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In comparison to commercial gyms, most hotel gyms aren’t up to scratch. There’s no point beating around the bush and telling you anything different. Of course, there’s bound to be some high-end hotel gyms around the world that prove me wrong and have every bodybuilder’s dream equipment. I’m obviously generalizing here.

However good they are—or aren’t, if you’re a budget traveler—doesn’t mean you can’t stay on top of your fitness goals while you’re on the go. Yes, you may have to adapt your usual workout routine, but for me, that’s a good thing. Circumstances can’t always be perfect when it comes to your fitness. Adding some variety and different exercises to your training can only help in the long run. 

RELATED: Best Personal Training Apps

Today, my goal is to help you conquer the hotel gym. So, I—with an assist from Kate Meier, CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1, and GGR Head of Content—will start by explaining the different equipment you should expect to find in the average hotel gym before giving my certified personal trainer (CPT) tips on how to make the most out of your travel workouts. Last but not least, I’ll finish by giving six different hotel gym workouts for you to try during your next trip.

Hotel Gym Equipment

If it’s a new hotel you’re staying at, you won’t know what equipment you’ll have in the gym until you get there. If they have a website or photos online, you could take a peek to get some idea, but unfortunately, I’ve found they’re not always up-to-date. 

At a minimum, below is a list of equipment you should expect to find:

  • Dumbbells
  • A treadmill (or at least one type of cardio equipment)
  • An adjustable bench
woman-walking-on-sole-f63-treadmill

If you’re lucky, you might get much more than this. “I’ve stayed in hotels where, in addition to the above, you get a cable machine, kettlebells, a flat bench press, more cardio equipment, and even a squat rack,” explains Kate Meier, certified personal trainer (CPT), USAW-L1, CF-L1, and GGR Head of Content. “In these hotel gyms, I can do what I would in my gym at home.” 

To be on the safe side, or if you know in advance that your hotel gym doesn’t have much equipment (or there’s not even a gym at all), consider taking some portable equipment with you. 

Here are some of our Best Of equipment recommendations that can travel well either on a flight or in the car:

You may also want to consider a solid pair of gym shoes, like the best cross-training shoes or the best walking shoes for exploring a new city.  

Trainer Tips for Hotel Gym Workouts

Before we get into our hotel gym workouts, here are my three tips to help you get the most out of your training while on the move:

Be Flexible

It’s likely you’ll only have a handful of sessions in the hotel gym before you’re back to your regularly-scheduled programming. Kate Meier, CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1, says, “Everything won’t be exactly how you’d like it to be, but it’s important to stay flexible and not be disappointed if the hotel gym is lacking in equipment.” If you’re unsure what to do, check out our six hotel gym workouts below. 

Replace Barbells With Dumbbells

Although most hotel gyms have dumbbells available up to a certain weight, they don’t usually have barbells. This shouldn’t pose a problem, as most barbell exercises have a dumbbell variation. Instead of the barbell bench press, do a flat dumbbell bench press. Instead of a barbell back squat, do a goblet squat. Replace barbell rows with chest-supported dumbbell rows. And so on…

Woman lunging with the Core Home Fitness dumbbells

Stick To Cardio

If all else fails, get on the treadmill (or whatever cardio equipment the hotel gym has), and do 30 to 60 minutes of cardio. There are many benefits of cardio, including reducing stress1, boosting mental health2, increasing heart health3, and more. If you’re like me and you usually opt for weights over cardio, doing this for a few days can only be a good thing.

RELATED: Beginner Cardio Workouts

Hotel Gym Workout for Beginners

For beginners, I—with Kate Meier, CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1—have created a workout that will take around 30 minutes from start to finish. There’s a combination of bodyweight training, strength training using dumbbells, and the treadmill. 

Hotel-Gym-Workout-for-Beginners

In between each exercise, take a short rest before moving on to the next one. At the end of each round, rest for a minute or two. Finish the workout by doing 10 minutes of incline walking on the treadmill. Kate says, “This workout is ideal for beginners because it helps them to both build muscle and reap the rewards of doing cardio.”

Cardio Hotel Gym Workout

Although you could do a HIIT workout at a hotel gym using dumbbells and your body weight, I’m going to keep the cardio hotel gym workout simpler than this. Here’s a 30-minute treadmill workout for you to try:

Cardio-Hotel-Gym-Workout

Your pace is the most important thing here. In the sprint section, you’ll want to go all-out before bringing your heart rate back down in the recovery section. If this is too difficult, sprint for 30 seconds and walk for 90 seconds instead.

To cool down, do the same thing you did in the warm-up for three minutes.

Strength Hotel Gym Workout

For those looking to make strength gains from their hotel gym, you’re in the right place. Below are two separate workouts—one for the upper body and another for the lower body.

Hotel-gym-workout---upper-body
Hotel-gym-workout---lower-body

Alternate between the two during your stay. Your upper body can rest while your lower body works, and vice versa. If the available dumbbells don’t go high enough, increase your reps. Also, add a core exercise or two at the end of each workout. 

