As ridiculous as it sounds, I completely wore myself out this weekend by performing a series of exercises that I found on YouTube using a single medium-sized towel. If you're looking for a simple exercise routine you can do almost anywhere, that requires very little time and basically no equipment, you'll want to give this a try.
I'm always a little wary of online exercise suggestions and the hyperbolic claims that seem to inevitably come with the territory, so I'd long ignored the INSANE (yet simple) workout plans that promised everything short of world peace and true happiness with nothing but a towel. But like most people I'm wrong a lot, so I decided to get over my scepticism and try a few exercises/workout plans that require only you, a towel (or a t-shirt) and some serious stamina. I found that what seemed pretty ridiculous actually proved to be a very difficult and effective workout.
A Simple Starter Routine with Towel Resistance Exercises
Ignoring the excessive name, this "insane home fat loss" routine was my favourite -- and by favourite I mean it was surprisingly difficult and effective despite appearing like one of the easiest workouts I've ever seen. These exercises work because they use your own strength against you. That means you have to rely on yourself to make the workout difficult, otherwise you'll just be lifting a towel into the air while you look like you're fighting a particularly stubborn moment of constipation. (You'll look like this regardless, but if you're getting a good workout from it -- in the privacy of your own home -- you'll be too tired and impressed to think it's silly.) What's also great about using your own strength against you is that these exercises will get harder as you grow stronger. This routine utilises a few techniques that involve pulling on the towel to create a natural resistance, and then using that already difficult action in motion to work your muscles even harder. You're supposed to do the routine in this video three times in a row with very short periods of rest. Even if you're in shape you may be surprised at how difficult that can be.
Towel Sliding Exercises for Your Whole Body
In this video, fitness trainer Jerome Fisherman demonstrates a variety of towel-based exercises, including the side slide squat, towel abdominal slide, and one-handed and two-handed pushup slide. The other exercises require a pull-up bar, but even neglecting them you get a pretty comprehensive workout with the four that do not. While the previous video focused on using the towel to create resistance, these sliding exercises force you to stabilise yourself on a slippery environment (which means you can't really do them on a carpeted floor). Creating the need for balance is great for your core, and when you have to balance yourself these otherwise simple exercises become pretty hard. While the routine above is pretty great, you don't want to do the same thing every time you work out. Swapping in these towel sliding exercises here and there is a good way to break up the monotony and target additional muscle groups.
Expanding Your Towel Routine
Those two videos are just a couple of examples of surprisingly effective ways you can work out with a towel, but there lots more. If you want to explore a few other options, check out these towel stretches (these too) and this 10-minute towel torture workout. Again, none of these exercises are particularly easy (if you do them correctly), but they don't take very long and you can feel the muscles they worked immediately afterwards.
For more exercises you can do without equipment, check out our guide to getting fit with nothing but your body.