Sometimes you have to improvise

OK – I admit it, I am completely sick of the hotel gym with dumbbells that go through a whopping 50lbs (or in my latest adventure – 30 lbs) and the obligatory elliptical machine and (non-functional) treadmill.  It may just be the fact that I have been on the road a lot lately but it is getting old……fast.

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So you can imagine my elation when I walked into the gym at the hotel on the first leg of my most recent trip and saw her standing in the corner.  She was a 7 foot beauty.  Strong.  Lean.  Shiny.  The cable cross over machine of my dreams.

You mean I can actually do a pull up!?!?!

Oh how my expectations soared.  Pull ups, axe choppers, triceps extensions…….the possibilities were endless.

Or so I thought.

Until my dreams were crushed.  You see, the only attachment available for this wonderful piece of equipment was a straight bar.

What!?!!?   No rope?  No single handles?  No rowing handle?

How dare you crush my dreams!!!

It was time to improvise.  For a very brief moment I felt like Ed Harris in his portrayal of the NASA scientist in Apollo 13.   “OK Gentlemen.  Here is what they have in the capsule.  How do we make a square peg fit in a round hole?”  How do I make this work?  Then I went to work.  Scouring the room for resources.  What could I do?  What could I use?  And then, like a shining white light of salvation in the corner of the room I saw them.

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Towels!!

Your simple, everyday gym towel would come to my rescue.  Throughout my training I have often incorporated towels, gi belts and other fabrics into my workouts to train my grip.   This night was going to be all about using the towel to facilitate my workout.  With the way I feel today, I can tell you that I will be doing this on a regular basis.  My forearms are still on fire and the rest of my upper body is more sore (in all the right ways) than it has been in quite some time.

So how did I incorporate a towel(s) into the mix?  Here’s how.

Pull up – throw the towel over the bar and suddenly you have offset grip pull ups (these are no joke people).  Switch your hands and you have offset grip chin-ups or the one I hope to actually accomplish someday, towel grip pull ups.

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Crossover cable:  Triceps extension…done.  Upright rows….done.  Wood choppers…..done both up and down.  Weighted crunches…..done.   Bicep curls…..done.

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With dumbbells:  Need 70lbsers?  No problem, grab the 30’s and the 40’s and wrap the towel around the handles .  Now not only do you have 70lbs per hand but the weight will shift on you which engages all of the smaller stabilizing muscles.

Improved Ab work:  Ever seen those floor sliders to allow your feet to effortless glide across the floor almost eliminating friction?  Yeah, towels come close (double trick, hit up the breakfast buffet for a couple of paper/plastic plates instead of a towel).  Suddenly my abs are begging that we go back to the world of just trudging along on the treadmill.

So the next time you find yourself discouraged by either the type of equipment available or the condition of the equipment, think about the humble towel and how you may be able to put it to work for you.

See you on the road.

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