Grab a Towel for This 5-Move, Full-Body Workout

By , Kristin Vallacher, Programming Director and Coach at The Phoenix Effect
There is a rumor going around that getting fit has to cost an arm and a leg. Between expensive boutique studios, top-notch athleisure brands and new, enticing tech gear and equipment that you just have to have, you can easily spend hundreds on creating the perfect pricey workout routine—but that's not your only option.
 
Our ancestors survived without top-of-the-line treadmills and stationary bikes, so why can't we? Truth be told, all you really need is your own bodyweight, a towel and a little determination to make all your fitness dreams come true. Using a towel as a piece of equipment in these five moves can both increase the intensity of moves you already know and love, while effectively challenging muscle groups that you can't hit with bodyweight alone.
 
Adding a towel means adding versatility to your workout. When holding the towel isometrically, you add tension, thereby enhancing isometric strength in the thoracic spine (mid-back) which is an important, but often neglected, muscle group. Using the towel to slide also allows you to engage the core throughout the duration of the movement, once again improving your isometric strength and stability.  
  

1. Forward Lunge With a Twist
 

In addition to the benefit of lunges, which strengthen each set of glutes and quads at the same time so as to remove any asymmetry not necessarily visible in squats, the added twist component requires both internal and external oblique muscles, helping the athlete build and maintain strong hips and abs.
 
 
Step your right foot forward, bending the front and back knee to 90 degrees and keeping the ankle directly over top of the ankle. While "tearing apart" the towel and holding it in front of the chest, twist over the front knee. Keep tension on the towel throughout the entirety of the movement for maximum benefit. Repeat on the other side, completing eight to 12 repetitions total.
 
2. Plank With Single-Sand "Compass"
 
In this dynamic move, you must not only hold an asymmetrical plank and therefore reaps associated benefits, but you must also utilize the shoulder complex in multiple directions.  Moving in all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal and transverse) is paramount for any sport—including weight lifting—as well as moving the way the human body was designed.
 
 
To begin, assume the plank position with the towel under one hand and the other directly under the shoulder. Use one hand at a time to draw the coordinates North, South, East and West while balancing on the other arm and legs. Keep your core tight throughout the movement. Aim for five reps to begin.
 
3. Plank With Alternating Slide-Out
 
Much like the above exercise, the plank with alternating slide-out requires the entirety of the core (transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, external and internal obliques), in addition to the adductors and glutes. Due to the alternating pattern, the athlete is able to isolate one side at a time so as to draw attention to any asymmetry in the body.
 
You will need two small towels to perform this move. Assume a standard plank to begin, ensuring the shoulders are over the hands and a towel is underneath each foot. Slide your right foot out to the side, making sure not to raise or lower the hips, or to invert or evert either foot. Switch sides until you've completed a total of eight to 12 repetitions.
 
4. Single-Leg Deadlift
 
The deadlift is a weightlifting favorite and with this modified move, you'll quickly see why.
 
 
Hold the towel with tension in front of your hips as you balance on one foot. Keeping your back straight, hinge from the hips, utilizing the entire core, hamstrings and mid-back as you reach toward the floor. Use the strength in your hamstrings to bring yourself back to an upright position. Try five reps to start, then switch sides. If you cannot balance, stay on both feet.
 
5. Single-Leg Underhand Row
 
This balance challenge is a great way to work your arms when you don't have dumbbells nearby.
 
 
Balance on one leg while holding the towel underneath the bent knee of the other foot. With the thumbs pointed to the sky, use the mid-back and biceps to pull, or row, the towel toward the torso. The glutes, hamstrings and core, in the meantime, must stay engaged so as to maintain the single-leg balance. Stand up against a wall if balance is an issue here. Perform eight to 12 rows, then switch legs.

Which home items do you use to exercise? Have you tried this towel workout? 

About the Author

Kristin Vallacher is a personal trainer, coach and programming director at The Phoenix Effect. She is originally from Boca Raton, Florida. 

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Comments

REDROBIN47 7/23/2018
This would be a good routine when traveling Report
ROSSYFLOSSY 7/23/2018
Awesome work out you can do anywhere! Report
RO2BENT 7/23/2018
It doesn’t have to be complicated in order to be effective Report
CHERYLHURT 4/10/2018
Excellent Report
DEE107 4/7/2018
thanks I do have straps from therapy I use Report
KHALIA2 3/25/2018
We use straps in our exercises. Thanks for sharing! Report
KATONTHEMAT 11/5/2017
Awesome travel workout Report
SHANTRA7 10/27/2017
Yes indeed !!! Report
SUSANBEAMON 10/17/2017
I'm not so sure about the slip sliding with the towel thing. Seen like a great way to fall. Report
ARTJAC 10/15/2017
GREAT Report
PLATINUM755 10/13/2017
A new use for a towel...GREAT! Report
KATHYJO56 10/13/2017
These are great. My sports medicine doctor taught my husband and I these. Report
DJ4HEALTH 10/9/2017
Good ideas! Report
ERICALEAHA 10/9/2017
Great ideas Report
LEANJEAN6 10/9/2017
I do love the pictures Report
COFFEEMUG2009 10/4/2017
GREAT! Report
AMBER461 9/30/2017
Very good advice that can be used daily. Report
DIANEDOESSMILES 9/26/2017
I cant do a plank (in a cast, but even without it it's a NOT GO) BUT!! I CAN do the others and think of many other stretches this WILL come in handy! TY for the ideas! Report
EMARIE00 9/20/2017
Great advice that will be used! Report
IRONADONIS 9/20/2017
Great article Report
MOVE2LOSE624 9/20/2017
Who knew a towel could be so useful to get ripped! Report
CHANGEHASTOCOME 9/19/2017
great info Report
ZRIE014 9/19/2017
helpful Report
MEDIC1706 9/18/2017
great way to work out while at work ..lol Report
This would also make a good travel workout--hotels always have towels. :) Report
They used to show these on tv in the 1970's, handy if you are traveling! Report
great alternative exercises Report
ASHLEY_HOOPER
this looks like a good one to try Report
I will try these for sure Report
Thanks Report
No gym needed. Report
good stuff Report
ZRIE014
helpful Report
Some new options Report
GKNIGHT69
Good workout for home or hotel room! Report
Thank you! Great article! Report
EMARIE00
Great workout! Report
Great new options Report
It seems surprising easy yet it works out all muscle groups. Thank you. Report
thanks Report
Thanks for the great exercises! :) Report
Seems doable. Report
Will save this for later, looks good! Report
DMEYER4
great exercises Report
Something new. Report
Something new to try. Report
using the towel really helps
thanks Report
Interesting Report
New things! Report
 
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