Working out on the road can be tough. Sometimes the hotel “gym” is nothing but a treadmill and a few foam mats that are ripe with the musk of other guests; other times you’re off the beaten path with no barbells or bench in sight. It happens. But it shouldn’t stop you from squeezing in a few sets on the road. It’s all a matter of stuffing the right gear in your suitcase, which is why we asked some of the country’s top trainers to tell us what easy-to-pack fitness equipment they never travel without — as well as few workouts that can be done using them. Just don’t forget your sneakers.
Why? The straps of this beloved suspension training system weigh less than a pound-and-a-half in total, set up in less than a minute, and utilize gravity and your body weight for exercises. “I’ve used it in parks in Madrid, Cabo, and other places,” says Bruce Kelly of Fitness Together in Media, PA. “You can use it anywhere you can find a tree with a relatively low hanging branch or a vertical light pole.”
Sample workout: 12 suspended lunges, 12 rows, 12 suspended leg curls, 12 atomic push-ups, 12 fall-outs. “In five exercises you’ve worked your quads, upper body, hips, chest, and core,” Kelly says. “Virtually everything you do with the TRX has a core component to it.”
Why? Derek Jameson, fitness manager and trainer at the PhoenixEffect LA loves these oversized rubber tubes because they’re a versatile equipment-replacement that take up less space than a pair of shorts. “They allow for a complete body program,” says Jameson. Resistance bands are also great for partner workouts.
Sample workout: 12 squat-to-shoulder presses; 12 bicep curls; 12 overhead triceps extensions. Repeat the series for 4 sets.
Travel Pull-Up Bar
Why? The pull-up is the single best exercise you can do to maintain and build your upper body strength. The travel version of the bar attaches to a doorway without screws, bolts, or otherwise permanent markings. It’s also compact enough when disassembled to fit into your carry-on. (Something like this) “You can get an amazing back, biceps, and core workout with this simple and affordable tool,” Jameson says. “Most pull-up bars come with varying grips for a multifunctional purpose.”
Sample workout: 10 standard-grip pull-ups; 10 neutral-grip pull-ups; 10 chin-ups; 10 hanging leg raises
“If you can’t do 10 reps, do as many as you can,” says Jameson. “The two different pull-ups and the chin-ups work your lats, mid-back, and biceps. The leg raises target your abs and help with thoracic spine extension, shoulder endurance, and stability.”
Why? Because it helps you supplement body weight exercises with cardio — and, balled up, takes about as much space as a pair of socks. “Walking the city and hiking a trail are activities—not exercise,” says Devan Kline, co founder and trainer at Burn Boot Camp. “I use my body as my gym and pack a jump rope.”
Sample workout: 15 jump squats; 15 push-ups; 15 lunges; 15 burpees; one minute in plank (top of push-up) position. Repeat the series three times followed by 10 consecutive minutes of jump rope.
Why? “Even if you forget to bring them with you, you can almost always make do with something else in your hotel room,” says FitFusion trainer Kenta Seki of these thin discs that slide on wood floors and offer a wide variety of exerices while providing constant tension on your muscles. “They’re my go-to piece of exercise equipment for traveling because they offer ultimate ease in portability.”
Sample workout: 15 ab slides; 15 sliding push-ups; 15 knee tucks; 15 lateral lunges on each side; 15 hamstring curls
Why? The versatile weight into your trunk before a road trip guarantees truly effective workouts wherever you go. Trainer Bruce Kelly brings kettle bells and his bike when he hits the highway.
Sample workout: Double kettle bell front squat; Double kettle bell row; Double OTL (outside the legs) swings; Turkish getup; Push-ups with feet elevated. Repeat this series 4 times. “This workout covers all the bases: quads, upper body, upper body, hips, and core,” Kelly says.
Why? Most trainers we spoke to make sure they take equipment to ease post-workout aches and pains. Dave “Scooter” Honig, bestselling author and trainer to LL Cool J as well as other celebrities and boxing champions, packs a BodyworksBall, a hard ball attached to a rope and handle. “It weighs only eight ounces, and it is the perfect tool to roll out muscle aches, knots, and stress all over the entire body while on the road,” Honig says. “I use it right before bed on my shoulders, back, and feet which helps relax my body for a good night’s sleep.”
Why? Another post-workout tool, a foam roller can be a back-saver after a body-crunching redeye or international flight. Ramsey Bergeron, an Iron Man competitor and personal trainer who specializes in fitness travel, uses it to work knots out before competing in events. “Mine is hollow so I can stuff a few shirts or socks in it when I pack,” Bergeron says. “I use it mainly on the IT bands and glutes but it can be used on every major muscle group. It’s a way to give yourself a deep tissue massage.”