Let’s face it, keeping up with an exercise routine while traveling can be challenging when you’re dealing with overcrowded fitness centers, time constraints or just vacation-mode lack of motivation.
But you don’t need to hit the gym to get your calorie burn. With just your bodyweight, a chair and some floor space, you can get a worthy workout in the comfort of your hotel room.
Fitness trainer, Claire Cleary of Achieve Fitness, says using your body weight beats a gym workout because it gets you moving in more functional ways, ways you’d use your muscles in real life.
The advantages of exercising in your own space are simple—no crowds, no schedule, no pressure. And a density circuit approach to on-the-go fitness means you’ll get a workout in even if you only have 15 minutes. Just do 10 of each exercise, break briefly, then repeat the circuit until you’ve reached your allotted time.
So, if you’re looking to stay fit on the road without adding hassle to your holiday, here are five ways to use your hotel room as a fitness center.
1. Use chairs for sit squats
Instead of using that hotel room chair as a catchall for your clothes, use it to get your buns in shape with single leg sit squats.
Start by sitting down, extend one leg out, then stand up and sit back down. Repeat this 10 times on one leg then switch and extend the other leg.
“Using one leg at a time where you don’t have the other one to help out is a very important part of a workout program. You’re going to make sure that leg is doing all the work.” Cleary says. “And you really have to engage your core to keep from falling.”
Bodyweight workouts are great for getting your core involved, Cleary says, because unlike gym machines that stabilize your core, you aren’t being supported by a back rest or seat, so your own body does all the work.
Main muscles worked: Butt, hamstrings, quads.
2. Turn the bed into a push-up press
If you’ve already got good upper-body strength, find some floor space for traditional push-ups.
Place your hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders and keep your body straight as you bend and extend your arms.
If you struggle with basic pushups, try putting your hands on something higher, like the bed, Cleary says. You want to end up doing a push-up in that full body position, so it’s better to modify the exercise by using an incline for your hands instead of by placing your knees on the ground.
“When you keep that long straight body, then you get your whole core working,” Cleary says. “Start high and as it becomes easier for you, you come down lower and lower and lower until you can get to the floor.”
Main muscles worked: Chest, shoulders, triceps, core.
3. Make space for dynamic lunges
For those with bad knees or any inclination toward avoiding discomfort, lunges often get skipped, though they shouldn’t.
Dynamic lunges incorporate jumps. Lunge down bending both knees. Your back knee should come close to the ground, your left thigh parallel to the ground. Jump up as you switch to the have the opposite leg in front.
“Jumping adds in the cardio element, Cleary says. “But if you have bad knees or you’re just deconditioned and not up for the jumping, you can just do alternating lunges, either stepping forward or backwards.”
The lunge is a great, functional lower body exercise as it mimics walking in a sense, Cleary says.
Main muscles worked: Full lower body.
4. Take a row
Renegade rows are usually done with dumbbells, but doing the same motion sans weights can still achieve results. If you’ve got water bottles handy, use them in place of dumbbells for extra weight.
Get into a push-up position. Pretend you’re holding a dumbbell and begin to row, supporting yourself on one arm as you lift the other arm to your side, bending your elbow, then switch arms.
Back exercises are the biggest challenge when doing a body weight program because there aren’t many options when you’re on your own in a hotel room, Cleary says.
“Rows work your back and biceps and since you’re down in that push-up position,” she says, “You’re going to be working your shoulders, your triceps, your core again.”
Main muscles worked: Back, biceps, shoulders, triceps, core.
5. Bang out some burpees
Ah, burpees. The bane of all fitness moves—but an effective all in one exercise.
Place your hands on the ground, kick your legs out into a push-up position, hop your legs in, stand up and jump. If you’re just starting out and need time to work up to this level, place your hands on the bed or chair and kick one leg out at a time before returning to standing.
Burpees work “because those high intensity intervals not only burn while you’re doing them, they keep your metabolism raised for hours after you stop working,” Cleary says. “The trend is really to do things that are more efficient, can burn more calories and can get your metabolism revved up in a shorter amount of time.”
Main muscles worked: Full body.