People who travel a lot and frequently stay in hotels often find it difficult to maintain their fitness routine. There is simply a lack of time and the necessary facilities. What's more, after a long journey, you're all too happy to have a comfy bed and a big TV in your hotel room. Room service is also just a phone call away.
In this article, we present 11 effective bodyweight exercises for traveling. You can do the exercises without any equipment or dumbbells. This will keep you fit even on longer business trips and the muscles you've worked so hard to build up won't run the risk of atrophy during your stay abroad.
Effective bodyweight exercises when traveling: Pull-ups
Pull-ups are one of the most well-known fitness exercises of all. What many people don't know is that they are also great to do 'on the go', i.e. without equipment. A large door frame, scaffolding or a similar structure can be used as 'equipment' for this form of bodyweight exercise when traveling. Of course, you have to be a little creative.
Pull-ups primarily train the latissimus dorsi muscle (broad back muscle), the trapezius pars ascendens muscle (lower fibers of the hood muscle) as well as the rhomboideus minor et major muscle (small and large diamond muscle) and the teres major muscle (large round muscle), see also our article "Pull-ups - these muscles are all trained. By changing the grip width, the training focus can be shifted to different muscle groups. There are the grip variations "pull-ups with a wide overhand grip", "narrow pull-ups with an underhand grip" and the neutral grip position.
Regardless of the grip type, the execution remains largely identical. Assume the starting position described below.
- Hang from the Pullup & Dip mobile pull-up bar.
- The arms are not fully extended (slight bend in the elbow joint).
- Your back is straight.
- Your legs are straight or bent.
Pull yourself up from the starting position. Exhale as you do so. The end position of the upward movement is reached when the collarbone fibers of your chest have reached the bar. Then slowly lower your body. Breathe in evenly as you do so. At the end of the movement, make sure you maintain a slight bend in the elbow joint.
Effective bodyweight exercises when traveling: Dips
Dips are ideal for strengthening your triceps and chest. For dips you can either use a dip bar or a chair, bench, stairs or similar.
Dips on a chair seem very easy at first glance. However, there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Sit on the end of the chair seat.
- Grip the end of the seat next to your buttocks with your hands.
- The backs of your hands should be facing forward.
- Your back is straight and your arms are almost fully extended.
- Stretch your legs out in front of you and rest on your heels (heels hip-width apart).
- Bring your legs and buttocks so far forward that your buttocks are no longer above the seat.
- Bend your arms until your buttocks are almost touching the floor.
- Your upper arms are now almost parallel to the floor and your forearms are vertical (90-degree angle at the elbow joints).
- Keep your back as close as possible to the seat of the chair.
- Keep your gaze directed forwards.
- Press back into the starting position (out of arms).
- At the end of the movement, do not fully extend your arms.
In this version, the training focus is on the triceps. To work the chest more intensely, you can tilt your upper body slightly forwards during the exercise, see also our article Dip training for chest and triceps on the dip bar - the differences.
Push-ups are one of the most effective exercises for a broad chest. They can be performed in different variations, allowing you to shift the focus of your training. You also need nothing more than your body for this form of bodyweight exercise when traveling. If you want to increase the load and therefore the effectiveness of the exercise, you can use a resistance band is the best advice. This can be placed around the neck during the exercise so that you have to exert more strength for each individual push-up.
The execution remains the same regardless of the variation:
- Get on your knees.
- Support yourself with your hands (at chest level, slightly wider than shoulder width).
- Never fully extend your elbow joints.
- Stretch your legs backwards.
- Place your feet on tiptoe.
- Legs, upper body and head form a line (tension in the body!).
- Lower your upper body (elbows pointing outwards) and inhale.
- Maintain tension in your body (do not fall into a hollow back or stretch your buttocks upwards).
- Lower your body so that your nose almost touches the floor.
- Press up again and exhale (do not fully extend your elbow joints).
As a tip against wrist pain, we recommend the following Push-up grips for a neutral grip position and an additional training effect due to the increased movement amplitude.
Push-ups while traveling - variations
Wide push-ups for a particularly broad chest: hands significantly wider than shoulder-width apart.
"Diamond push-ups" to strengthen the triceps: Hands close together (thumbs and index fingers form a triangle).
You can find 7 push-up variations here:
Effective bodyweight exercises when traveling: "The mountain climber"
"The mountain climber is a combination of push-ups and alternating jumps. The advantage of such complex bodyweight exercises when traveling is that they train several muscle groups. While the chest muscles and triceps do the static holding work, the abdominal and lower back muscles provide the necessary stability during the jumps. The legs and buttocks are the "initiators" of the jumps. In detail, you train the following muscles with Mountain Climbers:
- chest muscles
- Back extensors
- Straight abdominal muscle
- Leg biceps
- Gluteal muscle
- Push-up position as starting position.
