It’s that time of year again.
The time where you get to get drunk, catch up with old friends, and give zero fucks about your lack of dance moves.
That’s right my friends, summer is here and that means one thing: wedding season.
A 3-month blitzkrieg of travel, food, booze, thrashing around a dance floor like a drunken Irish sailor at a Flogging Molly concert, and stories that end with you going home with the bride’s aunt. Or was it the groom’s?
What was her name again?
Between wedding cake, the all-you-can-eat meatballs at the reception buffet, and the free flow of booze, you’re about to enter a span of time that makes the holiday season look like child’s play.
To make matters even worse, the hotels you’ve booked don’t have gyms – at least not legit ones. The few that do have gyms only have a treadmill, an elliptical, and the loneliest medicine balls you’ve ever seen.
When it comes to exercise while traveling, bodyweight training is often the only option. Luckily, that doesn’t mean you have to train differently: you can use the exact same principles in your hotel room as you do in the gym. These principles include:
Barbell circuits are great for ramping up your heart rate and increasing fat loss, but bodyweight exercises make transitioning from one exercise to the next seamless.
They allow you to move from a push-up to mountain climbers to a forearm plank without ever having to stop and prepare for the next movement.
Explosive exercises force your body to rapidly contract the muscles into action. This will force your nervous system to recruit more muscle fibers that you’d otherwise leave on the sidelines. Additionally, there’s a lot of research that explosive exercise movements, at best, increase hypertrophy, and at worst help you maintain muscle (1). Either way, that’s a win.
Roman once said, “The road to shredded is paved in single-leg exercises.”
Unilateral movements burn a ton of calories. Bulgarian Split Squats, single leg RDLs, or pistol squats increase core activation and recruit additional stabilizer muscles to keep you balanced and aligned. The harder your body has to work, the more calories you’ll burn.
Unilateral exercises also have the obvious benefit that you don’t need to use as much, if any, weight. They can be challenging enough on their own to get a great workout stimulus.
Bodyweight training should be treated like sex: use multiple positions (or angles) to get the job done.
Change the positioning of your hands and feet during push-ups, hip thrusts, lunges, or glute bridges. These small changes not only spices up the mundane, but they can also allow for increased range of motion and muscle recruitment. For example, doing push-ups with a narrow grip will shift the tension to your triceps.
Because abs. Duh, bruh.
Exercise selections for a bodyweight routine don’t need to be complicated. Like all things in life, follow the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). This is a good rule of thumb for a lot of things including your sanity and your mental health. All you need are the six exercises below combined with the principles above to create the best damn hotel workout ever.
– Squats (or split squats)
– Single Leg RDLs
– Glute Bridges
The only rule you need to follow is that all of the exercises must be performed in a circuit. You’re looking to ramp up your meatball-crushing metabolism and get your body working overtime, so keep rest periods short.
Remember, it’s all for the meatballs.
Start your circuit with an explosive movement like jump squats, star jumps, plyo push-ups, or lunge jumps. Then quickly move into a unilateral movement like Bulgarian split squats, single-leg hip thrusts, single-leg Romanian deadlifts, or pistol squats.
Play with the position of your hands during push-ups or tinker with the angle at which you perform the push-up (decline or incline).
For the lower body, the best way to accomplish hitting all angles is to open your hotel room door, step out into the hallway, and do a set of what I call “Hyrulian Lunges.” They’re walking lunges where you do a set of long stride lunges, followed by normal stride, and then narrow stride.
Longer stride lunges ignite your gluteus maximus, while shorter strides torch your quads. Add in the core activation and all the stabilizer muscles that fire during this sequence and it’s a party for your whole lower body.
Finish it all off with 60 seconds of planking. Rest for 90 seconds and complete all your exercises in the circuit four to six more times.
Now, that I’ve given you general tips on how to create a hotel workout, let me bestow upon you the two best damn hotel room workout, ever. With just these too simple workouts, you can train your full body.
Perform all exercises with little to no rest between. Rest for 90 seconds between circuits. Perform 4-6 circuits.
Perform all exercises with little to no rest between. Rest for 2 minutes between circuits. Perform 3-4 circuits.
Bodyweight training might not be as exciting as hoisting 225 pounds over your head or ripping 500 pounds off the floor, but by using the same principles you use in a gym, you can ignite your metabolism, stay fit, and still enjoy the inevitable onslaught of calories. (You may even build some muscle.)
Sometimes a hotel gym will have a few dumbbells in a bench. With access to these, I’d recommend throwing in some dumbbell rows, cable rows, or resistance band rows. Whatever you have access to. That’s because training the back without equipment is tough. Beyond that, just use whatever they have at their disposal to add load to your movements. Even if it’s just light dumbbells.
Sometimes, hotel gyms will include some wacky pieces of equipment. I’ve even seen a shake weight on a few hotel gyms. Most of the time, there’s a reason normal gyms don’t have them. However, if you want to get creative for your own fun, go for it.
When all you have is your bodyweight, it can be tempting to start doing really stupid exercises just because they get your heart rate up. The most popular stupid exercise out there is probably burpees, so avoid those like the plague. #teamnoburpees. If you want to just get your heart rate up and get a cardio effect, find a place to do some jumping jacks, or head into the parking lot and do some sprints.
Also, sit ups. Those are still mostly dumb. If you’re looking for a great, full-body core exercise, try for the Turkish get up,