All You Need Is a Dish Towel For This Full-Body Workout

You don't need to own a treadmill — let alone a single set of dumbbells — to sweat it out at home. In fact, the only piece of equipment you need for this full-body toning workout is a dish towel.

"A towel is an excellent prop for at-home workouts because you can create tension with it by pulling it apart between your two hands," Emily Diers, an NASM-certified personal trainer, professional dancer, and founder of bodycraft, explains.

"This is a great way to create resistance to tone the upper body. By pulling it apart and then moving in various planes, we can work the biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest muscles, and obliques," Diers continues.

You can use the makeshift fitness prop to work in some cardio and target your lower body, too.

Diers also explains that the towel adapts to many different fitness levels. "The stronger you are, the more tension you can create by pulling. So, it's also a good option for advanced lifters at home who don't have access to weights. The tension increases as the person's own strength increases."

Feel the burn for yourself by following Diers's 20-minute full-body toning workout, below.

Perform moves 1-13 with the right (R) side of your body, and then repeat the full series with the left (L) side of your body.

Note: For moves 1-5, Diers says it's very important to hold the towel taut.

1. Grand Plié With Biceps Curl

  • Come to a second position, feet wider than hips and turned out.
  • Hold the towel in front of your body, underhand, and pull it tight between the fists.
  • Bend the knees and sit into a deep grand plié as you bend your elbows and curl the towel toward your chest.
  • Straighten arms and legs together.
  • Perform 25 reps.

2. Squat to Reverse Lunge

  • Stand upright and hold the towel overhead between your hands.
  • Sit hips back into a squat and pull the towel behind your head, widening the elbows.
  • Reach the towel overhead and forward with straight arms, chest level, as you step your left foot back into a reverse lunge.
  • As you return to the squat, lift the towel up and behind your head.
  • Go between these two shapes — squat and lunge — without ever straightening your legs, and always step back with the same leg.
  • Perform 25 reps.

3. Cross Jack With Press

  • Hold the towel between two hands at chest height with elbows close to ribs.
  • Jump feet open into a jack as you press the towel overhead, keeping the towel tight.
  • Pull the towel down as you cross one foot in front of the other.
  • Alternate which leg crosses front.
  • Perform 30 reps.

4. Arabesque Chest Opener

  • Hold the towel between your two hands in front of your body at chest height.
  • Lunge your right foot forward and left foot back — both legs could be bent.
  • Drive your left knee forward in a high knee as you pull the towel toward your chest, elbows bending wide.
  • Press the towel forward as you extend your left leg back to arabesque, or into the air behind you.
  • Regression: Bring your left knee forward in the air, and then return to the lunge as you press the towel forward. In other words, going from a lunge to a high knee.
  • Perform 25 reps.

5. Side Bend Lift

  • Hold towel overhead and tight between two hands.
  • Lift your right knee to the side, keeping the outer thigh facing the ceiling as you bend to the right and pull your right elbow toward the hip.
  • Touch your right foot back to the floor, with arms straight up.
  • Perform 25 reps.

6. Plank Swipe

  • In a plank on your hands, put the towel under your right foot.
  • Keep your right leg straight and swipe it sideways on the floor toward your right hand.
  • Come back to plank and bring your right knee into chest.
  • Use the towel to slide your foot along the floor.
  • Perform 20 reps.

7. Donkey Kick Tap

  • Come to all fours and hold the towel in your right hand.
  • Lift your right knee to the side in a hydrant and tap your right hand to the knee.
  • Reach your right hand (holding towel) forward as you extend your right leg back in arabesque.
  • Bend your knee, bring your hand and knee together, and lengthen.
  • Perform 30 reps.

8. Rond de Jambe

  • Come to all fours and drop your left elbow.
  • Hang the towel around your right ankle.
  • Extend your right leg straight back in arabesque and swing it to the side, keeping your leg straight and lifted off the floor.
  • Return to arabesque, but don't let the towel fall!
  • Perform 30 reps.

9. Glute Pulse

  • Squeeze the towel behind your right knee and bend your right knee at 90 degrees behind your body.
  • Drop to your elbows.
  • Keep squeezing the towel and pulse your right heel to the ceiling.
  • Perform 30 reps.

10. Knee Squeeze to Hydrant

  • Come to all fours and squeeze the towel behind your right knee.
  • Tuck your right knee behind your left knee and squeeze the inner thighs.
  • Lift your right knee side to a hydrant, and return to squeezing behind your left knee.
  • Perform 30 reps.

11. Sit-Up Kick

  • Lie on your back, holding the towel overhead and your arms straight.
  • Roll up to sit, reaching the towel forward as you extend your right leg.
  • Towel will reach toward your right foot or shin.
  • Perform 10 reps straight up. Perform 10 reps twisting the towel to the right, outside the leg.

12. Rocking Horse

  • Stand up and put the towel horizontal on the ground.
  • Jump over the towel forward with your right leg and jump back with your left leg.
  • Front to back is one rep. Perform 20 reps.

13. Ski Jumps

  • Stand up and put the towel vertical on the ground.
  • Jump side to side over the towel, keeping your legs together.
  • Right to left is one rep. Perform 20 reps.

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