People who travel a lot and often sleep in hotels often struggle to maintain their regular fitness routine. Most of the time, they simply lack the time and the necessary conditions. Additionally, the big, comfy bed and the big TV in your hotel room are just too tempting after a long journey, and room service is just a call away.
In this article, we show you 11 effective bodyweight exercises for traveling. You can execute these exercises completely without special sports equipment or dumbbells. This way, you can stay fit and in shape, even during long business trips, and the muscles you built with so much effort and zeal do not run the risk of decreasing during your stay abroad.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Pull-ups
Pull-ups are one of the best-known fitness exercises. But many people are not aware of the fact that they can easily be done “on the road”, without any special equipment. There are many options what you can use as “equipment” for this form of bodyweight exercise while traveling, for example a big door frame, a construction scaffold, or similar beams or woodwork. Of course, this requires some creativity.
If there is no possible pull-up equipment available, a mobile pull-up bar such as the Pullup & Dip bar or gymnastic rings are suitable options and in addition, you can also increase the effectiveness of your workout.
Pull-ups especially build the m. latissimus dorsi (the lat muscle), m. trapezius pars ascendens (the lower fibers of the trapezius muscle), as well as the m. rhomboideus minor et major (the small and big rhomboid muscle) and the m. teres major. For more on this, have a look at the article "Pull-Up muscles - Which muscles are used during Pull-Ups?". By changing the width of your grip, the focus of the exertion can be shifted to different parts of the muscles. You can either do pull-ups with a wide overhand grip, pull-ups with a close underhand grip, or with neutral grip position. To learn more about pull-up grip positions, visit our article 8 different grip positions for pull-ups.
No matter how you position your hands, the execution of the exercise remains mostly identical. Assume the initial position explained below.
- Let your body hang from the pull-up bar.
- Your arms are not completely extended (your elbows are slightly bent).
- Your back is straight and lengthened.
- Your legs can either be straight or bent in the knees.
Pull yourself up from starting position. Exhale during the upward movement. You have reached the final position when your collar bones are at the level of the bar. Afterwards, slowly lower your body again and inhale steadily during this phase. Remember to keep a slight bend in your elbows at the end of the movement.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Dips
Dips on a chair look fairly easy at first glance. Nevertheless, there are several things to be considered:
- Sit at the end of the chair’s seating surface.
- With your hands, hold onto the end of the seating surface right next to your butt.
- The backs of your hands are facing forward.
- Your back remains straight, your arms almost fully extended.
- Your legs are extended in front of you and are propped up on your heels (heels are hip-width apart)
- Place your legs and butt in front of you so your butt is no longer above the seating surface.
- Bend your arms until your butt almost touches the ground.
- Your upper arms should be almost parallel to the ground, your forearms should be orthogonal (90°-angle in your elbow joints).
- Your back should stay as close to the seating surface of the chair as possible.
- Look straight ahead the entire time.
- Push yourself back up into the initial position.
- At the end of the movement, do not extend your arms completely.
For this exercise variation, the workout focus is more on the triceps. To put more emphasis on your chest, you can also slightly bend your upper body forward during the execution.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Push-ups
Push-ups are one of the most effective exercises for a broad chest. This exercise can be executed in different variations, which changes the focus of the workout to different parts of the muscle groups. As with the exercises explained before, you do not need anything but your own body to practice this exercise while you are on the road. If you want to increase intensity and therefore the effectiveness of the exercise, you are best advised to use a resistance band. The resistance band can be put around your neck during the execution of the exercise, which means that you must exert more force for each push-up.
Execution is identical for all variations:
- Get on your knees.
- Place your hands on the ground next to your chest, a little more than shoulder-width apart.
- Never fully extend your elbows.
- Extend your legs completely.
- Prop your feet on the tips of your toes.
- Legs, upper body and head are in a straight line (maintain body tension!).
- Lower your upper body (elbows facing to the sides) and inhale.
- Meanwhile: Maintain body tension for the entire duration of the exercise (neither let your hips drop, nor push your butt up too far).
- Lower your body until your nose almost touches the ground.
- Push yourself back up and exhale during the movement (do not extend elbows completely).
If you want to protect your wrists with a neutral push-up grip then we recommend you to use some push-up bars.
Push-ups for Traveling – Variations
- Wide push-ups for an extra broad chest: Place your hand significantly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Diamond push-ups for strengthening the triceps: Place hands close to each other (thumbs and index fingers form a triangle).
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Mountain Climbers
Mountain Climbers are a combination of planks and alternating jumps. The advantage of complex bodyweight exercises for traveling such as this one is that they strengthen several muscle groups at once. While the pectoral muscles and the triceps muscles do static work, the abdominal muscles and the muscles of the lower back stabilize the body during the jumps. Legs and butt initiate the jumps.
With mountain climbers, you can strengthen the following muscles:
- pectoral muscles
- spinal erectors
- straight abdominal muscles
- gluteal muscles
- Assume plank position as initial position.
