Traveling for work can really put a damper on your fitness goals but sometimes it’s a necessity depending on your position and the demands of your day job. Whether you’re stuck in business meetings all day or trying to score a deal with a Fortune 500 company, at the end of the day, you’re going to be stuck in your hotel room wondering why your back hurts and your mobility resembles that of a suit of armor. Time to get moving – here’s a simple workout routine that will work your whole body and promote muscular balance while simultaneously improving core and pelvic stability.
Single Leg Squat to Chair
You can use any sturdy platform for this exercise, but a chair without wheels works best. Setup with your back to the platform just like you’re getting ready to sit into the chair. From here, shift your weight to one leg, pick up the other, and extend it in front of you. Slowly lower yourself to the chair while controlling the eccentric (lowering) component. Once your butt touches the chair, drive off your stance leg, and return to your starting point. Try to not bounce out the bottom or allow your knee to deviate excessively in or out.
Desk Chair Rollouts
Most folks are familiar with ab wheel rollouts but majority of them do it incorrectly. As such, you can simply modify the exercise by using a desk chair and starting on your knees, rather than going from your feet. Kneel in front of the chair, place your hands together as if praying and press them into the chair pad. Begin the movement by leaning forward and allowing your arms to travel overhead as the chair rolls forward and your body extends. If you want to progress the exercise, you can grab onto the plastic wheel spokes found on the bottom of most desk chairs and simply hold onto them as you roll out. This variation is a bit more challenging as you have to watch out for pinched fingers and excessive lumbar extension. However, it can challenge even the most seasoned lifters who are looking to take their core training on the road.
The age old pushup has been used for decades, but they offer a host of benefits for scapular health, core stability, and pelvic control when performed correctly. Not only that, a recent study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that pushups against band resistance provide a similar stimulus as bench press. You can perform them on a flat ground, but if you’re more advanced, you can prop your feet up on the bed or a small bench to add a decline and increase the difficulty. If you’ve access to a book bag, toss some books in, strap it on, and then perform your pushups.
Most folks have performed leg curls on a machine, but you can perform the movement on a physioball or a desk chair. Start by lying on your back (supine) and drive your heels into the pad on the chair. Keep your legs straight and then extend your hips by squeezing your glutes. Ensure the hips stay extended throughout the movement and then curl your heels towards your butt. Reverse the movement and control the eccentric portion as the legs extend and the hips stay up. Make sure you keep your abs engaged and don’t allow your back to arch.
Single Arm Luggage Rows
Dumbbells rows should be a staple for every trainee. Unilateral rows also incorporate an anti-rotation component that helps to train the abdominals, while simultaneously improving back strength. If you’re stuck in a hotel room without access to a dumbbell, simply utilize your luggage as a weight. You can add or subtract clothes or books as needed to adjust the amount of resistance. Stagger your stance, bend from the waist keeping your back flat, and brace your hand against your knee. From here, row the luggage by leading with your elbow and using the cue “pinch and pull”. Make sure that the shoulder blade is moving during the movement and that you’re not limiting scapula-humeral rhythm by moving the arm in isolation.
Most of you would be familiar with regular crunches and sit-ups, but these exercises can force a trainee into end range spinal flexion which could potentially result in disc issues and over recruitment of the hip flexors. That being said, you can make a few simple adjustments that will still allow you to train the rectus abdominis without putting your spine at risk. Lay flat on the floor, reach your arms overhead and hold onto the bottom of the bed frame or use your luggage as a counter balance. Bend you knees and try to keep your heels close to your butt throughout the entire exercise. Curl your knees towards your face and think about “rolling your spine up” off the floor. Don’t use momentum and exhale as you complete the movement. You should be focused on using your abdominals to “pull” your zipper up towards to your face and posteriorly tilt your pelvis.
Putting it All Together
If you notice, this routine contains pushing and pulling elements for both the upper and lower body as well as an anti-extension and flexion component for the abdominal training. If you’re stuck in your hotel room, give this routine a shot. A1 and A2 are recommended to be done consecutively. Repeat for 3-4 rounds depending upon your training experience and time availability.
A1. Single Leg Squat to Chair – 6 Repetitions/Leg
A2. Desk Chair Rollout – 8 Repetitions
B1. Pushup (Decline if necessary) – 10 Repetitions
B2. Desk Chair Leg Curl – 10 Repetitions
C1. Single Leg Luggage Row – 8 Repetitions
C2. Reverse Crunch – 8 Repetitions
Training and Traveling: The Synergy for Success
Traveling doesn’t mean you have to derail from your fitness goals or workout routines if you plan ahead and pack a few essentials. Throw a band, some valslides, and a tub of protein powder into your carry-on bag if you have room. It doesn’t have to be complicated but a little exercise can make all the difference if you’re trying to keep up with your health and fitness on the road. Use what you have and make the best of the situation!
Mike Wines has trained a wide variety of athletes and clients and seeks to provide programming and movement based solutions to match each individual’s goals. He is also the content editor at Muscle & strength.
*Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of Zensorium.
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Calatayud, J., Borreani, S., Colado, J. C., Martin, F., Tella, V., & Andersen, L. L. (2015). Bench press and push-up at comparable levels of muscle activity results in similar strength gains. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 29(1), 246-253.
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