially since we live no where near a gym. Report
MARKSMOM3 4/11/2019
Great ideas! Report
EVIE4NOW 4/11/2019
terrific Report
BONDMANUS2002 4/11/2019
Absolutely great Report
GABY1948 4/11/2019
Thanks Report
GABY1948 4/11/2019
Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
KHALIA2 4/11/2019
Great info! Thanks! Report
SXB990 4/11/2019
Great article Report
JANIEWWJD 4/11/2019
Awesome workout!!!! Report
Awesome Thanks Report
DWROBERGE 4/11/2019
amazing article Report
DRAGONFLY631 4/2/2019
Thanks Report
KHALIA2 3/28/2019
Thanks! Report
LEANJEAN6 1/27/2019
amazing what a towel can do! Report
I do several of these already, good reminder to add some of the others! Report
Thanks Report
Thanks for the suggestions. I never thought about doing them like you suggested. Report
Thanks for the workout tip!! I'll introduce a towel to my other "Home" workout inventory! Report
These are great exercises. My sports medicine Dr. recommends very similar exercises Report
I want to try these. Thanks for the article.
I want to try these. Thanks for the article.
These are good suggestions. I am going on vacation soon and can do this where we will be staying. Using a towel is an awesome idea. Report
Thanks for this! I've copied and pasted to my email--so I can actually do these next time I'm doing a home workout. I checked out several of the links and they look like really good variations to add to my regular bodyshaping routine. I love finding new ways to work a muscle group! It's neat for me that you've used "outside" sources, too. Report
It would have been handier if all of the exercises were in one article, but I printed off the Good Housekeeping article "At-Home Workout: 30 Minutes to Slim" that includes a few with a towel and others with a small ball. Thanks. Report
I would have liked this article better if the listed exercises were all available on Spark. It wasn't user friendly having to go to other sites to see the exercises. Report
Looks like for most of these you need a non-carpeted surface. That counts me out! Darn! I was looking forward to doing these too! Report
Wow, I never knew there were so much things that you can do with a towel. I will be sure to try all of these. Thanks!!! Report
Since I sit at a desk all day, I do believe I'll try a few of these... Report
Could always use more ankle strengtheners! THANKS! Report
I certainly am going to try these, I could use some simple exercises to build up my shoulder and arm muscles. Thanks for sharing. Report
Sounds like exercises that Jack LaLanne would have taught, no fancy equipment or drive to a gym. LOL Report
For a change,I like doing the Isometric Shoulder and Bicep Hold. Thank you sharing other ways to use a towel. Good article. Report
I've heard of isometrics, but I've never really considered trying any. This is a great suggestion, especially since my finances at the moment won't allow for purchasing any exercise equipment! Report
Thanks for sharing what a great thing for a vaca! When you have little or no equipment! Report
Thanks for the compilation of towel exercises Report
Wow.......lots you can do with a towel Report
These are good exercises.I am going to try them. Report
Yes, we do some of these in boot camp. Very challenging and definitely works the targeted area. Thanks for the list - I plan to try those that I haven't done. Report
Creative use of a common object and Certainly shows a low tech, lost cost way to exercise. Report
Sounds fun! Thank you for sharing. Report
No, but willing to give it a try. Sound like a good cross training when I can't get to the gym. Always nice to have more tools in the bag anyway.

Thanks Report
Sound like good exercises. I will try to incorporate them into my walking/exercise routine tomorrow. Report
I would like to see a SparkPeople workout - ON CARPET - using towels, rather than chasing off to all these other websites with their wanna-be workout pages that are not anywhere as nice and clear as the ones on SparkPeople. The sliding ones on the ground look like fun but my house is 95% carpeted and there isn't enough room on the kitchen to do the exercises (though it might be an interesting way to mop the floor at the same time.).

I've seen similar towel exercises on the 3Angels Broadcasting online network (Seventh Day Adventist) but I'm not always up at 6 am to catch it online and I've not been able to figure out how to get a particular episode on demand. But they had quite a few towel exercises for the arms, waist and legs that didn't involve sliding on a smooth floor surface. Report
Thanks for sharing some different ways to get the exercise we all need. Report