- Maintain body tension throughout the exercise.
- Hands never leave the ground.
- Bend the left leg and place the left foot on the ground below your hips.
- Jump dynamically by extending your left leg again while bending the right leg as described above.
- Continue to do several repetitions.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Squats
Squats strengthen your leg muscles and you can shape and tone your butt. This is one of the most effective bodyweight exercises for traveling for this part of the body.
- Assume a stance that is shoulder-width apart and equally distribute your body weight over your feet. Your toes are facing forward, your back is straight and lengthened.
- Lower your butt down and backwards until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Your lower legs stay vertical. Your knees should never go further than your toes.
- Your upper body automatically bends slightly forward during the movement. Your back remains straight.
- Slowly come back up to starting position (do not extend your legs completely) and continue to do repetitions.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Lunges
Besides squats, lunges are also one of the best bodyweight exercises for traveling to shape your thighs and your butt. This exercise particularly strengthens the m. gluteus maximus (greater gluteus muscle) and the leg extensors (m. quadriceps femoris).
- Stance hip-width apart.
- Body is set upright, abdominal muscles are engaged.
- Look straight ahead.
- Take a big step back (angle between thigh and lower leg of your anterior leg is at 90 degrees).
- The anterior knee should in no case go further than the tip of your foot.
- Bend the front leg and let your back knee drop down towards the ground (until your back lower leg is parallel to the ground).
- Afterwards, push yourself back up with your back leg and pull it to the front.
- Your legs are now in the same position again.
- Continue with the other leg.
Keep your upper body straight throughout the entire exercise and engage your abdominal muscles. Your shoulder blades are pulled back and you should look straight ahead the whole time. Your knees and feet are facing the same direction during the entire execution. You can either let your arms hang next to your body or place your hands on your hips.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Lying Back Extension
Lying back extension is also often called „superman workout“. This exercise specifically targets the strengthening of the back extensor (m. erector spinae). Additionally, the greater gluteal muscles are engaged in this movement to a significant extent.
- Lie down on your stomach and extend your legs backwards and your arms straight to the front.
- Lift your left leg and your right arm (both extended) as far from the ground as possible. Hold this position for a couple of seconds. Then, lower your leg and your arm again and switch sides.
- Lift both arms (extended) as far as possible. Hold this position at the highest point. Lower both arms again, but not completely to the ground, and continue with the next repetition.
- Lift both legs (extended) from the ground. The arms remain in contact with the ground. Hold this position at the highest point and lower your legs again to the ground.
- Lift your legs and arms from the ground at the same time. Hold this position at the highest point. Lower your arms and legs again and continue with the next repetition.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Hip Thrusts (with rings)
Hip thrusts are an exercises for your abdominal muscles for advanced athletes. Especially the straight abdominal muscles and the pyramidal muscle are strengthened with this exercise. There are several possible variations, either with your legs on the ground or up in the air.
Execution with Legs in the air:
- Lie down on your back.
- Your arms are extended to the sides.
- Lift your legs straight up in the air through the two rings
- Engage your abdominal muscles and exhale.
- At the same time, lift your hips and legs up.
- Lift the hips as far from the ground as possible.
- By no means, do not try to gain momentum during the movement!
- Lower your hips again to the ground and inhale while doing so.
- Your abdominal muscles are engaged the entire time.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Standing triceps Extension
Fasten a resistance band underneath your feet, to a door knob, or a tree, or ask your (workout) partner to hold a towel behind your back. Assume a stance that is hip-width apart and grab the resistance band or the towel with hammer grip. The palms of your hands are facing the back of your head. Your elbows should be parallel, and your forearms and upper arms should be in a 90-degree angle. Your shoulder blades are pulled back throughout the entire movement.
Extend your forearms upwards and exhale. At the end of the movement, there should still be a small angle between upper arms and forearms. Inhale and bring your forearms back to starting position.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Reverse Shoulder Press
Reverse shoulder presses are also known as pike push-ups. Place your feet on the bed and support your body with your hands on the ground. Extend your legs without changing the placement of your feet. By doing this, your hips are pushed up in the air and are bent at a 90-degree angle. Your head is facing towards the ground. Your arms are nearly completely extended.
Bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle without changing your body position. You have reached the final position when your head almost touches the ground. Hold this pose for a couple of seconds and push yourself back up afterwards to starting position.
Effective Bodyweight Exercises for Traveling: Rowing at the Table
Rowing at a table mainly strengthens the lat muscles, the trapezius muscles and the teres major muscles.
- Sit down on the ground in front of a table.
- Hold onto the edge of the table with both hands, about shoulder-width apart.
- Place your lower body underneath the table.
- Position your heels on the ground.
- The edge of the table should approximately be above your chest.
- Engage your body.
- Pull your body upwards (until your chest reaches the lower edge of the table).
- Make sure to maintain body tension (do not bend in the hips!).
- Bring your body back to starting position and remember not to extend your arms fully at the end of the movement.
- Continue with the next repetition.
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