Holiday Travel Workout: Six Exercises to Keep You Fit

Photo Credit: Nicolas Smith
Staying fit while you travel can be a bear. Without a gym, you can find yourself stuck in a hotel room or bedroom feeling, well, not so fit. To help keep you in shape this holiday season and beyond, asked Devin Wicks, ACE, AFAA, a fitness operations director at the University of California, Berkeley, and specialty strength coach for some of the University's premier sports teams, to develop a simple full-body program you can do anywhere in a short half hour a day. Wicks created a program that goes beyond standard calisthenics to keep your muscles working and heart pumping. All you’ll need is a small amount of floor space—your hotel room or bedroom will do fine—and an exercise tube.

Why Buy an Exercise Tube?
If you do not already have an exercise tube at home, consider investing as little as $10 to get one. Exercise tubes are an inexpensive and excellent workout accessory that can easily fit in even the most overstuffed suitcase. You can find them at just about any sports store or at online discount retailers like

Exercise tubes help add resistance to your workout no matter how small the workout space. The exercise tube provides an easy-to-pack alternative to weights that will provide a fair amount of resistance and allow you to mimic just about any gym exercise.

If you don't have an exercise tube and are unable to buy one, try's tube-free Hotel Workout from strength specialist Mike Clausen.

Added Intensity + Reduced Recovery = Increased Difficulty
Of course, while the exercise tube provides some resistance, it can’t replace the heavy lifting of free weights or barbells. How to solve this? "Go for added intensity instead of added resistance, and allow shorter recovery between exercises,” Wicks says. That means doing exercises that work multiple muscle groups at once. For example, while you could just do a bicep curl with an exercise tube, you will get better results from doing a bicep curl in combination with a lunge, as described below. You won’t necessarily get bigger or stronger if you're already gym-trained, but you’ll at least maintain what you’ve got.

For the exercises below, do a circuit of one set of each of the following six exercises all the way through without resting. Next, allow a short two-minute recovery before repeating the whole sequence again. At the end of the second circuit, allow one more two-minute recovery period, and repeat the circuit a third and final time. Expect to sweat—you’ll get a good cardio and strength-training workout in a half hour or less.
Exercise Primary Muscles Worked Description Set 1 Reps (Goal) Set 1 Reps (Actual) Set 2 Reps (Goal) Set 2 Reps (Actual) Set 3 Reps (Goal) Set 3 Reps (Actual)
Modified Tube Push-ups Chest, Shoulders, Core Wrap the exercise tube behind your back and loop it around your hands so that it won’t slip through them. Lie face down on the floor, with your hands pinning the tube just under your shoulders, and the tube tight (but not taut or strained) across your back. From this position, keep your back and hips flat as you press your shoulders up in a push-up. As you rise, you will need to press through the resistance of the tube. From the top of your push-up, slowly lower yourself back to the floor, resisting the downward pull of the tube as you do so. Throughout, your legs, hips, back, and head should remain in a straight line. Max out Max out Max out
Lunging Tube Biceps Curls Legs, Biceps Attach the tube to a fixed point, preferably low down near the ground. Make sure the point is really fixed—nothing that will move when you pull on it. For example, a chair leg won’t do for this (unless bolted to the floor), but a fixed and strong banister will. Stand facing the point of attachment and take one handle in each hand and extend your arms in front of you with palms facing upward. Step back until you can feel tension in the tube. Bend your elbows and bring your upper arms to your sides, with your forearms parallel to the floor and palms up. Lunge forward with one foot, dropping down through the back knee as you bend the front knee. There should still be tension in the tube, even as you lunge forward. As you press back out of the lunge, bend your elbows to curl both hands toward your shoulders. Lunge forward again with the other foot; as you lunge forward, extend your arms again. Continue to alternate lunges, performing a bicep curl each time as you step back out of the lunge. 12 each leg (24 total) 12 each leg (24 total) 12 each leg (24 total)
Single-Leg Reverse Tube Flys Back, Abdominals, Core This back and shoulder exercise adds a balance challenge that will work your abs and entire core. Wrap the tube around a fixed point of attachment at shoulder height. Extend both arms toward the tube’s point of attachment and step back until the tube has some tension in it. Now, stand on one foot. Bring the arm on the side of the standing foot straight back in a reverse chest fly—keeping the arm extended, bring it straight out to the side, as if opening a door with a straight arm. Repeat for a set on one side, then switch feet and arm to work the other side. In each case, make sure you are standing on the foot on the same side as the working arm. 12 each arm (24 total) 12 each arm (24 total) 12 each arm (24 total)
Plank Reverse Tube Flys Abdominals, Core, Back Plank reverse tube flys are primarily a core and abs exercise. Take up a plank position on the floor with the tube wrapped around one hand and the other hand holding the opposite handle. Place your feet shoulder distance apart for stability. Next, move the hand with the tube wrapped around it toward the center of your body so that it becomes more weight-bearing than the other hand. Keeping yourself in a flat plank position (no twisting and no drooping or piking upward), bring the hand holding the handle straight out to the side, keeping your arm extended until it is level with your upper back. The other hand should keep the tube pinned as you do this. Lower the arm and repeat for a full set before switching sides. 12 each side (24 total) 12 each side (24 total) 12 each side (24 total)
Tube Shoulder Squats Shoulders, Legs Lay the tube on the floor and stand on it with both feet, feet slightly wider than hip distance apart. Take one handle in each hand and bend your elbows to bring your hands up to your shoulders, with palms facing forward. The tube will pass behind your forearms. From the standing position, sit into a squat, pressing your hips down and back as you lower your shoulders. Keep your chest lifted as you do this and a natural arch in your back. Your hips and shoulders should lower at the same rate. From the bottom of your squat, rise back to standing, bringing your hips and shoulders up at the same rate. As you stand, press your arms straight toward the ceiling from your shoulders in a military press. This will leave you standing with your arms extended toward the ceiling. From this position, once again sit into the squat, bending your elbows to bring your hands back to your shoulders as you do so. To shift this exercise from shoulder-focused to back-focused, push up in the military press as you sit into the squat; as you rise out of the squat, bring your arms back down. 12 12 12 N/A
Triceps Dips with Feet on Floor Triceps Sit on the long edge of a bathtub, a hard bed, or a very stable chair, with your hands at your sides on the surface you're sitting on and your fingers facing your feet. Place your feet on the floor in front of you so your knees are a little more than a right angle. The smaller the angle, the easier the exercise will be. Grip the edge with your fingers and tuck your chin down a bit toward your chest. Engage your arms and lift yourself off so that you are being held up by your hands on one bench and the heels of your feet. From the starting position, lean your upper body forward slightly and slowly lower your butt down. You should feel the stretch and work in your triceps as you lower diagonally down. When you reach the bottom of the dip, reverse the motion and push your body back up to starting position. Max out Max out Max out N/A