Train With an Exercise Mat to Get Stronger

These nine exercises, using only a yoga mat or a long towel, will build your strength for better athletic performance.

Since fall sports are upon us, fitting in weight room work won't be easy. When time for exercise is limited, busy student-athletes must make the most of their workouts without wasting time changing plates or waiting for equipment. But athletes can still perform quick, efficient full-body conditioning workouts with only an ordinary exercise mat or long towel.

Below is a creative, intense, fast-paced and  endurance-building workout that can be completed in under 30 minutes (including a dynamic warm-up and cool-down static stretches.) The workout includes challenging movements that test balance, endurance, core strength and upper- and lower-body strength. Perhaps best of all, the workout can be done pretty much anywhere.

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  • Perform a dynamic upper- and lower-body warm-up (e.g., Arm Circles and Lunges.)
  • Finish with cool-down upper- and lower-body static stretches for greater flexibility and range of motion.
  • Hydrate before, during and after the workout.
  • Perform the workout on non-consecutive days for adequate recovery.
  • Sets: 1 per exercise.
  • Rest: 15-30 seconds between exercises (hydrate after a few exercises).


Single-Leg Squat and Overhead Press

  • Roll up the mat and hold it horizontally at shoulder level while standing on one leg.
  • Perform a Single-Leg Squat and simultaneously press the mat overhead.
  • Return to start position.
  • Repeat 9 more times and, without rest, repeat with other leg.

Single-Leg Bent-Over Rows

  • Hold the rolled-up mat vertically with your arms extended below the waist while standing on your left leg and holding your right foot off the floor.
  • Bend over slightly, bend your left leg and pull the mat toward your waist while squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Pause one second and return to start position.
  • Do 10 reps on each leg.

Side Lunges and Twists

  • Hold the rolled-up mat vertically with your arms extended at chest level.
  • Assume the athletic position.
  • Lunge laterally to the right while simultaneously rotating your torso and the mat to the right.
  • Drag your right foot back to start position and repeat for 9 more reps.
  • Without rest, do 10 Side Lunges and Twists to the left.

Boot Camp Crawls

  • Unfold the mat and place it on ground.
  • Assume the prone plank position on the back edge of your mat with your forearms on the mat about shoulder-width apart.
  • Start your crawl by moving your right forearm diagonally forward and your right foot forward, then your left forearm/left foot forward, and so on.
  • Alternate the crawl movement to the front edge of your mat, then reverse the movement to return to starting position.
  • Without rest, repeat 4 more times forward and back.

Lateral Jumps With Both Feet Over Mat

  • Assume an athletic stance beside the left center section of your mat.
  • With your arms extended overhead, jump over the mat to the right.
  • Continue jumping back and forth from one side to the other for 30 seconds without pausing.

Lateral Hops With One Foot Over Mat

  • Hop on your left foot from one side of the mat to the other and back.
  • Repeat for 15 seconds.
  • Without rest, repeat Lateral Hops on your right foot.

Alternate Push-Up and Prone Plank

  • Assume the push-up position on the mat with your hands shoulder-width apart, back straight.
  • Without your knees touching the mat, immediately go on your forearms to a prone plank position.
  • Continue alternating from push-up to prone plank position for 30 seconds.

Burpees and Jog in Place Superset

  • Start on the mat in push-up position.
  • Perform 10 Burpees.
  • Stand up and hold the mat upright with both hands at shoulder level.
  • Jog in place for 30 seconds.

Single-Leg Mat Rollups

  • Hold the mat open with your arms extended at shoulder level while standing on a slightly-bent left leg and holding your right foot off floor.
  • Gradually roll up the mat with your hands.
  • Switch to standing on your right leg with your left foot off the floor.
  • Unroll the mat to start position.

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