Welcome back to my series on effective exercises that are easy to do with little or no equipment. While taking a break, my wife and I did some traveling (more on that later), and in the bag I checked I included a TRX Suspension Trainer. The TRX is one of the most versatile and useful pieces of equipment to come along in the last twenty years. It travels easily and can be used anyplace in the world that has a solid doorframe or other sturdy attachment point. (And it's a whole lot lighter in the old suitcase than a set of dumbbells!) Therefore, for the final installment in the series, our focus will be on two TRX arm exercises: the arm curl and arm extension.
Attach your TRX securely to a doorframe and grasp the handles with palms facing down and your back to the door (as seen above). Your arms should be straight ahead and parallel to the floor, elbows extended.
Next, slowly flex your elbows as you lean your forward, allowing your heels to rise slightly from the floor. Keep your elbows in; don't let them push out to the sides. Then extend the arms again, using the triceps to push your body back toward the start position; feel your heels settle back to the floor. Keep your abdominals engaged the entire time; your body should be like a plank.
To work the antagonistic elbow flexors, led by the biceps brachii, simply turn and face the doorframe and switch to a palms-up grip.
Keep your elbows raised as you flex them, using your biceps to pull you toward the door. And for each of these exercises, to increase the difficulty move your feet toward the attachment point; to make things easier, move your feet away from the attachment point (lean more or lean less).
Now, back to that vacation ... Check out the photo above for how my wife, her sisters, and I spent one of our mornings in spectacular Mexico City. Her mother's courtyard, although lovely and full of tropical plants and trees, is not the most spacious of workout areas. No matter. As you can see, we attached a TRX to one of the outside doors and made a wonderful circuit around this Aralia tree. That is yours truly doing dips, another challenging triceps exercise, on the low wall encircling the tree. My sister-in-law Dania is doing a different version of a curl using elastic tubing (a great, very portable biceps option). And my sister-in-law Ile is using the TRX to work her upper back. We had four upper-body stations set up for the five of us (with one rest station), and we all cycled through three full times. Afterwards we went for a run in one of Mexico City's best parks for outdoor exercise.
All this to illustrate the point that one can get in a fun, moderate-to-vigorous workout anytime, anyplace. And being on vacation is no excuse. Try incorporating these exercises for arms into your routine, and please consider packing your TRX next time you head out of town. Remember, if you have never done these exercises before, expect to be a little sore after the first try, but a "good sore." :) Hope you've enjoyed this FW series on exercises that can be done using little or no equipment. And be on the lookout for future exercise tips right here on Foundation Blog!