But the truth is, it can be tough to fit strength training into a packed schedule or find a gym for weight training if you travel often. Hotel gyms can be sketchy at best, a travel agenda usually leaves little room for squeezing in a workout, and suddenly we find ourselves without a consistent strength training routine.
Guess what? You don’t have to sacrifice your hard-earned fitness (or make excuses for not beginning a workout routine) just because you’re tight on time or space. Strength training works by putting stress on your muscles, which makes them stronger … but, anything that puts stress on your muscles, whether it’s dumbells, weights, a machine or your own body weight will produce a similar effect. And this is where bodyweight exercises are key to getting strong when you’re traveling.
Bodyweight exercises are exactly what they sound like – using your own weight to build lean muscle mass. The key to actually building muscle with a workout like this is the concept of progressive overload (continually upping the amount of resistance on your muscles so they have to work harder to become stronger). In a gym setting, this can be achieved by adding weight over time. But with a bodyweight workout it’s the intensity/difficulty of the exercises that need to increase instead of the weight.
Even if you’re not traveling, bodyweight exercises might be a great option for you. Here’s why:
- You can do them anywhere.
- Most workouts are under 30 minutes.
- They’re easily customizable depending on your goals.
- No fancy equipment needed.
- They’re safe (ie. you don’t need someone to spot you).
- Some experts believe that more large muscle groups are activated as opposed to using weight machines that target specific muscles.
- You can also burn fat, in addition to building muscle.
Chances are, you’ve done some of the best bodyweight exercises already. The three basics that we’ll cover today include the squat, push-up and pull-up. These three together provide a full-body workout, and on their own, each can be modified as you get stronger (progressive overload). Start by perfecting your form of each, and then move on to progressed versions.
- Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Arms out straight.
- Bend your knees, weight in heels and push hips back while squatting.
- Keep your back in a straight position, head up.
- Squat as low as you can.
- Drive through your heels to push back up to standing position.
For a tougher version once you’ve mastered the basic squat, Google “pistol squat” and give that a go.
- Hands on the ground a little bit wider than shoulders.
- Keep your body in a straight line (engage core, squeeze glutes).
- Lower yourself down until you almost touch the floor.
- Keep elbows in (not out to the side).
From here, you can progress to one-armed push-ups or diamond push-ups.
Pull-ups (ie. Door Pull-ins)
This version doesn’t need a pull-up bar … just a towel and a door handle, perfect for your average hotel room.
- Wrap a towel around the edge of a door and doorknob.
- Place your feet on either side of the door (barefoot is optimal to prevent slipping).
- Holding both ends of the towel, lower yourself down until your torso, thighs and knees are at 90-degree angles.
- Still in this seated position, pull yourself towards the door until your face almost touches the door. Try not to lose your form.
When that seems too easy, make it a bit more challenging by doing these one-handed or using a longer towel.
For additional ideas on how to personalize your workout and make it more portable and efficient, contact us for a free consultation.