- Entire body is tensed.
- Hands do not leave the floor at any time.
- Bend your left leg and place your left foot on the floor (at hip height).
- Perform dynamic jumps by extending the left leg back to the starting position and at the same time bending the right leg as described above.
- Continue with several repetitions.
Squats strengthen your leg muscles and shape your bottom. This is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises for this area of the body when traveling.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and distribute your body weight over your entire foot. Your toes point forwards. Your back is straight.
- Lower your buttocks backwards and downwards until your thighs are level with the floor. The lower legs remain vertical. Your knees must not extend beyond the tops of your feet.
- Your upper body automatically leans slightly forward during this movement. Your back remains straight.
- Slowly straighten up again (not into a full extension) and continue with the repetitions.
Effective bodyweight exercises when traveling: Lunges
Alongside squats, lunges are one of the best bodyweight exercises when traveling to shape your thighs and buttocks. The gluteus maximus muscle (large gluteal muscle) and the quadriceps femoris muscle (leg extensors) in particular are trained.
- Stand with hips wide apart.
- Body is upright, abdominal muscles are tensed.
- Look forward.
- Take a large step backwards (the angle between the thigh and lower leg of the front leg is 90 degrees).
- The front knee must never go beyond the tip of the foot.
- Bend the front leg and bring the back knee towards the floor (until the back lower leg is parallel to the floor).
- Then push yourself up again with your back leg and pull it forward.
- Your legs are now at the same height again.
- Continue with the other leg.
Keep your upper body straight throughout the exercise and tighten your stomach. Your shoulders are pulled back and your gaze is directed forwards the entire time. Your knees and feet point in the same direction throughout the exercise. Your arms hang down beside your body or are tucked into your hips.
Lying back stretch
The lying back extension is also known as the 'Superman exercise'. The exercise is primarily aimed at strengthening the erector spinae muscles. However, the large gluteal muscle is also innervated to a not insignificant extent in the execution of the movement.
Lie on your stomach and stretch your legs backwards and your arms forwards.
Raise your left leg and right arm (both outstretched) as high as possible. Hold the tension for a few seconds. Then lower your leg and arm and alternate sides.
Raise both arms (outstretched) as high as possible. Hold the tension at the highest point. Lower your arms (not completely) and continue with the next repetition.
Lift both legs (outstretched) off the floor. The arms remain in contact with the floor. Hold the tension at the highest point and lower your legs again.
Lift your legs and arms upwards at the same time. Hold the tension at the highest point. Lower your arms and legs and continue with the next repetition.
Effective bodyweight exercises when traveling: Hip lifts
(Hip lifts with gymnastic rings)
Hip thrusts are an abdominal muscle exercise for advanced users. It mainly works the straight and pyramidal abdominal muscles. There are several versions with the legs on the floor or in the air.
Execution with legs in the air:
- Lie on your back.
- Your arms are stretched out to the side.
- Raise your legs in the air and stretch them out.
- Cross your lower legs.
- Tense your stomach and exhale.
- At the same time: lift your hips and stretch your legs upwards.
- Lift your hips as far off the floor as possible.
- Never gain momentum during the movement phase!
- Lower your hips down and breathe in as you do so.
- Keep your abdominal muscles tensed the entire time.
To our gymnastic rings!
Standing triceps extension
Attach a resistance band under your feet, to a door handle, a tree or ask your (training) partner to hold a towel behind your back. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and grasp the band or towel with a hammer grip. Your palms should be facing the back of your head. Your elbows are parallel to each other and there is a 90-degree angle between your forearms and upper arms. Your shoulders are pulled back during the entire movement.
Stretch your forearms upwards and exhale. At the end of this movement, there should be a small angle between your upper and lower arms. Inhale and bring your forearms back to the starting position.
Effective bodyweight exercises when traveling:
Inverted shoulder press
Inverted shoulder presses are also known as pike push ups. Place your feet on the bed and support yourself in front of the bed with your hands on the floor. Straighten your legs. This will push your hips up and bend them at a 90-degree angle. Your head points towards the floor. Your arms are almost fully extended.
Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle without changing your posture. The end position is reached when your head is almost touching the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds and then push yourself back to the starting position.
Rowing at the table
Rowing at a table mainly works the latissimus, trapezius and circular muscles.
- Sit on the floor in front of a table.
- Grip the edge of the table with both hands at about shoulder width.
- Push your lower body forward under the table.
- Place your heels on the floor.
- The edge of the table is now approximately at chest height.
- Build up body tension.
- Pull your body upwards (until your chest reaches the lower edge of the table).
- Make sure you maintain your body tension (do not bend at the hips!).
- Return your body to the starting position and make sure you don't fully extend your arms at the end of the movement.
- The next repetition follows.
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