I’m currently on vacation in Sin City, and despite the fact that vacation is typically a time for rest and relaxation, I actually prefer to still workout. But there’s one major problem that I, as well as other travelers, will inevitably run into.
Hotel gyms can range from ‘horribly pathetic excuse for a fitness center’ to ‘oh wow this is actually pretty decent’. But there’s a solid chance you will not have access to the same weights and equipment you normally would at home. For example, the fitness center where I’m currently staying has a couple treadmills, a bike, 2 benches, physioballs, med balls, dumbbells up to 50lbs, and a pretty decent cable machine. Not bad for a hotel. The worst I ever experienced was a hotel that offered a single treadmill and a water cooler… and they had the nerve to call it a ‘gym’. That’s like a restaurant serving bologna and calling itself a ‘steakhouse’.
But if you’re to the point where you’re decently strong, 50 pounders might not cut it anymore if you’re looking to still make gains while away from home.
But worry not my sweet little snowflake. Here are some tips to make sure you can still get a kickass lift even in a less than stellar hotel gym.
1. One At A Time, One At A Time!
Training one limb at a time is a great way to stress the body and use about half the load, which is awesome when you don’t have access to heavier weights.
Using one limb at a time will challenge your core a bit more when compared to conventional bilateral lifts because of the offset load compromising your stability. This will force your core to work hard to keep everything in proper position, so you really get a good bang for your buck despite using a lighter load.
Use one weight in one hand to increase the demand for rotary stability, as the weight will pull you down and over to one side. Now your lower body exercise just became a lower body, anti-lateral flexion, and anti-rotation core exercise.
This applies to almost any exercise… split squats variations, single leg RDL’s, lunge variations, single leg hip thrusts, single arm DB bench press, single arm overhead presses, single arm rows… there’s lots of options here.
You could even do a bilateral lift and only load one side of it. For example, if you’re performing a DB RDL, just hold one dumbbell to your side, like a suitcase. This will turn the exercise into more of a dedicated core exercise as you’ll really have to fight to keep your spine in a neutral position, but it’s a solid option nonetheless.
2. I Just Wanna Take It Nice aaaaand Slow.
If there’s one way to really challenge yourself with lighter loads, it’s by manipulating the tempo of which you lift. Slower tempos create more time under tension, which means your muscles are gonna burn like a mother f*cker because they’ll be working for so long.
For example, take an exercise in your program (squats, dumbbell bench press, etc.) and apply this tempo: 4.3.1.
4 seconds on the way down.
3 second pause at the bottom of your rep.
1 second on the way back up.
I guarantee that you will not be able to use a load anywhere near what you’re normally accustomed to, which is great because your hotel probably won’t have those kinda weights anyway. So grab those lighter ones, slow it down, contemplate where you’re gonna lay it down, girl you got me saying my, my, my… WISH THAT I… COULD PULL OOOOOVA… and get this thing started right now.
Don’t act like you don’t love you some old school Usher.
3. Can’t Stop. Won’t Stop.
If slowing down the tempo didn’t create enough of a challenge for you, cutting your rest periods in half sure as hell will.
Have you ever performed a rear foot elevated split squat with a 4.3.1 tempo and a 30 second rest period? You’ll hate your life for those 5-10 minutes because your legs will burn worse than this guys comment.
But you’re gonna get one hell of a workout. I promise you that.
If you normally rest for 2 minutes in between sets, try 1 minute or even 30 seconds.
4. Take Some Time Off.
If all else fails, just take some time off from training. I promise it won’t be the death of you, and your #gainz and hard work will not suffer in any way.
A few days or even a full week off from dedicated training will allow your body to heal, let your central nervous system recover, and provide you with some mental R & R that you may desperately (and unknowingly) need.
You’ll come back refreshed, revitalized, and ready to kick some ass and take some names.
If you still want to do something during this week, you can always do some foam rolling, mobility work, go for a daily walk (I recommend this regardless), play some pickup basketball, go for a hike, etc.
A week off doesn’t mean you have to be a lazy blob of shit 🙂