No Gym, No Problem – the 20-Minute Workout You Can Do in Your Hotel Room

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Hotel Room Workout
Photo: Courtesy of Equinox

You find yourself in a hotel room after spending a considerable amount of time traveling by plane, train, or – even worse – by car. You want to work out, but the hotel gym is either non-existent or leaves a lot to be desired. What’s a girl to do?

Well, you’re in luck. This full-body workout requires nothing but two light bottles of water and can be performed anytime and anywhere. It focuses on building strength through your posterior chain, which, if you do a lot of sitting or are inactive in general, can benefit greatly from being kicked into gear and woken up. It also promotes the opening of your hip flexors and shoulders and builds your core strength and coordination. In addition to that, there are simple yet effective cardio elements sprinkled in between to get your blood pumping and increase your fat burning. Including the warm-up, this quick and effective routine will take you less than 20 minutes.

The Warm-Up

After spending a long time sitting, no matter your mode of transport to the hotel, you want to address the obvious areas, like tight hips and hunched shoulders, and spend some time during your warm-up stretching these areas and mobilizing your body – get the juices flowing, so to speak.

The quickest and most efficient way to get your body prepped for your hotel-room workout is by simply combining two movements that will help you warm up and mobilize your body through increasing your hip and spinal movement.

Spider Lunge Plus Reach

Lower yourself into a high plank position to begin, then step your right foot outside of your right hand. Next, reach your right arm towards the sky, rotating through your thoracic spine i.e. your upper back. Now, place your hand back on the ground and step the right leg back to return to the high plank and repeat on the other side. This dynamic stretch addresses your tight hips as well as tight shoulders and upper back. Keep alternating sides for one minute.

Cat and Cow

Kneel down on the ground in a table-top position and start mobilizing your spine and shoulders by posteriorly tilting your pelvis as well as protracting your shoulders, i.e. rounding your back like a cat to begin. The other move in this beautiful stretch is achieved by anteriorly tilting your pelvis and retracting your shoulders, i.e. arching your back like a cow. Move through this warm-up exercise for one minute.

Repeat these two movements two to four times and you’ll be ready for your workout.

The Workout

Round 1:

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second transition into the next move.

Side plank on your left side only
Tucked V-sit
Single-leg hip lift on your left side only

Round 2:

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, with a 10-second rest in between.

High knees
Jumping jacks
High knees

Round 3:

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second transition into the next move.

Side plank on your right side only
Tucked V-sit
Single-leg hip lift on your right side only

Round 4:

Perform each exercise for 20 seconds, with a 10-second rest in between.

High knees
Jumping jacks
High knees

Round 5: 

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second transition into the next move.

Full high plank with alternating shoulder taps
Double-leg hip lift
Arched body hold

Round 6: 

Perform each exercise for 45 seconds, followed by a 15-second transition into the next move.

Bodyweight squat
Elevated push-up
Bent-over W-raise (with two water bottles)

The Side Plank

Position your forearm on the ground and extend your legs out to the side, bringing your top foot in front of your bottom leg to create a stable base. Now, drive your hips up off the ground and stabilize through your forearm and the blades of your feet, creating a straight line heel to shoulder.

The Tucked V-Sit

Lie on your back on the ground with your arms stretched out behind your head. Next, pull your knees into your chest while simultaneously raising your upper body off the ground and reaching your arms next to your thighs, stabilizing on your tailbone.

The Single-Leg Hip Lift

Laying on your back with one leg bent at roughly 90 degrees and your foot placed close to your gluteus, raise the other leg straight up towards the sky. Tilt your pelvis to flatten the back to the ground and press through your heel to raise your hips off the ground in order to activate your posterior chain, i.e. your gluteus, hamstrings, and lower back.

High Knees

Standing tall, start running on the spot and bringing your knees up to about hip level while simultaneously moving your arms back and forth as a sprinter would. Focus on driving your elbows back to generate power.

Full Plank Shoulder Taps

Starting in a high plank position with your hands and feet about shoulder-width apart, focus on drawing your belly button towards your spine to maintain stability and avoid rotating through your torso and hips. Next, take the right hand to tap your left shoulder and then repeat on the other side.

The Double-Leg Hip Lift

Laying on your back with your legs bent and your heels close to your butt, tilt your pelvis posteriorly in order to flatten the lower back to the ground and drive through your heels to raise the hips off the ground so that your knees, hips, and shoulders create a straight line when viewed from the side.

The Arched Body Hold

Laying on your front with your arms along your side, rotate your thumbs up towards the sky externally, rotating your shoulders as well. Raise your chest and thighs off the ground in order to activate your posterior chain and open up through the front of the body.

The Squat

Standing tall, sit back into your heels and raise your arms out in front of you for counterbalance until your knees are at about a 90-degree angle, and then return to standing.

The Elevated Push-Up

Find a table or chest of drawers where you can place your hands and align your body in a high plank. Rest on the balls of your feet so that you can effectively load up through your chest, shoulders, and triceps while you lower your chest to the edge of the furniture in between your hands.

The Bent-Over W-Raise

Holding two full bottles of water, hinge forward at the hip, keeping a slight bend in your knees and your head neutral. From there, raise your elbows out to the side and up towards the sky. Once your elbows reach shoulder height, rotate your hands up towards the sky externally, rotating at the shoulder.


Roberto Julio is the head trainer of the newly opened Reform Athletica in Dubai.