Good for the gym or at home in Arkansas, this upper body exercise uses TRX straps

“Gym rat” is a term that everyone has heard at one time or another. I like to believe that, most of the time, it is applied as a compliment to those who have dedicated themselves to living a healthier lifestyle or athletic pursuit. The pandemic has, without a doubt, reduced the volume of gym rats in the community.

When fitness centers closed, people were forced to find other ways to stay active.

Building muscular strength outside a fitness center can be a challenge, especially for those who have relied on advanced equipment most of their lives. Home equipment can be expensive, and outdoor pursuits are affected by adverse weather. But I think that many will not return to their old routines.

Now more than ever, people are looking for off-site training programs. Online streaming classes, at-home equipment and outdoor boot camps have continued to grow in popularity since the start of 2020.

As someone who has spent a lifetime advocating for healthy lifestyles, I find this diversification to be a positive development. While it might adversely affect the fitness industry in the near term, I think it will help people become more self-reliant and really “own” their fitness programs.

Joining a gym isn’t hard. You click a few buttons on your computer and your status changes from “at large” to “member.” Membership dues are electronically withdrawn monthly, and you have made, at least, a financial commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

Being active outside of a gym membership requires a bit more intentional behavior. One must find equipment that suits their preferences, budget and space requirements. A decision must be made to “stream or not to stream” a fitness instruction service. And the list of choices goes on.

The point is many people have now proved to themselves that living a physically active life doesn’t always have to be tied to a gym, and I think there are some real advantages to the alternative.

This week’s exercise is a great example of this concept, as the benefits to be earned by strapping a TRX system to an overhead anchor at home are great. The TRX Negative Pull-Up demonstrates the power of at-home solutions.

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1. Grasp a set of TRX handles and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

2. Lean back slightly to place the resistance on your arms.

3. Slowly squat down — this will require you to disengage your legs to some degree.

4. Continue to resist the lowering motion by squeezing your arm and back muscles until you reach the lowest squat position possible.

5. Stand back up by using the arms and legs.

6. Repeat steps 2 through 5, performing two sets of 12 reps.

This exercise places the power of body-weight resistance squarely on the shoulders of the exerciser, as the legs can be used to support whatever percentage of weight the individual feels is appropriate. The ultra-fit may even be able to lower themselves while lifting their feet off the floor entirely, but most people will use their legs for support to some degree.

Either way, it’s a great method for upper body strengthening at-home — which might come in handy over the next few months. Enjoy!

Matt Parrott is glad to hear from readers. Send him questions or share a story about your pandemic workouts at

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