The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Exercises for Anywhere for the Chest using a Towel

Written by
Michael Harper, MEd
Posted in
Fit Tips

Tuesday, Dec 15, 2015

Finding ways to incorporate exercises wherever you are can often mean just knowing how to use the tools around you. A towel, or even a thick piece of paper, are not traditionally thought of as exercise tools. However, these can be all you need to make traditional bodyweight exercises such as push-ups or body squats more dynamic! During times like the holidays, travel, or periods of overtime work when making it the gym can be more difficult, these exercises may help to keep you on track and challenged in your workout. A towel can easily be used on a smooth surface like a gym floor or tile; a thick sheet of paper works great on carpet; and even a Frisbee can be used outside on grass. One arm sliding push-ups or sliding push-up chest flys are great options to try with the aforementioned equipment.

To perform:

Preparation: Lying on the stomach on a smooth surface such as a gymnasium floor or a tiled surface, place a folded towel under each hand. Position your hands so that they are slightly outside the width of your shoulders with your fingers pointed forward. Rise up onto your hands and your toes into a push-up position. Maintain neutral spinal with the head and neck aligned.  Abdominals are contracted.

One Arm Sliding Push-up

Movement: Bend one arm and at the same time, laterally extend or “slide” the other arm out to the side while keeping the elbow at a soft extension, lowering the body toward the floor until there is about a 90-degree angle in the elbow that is bending. Pause and then extend the elbow of the bent arm while pulling the other arm back in to the starting hand position, raising the body up. Repeat, alternating arm positions.

Sliding Push-up Chest Fly

Movement: While keeping both elbows at a soft extension, laterally slide the arms out to the side, lowering the body down toward the floor. Next, horizontally adduct the shoulders by pulling the hands back toward the center to lift the body back up to the starting position.

Tips: The sliding push-up chest fly is an advanced version of the one-arm sliding push-up. Only lower as far as you feel comfortable. The further you extend the arms out and lower the body, the more challenging the exercise, so modify accordingly.

Modifications: Perform the same movements as above, but begin on the knees in a modified push-up position, ensuring neutral spine prior to the movement. When performing on the toes, the feet can be placed wider to offer a greater base of support.

Note: Be sure to perform on both sides of the body and consider trying each exercise in the modified position until you feel comfortable with the exercise to ensure good form throughout the movement.