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Gym-free exercises you can do at home

Updated May 11, 2017

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato said “Necessity is the mother of invention.” When it comes to fitness, I couldn’t agree more. As someone who travels a lot for business, I frequently find myself needing a workout but having only minimal equipment and space available It’s forced me to get creative and concoct equipment-free workouts that only use what’s readily available in any hotel room or bedroom. The following five-exercise circuit –which requires only a towel– will tone and tighten your arms, abs, and hips.

Perform each exercise in the order listed. Work in one of the following three intervals, depending on your current fitness level. Level I (Beginner): 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest for each move. Do 4 total cycles for a 20-minute workout. Level II (Intermediate): 45 seconds of work and 15 seconds of rest for each move. Do 5 total cycles for a 25-minute workout. Level III (Advanced): 50 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for each move. Do 6 total cycles for a 30-minute workout.

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1. Towel push-up hold (starting position)

Start on all fours and wrap an extra-large beach towel around your trunk and underneath your armpits with your hands clenching the ends of the towel. Then lie on your belly.

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1. Towel push-up hold (ending position)

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.

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2. Towel split squat bicep curl (starting position)

Start in a split stance 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 will be pushing up through your front heel as your lower body is creating smooth and steady resistance for your upper body without stalling the descent.

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2. Towel split squat bicep curl (ending position)

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.

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3. Towel hip extension hold (starting position)

Lie on your back, bend your knees at 90-degree angles so your heels are just underneath your knees, and wrap a towel around your hips.

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Towel hip extension hold (ending position)

Tighten your abs and drive through your heels, raising your hips until you form a straight line from your head to your knees. Hold for time. Use your arms to pull down, creating as much tension as you can for your glutes. Fight to maintain full hip extension without moving at your lower back.

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4. Towel see-saw push-pull (starting position)

Start by holding a taut towel at chest level with your hands shoulder-width apart and elbows flexed at 90-degree angles. Then simultaneously push with your right arm until it’s fully extended (like a chest press) while pulling with your left arm until your hand reaches armpit level (like a row). Pause for a count.

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4. Towel see-saw push-pull (ending position)

Reverse the movement by pushing with your left arm and pulling with your right. Do not allow any slack in the towel throughout the movement. See-saw your arms back-and-forth for time. Make sure to keep your hips and shoulders square throughout the movement by driving your heels into the ground, tightening your abs and glutes, and pulling your shoulders down and back.

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5. Towel swipers (starting position)

Start by assuming a split stance with your right leg forward and heel loaded while firmly holding a taut towel at chest level.

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5. Towel swipers (ending position)

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.

Related: Train your entire body with 1 weight

About the author: BJ Gaddour

BJ Gaddour, CSCS, is a metabolic training expert and the CEO of www.StreamFIT.com. StreamFIT provides unlimited streaming follow-along workouts available anytime, anywhere on any device with internet access. He is also the creator of HeartRate Hotel, the all-new 12-DVD travel fitness system for busy professionals looking to burn fat within the privacy of their own hotel room.

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