Twenty-minute hotel workouts to keep you fit and strong while you travel

This winter, I escaped Sydney for a three-and-a-half week adventure to Europe. (It was terrific, thanks for asking.) I intentionally didn't do much exercise while I was travelling, aside from walking — no one should feel pressured work out when they're on holiday, and there was a definite upside to giving my body a break from the gym.

The definite downside is that strength and fitness which takes months to build up fades shockingly and unfairly fast when you stop training. That meant my first few post-holiday sessions back in the gym were grim torturous death. (Though for some reason, no one lends you much sympathy after you've spent the last few weeks filling Instagram with smug beach photos.)

To avoid losing that hard-earned strength and fitness, it's not a bad idea to do some exercise on an extended vacation. If your hotel or resort doesn't have a decent gym, or if there isn't one near your Airbnb, pack a resistance tube — basically an inexpensive strip of rubber with handles at each end.

These things are a must-have: they dramatically increase the number of exercises you can do in your hotel room, without adding much weight to your suitcase. (I've bought several PTP Powertubes, in varying levels of resistance.)

20-minute travel workouts

Both of the below workouts are timed, so you'll need to download an interval timer app on your phone to keep track of the sets. (My go-to for iPhone is called Interval Pro.) 

Program the timer to run for 40 seconds of work followed by 20 seconds of rest. After your warm-up, start the timer and do all eight exercises in your chosen workout. Take a minute-long break, then do all eight again.

Cardio workout

Fact: I once did a variation of this workout on the banks of the Seine while visiting Paris with friends. The locals looked at us like we were doing voodoo — apparently the French don't work out, at least not in public.

  1. Inchworms
  2. Seal jacks — like a jumping jack, but keep your hands at eye level instead of overhead.
  3. Frog squats
  4. Ice skaters
  5. Squat jumps — reach right down and touch the floor with your hands, then throw them overhead as you jump up. Do a regular bodyweight squat for a lower-impact version.
  6. High-knee run
  7. Mountain climber sprint
  8. Burpees — you didn't think there'd be a bodyweight workout without burpees, did you?

Strength workout

Keep your resistance band close by when you start this workout.

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  1. Sumo bodyweight squat — Stand with your feet wide, which targets a little more of your butt.
  2. Push-ups — here's my pointers on getting more from your push-up.
  3. Bent-over row
  4. Shoulder side raises
  5. Tricep kickbacks
  6. Bicep curls
  7. Stationary lunge — stay on the same leg for the first round of the workout, then switch to the second leg for the second.
  8. Plank

According to Sam Downing, the secret to wellbeing is just to keep it simple. A qualified personal trainer, fitness instructor and nutrition coach, Sam is also a writer focusing on everyday health.

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