Exercising while traveling can help you stay healthy and prevent weight gain, but the last thing you want to worry about is packing a bunch of weights and equipment.
That’s why bodyweight exercises are the perfect solution for travelers!
Let’s discuss the benefits of bodyweight exercises. I’ll also provide a list of the best ones you can do anywhere.
Stay fit while traveling with these easy and convenient exercises!
Benefits of Bodyweight Exercises
Also known as calisthenics, bodyweight exercises are truly the original workout.
Long before Arnold was pumping iron, Spartans were using calisthenics in their training, monks were practicing yoga, and our hunter-gatherer ancestors were sprinting after their next meal.
There are a ton of benefits in bodyweight workouts, regardless of your fitness goals:
The first and most important advantage of bodyweight exercises is convenience.
You can do them anywhere, anytime. No gym membership required!
You can do a hotel room workout or a park workout, weather permitting, and you don’t even need weights or machines to get the job done.
It’s not something most people think about, but mastering your bodyweight is no small feat.
Bodyweight exercises are an incredibly efficient way to build strength.
Depending on the intensity (e.g., pause reps) and the angle or plane of motion you use, bodyweight exercises can allow you to continuously reach for new levels of strength.
Builds Lean Muscle
Can you build muscle using bodyweight exercises only?
Bodyweight exercises have been shown to be just as effective as traditional weightlifting for the purpose of building lean muscle.
Sure, you won’t get as huge as Mr. Olympia, but you also don’t have to worry about being called skinny or lanky.
Keep it Interesting
The variety of bodyweight exercises and potential places to exercise means you won’t get bored with your routine.
Lower Risk of Injury
While not risk-free – no type of exercise is risk-free – bodyweight workouts come with a much lower risk compared to weightlifting workouts.
Bodyweight Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
Quick note about these calisthenics exercises: I’ve broken them down into the categories of lower body, upper body, and total-body.
Each exercise also has several variations, so if you feel like you need to regress or progress an exercise in terms of difficulty, you’ll have that option.
I’ve also included sample bodyweight workouts to get you started today.
Let’s get to it!
Here’s a list of the best bodyweight exercises you can do anywhere based on my personal travel fitness programs.
Lower Body Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
The following are lower body exercises you can do anywhere:
A foundational lower body exercise, the squat targets your quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, calves, and hip flexors.
Instructions: Stand tall with your chest up and shoulders back. Position your feet at shoulder width with the toes pointed straight ahead or slightly out. Bend your knees as you drive your hips backward and bring your hands up in front of you. Pause once your thighs are parallel with the ground, then drive the hips forward to stand up.
Variations of the Squat
Sumo Squat: Place your feet wider than shoulder width and point your toes out. Pause longer once your thighs are parallel with the floor.
Jump Squat: Once your thighs reach parallel, drive the hips forward and push off of the ground with your feet, launching yourself into the air. Land on the balls of your feet and immediately go into the next repetition.
The lunge also targets the quadriceps and glutes, but there is greater activation in the hamstrings and hip flexors.
Instructions: Stand tall with your chest up and shoulders back. Brace your core as you step forward with the left foot, leaving the right foot in place. Lower your body but pause once your left thigh is parallel with the ground. Your right knee will be just above the ground. Raise yourself up and step forward with the right foot, leaving the left foot in place. Continue alternating from side to side.
Variations of the Lunge
Side Lunge: Instead of moving forward, step out to the left side, leaving the right foot in place. Switch sides and continue alternating.
Reverse (Step Back) with Twist: Step backward with the left foot, leaving the right foot in place. Once your left foot touches the ground twist to the right side. Step forward with the left foot and face forward. Repeat on the other side. Continue alternating.
Calf raises work the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. If you want bigger and / or toned calves, these are a must.
Instructions: Place your feet hip-width apart with the balls of your feet on an elevated surface, such as a bench or step. Rise up onto the balls of your feet, keeping the heels off the ground. Pause for two seconds at the top before lowering yourself back to the starting position.
Variations of the Calf Raise
Single-Leg Calf Raise: Perform the exercise on one leg, keeping the other extended off the ground.
Heel Raise: Keep the feet together and raise the heels as high as possible before lowering them back to the starting position.
