Travel can throw a wrench in the best laid workout plans.
Whether it’s business or pleasure, trips away from home and the routine to which we’ve grown accustomed can create major obstacles for folks trying to stick to a workout program. It happens even to the most disciplined of us.
Not to worry. Whether you’re away for the weekend or you’re taking an extended vacation, you can continue to reap the benefits of effective workouts for nearly any goal you have even with little or no equipment. We’re going to take you through options for both bodyweight and light equipment workouts.
5 Key Points
- You can have an effective hotel room workout.
- 20-30 minutes is enough time for a room workout.
- Bodyweight-only workouts can build muscle.
- You can make exercises more difficult with zero equipment by increasing time under tension for the targeted muscle group.
- If you have resistance bands or other travel equipment, you can create a more challenging workout to make progress on your strength or muscle building goals.
How can I get a good workout in a hotel room?
An impressive, no-equipment hotel room workout can happen in just 20-30 minutes with whatever is available to you.
Use the furniture in your room. Many hotel rooms have chairs, tables, and other pieces of furniture that can be used for stability, leverage, or other ways of scaling an exercise. For example, you can use a chair for step-ups and tricep dips and you can use a table for incline push-ups or inverted rows so long as it’s sturdy.
Perform bodyweight exercises. Some exercises that are performed with gym equipment can also be performed without any equipment, such as squats, lunges, and glute bridges. Other traditionally bodyweight exercises that are great to include in any workout are push-ups, tricep dips, superman, and abdominal work.
Plan ahead and bring your own equipment. Both adjustable dumbbells and resistance bands will give you many more options for exercises and loading potential to help you to get a more challenging workout. Planning ahead is a powerful tool that can be used to improve your performance and meet your goals. 
Adjustable dumbbells can be pricey, but if you do much traveling by car or do the majority of workouts at home they are well worth the investment. Adjustable dumbbells take up much less space, are more portable, and are more cost-effective than a full set of traditional dumbbells.
Resistance bands are much less expensive, lightweight, and compacte making them perfect for traveling everywhere. As you might expect, or have already experienced if you’ve used them before, bands work much differently than other weighted implements and even cable systems at the gym. Resistance bands provide a variable resistance, which means that the resistance increases as the band is stretched. You can challenge different muscle groups to varying degrees by keeping an assortment of resistance bands on hand- light, medium, and heavy are a great start.
Do you have hypertrophy goals?
You can still not only maintain your gains, but you can also make progress! While having some form of equipment to add resistance to your workouts would be ideal, calisthenics and bodyweight workouts are still a great way to get in a full-body workout for hypertrophy. They can be done anywhere and they don’t require any equipment.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research provides evidence that bodyweight exercises can be an effective way to build muscle and strength.This study investigated the effects of eight weeks of bodyweight training on muscle mass and strength in untrained males. The participants were divided into two groups: a bodyweight training group and a control group. The bodyweight training group performed a variety of bodyweight exercises, including push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and lunges. The control group did not perform any exercise.
After eight weeks, the bodyweight training group showed significant increases in muscle mass and strength compared to the control group. The bodyweight training group also showed significant improvements in body composition, with a decrease in body fat percentage and an increase in lean body mass. This is great news if you’ll be staying in hotel rooms long-term or on a regular basis.
Some of the exercises you can include in your bodyweight and calisthenics workouts are:
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
If you need to make these bodyweight movements more challenging, try increasing the time under tension (TUT) to any of the exercises we’ve given you below. Time under tension (TUT) is a simple training technique that can be used to increase muscle growth and strength. TUT refers to the total amount of time a muscle is under tension during a single repetition of an exercise. The longer the muscle is under tension, the more time it has to work and the more likely it is to grow.
There are a few different ways to increase TUT. One way is to simply slow down the tempo of your repetitions. This means taking longer to lift the weight and/or lower it back down. For example, while performing a push-up count to 4 slowly as you lower yourself to the ground. You could also add a 2 second pause to your push-up at the most challenging point of the movement.
When you are training for a specific goal, such as hypertrophy, it is extremely important to track your progress. The simplest way to do this is to maintain a workout log. As you get stronger, you should be able to do more repetitions of each exercise or lift heavier weight. This is a good indication that you are making progress via progressive overload. Progressive overload is “the gradual increase in the demands placed on the body over time” and is essential for continued strength and muscle gains.
Now that we’ve convinced you to keep up with your workout routine, let’s start with a hotel room full body dynamic warm-up. Do you really need a warm-up for a no-equipment hotel room workout? Absolutely! Your body still needs to be prepared for the demands of physical activity- and this workout will feel demanding! The warm-up will also reduce your risk of injury, improve your range of motion, and improve your overall performance while increasing blood flow to your muscles.  We’ll give you a few different warm-up options here to choose from.
