Even for the most disciplined athletes, the best-laid workout programs can fall to the wayside by travel. Whether you’re on the go because of the holidays, work, or something else entirely, it’s easy — and frustrating — to see your training fizzle out the moment your plane takes off.
It can be a little easier to stay on track if you have access to a hotel gym. But absent any dumbbells or cable machines to aid your gains, you’ll have to get creative about working out while traveling. Even if you can’t keep up with your precise program, having a solid set of hotel room workouts n your repertoire can help you return to the gym strong and ready to go.
Best Hotel Room Workouts
- Upper Body Hotel Room Workout
- Lower Body Hotel Room Workout
- Full-Body Hotel Room Workout
- Hotel Room Workout for Mobility
- Hotel Room Workout for Cardio
Upper Body Hotel Room Workout
In a hotel room, you’re not going to have access to the pull-up bar, barbell, and weight plates that you’re used to. Instead, you’ll have to get really focused to push your upper body toward the kind of growth you’re looking for.
For these hotel room workouts, you’ll be working without equipment, which means you’ll have to be a bit more creative in your approach. Many times, you’ll want to push yourself toward failure to maximize your potential for muscle maintenance or even muscle growth.
One method for doing this is by doing each set according to how many reps you have before you’ll reach failure. This is often referred to as RIR, for reps in reserve. If an exercise calls for four sets and two RIR, do four sets of the exercise. Perform each set until you estimate that you could do two more reps before reaching failure.
Perform the circuit for three total rounds.
- Scapular Wall Slide: 12-15
- Close-Grip Push-Up: 2 RIR
- Prone Bodyweight Overhead Press: 10-12
- Elbow Push-Up (Up Up, Down Down): 2 RIR per side
- Superman: 12-15
- Push-Up: AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
Modify these moves when you need to. If you can’t perform more than a handful of push-ups with crisp form, modify it so you can get in a bit more volume. Consider doing these from your knees or at an incline instead.
Lower Body Hotel Room Workout
Compared to your upper body, it can be a lot harder to take your lower body to failure with just your body weight. This is where you’ll have to break out more strategies from your intensity-boosting toolbox. You’ll be deploying 1 ½ reps and tempo training to help your lower body really feel the intensity in your hotel room.
A common intensity booster for bodyweight exercises is plyometric work. Jump squats and plyo push-ups are a key part of most high-intensity bodyweight routines. However, you’re in a hotel room for these workouts. This means that you’re likely on a floor above other guests — so a low-impact workout that won’t bang on someone else’s ceiling is key.
You can still get the higher intensity that you need with methods that don’t require you to jump or land heavily on the ground.
Perform the circuit for three or four total rounds.
- Alternating Lateral Lunge: 3 RIR per side
- Tempo Forward Lunge: 8 reps, left leg, 3-2-1-1 tempo
- 1 ½ Rep Bulgarian Split Squat*: 2 RIR per side
- Tempo Forward Lunge: 8 reps, right leg, 3-2-1-1 tempo
- Single-Leg Glute Bridge: 10-15 reps per side
*Make sure your shoes are off and brace your back foot, laces down, on the bed or stable chair as though it were a weight bench.
Rest as needed between sets and circuits, as you want to head into each exercise being able to perform crisp, clean reps. You can decrease or increase the number of rounds you do according to your strength and experience level.
Full-Body Hotel Room Workout
You might be working a full-body split in your regular training program. Or, you might be working a body-part split — where you work different muscle groups on different days — but want to use your travel as an opportunity to diversify your training.
Either way, a total-body workout might well be on your agenda. Use this as an on-the-go intensifier for your workout split or as a continuation of your full-body routine.
For this one, you’ll be making pretty heavy use of the hotel bed or a secure chair as a base for some of your exercises. Since many hotel rooms have desk chairs with wheels at the bottom, make extra sure that it’s stable before using it to assist your exercises.
- Chair/Bed Pike Push-Up + Chair/Bed Bulgarian Split Squat: 4 x 2 RIR
- Side Plank (right side) + 1 ½ Rep Forward Lunge (right leg): 3 x 30 seconds + 10
- Side Plank (left side) + 1 ½ Rep Forward Lunge (left leg): 3 x 30 seconds + 10
- Chair/Bed Dip + Push-Up: 4 x 2 RIR
To make the most of the full-body nature of this workout, you’ll also be deploying supersets (indicated by the + sign). To do so, simply perform the second exercise immediately after the first. If you need to modify either or both of the movements to suit your needs, don’t hesitate to do so.
Hotel Room Workout for Mobility
You don’t always need to go for strength to have an effective workout. Training for mobility while you’re on the road is a great way to support a deload week while focusing on any weaknesses you might have.
The better range of motion you have in your hips, for example, the more comfortable you can get at the bottom of your squat. If you’re currently lacking thoracic mobility, it’s likely that your overhead squat strength is hovering anywhere between suffering and nonexistent. Using your travel weeks for a planned deload and an emphasis on mobility is a powerful weapon against strength plateaus.
Don’t be fooled by the focus on mobility — this workout is still plenty challenging. This isn’t about static flexibility. This is about your ability to develop and maintain strength and safety across a wide range of motion.
