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I'm traveling abroad for a year, and I'm wondering if anybody has good experience with portable workout equipment such as resistance bands or suspension systems

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Not sure how much room/weight, but some of the stacking dumbbell sets are rather nice. powerblock.com and bowflexselecttech.com/bowflex-selecttech-us/homepage.jsp –  JohnP Aug 22 '13 at 22:17

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Resistance Bands and Other Workouts

Probably one of the best, if not the best thing you can bring that is portable and gives you a good muscle mass increasing workout are resistance bands. Now it depends what kind of muscle mass you're planning on building. Resistance bands are going to build less bulk muscle and more lean muscle (although perhaps you already knew that). If you want more bulk muscle, I really suggest finding a good public playground and doing some heavy body resistance workouts (look up the super buff guys on youtube videos who claim to never have been to a gym, learn from them). When working out for basketball, as a guard, we wanted lean muscle mass. At P3, we used arm bands for many excercises to build lean muscle. These included (also added a few more):

Upper Body

  • Bicep Curls (stand on a the band and do a bicep curl like you have a bar)
  • Front Shoulder Raise (stand on the band, arms in front, lift them straight up without bending)
  • Banded push ups (hands on either side of band, band goes around your back)
  • Side Shoulder Raise (same as front shoulder, just hold arms by your side)
  • Band Row (loop band around a tree or anything, thne row with either arm)
  • Tricep Row (same as band row, but turn around facing away from tree)
  • Also, there's nothing wrong with push-ups. Push-ups don't have to be mundane. You can change your hand position to excercises a vast array of muscles. Bring the closer together and lower and push all your weight forward to really get the chest. Put your hands out wide and forward to get back and triceps. Also try doing a pyramid workout (start with 5 pushups, once completed, get on your knees and raise your arms straight above your head 5 times. Then go to 6. Progressing to 10 and back down usually works me out REAL GOOD.
  • Pull-ups. These are great for building more muscle mass then push ups. Since sets range from about 5-15 if you're in decent shape, they're better at building more muscle mass than pushups (ranging from 20-50+)

Abs

I really don't think you need any equipment to build abs. I never have used any and my abs are fine.

  • Stomach Ups are an unknown favorite of mine. Hang on a bar like a pull up, but then just raise your toes to touch the bar above you. Sets range in the 5-20 reps.
  • Banded ab workouts can be useful to increase resistance, but honestly I don't think there's a need for them. There's plenty of other ab workouts that are just as useful
  • Russian Twists (feet up, rotate side to side)
  • V-Ups (especially tough, lie down, arms straight above head, lift legs/arms simultaneously)
  • Side crunch (lay on your side, hands on head, touch right elbow to right hip, etc.)
  • Hardcore situp (just a regular situp but raise your feet above ground)
  • Leg ups (hands under your butt, push legs up in air at 90 degree angle as high as you can)
  • Hold the planck (especially good right after a pushup workout)
  • Those are some of my favorites, there are many more of course

Lower Body

  • Short sprints (40 meters)
  • Banded Slide (put bands around legs, get low, move legs apart sideways, repeat)
  • Banded Ice skater (put bands around legs, get low, move legs apart diagonally, repeat)
  • Banded Leg Raise (lay on back, raise one leg as high as you can, raise other, repeat)
  • Lunges (while standing, step forward and touch back knee to ground, hold for a second)
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Very good post. I'm going to purchase some resistance bands before I leave-- do you recommend any products? –  Parseltongue Aug 22 '13 at 23:36
    
Can't say I know any companies in specific that are better than one another. If I had to choose between cheap, medium, and high priced resistance bands, for your trip I'd go with medium to high. Since you'll be gone for so long, a better product will do you more good than saving a bit of money. Resistance bands can lose their...resistance...if they are super cheap. –  Spaderdabomb Aug 23 '13 at 5:43

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