How To Workout When Traveling For Work

Staying in shape when you travel can be a challenge. Here are some ways you can stay fit when you're on the road.

Have you ever gotten into really good shape, only to feel like you had to start over when you missed some time in the gym? You're not alone.

Sometimes those breaks in training can be unexpected. Some breaks are a part of otherwise positive events.

What if you're taking a hard earned vacation? What if you can't make it to the gym because you're traveling for work? You certainly don't want to feel like you're going to stop making progress towards your goals.

You can find ways to eat healthy foods when you're on the road. I covered that here in a separate post. The trickiest thing to figure out is protein and refrigeration (a link about that here).

How about exercise?

The good news is, you likely won't lose any of your hard earned muscle if you take a short layoff from training.

The mixed news is that yes, you can fall out of shape while you're away for a couple weeks. Depending on the level of shape you were in, you might rebound fairly quickly.

What if you want to enjoy staying active when you're on the go?

Here are some ways that you can plan to workout when traveling.

Is Your Hotel Gym a Hole-In-The-Wall?

Some hotel gyms look like they haven't been updated since they went in. For regular gym goers and frequent travelers, this is a common complaint.

If you're fortunate, your hotel may have access to a few key amenities:

  • A dumbbell rack, preferably with at least 5-50lb dumbbells if not 5-100
  • An adjustable bench
  • A cable machine
  • Squat rack
  • Standard Barbell
  • Weight plates

If the gym you're in has the above, you're very fortunate. Could there be more equipment? Sure!

Even if you left out the cable machine and brought some bands, you can virtually work every major muscle group with resistance.

Here's an example of a workout you might be able to get in with that level of equipment:

All-Inclusive Hotel Gym Workout

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General Warm-up:

Walk or Jog for 5-10 minutes

Or any activity of your choice

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Dynamic Warm Up:

Ankle Wall Mobility Drill

Reverse Lunge

Lateral Squat

Cat-Camel Stretch

Quadruped Thoracic Spine Rotations

Paired Set A: Perform one set of each exercise back to back

  • Back Squat (Barbell)/Goblet Squat (Dumbbell): 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Chin-up/Lat pulldown machine: 3-5 sets of 1-10 reps (or 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps)

Paired Set B: Perform one set of each exercise back to back

  • Romanian Deadlift (Barbell)/Romanian Deadlift (Dumbbell): 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Shoulder Press (Dumbbell)/Incline Bench Press (Dumbbell): 1-3 sets of 10-12 reps

Accessory Exercises:

  • Single-Leg Hip Thrust (Dumbbell)/Single-Leg Hip Thrust (Bodyweight): 1-3 sets of 10-20 reps
  • Upright Row: 1-2 sets of 10-12 reps
  • Plank: 30-60 seconds
  • Side Plank: 30-60 seconds


Stretch all your major muscle groups.

  • Hamstrings
  • Lower Back
  • Calves
  • Quads
  • Hip flexors
  • Glutes
  • Chest
  • Etc. with exercises of your choice.

What if You Want to Get Out of Your Hotel?

You might have a really crappy hotel gym, or you might want to explore the city some while you're away.

In this case you have two options for exercise:

  • Check out a local gym or fitness studio if they allow drop-in's
  • You can perform bodyweight exercises outdoors at a local park or anywhere

If you find yourself at a gym with unfamiliar equipment, try to make best of the situation. You might not be able to perform all your usual exercises but, you might opt to follow the same "template".

A template is a framework of exercise categories, sets, reps and rest times. Most programs change exercises types of movement but, they're generally similar by design.

An Example Template

Squat or Lunge (1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30-90 seconds rest)

Horizontal Pull or Vertical Pull (1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30-90 seconds rest)

Single-Leg or Double-Leg Hip Thrust or Bridge (1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30-90 seconds rest)

Horizontal Push or Vertical Press (1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30-90 seconds rest)

Hip Dominant or Hamstring Dominant or Straight-Leg Hip Dominant (1-3 sets of 8-12 reps, 30-90 seconds rest)

Glute Accessory Exercise (1-2 sets of 10-30 reps, 20-90 seconds rest)

Linear or Posterior Core Exercise (15-25 reps or 30-90 seconds, 20-30 seconds rest)

Lateral or Rotary Core Exercise (15-25 reps or 30-90 seconds, 20-30 seconds rest)

This template is an example of a full body workout. If you notice, it almost follows the exact same layout as our All-Inclusive Hotel Gym Workout. It's very balanced and emphasizes the legs/glutes.

Following this template, you might get to your hotel gym and find out that they don't have barbells. That will not be a problem for you since you know you can swap in dumbbell exercises.

What if there isn't a gym in your area? Read on.

What exercises can you do in your hotel?

When there isn't a good gym around you might opt to not workout at all. Since that isn't the route you want to take, working out in your hotel room might be for you.

We're going to cover all of that next week in a separate post on How to Get in a Simple Hotel Room Workout.

Be on the lookout for it!

There are a few takeaways here:

You have options when you plan to travel, your hotel may have a decent gym

If your hotel gym isn't that great, opt to shop around for a local gym or training studio

You're never truly out of options, you can exercise without equipment

The hardest part is planning to be away and then deciding if you will try to exercise. Some trips are last minute. It's alright to plan, sometimes plans change.

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Steven Mack is founder and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist at the private training studio, Simple Solutions Fitness. He consults for Stronger by Science, a leader in fitness research dissemination, and is a former Mizzou football walk-on. Steven dedicates his professional life to helping people through his writing, speaking, and role as a personal trainer.