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Interest in working out while on the road is on the rise — but not all travelers have access to a gym. And according to a 2017 study from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, though 46% of hotel guests have every intention of using a fitness center during their stay, only 22% follow through.
Fortunately, you can increase the likelihood of sticking to an exercise and wellness routine by showing up prepared.
The Points Guy spoke with Daniel Giordano, co-founder of Bespoke Treatments Physical Therapy in New York City (a company that’s worked with everyone from frequent flying CEOs to Olympic athletes), about easy equipment-free exercises you can do in your hotel room.
With this seven-step routine, Giordano promises you’ll “get your heart rate through the roof and burn calories” during your next hotel room workout.
For each of these exercises, don’t worry too much about the number of repetitions. Instead, Giordano suggested, “set a timer and do interval training.”
Start with 30 or 45 seconds on, doing as many reps as you can in the time given, and then take a 15-second break. Run through all seven exercises once, and repeat the series two more times.
In roughly 15 minutes, Giordano said, you can “go back and sit by the pool.”
“With this type of routine, you’re hitting aerobic and anaerobic,” he added. “It’s a fully-body, high-intensity cardiovascular workout.”
Though all of these exercises can be done without any equipment, Giordano does recommend packing a few tools in your suitcase.
What to pack
“I ask [my clients] to travel with a [compact] foam roller or mobility tool.” Giordano recommends the The Stick. Like a foam roller, The Stick (from $30) is used to release knots from muscles, while also improving circulation.
Giordano is also a fan of RockBalls (from $28) — a more targeted mobility tool that “breaks up adhesions” and “relieves [pain].”
Finally, toss a TheraBand resistance loop (from $6) into your suitcase, which can be used to increase the difficulty of most exercises listed below.
This foundation exercise, Giordano explained, focuses on strengthening the posterior chain (including the gluteus maximums, erector spine muscles and hamstrings, among others). If you can do a simple bridge, kick the exercise into high gear by getting up on your toes. “It gets the calves to fire,” Giordano explained.
Start in a neutral plank position on your hands and toes — and be sure to “lift from your abdominals, not your hip flexors,” Giordano said. Pull your knees to your chest one at a time, keeping your pelvis tucked and butt slightly lifted. “Make it harder,” said Giordano, “by doing cross-body mountain climbers.”
After you’ve finished the set of mountain climbers, hold a plank — either on your hands or elbows. According to Giordano, the straight-arm version is slightly more challenging, because it incorporates the shoulders. But if you have any shoulder pain, go to your elbows, making sure your shoulders are depressed and retracted.
After a 15-second break, It’s time for burpees. This intense full-body movement starts in a standing position with your feet should-width apart. Jump through a squat into a push-up position, and lower yourself all the way down to the floor. Push back up from the floor into a plank, and jump back into a squat before standing up straight.
“If you are having pain and you can’t get all the way down to the ground, an alternative movement is a squat thrust,” Giordano said. Like a burpee without a push-up, simply jump from a squat into a plank, and back into a squat.
Squats and Squat Jumps
In a squat, Giordano explained, “you’re pushing through your heels from your butt.” To make sure you’re working your glutes, and not leaning forward (which can put pressure on your knees) check that you can wiggle your toes while you’re in the bottom of the squat. Move through as many as you can during the interval before moving into squat jumps.
Don’t worry about bothering your neighbors with your squat jumps. “You don’t want to hear yourself land. You want to be soft — land like a ninja.”
Keep a bend in the knees and focus on moving through a squat into a jump upward with a soft landing. Even if you only do five squat jumps, Giordano said, you’ll elevate your heart rate.
Side Plank Push-Up
The final exercise in this routine is a push-up that moves into a side plank. To execute a side plank push-up, simply rotate through a push-up between every side plank. “If that’s too easy,” Giordano said, “you can do [the exercise] with a resistance band.”
Looking for more ways to stay fit on the road? Check out our illustrated guides to exercising and stretching on a plane — yes, even in economy — and getting a solid workout in the hotel swimming pool.
Know before you go.
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