Hotel Workout Survival Guide

By John Papp

Travel is a necessary part of many of our lives and careers. Some of us will spend countless nights in hotels as we travel across the country or the world for work. If this is you, like many of my own clients, you will learn very quickly the discrepancies between hotel gyms and a regular gym.

Depending on where you are staying you may find a fully stocked gym with top of the line machines, dumbbells, cardio machines, and maybe even a few barbells if you are lucky. On the other hand, you may find that the hotel advertises big things but their “gym” is actually just an old treadmill and a hand me down bow flex machine that the manager didn’t want collecting dust in their basement anymore.

So what should you do?

If the hotel has a gym, utilize it! If not, don’t sweat it. You can still crush it without a gym.

But how?

Fortunately, you don’t need a state-of-the-art-gym to get a good sweat in and keep up with your fitness while you’re on the road. Below are the things that I recommend everyone travels with if they hit the road regularly for work and not just vacation (don’t worry about crushing workouts every day while you’re on vacation, it's vacation after all!).


1) Valslides

Valslides are essentially furniture sliders that work incredibly well for things like bodysaws, pikes, knee tucks, lunges, and a host of other exercises. The great part is they are no bigger than a pair of flip-flops and extremely thin for easy packing.

2) Bands

Carrying a band with you is a great way to incorporate exercises like band pull-aparts, rows, and face pulls without weights or a machine. As an added bonus they can be used to increase the difficulty of pushups, dumbbell bench/floor presses, and even increase the tension on a machine that doesn’t have enough weight for the stronger folks.

3) Suspension Straps

The final piece of equipment that some of my clients carry with them on work trips is a pair of suspension straps. Now, these aren’t completely necessary but if you have the room they can provide a lot of variation for frequent flyers. You can rig them up on your door, on a bar at a park, or even a tree branch (Please make sure its thick enough first!). A few exercises you could do include: rows, face pulls, push-ups, rollouts/fallouts, inverted rows, and the option to make certain exercises harder by placing your feet in the straps.


If the hotel has a quality gym, you are lucky, just do your normal thing!

If it is limited, grab the few things you brought with you and head down to the gym or just stay in your room. Realize that you may not be able to get a heavy lifting session in but you can still get after it. Here is what I recommend to save time.

Step 1: Pick a time period that fits your schedule, it doesn’t have to be long. Thirty minutes is more than enough!

Step 2: Pick five or six exercises and think about movements when choosing, not muscles. Squat, hinge, upper body push, upper body pull, an ab exercise, and maybe even a carry if you have any equipment heavy enough. If weights are limited try to pick unilateral (one leg) exercises for the squat and hinge. Think rear foot elevated split squat and single leg deadlift. If weights are non-existent put your band, valslides, or straps into use.

Step 3: Assign appropriate reps to each movement.

Step 4: Complete a solid warm up, like this one, then set a running clock for twenty to thirty minutes and get after it. Completing as many rounds as possible until the time is up.

Enjoy your travels!

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