It’s the start of a New Year, and if you’re like a lot of people, one of your goals is improving your health with exercise. But just a few weeks into 2019, maybe you find yourself in the middle of a weeklong business trip and working out after a long day is the last thing you want to do.
There are a million excuses: “I’m too tired,” “I spent all day with clients; I deserve to relax,” “This hotel doesn’t have a gym,” and of course, “I’ll get back on track when I’m home.”
Sound familiar? If so, Warren Honeycutt – author of “Get Lean for Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss” – says you’re not alone. When you’re on the road, it’s very easy to fall off the wagon because your normal routine is off, you’re not near your gym, and/or you can’t attend your favorite exercise class.
“The last thing you want is to take two steps forward and one, two, or even three steps back every time you have to visit a client or attend a conference,” says Honeycutt. “When you press the pause button on exercise, it’s tough to get back into the routine, and many people never do – they just fall back into their old sedentary habits.”
A respected expert in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, Honeycutt is no stranger to the gym. At age 62, he enjoys perfect health without any prescription medications. Honeycutt offers personalized fitness training through his comprehensive Get Lean program, which features detailed fitness videos for exercising at the gym, at home, at the office, and while traveling; personalized meal plans; motivational material; and more.
The following is a simple 20-minute full-body workout designed to provide maximum results in minimum time, using just a few small props that can easily fit into your suitcase.
What You Need
You need only a few pieces of equipment for a comprehensive hotel room workout: resistance bands for upper and lower body, light dumbbells and support bars. “You can also add ankle and wrist weights for an extra challenge, and a mat if you so desire,” Honeycutt says. “You can find everything you need at any sporting goods store.”
Honeycutt stresses the importance of warming your body up before you dive into more strenuous exercises. Start with neck rolls, going clockwise and then counter-clockwise. Next, move on to arm swings and arm circles to loosen up your chest and shoulders. Lastly, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Bend at the waist to the left, center, and right to prepare your back for the upcoming workout.
“You don’t want to necessarily break a sweat at this stage, but you want your body to be warm,” explains Honeycutt. “Later in the workout you’ll be doing two or more exercises for each area of the body, depending on where you are on your fitness journey. Do each exercise until you become fatigued, rest for 30-45 seconds, and then complete another set.”
Push-ups.One of the best and most well-known arm, bust, and chest exercises, it’s no surprise that Honeycutt includes these upper-body muscle builders. “This is where your support bars come into play – they help you increase the difficulty of this exercise,” he comments. “If you’re a beginner, you can start on your knees and still achieve great results. Proper technique means three seconds down (breathing in) and three seconds up (breathing out). Make sure not to go down too far and overextend your shoulders.”
Dumbbell fly.During this slow, controlled movement, you lie down on your back and grasp your light dumbbells. Bring your arms out to the sides, then directly up right above your shoulders. “Resist the temptation to let your arms touch the floor to prevent resting during each set,” recommends Honeycutt. “And don’t allow the weights to meet at the top because it takes the weight off your chest. You can do this instead of push-ups or in addition to them.”
Seated row.You can do this exercise sitting on the edge of a couch, chair or even the bed in your hotel room. Take your resistance band and loop it around your shoes to create an anchor. Pull the resistance band back toward your sides, squeezing your back each time. “A perfect figure means a balanced back,” says Honeycutt. “This particular exercise also has the added benefit of reducing back pain, which many people suffer from, and increasing flexibility!”
Dumbbell row.Place your right (or left) knee and hand on the edge of a couch or bed, so that your back is roughly parallel with the floor. Place your other foot on the floor for balance and grasp the dumbbell in your free hand. Let your arm hang down and then pull the weight back until the weight is beside your hip. “Make sure you don’t forget to switch arms before resting!” reminds Honeycutt.
Shoulder press.Make a goal post with your arms after wrapping the resistance band under your feet and grasping the ends with your hands. Then straighten your arms upward. “It’s crucial that you keep the weight on your shoulders,” says Honeycutt. “This ensures you are getting the maximum result and will prevent injury. You can also complete this exercise with your dumbbells, if you prefer. Or better yet, switch it up every other time!”
