It can seem tricky to stay fit while traveling. Sure, there’s the typical walk or run, but maybe you want to strengthen certain muscle groups or get the kinks out of a back stiff from planes, trains, and automobiles.
If you’re staying in an unfamiliar town where locating a gym is either unlikely or just too cumbersome, try these ten fun, diverse exercises for traveling without a gym — that you can do almost anywhere.
1. Yoga Push-up
After a long time on a plane, your spine will need attention. Thankfully, the yoga push-up improves thoracic spine mobility. After you lower into a basic push-up, release by rocking back on your heels and poking your butt up in the air to extend your spine. If you can’t press your heels all the way down, don’t worry. This exercise will do the trick either way!
For some extra spine love before and after your yoga push-up, try this stretch, which will also release tension in your neck, shoulders, and back muscles. Sit with legs out in front of you, and gradually roll forward and back with your head hanging loosely. To get the most benefit, take your time and savor every moment!
Our hip flexors are those muscles that run from the top of our hips down the side of our thighs. They can get tight easily, especially after sitting for too long. The lying side hip flexion can help with this problem and strengthen your lower back, groin, quads, hamstrings, and other thigh muscles. The video above shows the correct form needed to protect your spine.
4. Oil Rigger
If you’re craving something more creative that will hit your chest, shoulders, triceps, hamstrings, and middle back all at once, try the oil rigger. Instead of holding a parallel position like you would with a push-up, form a diagonal line with one leg up and chin touching the floor. To prevent a mouthful of sand, we don’t recommend oil-rigging on a beach!
Sure, you could do high knees and you could do lunges, but you could also combine the two for an optimal ab, quad, and hamstring workout. Plus, it will amp up your morning before you embark on a sightseeing venture or attend another business conference session.
This plyometric exercise is another way to get your blood flowing. Swing your arms each time you jump, and land in a squat position. Keep your head up and your back straight. You’ll especially feel the burn in your quads, but your hip flexors, glutes, calves, and hamstrings could be a little sore the next day, too. You may not want to do this one if you have a hike on your agenda.
If there’s no pool nearby, try Pilates swimming, where you paddle on the floor without moving anywhere. Not as refreshing, but it works. Lie on your stomach with just your thighs and abdomen touching the floor. Start moving one arm with the opposite leg, and alternate repeatedly. This motion will activate and strengthen your lower back and abs. Pick up speed for a little cardio boost.
If you couldn’t get a Mt. Fuji climb on your itinerary, you can still (sort of) scale a mountain from your hotel room with this exercise. We know, it’s not as exhilarating as dangling from the edge of a cliff, but you’ll get a killer workout from this ground-level climb. Start at a slow speed, and pick it up when you’re ready for a challenge!
9. Side Plank
If you’re hoping for a fresh spin on a basic plank, you can change things up with a little repositioning. A side plank will attack your glutes, abs, and obliques in the best way possible. Just lie on your side, and prop up on one arm while keeping your feet together. You’ll really test your balance with this one. Try it on a scenic balcony, where you can literally open yourself up to the view!
Another dynamic way to work your glutes and abs while you’re out of town is with the glute bridge pulse, a variation of a basic glute bridge. Lift and lower your pelvis at a quick pace without grazing the floor with your butt. Your quads, lower back, and hamstrings will also feel it.
Now that you have this full list, all you have to do is pencil in some workout time while you’re away from home. To work your entire body (almost), do all 10 exercises on your trip, or simply pick and choose à la carte style!
About the author: Lauren Smith is the Managing Editor of Exercise.com. She is passionate about nutrition and holistic health (how the body, mind, and emotions intersect). She lives in Baltimore City, where she writes stuff, plays music, embarks on long power walks through the park, takes contemporary dance lessons, and enjoys healthy, flavorful cuisine. Lauren has also written for Honestbodyfitness.com and Groomandstyle.com.