Jump Calf Raise: From the standing position, continuously jump using the balls of your feet only. Focus on landing softly back on the ground for each rep.
The bridge exercise targets the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. It’s a great way to strengthen posterior chain and get rid of muscle overcompensation issues.
Instructions: Lie flat on your back with feet flat on the ground and shoulder-width apart, legs bent to 90 degrees. Drive your heels into the ground, then lift your torso and upper legs into the air so your thighs and torso are in line with each other – hold for two seconds.
Variations of the Bridge
Single-Leg Bridge: Lift the right leg off the ground, keeping the left foot flat. Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
Marching Bridge: When you lift your torso into the air, extend one knee fully without touching your foot to the floor – keep alternating from side to side.
Upper Body Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
Your lower body is all set, now let’s take a look at the following are upper body exercises you can do anywhere:
Push-ups are going to light up the following muscles: pectoralis major, anterior deltoid, biceps brachii, triceps brachii.
Instructions: Lie face down on the ground. Place your hands just outside of shoulder width. Before pushing yourself up, make sure the body is in a straight line from the head to the ankles by tightening the core. Now, push up and slowly lower your torso until you are close to touching the floor. Do not let your hips or butt drop.
Variations of the Push-Up
Wide-Grip Push-Up: Place the hands wider than shoulder-width apart.
Close-Grip Push-Up: Place the hands closer together than shoulder-width apart.
Diamond (Triceps) Push-Up: With the hands close together, the thumbs and index fingers should form a diamond shape.
Plyo Push-Up: Push off the ground explosively before landing softly back down in the starting position.
Spiderman Push-Up: Perform the exercise as normal, except as you lower yourself, being your right knee to the right elbow. Alternate sides with each repetition.
Single-Leg Push-up: Lift one foot off the ground and perform the exercise with one leg only. Repeat on the other side.
The YTWL is an effective shoulder exercise that targets the anterior deltoids, medial deltoid, and posterior deltoid.
Instructions: To begin, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Bend slightly at the hips now. Extend your arms in front of you and let them hang down. Bring your arms up and out slightly (Make a Y). Lower your arms, then bring them out to the sides (Form a T). Lower your arms again, then raise your elbows first. From here, move your hands up and out. (Make a W). Last, lower your arms once more. Raise them and maintain the extension so that your hand is facing toward the ground (make an L). You’ll look like a goal post with this last one.
Variations of the YTWL
Protractor: When the arms are rotated up into the air, the thumbs and fingers should touch to form a 90-degree angle. The position of the hands should be maintained as you rotate down to the floor and back up again.
Lateral Raise: Stand up tall and slowly move your arms up and to the sides. As you do so, image that your hands are moving through cement. Focus on the intensity of the contraction.
Front Raise: Do the same thing as above, but move your hands out in front of you.
The Superman is a lower back exercise that targets the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, and hamstrings.
Instructions: Lie face down on the ground with the arms extended in front of the body and the legs together. Raise the chest, arms, and legs off the ground simultaneously so that only the stomach is touching the floor. Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Variations of the Superman
Bird Dog: From an all-fours position, extend the right arm and the left leg simultaneously while keeping the core engaged. Hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position and repeating on the opposite side.
Ready to hit your abdominals? The V-up is the way to do it.
Instructions: Lie on the ground with the arms extended behind the head and the legs together. Simultaneously lift the upper body off the floor and raise the straightened legs to form a “V” shape with your body – hold for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.
Variations of the V-Up
Lying Leg Raise: Lie on the ground with the arms extended behind the head and the legs together. Lift the legs off the floor until they your toes are pointing at the sky, then lower them back to the floor – repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
Bicycle Crunch: Lie on your back with the hands behind your head and bring the right knee in toward the chest while simultaneously bringing the left elbow toward the right knee. Switch sides and repeat the movement.
Russian Twist: Sit on the ground with the knees bent and the feet together. Lean back slightly and lift the chest off the ground while keeping the abs engaged. Rotate the torso to the right, then to the left – repeat for the recommended number of repetitions.
Side Oblique Crunch
No core workout is complete without hitting your obliques. This exercise targets both the internal and external obliques.
Instructions: Lie on the right side with the legs stacked on top of each other. Focus on contracting the obliques so that your shoulders are lifted up. Do not pull with your hands or arms. Let your obliques do the work.
