As part of my new home workout routine, I’ve tried to find ways to incorporate household items into my workouts. Today I want to focus on one item and show you how it can be used to get fit: a simple towel.
You may be thinking that I’ve gone out of my mind, but it is really not the case. You can do some fantastic exercises with a towel.
The idea of using a towel as part of my home workouts came to me from my grandfather. In his youth he was a boxing champion in college and the story is that he did much of his strength training with a towel. He simply didn’t have the necessary funds to train with proper weights.
As my grandfather passed away a few years ago, I couldn’t ask him which exercises he actually performed. I had to experiment and come up with some of my own options.
I found 6 great exercises that you can do with a towel (or a rolled up T-shirt). You’d be surprised, but they can be quite challenging.
One of the main problems with home workouts is training your back. You need either a dumbbell or a pull up bar. In a previous post on exercising without weights, I also talked about how to use a broom stick to train your back, but exercising with a towel is safer.
I’m glad to say that I found three back exercises to do with a towel. The standing row is the first.
To do a standing row you need to grab your towel (or a rolled up t-shirt) with both hands at either end and hold it at the level of your breastbone with outstretched arms before you.
The towel must be stretched as tight as you can. This is crucial. Otherwise the exercise will not be effective. Bend your knees and pull the towel toward your torso in a rowing motion. As long as the towel is held tight, you will feel the tension in your arms and your back.
This is an excellent towel exercise for your upper back and shoulders. To do the pull back you need to grab a towel at either end in an overhand grip. Hold it with outstretched arms above your head. The towel has to be pulled tight.
Slowly pull the towel behind your head until it touches the back of your neck. You will feel the strain in your back and shoulders. Lift it back up above your head. Repeat the motion several times for a complete set.
Overhead Shoulder Raise
This is an excellent shoulder exercise. You begin by grabbing a towel at both ends in an overhand grip. Hold the towel in front of you at shoulder level and keep both of your arms straight. Bend your knees a bit and keep your head straight and your eyes forward.
Slowly, lift the towel above your head. Make sure to keep your arms straight and the towel stretched as tightly as possible. Feel the tension in your arms and shoulders. If this isn’t hard it means that the towel isn’t stretched tightly.
Slowly lower the towel back to the starting position and repeat.
Static Biceps Hold
The starting position is simple: place one end of the towel on the floor and step on it with your right foot. Hold the other end of the towel with your right hand in an underhand grip. Stand straight.
Flex your biceps and curl the towel upward as far as you can. At the point of most resistance, hold the towel for 20 – 30 seconds. Release and repeat. Don’t forget to work both arms equally.
The sitting rows towel exercise is probably the hardest one I teach in this post as it requires you to maintain your balance and to use both your legs and arms. You will need a big towel for this exercise.
You start this exercise by sitting on the floor. Keep your legs straight. Curl a towel over your feet and grab it at either end. Pull the towel tightly toward you. At this point you won’t be able to bend your elbows.
Lift both feet off the floor so that the only part of you which is touching the floor are your buttocks. Pull the towel further back and slowly bend both knees. The resistance comes from your legs. You control how much resistance you create. This makes it a great exercise to build strength with.
This final exercise works the triceps. The way to do it is simple: you grab a towel in one hand and let it dangle down your back so that your arm is bent with your elbow behind your head. The other hand grabs the lower end of the towel and pulls it downward.
You try to extend the upper arm by pulling on the towel with the lower arm serving as resistance. You may need to get a big towel to achieve a longer range of motion.
The next time you feel like doing a workout, don’t rush for the dumbbells. Grab a towel instead and do the 6 exercises I described above. You will need to supplement them with bodyweight or weight lifting exercises for a full body workout, but you’d be surprised how challenging they will feel.