- World’s Greatest Stretch: 3 x 6 per side
- Frog Stretch: 3 x 30 seconds
- Three-Way Ankle Mobilization: 3 x 6 per side
- Bodyweight Overhead Squat: 3 x 10
- Crab Reach + Bear Plank: 3 x 6 per side + 30 seconds
For your crab reaches, make sure you’re reaching your hips as far up toward the ceiling as you can. The goal is to make your body as long as possible. Pay attention to your breathing to ensure you’re not holding your breath.
Hotel Room Workout for Cardio
You won’t be able to jump during this cardio routine because if you’re in a hotel, you’re likely stationed on a floor above other guests. You’ll still be able to get your heart rate nice and high, breaking a sweat and giving you exactly the cardio boost you’re looking for.
In a hotel room itself, you might sorely miss the treadmill or stationary bike often offered by hotel gyms. But you can still get in some cardio. For this workout, pay close attention to your rest periods. Keep them as short as you can, aiming to minimize rest and maximize the amount of time you’re moving.
Perform the circuit for three or five total rounds.
- Turkish Get-Up: 2 per side
- Bear Crawl: 20 total crawl steps
- Mountain Climber With Knee-Elbow Touch: 15 per side
- Forward to Reverse Lunge: 8 per side
- Squat into Inchworm into Three Push-Ups: 5
For your bear crawls, you don’t have to go far for this to be effective. Even if you don’t have a lot of floor space, crawl a few short steps forward, then reverse. Go from side to side, too. Make sure your total steps are adding up — but you don’t need to actually travel far.
How to Program Hotel Room Workouts
Every strength athlete approaches travel time differently. Some like to keep as consistent a routine as possible. It might help you to avoid as many gaps or alterations to your program as possible. You might also be the kind of lifter who plans their deload weeks around travel time so that you won’t have to focus as much on precise consistency on the road.
Either way, if you want to incorporate some level of activity into your travel schedule, this is how you can make these hotel workouts work for you.
Sticking to Your (Modified) Program
You might opt for sticking as closely as possible to your current program, even if you don’t have access to a gym. In that case, select your workouts based on how you normally split your training.
If you typically do full-body sessions, you’ll likely want to lean more heavily toward the full-body workout, the mobility workout, and the cardio session. On the other hand, if you typically do a body part or muscle group split, the upper and lower body workouts will come in handy. You still might want to incorporate mobility and cardio workouts to keep your program balanced.
Taking a Deload Week
A deload week will see you performing less work at a lower intensity than normal. This might mean you focus solely on mobility. You might also perform any of the other bodyweight workouts of your choice. Simply alter their intensity level to match what a deload week means to you.
For example, if you’re accustomed to lifting very heavy weights, bodyweight-only workouts might constitute a deload in and of themselves. If you normally lift with somewhat less intensity, you might also choose to decrease the intensity of these hotel room workouts. Perform fewer reps, avoid approaching failure, or perform modified versions of the exercises where necessary.
Focusing on Your Weak Points
Another option for programming training while traveling is to use the time to focus on your weak points. Ask yourself what you normally neglect in your programming and focus there. Maybe you don’t typically incorporate mobility training into your routine. Your hotel room will be a great time and place to get that mobility work in.
Similarly, if you tend to focus on heavy barbells rather than cardio, any of these workouts are likely to give you a nice cardio challenge. The cardio-focused workout specifically might be one to practice during your time away.
Tips for the Best Hotel Room Workout
Having your workout is one thing — knowing how to execute it as effectively as possible is another. Find out exactly how to push your hotel room workouts as hard as you can or customize them to your own needs.
When you’re working out on the road, it’s unlikely that you’ll have access to the same equipment and heavy loads you’re used to working with. In that case, it’s easy to fall into the trap of counting to a mindless number of reps and calling it a day.
Instead, opt for training as close to failure as you can. This will help maximize the effectiveness of your bodyweight workouts, helping you maintain muscle and strength. You might even find that pushing yourself in a way you might normally avoid can improve your strength, endurance, and mental stamina overall.
To effectively and sustainably approach failure, try approaching your sets by pushing through to having two or three reps in reserve instead of counting to an arbitrary number of reps. This way, you’ll be flirting with failure during the majority of your sets. This will help you keep your workouts short and sweet while maintaining a high level of intensity.
Customize Your Approach
You don’t have to be a training expert to customize your hotel workout to suit your own body. Using RIR as a measure of how many reps to do per set does more than just bring your muscles toward failure. It also helps keep your rep scheme personalized to your current abilities.
For example, a typical program might call for 10 reps of push-ups per set. That’s all well and good — if you can perform 10 straight push-ups with good form. By judging based on your RIR instead, you can perform less than 10 if need be — or modify the move as needed to complete a higher volume.
On the other hand, if you can easily perform 25 push-ups in a single set, 10 per set in a hotel room workout won’t generally cut it for you. You can seriously up your volume accordingly by using the RIR method to determine your rep scheme.
Even though you want to be pushing yourself here, always use clean reps with solid form to determine your RIR. So if your form unexpectedly takes a wobble, stop there and call it a set. All the Bulgarian split squats in the world won’t help you much if your form is a shambles.
It’s tempting to call your training a complete wash when you’re on the road. But even if your hotel doesn’t have a gym of its own, you can still turn your room into a training zone. These hotel room workouts can be adjusted as needed to match the needs of your program, or you can just use them as written to keep healthy and fit on the go.
Featured Image: Estrada Anton / Shutterstock