According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 85 percent of hotels have a gym. But how can you continue to work out while traveling when you’re not staying at a hotel?
In 2021 there were 300 million stays in Airbnb properties alone, with 20 percent of those stays for one month or longer. So whether you’re a digital nomad without a gym membership, are on an extended workcation with your family, or traveling for weeks at a time, did you realize that you already have the supplies on hand to work out?
What Happens When You Take an Exercise Break?
Did you know that breaks, even small ones, can turn back the time on your workout progress? According to a University of Copenhagen study, two weeks of skipping exercising can cause a significant loss of muscle strength, even for physically fit people. It took study participants three times the length of their break to regain lost muscle. And the more muscle they had, the more they lost during their time off.
So while lounging at the beach or reading by the pool may be the vacation of your dreams, it’s important to continue strength exercises, even for 30 minutes a day.
30 Minute Strength Training Circuit: 5 Exercises
Whether you’re in home-like vacation accommodations or prefer to exercise while social distancing, it is possible to work out with just your suitcase. There’s no need to spend money on travel weights as the average suitcase weighs 6 to 11 pounds based on size and materials. Additionally, you can fill your bag with pillows, blankets, or towels for added weight.
So pull your luggage out of the closet or from under the bed, and complete this doctor-designed exercise routine with your suitcase. Perform each exercise for three sets of 10 reps or four sets of 8 reps according to your comfort level.
1. Suitcase Carry
Grab the suitcase in one hand, and pick it up by the handle either vertically or horizontally, so the wheels are off the ground. Next, pull your shoulder back and down. Think of driving your shoulder towards your back pocket to ensure you are not rounding forward and straining the wrong muscles.
Then, push your belly out as far as possible to engage your core. Then, start to march in place, ensuring not to tip the suitcase too far over to either your left or right. If you have the luggage in your right hand, you want to resist the weight pulling you to your right. Don’t overdo it and bend too far to your left.
- Rectus abdominis
- External obliques
- Internal obliques
- Transverse abdominis
2. The Zercher Hold Squat
Take your suitcase and place it on your arms, with your palms up. Keep your arms at a 90-degree angle without letting your arms fall. Then, set your feet in a shoulder-width stance with your toes either pointing forward or slightly out. Before squatting, engage your core by pushing out your belly.
Now squat, keeping your knees over your toes, and don’t let your knees buckle in. Next, check to see if your toes are pointing straight ahead and are moving parallel to the floor. Lastly, when squatting, imagine you’re about to sit in a chair without your toes coming up to maintain the proper position.
- Glutes (medius and maximus)
- Transverse abdominis
3. Suitcase Floor Press
Lay on the ground with your knees bent and the suitcase directly next to you. Then, tip the bag over onto your palms and let your arms bend all the way to the floor, pulling your shoulder blades back and down. Think about pinching a pencil between your shoulder blades to prevent your shoulders from rounding forward when completing the exercise.
Finally, check that the suitcase is directly over your chest and that your elbows are at a 45-degree angle. Then proceed to press the luggage to a full press extension, making sure to not hyper-extend your arms. One complete repetition will be up, then all the way down, when your elbows touch the floor.
- Pec Major and Minor
4. Suitcase Single Arm Row
Take your suitcase and lay it on its side, so the strap faces up towards you. Then, put one arm on the bed and the other dangling down towards the luggage. Reach down and grab the strap on the side of the bag.
As you start to pull the strap up, keep your arm at a 90-degree angle with your elbow in line with your torso. Slowly lower the suitcase back down towards the ground. Reset and perform the next rep.
- Posterior Deltoid
- Lower and Middle Trap
5. Suitcase Push Press Squat
First, take the suitcase and hold it vertically. Next, set your feet in a shoulder-width stance with your toes slightly pointing out. Finally, squat down to parallel or what you can tolerate.
As you return to the standing position, press the suitcase up and over your head gradually to a full extension. Then, slowly lower the bag back down to the start position and begin to squat simultaneously.
As you get more comfortable with the exercise, try doing it quickly, making sure it flows from one movement to the next.
- Glutes (Maximus and Medius)
Treat a Suitcase Like Any Weight
When you’re ready to mix it up to prevent workout boredom, consider incorporating your regular weight exercises from home or the gym. For example, do wall sits in your accommodations holding the suitcase tightly against your chest.
Remember, if an exercise is causing pain, don’t push through it. Pain is not weakness leaving the body. It is the body’s way of telling you something is wrong and that you should stop.