Side lateral.While standing, hold your dumbbell weights at your side. Bring them out to the side until they are just above the shoulder. “Be sure to control your movement,” says Honeycutt. “If you are swinging your arms, the weight is too heavy. Remember that it’s more important to start small and develop proper form. Then you can increase your weight.”
Bicep curl.You can complete this exercise while sitting or standing. Wrap the band around your shoes, grasping the ends in your hands. (If you need to shorten your band to increase resistance, just widen your stance.) Bending your arms at the elbow, bring your hands up toward your shoulders. Be sure to keep your wrists loose, because you don’t want to engage your forearms too much and take the focus away from your biceps. “Feel free to use your dumbbells if you like,” Honeycutt says. “You can also choose to do one arm at a time – just make sure you remember to do both sides!”
Tricep press.Wrapping the resistance band around your feet, use the opposite hand to hold each end. Raise one arm and bend the elbow so that your forearm extends over the top of your head. Press up so that the arm straightens without completely locking. “Don’t drop your shoulder when you return to the starting point,” Honeycutt advises. “Complete sets with each arm, rest, and then start again.”
Tricep kickback.Loop the resistance band around one foot and extend your arm backwards until it is nearly straight, squeezing the tricep. “You can also do this with your dumbbells,” Honeycutt notes. “Remember to keep your shoulder straight and still when using either the band or the dumbbells.”
Tricep extension.While holding one weight above your head with both hands, lower the weight behind your head, being sure not to lower it too far. At its lowest point, the top of the dumbbell should be about level with the top of your head. “The most important thing to remember in this exercise is to keep your elbows in,” says Honeycutt. “It’s a common mistake made by many while completing this exercise, and unfortunately, improper technique will not provide the results you want.”
Leg extensions.Wrap the resistance band around your feet while sitting on a couch, chair or bed. Grasping the ends and keeping your hands by your hips, lift your feet off the ground and extend your legs. Bring the legs in and out on a three-count. “This exercise also has the added benefit of engaging your lower abs – a common trouble spot for many – because you have to keep your balance,” points out Honeycutt. “If that’s too advanced, do one leg at a time!”
Squats.Some call these the king of the leg exercises, and Honeycutt certainly agrees. Again, proper technique is key. As you sit back into the squat, bend slightly at the waist and make sure your chest stays over your knees. Then return to a standing position. “Hold dumbbells or wrist weights for an added challenge,” Honeycutt suggests.
Crunches.Most people know what a crunch is, but many don’t have the proper technique. After lying down on your mat, put your arms behind your head, and bend your legs, keeping your feet on the floor. Bring your head up toward the ceiling. Don’t curl your chin in toward your chest, as that transfers the work from your abs to your neck and defeats the purpose of the exercise. “You can also reach your arms forward if that’s more comfortable,” Honeycutt shares. “To make it a little more difficult, lift your legs up and pull your hips forward at the same time you raise your upper body so that your lower abs are engaged as well.”
In-and-outs.You may know this exercise as “lemon squeezes” or “crunchy frogs.” Lie down with your legs out, balancing on your tailbone. Then pull the legs in toward your chest and back out again. “You can put your arms behind your head or reach them forward,” Honeycutt says.
“Your on-the-road workouts might not be the same type of exercise you’re used to at home, but the important thing is that you don’t drop your fitness routine while traveling for work,” Honeycutt concludes. “This 20-minute workout is one that can be customized and done anywhere, anytime – even while you’re watching TV – which means you don’t have an excuse to fall off the wagon on your next business trip! Remember, your goal is progress, not perfection.”
Warren Honeycutt is the author of Get Lean for Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss. An expert in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, he is a championship bodybuilder who has been a Southern Classic Physique Champion, two-time Mr. Tennessee, and six-time Mr. America finalist. Now, at age 62, he enjoys perfect health without any prescription medications and a physique that is the envy of most 25-year-olds.