Skip to Content

Using a Towel as a Workout Prop: Towel Exercises for a Strong and Flexible Body

Have you ever tried towel exercises?

To become more firm and flexible, these exercises and stretches can be done using a simple hand towel.

I’ve included a video lower within this article to show what each of the towel exercises looks like in action.

Why We Need Props and Towel Exercises

Using props during a workout can often be helpful. Among my favorite props to use while exercising are hand towels, rectangular blocks, and split-roller blocks.

People with a genetic propensity for flexibility – usually young people who are super bendy – don’t need props.

But for those of us over the age of 50, we sometimes get stiff, and a block helps by bringing the floor closer to our bodies, or a towel helps by extending the length of our arms or legs.

Try These Towel Exercises

These 7 exercises will help your body become stronger and more supple.

The Danda

The Sanskrit name for this towel exercise is Dandayamana Janushirasana, but it’s also referred to as Standing Head to Knee Pose. It stretches the hamstring of the elevated leg while developing strength in the supporting leg. It also enhances balance and core development. Place the towel around the foot of your elevated leg and hold the pose for 1 minute. If you’re super bendy you can do it without a towel and just use your hands on your feet instead.

The Pike

The pike uses a towel underneath the balls of your feet. Facing the floor in a plank position, you then pull your feet toward your face bending at the waist. The towel helps to create a sliding effect along the floor during the pike movement. Initiate the movement from the contraction of your lower abdominal plate located above your pubic bone and below your navel. Exhale at the point of maximum exertion. To protect my wrists, I try not to let my shoulders travel forward beyond my fingers.

 

Pin this article to look at again later:

Dane Findley prepares for towel exercises in home gym.

Behind-the-Back Tricep Stretch

It’s the subtleties of this towel exercise that make it so effective. Avoid arching your back. Keep your pelvis centered. Keep your shoulders pressed down away from your ears. Knees slightly soft. Slowly use the towel to move your top hand down closer to your bottom hand, as you climb your bottom hand up toward your top hand. Meanwhile, keep pressing the top elbow back, back, back behind your head.

Locust

Again, if you’re young and bendy, you can probably reach your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. But if you’re over the age of 50 – particularly if you happen to be a man who has some muscular development in his torso – the towel will help you reach a full extension so that you can open up those tight shoulders and pectorals. I encourage you to keep mating your pelvis into the floor while doing this towel exercise so that your back doesn’t over-arch.

Floor Hamstring Stretch

If you sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, you can probably reach out with your hands and grab your feet, particularly if you round your back and rest your face on your knees. However, it can be interesting to do this stretch while keeping your head up, chest out, and back tall. And for that variation, you might a towel helpful.

Bridge

Technically, you don’t need a towel to do a simple bridge posture. However, if you really want to roll those shoulders back underneath you – so that you get a deep stretch in your pecs and deltoids – then a towel can be very helpful. Hold this pose for a full minute while breathing slowly and you’ll not only improve your posture but firm your glutes, too.

 
 

Bent Over Pose

In yoga, this is called a Standing Separate Leg Stretching Posture. Basically, you just separate your legs wide and then bend over at the waist. If you want a deep stretch in your hamstrings, keep your legs straight. But the real genius of this posture is how it improves the mobility of your anterior deltoids (an area that can otherwise get a bit slouchy). Maybe you can interlace your fingers behind your back and if so, that’s great. But for the rest of us mere mortals, a towel helps make the stretch possible.

Because this short workout contains a lot of backbends, be sure to finish up your session by entering gently into a 1-minute prayer pose, followed by a 2-minute Shavasana (“corpse” pose).

Use Common Sense during Towel Exercises

I encourage you to get approval from your own medical doctor before attempting towel exercises or making any significant changes to your nutrition or fitness habits.

Whenever I’m attempting a new workout or maneuver, my intention is to proceed cautiously with slow movement, mindful breathing, and impeccable technique. This helps to reduce the risk of injury and downtime.