As a personal trainer, I have to find solutions to a lot of problems. One obstacle that appears for many of my clients is work-related travel.
“My hotel didn’t have a gym.”
“My hotel had a gym, but I didn’t know how to use any of the equipment.”
“My hotel had a great gym, but it was a hassle to get there from my room.”
Travel and the lack of hotel gym equipment are no excuse to miss workouts. Many of the exercises I do with my clients in my gym are bodyweight only exercises, or can be modified to be so. After covering the material in this article, we’ll never have a good excuse to miss a workout in any city.
Bodyweight exercises are some of the most challenging and also the most modifiable exercise choices available. Some coaches even recommend that a certain level of performance be achieved on bodyweight exercises before weights are used in any situation. If we plan correctly, we can easily develop enough total body workouts to get you into shape without a single dumbbell.
Before we get to the workout, a few notes about modifying bodyweight exercises and knowing how many reps of each exercise to do. The first rule of bodyweight exercises is that we want to be able to perform repetitions with good form, as with any exercise. If the exercise is so hard that our form is atrocious, we modify. The second rule is that when we modify an exercise, depending on the situation, the modification may make it almost too easy. This is better than too hard, since we can always do more repetitions and sets to make up for the level of difficulty. The third rule is, no matter what exercise we’re using or what set and repetition parameters we decide on, each set should nearly fatigue the muscles we’re working. In other words, we don’t want to take each set to complete failure, but maybe just one or two reps shy of complete failure. For timed exercises, stop when you feel yourself start to lose form or feel pain in an area that is unexpected.
Bodyweight Squats – stand with feet between hip and shoulder width apart. Push hips back and down like you were going to sit in a chair. Once you reach average chair height, return to standing. Feel free to raise your arms out in front of you for balance as you complete the movement.
Modified Push-ups – to modify a push-up, lean on a raised surface so that your shoulders are above your hips, but your body is still in a straight line. The higher the surface, the easier the push-ups will be. Look for tables, chairs, countertops, etc. for modifications.
Planks – Lie face down to start. Then lift your body up so that your weight is supported on your forearms and your toes, with your body as straight as possible. Brace your abdominals (hold them tight like if someone was going to hit you in the stomach) and squeeze your glutes (butt muscles). Do not let your lower back arch excessively. This should look like upper push-up position only with your arms bent and your forearms on the floor. Hold for time.
Squat Thrusts – stand with feet hips width apart. Squat down and reach your hands to the floor in front of you. Let your weight rest on your hands and kick your legs back so you end up in a push-up position. Jump your legs back to your hands and stand up.
Leg Lift Holds – Lie on your back and lift your legs up to a 90 degree angle at the hip. Lower your legs, keeping your abdominal muscles tight, until you start to feel your lower back come off the floor. Stop here, press your back onto the floor, and hold for time.
That’s it. Now we never have a reason to miss a workout while traveling. This is a great workout and it can be completed anywhere. Now get to work!