The Greek philosopher Plato said, "Necessity is the mother of invention." If you find yourself stuck at home — either by choice or circumstances — with a little creativity, you can still work up a sweat with minimal equipment and space.
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The following five-exercise circuit will tone and tighten your arms, abs and hips without the need for any fancy gear. The best part? This gym-free workout can be done from the comfort of your bedroom (or hotel room). The only thing you'll need is a towel!
Do: each exercise in the order listed. Work in one of the following three intervals, depending on your current fitness level.
- Level 1 (Beginner): 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest for each move. Do 4 total rounds for a 20-minute workout.
- Level 2 (Intermediate): 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest for each move. Do 5 total rounds for a 25-minute workout.
- Level 3 (Advanced): 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for each move. Do 6 total rounds for a 30-minute workout.
Read more: The 20-Minute Hotel-Room Workout
1. Towel Push-Up Hold
- Start on all fours and wrap a beach towel around your back and underneath your armpits with your hands holding the ends of the towel.
- Lie on your belly. Assume a push-up position in the mid- to bottom-half of the range of motion by pressing up against the towel as hard as you can. The lower you go, the harder you'll work.
- Hold for four seconds, briefly pause and relax, and repeat for time.
Make sure to really tighten your abs and glutes and cue your chest to make your body as flat as a diving board throughout each isometric hold.
2. Towel Split Squat With Biceps Curl
- Start in a split stance (one foot a few feet in front of the other) and place your right foot on the middle of a towel. Grab the ends of the towel with your hands. The towel must be taut to provide the needed resistance.
- Use your arms to pull your hips down until your back knee is just above the floor and pause for a count. You'll be pushing up through your front heel as your lower body is creating resistance for your upper body without stalling the descent.
- Slowly reverse the movement, this time using your arms to resist the ascent created by the force of your legs.
- Repeat for time and switch sides at the halfway mark.
Make sure to stay tall, load your front heel, and keep your knee and ankle aligned throughout the movement.
3. Towel Hip Extension Hold
- Lie on your back, bend your knees at 90-degree angles so your heels are just underneath your knees and close to your butt. Wrap a towel around your hips.
- Tighten your abs and drive through your left heel, raising your hips and lifting your right foot off the floor.
- Hold for a count, then use your arms to pull down, creating as much tension as you can for your glutes.
- Repeat for time, switching legs halfway through.
Fight to maintain full hip extension without moving at your lower back.
4. Towel Renegade Row
- Start in a high plank, holding a towel taut at chest level between your hands.
- Lower down into a push-up, lowering your chest as close to the ground as you can.
- Press back up, then pull the towel with your left arm until your hand reaches your armpit.
- Pause for a count.
- Come back down into a push-up, and as you come up again, switch sides.
Don't allow any slack in the towel throughout the movement. Make sure to keep your hips and shoulders square throughout the movement by driving the balls of your feet into the ground, tightening your abs and glutes and pulling your shoulders down and back.
5. Towel Swipers
- Assume a split stance with your right leg forward and heel loaded while firmly holding a taut towel at chest level.
- Pivot your feet and rotate your hips 180 degrees to your left as you swipe the towel across your body until your left leg is forward and hold for a count.
- Then reverse the movement and repeat for time.
Keep your belly button forward at all times so you are rotating at your hips and not your lower back. You’ll also need to work hard to decelerate the force of your arms upon each swipe to prevent over-rotation.