Traveling and spending time in a hotel room can make it hard to stick to your normal workout routine. A travel workout can be hard to plan in advance. Some hotels have gyms and some don’t. In the ones that do, the equipment can vary from a piece of cardio to a fully stocked gym.
My family recently planned a trip to Disney World for Christmas and it got me thinking… will I be able to work out that week? I have no idea if there is time to get to a gym with all the family activities planned and even if there is an hour or so, I am not sure what the gym situation is. (People usually don’t flock to theme parks to get a good workout so that is probably not a huge priority for hotels.)
That left me with the dilemma… should I take that week off totally, rest and call it a de-load week, or should I try and come up with a quick workout I can do so I don’t feel totally lazy.
Well, personally it is tough psychologically for me to take too much time off I want to do some kind of workout, especially since I’ll be surrounded by a lot of unhealthy food options.
A normal workout is probably not happening. If I do have the time and there is a loaded gym in the hotel, then great, I’ll stick to my regular workout plan, but I’m guessing I’ll have to go with another option.
My Travel Workout Plan
Plan B is to do a quick workout in the hotel room. Since that won’t involve a lot of heavy weight, I guess it’ll still be a de-load week.
There is a bunch of body-weight exercises that can give you a great workout. You can hit your pushing muscles with a bunch of pushup and dip variations. There are also a bunch of different leg exercise you can do to get a burn and core/ ab exercises are no problem since you don’t need a bunch of equipment to hit them. You can even get some cardio with burpees or jumping jacks.
The main challenge with a hotel/ body-weight workout is targeting your pulling muscles like your back and biceps. To hit them, you will need a few accessories to help you. Since I’m traveling, I don’t want to bring a bunch of equipment that weighs a lot or takes up a lot of space, so here are a few things I’m taking with me to help me work out.
All of them transport easy and hopefully these will give you some options for your own workout the next time you go out of town and don’t have a gym.
If I had to describe bands in one word it would be versatility.
There are all kinds of resistance bands. Some are thick with a lot of resistance and some are thin with just a little. There are Round Tubing Resistance Bands and there are flat ones. There are connected loops and there are ones that are open.
The ones I prefer are the Serious Steel Resistance Bands.
I really like bands and carry some in my gym bag all the time because they don’t take up a lot of space and they are light.
They offer a different kind of resistance than a free weight or a cable since they get tougher as you stretch them. This is why they are even a great addition to many traditional exercises.
Band Pull-Aparts are one of my favorite exercises for developing the upper back. In a hotel, you can also use them for curls, rows or get creative with them. Bands are also great for stretching.
2. TRX Suspension Trainer
If you travel a lot, a TRX is a must-have item. Other suspension devices that use your bodyweight for resistance will also do the trick, but the TRX brand is the most popular.
They can be used for all sorts of bodyweight exercises.
In the gym I usually have my clients use the TRX for pull-up, pushup and row variations. You can also use it for your bicep and triceps as well as a bunch of other exercises.
Since, I usually use the TRX with my clients in the gym, I’m fastening to a sturdy piece of equipment like a pullup bar. I’ll use them in conjunction with traditional strength exercises.
In a hotel, it might be all you have so you may need to adjust the exercise difficulty with your body position. The basic set comes with a door attachment so you can use it in a door frame.
The main drawback to the TRX is the cost. It is a bit pricey for what you get, but it will give you a lot of value if you use it. It may not give you all the resistance of a traditional exercise but it’s definitely better than skipping a workout.
If you think the TRX is overpriced, there are a bunch of similar products out there that are cheaper. I have not tried any of them so I can’t vouch for their quality but there are two that I think look good. The rip:60 has good reviews and so does the Jungle Gym XT. They both look like good alternatives that offer a little more versatility than a TRX
3. Heavy Grippers
I think grip strengths helps everything you do in the gym and can help you outside of the gym as well.
If you are as in to grip strength as I am, you’re going to want to pick up some heavy gripers. These aren’t the cheap plastic ones you’d find in a sporting goods store.
