The Best Ab Exercises You Can Do With Just a Towel

Add a towel to some of your favorite plank variations for an intense ab workout.
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You don't need fancy gym equipment to get a fantastic ab workout. Anyone with a towel on hand (that should be just about everyone) can work on shredding their abs. Yup, towels can do way more than wipe up your sweat. When used strategically, they can be an effective workout tool that does wonders for your core.


Ready to tone up with your towel? These four towel-only ab exercises from Morit Summers, certified personal trainer and creator of Brooklyn-based training studio Form Fitness, will take your ab routine up a notch.

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These towel exercises are best performed on a smooth surface like a hard floor. Only have carpet? No worries. You can use paper plates beneath your feet instead.

Try This Towel-Only Ab Workout

Do: Three to five rounds of the below exercises. Start with 10 reps for each move. If you don't feel challenged enough, increase your reps to 20.


1. Plank With Leg Abduction

This move incorporates your whole body, elevating it from a core-strengthener to a full-body exercise. Like plank jacks minus the jumping (making it easier on your joints!), this plank abduction requires more controlled muscle movement thanks to the towel that challenges your stability.

  1. Start in a high plank.
  2. With towels under both feet, slowly slide your feet out away from each other as far as you can while maintaining control.
  3. Keep your core tight and squeeze your glutes.
  4. Slide your feet back together.


2. Forearm Plank Body Saw

Though you can perform this move without a towel, adding one enables you to achieve a greater range of motion, which will strengthen your arms and shoulders and fire up the tough-to-target lower abs.

  1. Start in a forearm plank (elbows under shoulders) with a towel beneath the balls of your feet.
  2. Keep your body straight as you slide your feet back and lengthen through your arms, shifting your shoulders behind your elbows.
  3. Without allowing your hips to sag, use your lats and core to pull your feet back into the starting plank position.



Only go as far as your mobility and strength allow. If your form starts to suffer, reduce your range of motion, even if you're only moving a few inches.

3. Reverse Plank Hamstring Curl

This plank variation flips the traditional plank on its head. The reverse position of this plank not only works your abs, but your lower back, glutes and hamstrings, too.

  1. Start in a reverse tabletop with a towel under one or two feet, depending on your strength.
  2. While keeping your chest and glutes up, slowly slide a leg (or both legs) out to full extension.
  3. Use your hamstrings to pull your leg(s) back into the starting position.



4. Side Plank Knee Drive

Using a towel will take your side plank (and your obliques) to the next level. This moving plank progression engages a whole lot of muscles at once, especially supporting and stabilizing muscles that aren't often targeted. So prepare to feel sore!

  1. Start in a side forearm plank.
  2. Stagger your feet with your top leg behind and bottom leg in front.
  3. Place the towel under the bottom foot and glide the knee toward your chest.
  4. Return to start.
  5. Do all your reps on both sides.


Bonus: Sliding Plank Pikes

Were the four moves above just not enough for you? Try plank pikes with your towel for a super challenging move that targets your entire core.

  1. Start in a high plank with a towel under your feet.
  2. Contract your abdominal muscles to raise your hips and slide your feet toward your hands.
  3. Pull your feet forward as far as you can; you'll look like an inverted "V."
  4. Slowly slide your feet back to the start.



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