As I navigate my way through the tight halls, to the darkest, farthest corner of the hotel. Finally I see the sign, “Gym This Way,” and I’m filled with hope. After more seeking, searching, and wrong turns, I come across the steamy glass door of the gym. I walk through the door with my best intentions, and am instantly met with the realization that whoever built this gym has never worked out a day in their lives. Whatever wonders I had built up in my mind, all hopes of benches, squat racks, bars and dumbbells, are crushed in a moment. I’ll wander around for a few minutes, mess around with a couple of the machines, and ultimately realize there is no way I can make a cohesive workout out of any of this.
We all know the hardships and disruptions a short break can bring into our fitness routines.
Hotel gyms are notoriously compact little spaces, with a collection of haphazard equipment and barely enough room to breath. But don’t give up hope, I’ve got you covered. So long as you have the motivation, the determination, and a body, you’ve got everything you need to outwit the hotel, and get a good workout in a hotel gym (or even in your room.)
A Bodyweight Routine For your Legs and Booty
Luckily for us, God saw it fit to put our entire bodyweight on top of our most precious body part, our legs. What that means for us is that we have everything we need to work that lower body when and wherever we can. We may not have a bar spread out across our backs, but we can still squat ‘til our hearts content. We can just play with variation and tempo instead. You may be able to rep out bodyweight squats to the point where it seems pointless, but we can increase the stress on our muscles in a variety of ways.
Tempo: Try slowing the repetition down to a count of five. 5 seconds down, 5 seconds hold, and 5 seconds up, keeping your body tight and contracted throughout the whole movement.
Variation: It doesn’t stop at squats. We also have single leg box squats, braced pistol squats, jump squats, lunges, and curtsey lunges. You can work through failure; start with what you think is the hardest variation you’re capable of, and repping your way to failure. Then move onto an easier leg workout. I bet your bodyweight squats will feel harder after all that!
Time: When we’re in the gym, we have the luxury of reps on different machines. When you’re at a hotel gym, time might be your best friend. Focus on doing a high intensity interval training workout and burn fat rather than building muscle. Did you know that a 30-minute HIIT workout will keep burning fat for up to two days after working out?!
You can work four sets of 8-15 with a slower tempo, or work three sets through failure, starting from the hardest variation through to the basic bodyweight squat. Pair this with the same mentality when it comes to your bridge raises (single leg, single leg jump bridges, and a slow tempo), and you have a routine that stresses your entire lower body!
A Bodyweight Routine For Your Pushing & Pulling Muscles.
The same applies here as above, we have the power of variation and tempo. That means slowing down our reps, or working through more advanced versions of the pushup and pull up.
For our pressing muscles, we have archer pushups, clap pushups, diamond pushups, wide pushups, dips, bench dips. We have single arm pushups (if you’re a total warrior), and we have the potential to drop down to from-the-knee pushups if you’re still struggling with the standard form. The point here is that we work from OUR hardest variation, all the way down to our easiest.
And pulling is much the same. Standard pull-ups are always a challenge, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work beyond our failure. We can switch out to chin-ups for a few reps, and go even further down to Russian pull ups and scapula retractions.
If your hotel gym doesn’t have a pull up bar, you need to do two things. First, complain. What gym would possibly neglect the single best piece of equipment for back muscles!? And second, find a way around it. We can use resistance bands and stretch them around any sturdy structure in the gym. From there we can work face-pulls, trap-flies, curls, upright rows, and anything else your mind can conjure up. An added bonus is that they don’t take up space in your luggage and you can find my favorites here. Sure, resistance bands aren’t going to carry you to Mr. Universe, but they can keep you on track while you’re on your break. As an added bonus, you’ll be getting some sweet mobility increases as you go! Think of it as active rest and recovery.
Keep Working Those Abs!
If all else fails, at least we still have the benefit of our abs. I mean, they work all day long just by keeping our upper body on top of our lower body; unless you spend the whole day hunched over a keyboard.
The most important tip for working your abs, is to work through a variety of movements that target each angle. Upper, lower, mid, and obliques. Working through crunches, leg raises, Russian twists, and v-sits, is more than enough to feel the burn. Combine that with short bursts of fat burning HIIT, and you can be sure that you’re ab routine won’t suffer through the woes of a hotel stay.
Your Full Body Hotel Workout
Pulling this all together, you can build a bodyweight workout with little to no equipment, to complete either in that tiny hotel gym, or in the comfort of your hotel room. Below I’ve thrown together just one of the possible workouts you could use to keep your whole body in shape throughout your travels. You can mix and match all that you’ve learned above, and create the perfect workout just for you.
Jump squats, single leg bench squats, standard squats, 3 sets through failure.
Single leg bridge raise- 5 seconds down, 5 seconds hold, 5 seconds up. 4 sets of 10 (or failure)
Single leg calf raises- 3 sets til failure
Tempo Pushups- 5 seconds down, 5 seconds hold, 5 seconds up. 4 sets of 8-12 (or failure)
Pull-ups, chin-ups, Russian pull ups, scapula retraction. 3 sets through failure.
(Or, using a resistance band, complete 3 sets of your favorite back movements at a 5 second tempo.)
Superset, 20 crunches, 20 leg raises, 20 Russian twists, 10 V-sits. 3 Sets.
15-30 minute HIIT workout
The next time you find yourself fretting over how on earth you can keep up with your fitness during travel, remember not to be disheartened by the facilities. A little determination and creativity while playing around with tempo, time, and variation is all it takes to get a good workout in a hotel gym. That’s all it takes to get a good workout, period.