World’s Greatest Stretch– 5 each side
Lateral Squats– 10 each side
45 seconds Deep Squat
45 seconds Mini-Band Lateral Walk
45 seconds Resistance Band Pull-Aparts
45 seconds Bird Dog
WORKOUT #1 Full Body No-Equipment Hotel Room Workout
Your bodyweight-only workout will consist of three circuits, each with three exercises. The repetitions for each exercise drop by 10 each round. You’ll complete each round 3 times and the goal is to complete each round as quickly as possible.
Repeat for 3 rounds
Jump Squats 30-20-10 reps
Plank with Alternating Arm Raise 30-20-10 reps
Reverse Plank Triceps Dip 30-20-10 reps
Repeat for 3 rounds
Alternating Reverse Lunges 30-20-10 reps
Butterfly Sit-Ups 30-20-10 reps
Mountain Climbers 30-20-10 reps
Repeat for 3 rounds
Narrow-Stance to Wide-Stance Squat 30-20-10 reps
Russian Twist 30-20-10 reps
Plank to Kick Through 30-20-10 reps
WORKOUT #2 Full Body Dumbbell Only Hotel Room Workout
Set a timer for 10 minutes and complete as many rounds of this dumbbell only workout as you can of each exercise in AMRAP circuit #1. Rest for 5 minutes before completing AMRAP circuit #2.
#1 10 Minute AMRAP
10 DB Alternating Reverse Lunge to Bicep Curl
10 DB Sumo Squat
10 DB Step-Up
#2 10 Minute AMRAP
10 DB Thrusters
WORKOUT #3 Total Body Resistance Band Hotel Room Workout
Perform 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions for each of the resistance band exercises below:
Banded Front Squat 3 x 10-12
Band Leg Press 3 x 10-12
Seated Single Arm Banded Row 3 x 10-12
Band Chest Press 3 x 10-12
Band Bicep Curls 3 x 10-12
Band Single Arm Tricep Extension 3 x 10-12
Hotel Room Workout FAQ
Q: How do you get a good workout in a hotel room?
A: Use the furniture: Many hotel rooms have chairs, tables, and beds that can be used for exercises. For example, you can use a chair for tricep dips, a table for inverted rows, and a desk for incline push-ups.
Bring your own equipment: If you have your own workout equipment, such as resistance bands or dumbbells you can bring those with you on your trip. This will give you more options for exercises and allow you to get a more challenging workout.
Use the hotel gym. Many hotels have gyms that you can use for free. This is a great option if you want to stick more closely to your current routine or if you don’t have your own workout equipment.
Q: Is working out in your room effective?
A: Yes. While you might not be getting the exact workout you would be at either your local or home gym, something is always better than nothing. Using light equipment, the hotel gym, or just your bodyweight and the hotel furniture are great options for making the most out of your travel situation. Be creative and have fun with it!
Q: What are the benefits of exercising while on vacation?
A: Sticking with your exercise habit helps you stay in shape, even if it’s not exactly what you would do at your home gym. Your vacation workout will reduce stress, which can be especially helpful if this is a work or family vacation- just saying! You will experience mood-boosting and energy level improvements with regular exercise. Getting your sweat on will help you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply, which can be a challenge when we aren’t in our own comfy beds.
Q: What is a good workout routine for full-time travelers?
A: Here’s an example of a weekly workout schedule:
Day 1: Upper body
Day 2: HIIT
Day 3: Lower Body
Day 4: Go for a walk or run and train Abs
Day 5: Full Body
Day 6: Rest
Day 7: Go for a walk or run and train Abs
Q: Can I achieve hypertrophy while traveling?
A: Yes. Learning how to build muscle using just your bodyweight is a great way to maximize your workouts while traveling, especially if you don’t have access to a gym or other fitness equipment. Calisthenics are a great addition to bodyweight workouts and also don’t require any equipment. As you progress, you can begin to perform more challenging versions of these exercises to make them more difficult. For example, you can do clapping push-ups, which involve pushing yourself up off the ground so that your hands leave the floor and then clapping them together before lowering yourself back down. This variation of the push-up can help you build more strength and power. Be sure to log your workouts to track your muscle-building progress.
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2. Barakat, A., Behzadi, M., & Esmaeili, M. (2017). Effects of eight weeks of bodyweight training on muscle mass and strength in untrained males. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 31(9), 2676-2683.
3. Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Vigotsky, A. D., & Kraemer, W. J. (2015). Effects of different training loads on muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 29(10), 2857-2875.
4. Schoenfeld, B. J., & Contreras, B. (2016). The importance of progressive overload in strength training. Strength & Conditioning Journal, 38(3), 10-17.
5. Ebben, T. W., & Magnusson, P. J. (2005). The effect of warm-up on exercise performance. Sports Medicine, 35(1), 1-18.