Full-Body Hotel Gym Workout

When you’re on the move, you might not be able to stick to your usual training split (for example, push/pull/legs, or upper body/lower body) because you’re too busy. Here, I’d recommend a full-body hotel gym workout instead. 

Full-body training is as effective as split-body training in improving body composition and strength, but the former may burn more fat mass4.

Full-hotel-gym-workout

End by doing a 10-minute jog on the treadmill. “The great thing about this workout is that it hits every muscle group in the body,” explains Kate. “It’s better to do one exercise for a muscle group than to miss it out completely.”

Resistance Band Hotel Gym Workout 

If your hotel gym doesn’t have dumbbells, but you’ve packed a set of resistance bands, I applaud you. Being prepared is key, especially if you’re staying at a new hotel. Give the resistance band hotel gym workout below a go.

Resistance-Band-Hotel-Gym-Workout

“Technically, you don’t need a hotel gym for this (except the treadmill part), so this workout can be done from anywhere while you’re traveling,” adds Kate. Have a short breather between each exercise, and a longer rest after every round. Increase or decrease the number of rounds if you want a longer or shorter workout.  

Quick 10-Minute Hotel Gym Workout 

We get it. You’re strapped for time and want to do a quick workout before you get on with the rest of your day. This 10-minute hotel gym workout is designed for you.

It’s an EMOM workout where you do a predetermined number of reps of an exercise within 60 seconds and then rest for the remainder of the time. As soon as the next minute begins, you go again.

Quick-10-Minute-Hotel-Gym-Workout-

Note: Yes, the hardest exercise is last!

That’s it. In just 10 sweaty minutes, you’ve done a solid workout. You can take a shower and do whatever you want. Result!

Hotel Gym Workout: Final Thoughts 

Unless you get lucky, there’s a good chance your hotel gym will lack equipment. If this is the case, it’s important to stay flexible with your workouts. Exercising doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and most exercises that require a barbell can easily be substituted for the dumbbell variation (as most hotel gyms have dumbbells).

If you’re unsure what to do or want some inspiration, check out our six hotel gym workouts. We’re confident you’ll love them as much as we do! 

Hotel Gym Workout: FAQs

What do most hotel gyms have? 

Most hotel gyms have the following equipment at a minimum:
-A treadmill (or another piece of cardio equipment)
-An adjustable bench
-Various dumbbells

But it depends on the hotel gym. Some hotels have a better gym than the one I frequent at home, with a wider range of equipment. There’s definitely more in some than others. 

How do you train your legs in a hotel gym?

To train your legs in a hotel gym, it depends on whether you have dumbbells or not. With dumbbells, you can do lower-body exercises such as goblet squats, deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts, weighted step-ups, dumbbell calf raises, and more. “Without dumbbells, single-leg bodyweight exercises such as split squats and walking lunges make a lot of sense,” says Kate Meier, CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1, and GGR Head of Content.

RELATED: Unilateral Exercises

What is the 30 minute workout at the hotel gym?

For a 30-minute travel workout at the hotel gym, I’d suggest a full-body workout that involves dumbbells, your body weight, and cardio equipment. Examples of exercises you could do include dumbbell squats, dumbbell overhead presses, dumbbell triceps extensions, push-ups, one-arm dumbbell rows, Russian twists, and more. Then, end with five minutes on the treadmill to cool down.

How do you get a good workout in a hotel room?

We’ve written another article on the best hotel room workouts, so it’s worth checking that out if you’re looking to train in your hotel room. There are many bodyweight exercises you can do (think reverse lunges, push-ups, burpees, dips, mountain climbers, crunches, jumping jacks, and more), because these are the most convenient with little or no equipment. 

References

  1. Franklin BA, Rusia A, Haskin-Popp C, Tawney A. Chronic Stress, Exercise and Cardiovascular Disease: Placing the Benefits and Risks of Physical Activity into Perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 21;18(18):9922. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18189922. PMID: 34574843; PMCID: PMC8471640.
  2. Jan Knapen, Davy Vancampfort, Yves Moriën & Yannick Marchal (2015) Exercise therapy improves both mental and physical health in patients with major depression, Disability and Rehabilitation, 37:16, 1490-1495, DOI: 10.3109/09638288.2014.972579
  3. Nystoriak MA, Bhatnagar A. Cardiovascular Effects and Benefits of Exercise. Front Cardiovasc Med. 2018 Sep 28;5:135. doi: 10.3389/fcvm.2018.00135. PMID: 30324108; PMCID: PMC6172294.
  4. Crewther BT, Heke T, Keogh J. The effects of two equal-volume training protocols upon strength, body composition and salivary hormones in male rugby union players. Biol Sport. 2016 Jun;33(2):111-6. doi: 10.5604/20831862.1196511. Epub 2016 Mar 6. PMID: 27274103; PMCID: PMC4885621.

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