If you’re planning on traveling soon, one of the big questions on your mind might be where to work out. If you’re at a hotel, there might be a gym available, but otherwise, count on not having access to any kind of regular equipment.
But that doesn’t mean you should neglect your workout; that goes double if you’re an athlete too. According to a recent study, four weeks or less of inactivity can drop your V02 max (the maximum amount of oxygen your body can use) between four to fourteen percent. After four weeks? Expect it to drop between six to twenty percent.
Rather than sit and moan about all the things you can’t do, consider using this time as a way to change up your routine. Here are three ways you can use this time effectively:
1. Try a short, intense workout
HIit, or high-intensity interval training, routines are all the rage right now, not only because they save time, but also because they’ve been proven to be super effective. The key here is to focus on intensity, not necessarily the duration. Make your workouts effective by throwing everything you have at it, and watch the results.
2. Try Cross-training
If your body is used to doing the same workouts over and over and over again, try mixing it up and doing something completely different. Normally use the treadmill? Find a rowing machine. Love lifting dumbbells? Try a kettlebell. By adopting some “muscle confusion” techniques, you’ll see quicker gains than you would by simply lying around on your hotel bed for a couple weeks.
3. Choose Cardio over Strength
Remember, your VO2 max will deplete faster than your muscles will, so if you’re definitely strapped for time or equipment, go for the cardio burn instead. Those are more important to keep elevated; your muscles will return faster once you get back to your normal routine.
Those are a few options that you can utilize to help keep your fitness levels up while you’re away from your normal routine, but luckily for you, one of the best pieces of equipment you can use is with you all the time: your body! If you’ve never tried doing simple body-weight exercises, vacation is the perfect time to start. They’re convenient, you can do them anywhere, and they’re very effective.
Besides having a host of health benefits, such as decreased joint and bone pain and lower stress levels, body-weight exercises are perfect for people who may be intimidated by a gym. They are more forgiving than a hard weight, and more modifiable than an exercise machine. Moreover, for women who are worried about looking too masculine, body-weight exercises provide the perfect balance of strength training and cardiu that ends up creating a toned and athletic physique.
So where do you start?
Here are some basic body-weight exercises that you can do anywhere, even in a hotel room.
Raise your arms out in front of you, equal with your shoulders, and drop your rear end to the ground, keeping your back straight and making sure you don’t drop your knees too low. If necessary, bring a chair up behind you to sit down on, that way you keep your balance and don’t fall backwards. Alternatively, you can amp up the intensity by raising your arms up above your head, or by adding a small jump after you stand back up.
2. Incline Pushups
Place your hands on the edge of a bed or desk, and leave your feet on the floor, and slowly lower your body until your chest meets your hands. Incline pushups work the chest muscles, but don’t put too much strain on your joints and ligaments. Want to make it harder? Try a regular pushup by putting both your hands and your feet on the ground, or switching it up by putting your feet on the bed and your hands on the ground. Decline pushups are much harder, but also provide the most gains.
3. Back Rows
Since you’re on vacation, you most likely have a bag or suitcase handy, so try doing a one-arm luggage row to work your back muscles into shape. Bend over next to your bed, and place one knee on the bed itself. With the arm opposite the bent knee, reach down and pick up the bag, bringing it up to your shoulders and back down, keeping the back and your other arm straight. Lay underneath a desk or table and pull yourself up to it, raising the legs on a desk chair if you want to make this exercise harder.
Lay on your back, and bring your knees up over your body and towards your chest, then gently lower them back to the ground. Do this several times, then twist over on either side to work the obliques. If you want to take it up a notch, extend your feet into the air once you bring the knees in. This will work your lower back muscle even more, and add more intensity to the exercise.
If you’ve done these simple bodyweight exercises, you’ve successfully worked every part of your body – upper, lower, abs, and back. Amp up the intensity throughout the course of your vacation if you get bored, and notice how much better your normal workouts will be when you get back!