While using purpose-built gym equipment like dumbbells & barbells, benches, Smith machines, or cables are undoubtedly the most effective way to improve your strength and conditioning; there are alternative ways of working out when you may not have access to your local gym.
Here are our top 4 methods for keeping fit with weight-free workouts:
1. High reps & higher intensity
Give your muscles a change-up from the regular 8-12 reps, and perform sets of 20-30 until you reach the magic “100”. Perfect for a hotel room workout, try super-setting bodyweight squats with push-ups or dips on the edge of a chair. For maximum effectiveness, change the stance of your squat (i.e. feet slightly narrower or toes pointing more outward), or add weight to your exercises in the form of a backpack filled with your travel belongings (a couple of full water bottles work well!).
2. Isotension – flex hard & hold!
Either right before or right after a set, flex the muscles used to induce further fatigue and improve results. As an example, flex your chest and triceps as hard as you can for a full ten seconds, and then immediately perform your set of push ups. Once finished, stand up and continue to flex the muscles for another 10 seconds. This will challenge even the most dedicated push up enthusiast!
3. Shorter rest times
One of the best ways to increase the difficulty of a workout without a gym is to incrementally decrease the rest time between sets. Start by performing your set of 20-30 reps of bodyweight squats, then waiting a full minute before the next set. Perform another 20 reps, then rest for only 30 seconds before the next set, etc. Once you are resting for <15 seconds between sets, the intensity seems to go through the roof!
4. Make-your-own weights
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of trying to work out on vacation is gaining access to weights once you’ve exhausted your list of calisthenic exercises. The good news is that it is extremely easy to add resistance to a variety of bodyweight exercises! The aforementioned backpack idea is a good start, but for an added challenge, try doing overhead squats holding a suitcase. Or, if you have young children, performing lunges while taking them for a shoulder ride means that you get your holiday workout in while having a fun bonding session simultaneously.