You’ve booked your tee time and checked into your hotel room. You want to hit the gym to work out a few travel kinks, but you’ve called the front desk and are horrified to learn the hotel doesn’t have a gym. No worries, go to “Plan B” – use your hotel room as your workout space.
By using the furniture in your room you can do a wide variety of workouts. We’ll focus on the three areas that you would likely focus on in the gym, but without weights: stretching, cardio and strength training (using your body weight).
Another terrific addition to your in-room workout is technology. There are a large number of workout apps on the market to help guide you along the way.
The hotel room workout check list
Make a quick list, or print this page to help you remember where you’re going next. Keep track of your heart rate and shoot for 75% to 85% of max, as long as you feel you can handle that pace. If not, take a break or two. The only one you have to impress is you. If you need to stop between exercises or even in the middle of the set, go for it. Just like at home, the general rule is to keep pushing yourself to achieve more, whether it’s a bit longer in cardio, or a few more reps in the strength session. Do your strength training first, cardio last.
Resistance Bands are versatile and easy to carry in your suitcase or carry-on bag. I suggest that you invest in a set and take them with you wherever you go.
Buy a door strap that looks like this…
…to place along the top of the bathroom door to hold the band in place.
Body Weight Squats (regular or Sumo style with toes pointed out). Three sets of 15 (3×15) with 20 second rests between.
Lunges (both forward and back). Step back lunges are easier on the knees, but several sets of both will leave your legs burning!
Calf Raises. Stand holding onto a wall or door frame for support. Raise up on your toes, one leg at a time (3×30 each leg). If you can find some extra weight to hold like a phone book or a small child, that’s even better.
Wall sits. Stand with your back against the wall, and lower yourself into a sitting position, with your thighs parallel to the floor. Hold for as long as you can. A variation is to do this one leg at a time.
Box Jumps. These are great for cardio, but really work the whole lower body. Find a bench or other low, stable surface and jump with both feet from the floor to the top, then back down again. Do as many as you can. Or if you’re jogging, it should be easy to find a set of stairs to do the box jumps, or simply use them as part of your run.
And don’t forget Burpees. They can be done anywhere and really work the cardio. Some form of the burpee has become standard in just about every workout routine. They are greeted with groans and excuses, but they are one of the best overall exercises a person can do to lose weight, get stronger and build cardio conditioning. They are tough, but worth it. In fact, research has shown that burpees can burn up to 50% more fat than conventional exercises.
Here’s a link to fitness magazine that shows you how to do a basic burpee.
The burpee is a whole body exercise. Unlike other exercises, such as bicep curls or squats, the burpee uses just about every muscle group and throws cardio into the mix as well. Because it employs strength and cardio, the calorie burn is significantly higher. And if you want to challenge yourself, and boost the cardio burn, do burpees faster and throw in one or two demanding adjustments such as using weights.
One of the best things about burpees, is that you can do them anywhere, any time – watching TV, for instance.
Regular push ups (3×15). Do as many as you can manage, while keeping good form.
Decline push ups (3×15). Start by facing the ground, but place your feet up on a chair or other surface so your feet are higher than your head. This angle works your upper chest. Again, use this as a goal. Do as many as you can.
Diamond push ups (3×15). These are hard, so keep good form. Here’s a video that shows you how they are done. Place your hands together flat on the floor, creating a diamond from your forefingers and thumbs. You will be pushing from the centre of your chest, which is a great workout for your chest and triceps.
One-arm rows. (3×15). This is a good one for the resistance band I mentioned earlier. Stand upright, bend forward and support yourself on the arm or back of a chair. With one foot, step on the resistance band a short distance from your hand. Pull the band upwards like you were starting a lawnmower. Repeat for each arm. Experiment to see how far along the band you should place your foot.
Resistance bands are perfect for these as well. Stand facing the door and pull the bands toward your chest. Stand farther back to increase the tension. Or, if your room has an office desk, pull it away from the wall and lie down under it. Reach up and grab the edge of the desk and pull yourself up, almost like a real pull up. Of course, you need to be very careful that your weight doesn’t tip the desk over, but it’s an option.
Arms and Shoulders
Triceps – Go with diamond push ups (described above), or use a chair to perform chair dips (3×10). These are difficult and can be hard on the shoulders, so start slowly.
Biceps – Use Resistance Bands. Step on the middle of the band with both feet and do the curls. The wider the feet, the harder the curl.
Shoulders – Bend forward until your hands are on the floor and your butt is in the air, legs straight. Aim for a triangle. Do a push up from this angle. As you progress, the angle can be reduced so your shoulders carry more of your body weight. If you’re strong, shoot for a handstand push up using the wall for support. You can also use resistance bands to work on lateral raises. Stand on the middle of the band, grab the handles and raise them along your sides to shoulder height. You can do the same exercise, but raising up along the front of your body to work your shoulders from a different angle.
Standard crunches and sit ups work, but they can be hard on the back and neck. My choice is to go with a 30-second plank. Longer if you can manage. Here’s a link that shows you how to do a plank. Stay in one position with arms extended, or for variation, resting on your elbows. Another variation is to turn to one side and hold yourself in that position. Terrific core exercise. Or stand up and do rapid high knee runs. Both ways are excellent Ab builders.
Stretching is always the best way to start and end an exercise session. Use the walls of the room and the furniture to stretch your legs and shoulders. One exercise that will stretch and get you ready for a session is old school jumping jacks. Another great starter is on-the-spot sprinting. Start slow, and build up speed until you are going as fast as you can. Another great starter is the burpee (described above).
So the next time you travel, don’t use it as an excuse not to exercise. All you need is your hotel room furniture, resistance bands, your own body weight… and a little determination.
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