Bored With Bodyweight Moves? Strengthen Your Arms With This 3-Move Workout and a Towel!

POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly
POPSUGAR Photography | Matthew Kelly

Since many of us are having to exercise at home, with minimal equipment and time, certified Pilates instructor Andrea Speir, founder of Speir Pilates, shared this simple home workout to strengthen your arms and shoulders with POPSUGAR — all you need is a hand towel!

Speir said you don't need gym equipment to begin chiseling your upper-body muscles and building strength, because using your own bodyweight is effective for both. By moving your body at different angles with a towel (or paper plates on carpet), you can target various areas, including your shoulders, biceps, triceps, chest, and upper back.

Andrea Speir's Arm Workout Using a Towel

Equipment needed: A small hand towel (or a slider/paper plate if you're training on carpet)

Directions: After warming up with at least five minutes of cardio that involves moving the arms (such as jumping jacks and arm circles), complete the following three exercises three times through, resting one minute between each round. Cool down with these chest and shoulder stretches.

  1. Sliding press out: 30 seconds on each side
  2. Side-sweep push-up: 30 seconds on each leg
  3. Lateral pulldown: eight reps

Sliding Press Out

Image Source: Andrea Speir

Constantly shifting your weight and balance as you slide the towel forward strengthens the entire arm, as well as the postural muscles and core, big time, Speir explained.

  1. Come into a plank position and place the hand towel under the left hand.
  2. Keeping both arms straight, press your left hand forward. Don't go past the point of control — the point where the body can remain in a straight line with the abs engaged.
  3. Draw the arm back in to the starting position to complete one rep.
  4. Complete 30 seconds on each side.

Side-Sweep Push-Up

Image Source: Andrea Speir

Push-ups are fantastic for the arms, core, and upper back. Speir explained that one of the best ways to increase results and challenge the body is by adding imbalance. She said, "By sliding the leg out to the side, we add imbalance, which asks our arms to do some extra credit on this assignment."

  1. Begin in a plank position with a towel under your left foot.
  2. Bend your elbows and lower into a push-up while sweeping your left leg out to the left side. If this is too difficult, perform this exercise while resting your right knee on the floor.
  3. Straighten your arms as you sweep the left leg back to the starting position.
  4. Complete 30 seconds on each leg.

Lateral Pulldown

Image Source: Andrea Speir

This exercise gives you tension as you draw the arms down (imagine you're doing lat pulldowns at the gym). "I love this because you get that nice big opening in the chest and shoulders as well (much needed when we are squinting into Zoom calls all day)," Speir said.

  1. Roll your towel in a long tube and place one end in each hand.
  2. Start standing with your arms straight overhead.
  3. Bend your elbows and draw your arms back behind your head, opening the chest and looking up toward the ceiling.
  4. Press your arms back up toward the ceiling.
  5. Sweep your arms forward and down in front of your hips to complete one rep.
  6. Complete eight reps.