Captains of Crush is the gold standard of grippers and even has a certification if you can close some of their tough ones. There are other cheaper grippers that also offer a lot of resistance for a fraction of the cost.
These are perfect for traveling since they are small and light.
I use 3 for each workout. I use the gripper strength that I am currently at, the one below it and the one above it. The easy one is for warming up, the current one is for my workout and the harder one is for assisted negatives.
Grip strength may not appeal to everyone since it is working very specific muscles, but I will always pack 3 of them when I am going on a trip.
4. Roller and Lacrosse Ball
A roller is a necessary tool for recovery and flexibility. Most people use Foam Rollers but I like a PVC pipe because it is hard and doesn’t give. This means it applies a lot more pressure to the muscles.
PVC pipes aren’t for beginners. If your muscles are too tight or if you aren’t used to self myofascial release (SMR,) then a PVC pipe will be too painful and you will probably need to start with a Foam Roller.
Foam Rollers come in many different densities, lengths and some even have bumps to put more pressure on your muscles.
Lacrosse balls use the same concept as a foam roller but they are great for certain muscles that a roller just can’t hit. They have a smaller surface area so they can dig to the muscles that a foam roller is just too big to target. I like them for my glute/piriformis, under my shoulder blades and my traps.
Releasing your muscles with Foam Rollers and Lacrosse balls will loosen up your tight muscles and release a lot of toxins that are “stuck” in your muscle tissues. I went into more detail in my previous article about SMR flexibility.
Working on your recovery and flexibility is not necessarily a workout, but if you have tight muscles (and most people do) you are going to need to do something to loosen them.
Even if I wasn’t planning on working out, I would bring these anyway. Tight muscles don’t just impact your workouts, they also impact your everyday life.
If I was flying instead of driving, the PVC pipe would be staying home. Since I got mine for about $2 at a hardware store, I would just buy a new one at a hardware store when I got to my destination and then leave it there when I go home.
5. Fat Gripz
Ahhh the infamous Fat Gripz. I love these but my clients hate them. They make exercises harder because they make the bar thicker and a thicker bar is harder to hold on to. They are great for increasing grip strength and as I said previously a stronger grip will lead to more overall strength.
They don’t make a big difference on pushing exercises, but seriously increase the difficulty of all pulling exercises. Unless you have a Popeye-like grip, you’re gonna need to reduce the weight you use especially for exercises like deadlifts, pullups and rows.
Since they wrap around a bar, dumbell or whatever you are gripping, you won’t be using them on their own. You’ll need something to use them with. You can use them with a TRX or Resistance Bands, but they will really come in handy if you have access to a gym.
Most hotel gyms don’t have a lot of weight so these are great for increasing the difficulty of an exercise with lower weights.
The original Fat Gripz come in 2 sizes the regular and the Extreme. Alpha Grips are similar and come in a 2.0, 2.5 as well as the huge 3.0. If you are a beginner, I would recommend starting with the original Fat Gripz.
6. Jump Rope
I put this last on my list since cardio is not a big part of my program now, but if you want a great cardio workout with minimal equipment, this should be first on your list.
A Jump Rope is great for getting your heart rate up quickly and it travels well. Very small and very light.
The only thing about this is that you need some space to use it so it may not work well in a hotel room, especially if it has a low ceiling.
Intervals work best and the length of the exercise and rest periods will vary depending on your fitness levels.
Not much else needs to be said about a Jump Rope. Most people know what it is and how to use it. I’ll bring one with me but may or may not use it.
And that is all I’m bringing with me. I can do a lot of different movements and work a lot of muscles. All of them, except for the PVC pipe, will also take up very little space.
Even though I won’t be doing my normal workout, I can still get a good pump, raise my heart rate and do some recovery.
If there is anything else you think would be a great addition to this travel workout equipment collection, let me know. You can leave comment below or message me on social media. I’m on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook and I’d love to hear from you.