Variations of the Side Oblique Crunch
Side Oblique Dip: Lie on the right side with the legs stacked on top of each other. Bring yourself into a side plank position, raising the body so that there is a straight line and you’re resting the weight on your feet and elbow. Slowly dip your hips toward the floor, using your obliques to pull you back to the starting position.
The classic plank exercise targets the rectus abdominis, external obliques, and internal obliques.
Instructions: Lie on the floor with the elbows bent and the forearms resting on the ground. Lift the hips off the ground until the body forms a straight line from heels to head – hold for as long as possible before lowering back down to the starting position.
Variations of the Plank
Side Plank: Lie on the right side with the body forming a straight line from heels to head. Contract the obliques and lift the hips off the ground – hold for as long as possible before lowering back down to the starting position. Repeat the exercise on your left side.
Plank with Shoulder Tap: Start in the plank position with the body forming a straight line from heels to head. Contract the abs and lift the right hand off the ground and tap the left shoulder. Continuing alternating from shoulder to shoulder.
Mountain Climber: Assume the plank position with the body forming a straight line from the heels to the head. Contract the abs and tuck the right knee in toward the chest while simultaneously jumping the left foot back – quickly reverse the movement and repeat on the opposite side.
Total Body Exercises You Can Do Anywhere
Want the most bang for your buck? Try the following total body exercises that you can do anywhere:
Long Jump to Push-Up to Reverse Toe Tapping
Instructions: Perform a long jump as far forward as possible. Upon landing, quickly transition into a push-up position and perform the exercise as prescribed. Once you’ve completed the required number of repetitions, quickly reverse the movement by tapping the toes on the ground directly behind the body.
Variations of the Long Jump to Push-Up to Reverse Toe Tapping
Push up with Shoulder Tap: Assume the push-up position with the hands positioned slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Contract the abs and lower your chest down toward the floor while keeping the abs engaged. Once the elbows bend to a 90-degree angle, push the body back up to the starting position, and tap the right hand on the left shoulder – quickly repeat the movement by tapping the left hand on the right shoulder then lower down into another push-up.
Instructions: Begin by standing with the feet shoulder-width apart. Lower the body down into a squat position and place the hands on the ground in front of the feet. Quickly kick the legs out behind you so that you are now in the plank position. Perform a push-up, then jump back in toward the hands and jump into the air. Land softly with the knees slightly bent.
Variations of the Burpee
Burpee with Tuck Jump: Begin by standing with the feet shoulder-width apart. Lower the body down into a squat position and place the hands on the ground in front of the feet. Quickly kick the legs out behind you so that you are now in the plank position. Perform a push-up, then jump back in toward the hands and jump into the air. As you jump, bring your knees up to chest height. Land softly and move right into the next repetition.
Plank to Twisting Mountain Climber
Instructions: Assume the plank position with the body forming a straight line from the heels to the head. Bring your right knee up and across your body so that it goes past your left elbow. Return your right foot then continue alternating.
Variations of the Plank to Twisting Mountain Climber
Plank Jacks: Start in the plank position with the feet together. While staying in a plank, hop your feet out to sides and back again.
Instructions: To get started, position yourself in a standard boxing stance: right-handed individuals should have their left foot forward and vice versa for left-handed individuals. Always stay agile on your feet, mimicking the movements as if you’re in an actual ring. Engage in various punches, including jabs, hooks, crosses, and uppercuts, and don’t forget to integrate defensive maneuvers like bobbing, weaving, and blocking.
For those seeking to enhance the experience, there are several variations. Engage in interval shadow boxing by alternating between high-intensity boxing bursts for a minute and 30-second rest periods.
For added resistance and strength development, consider wearing wrist weights or holding light dumbbells. Another effective method is to practice in front of a mirror, helping refine technique and ensuring the maintenance of correct form.
Bodyweight Travel Workout
Here are two bodyweight travel workouts based on the exercises above. Alternate each workout with a rest day in between.
Perform the required number of repetitions for each exercise before moving on to the next. Rest for up to three minutes after completing the circuit. Complete a total of three circuits.
Feeling like you want to push yourself? Do a total of five circuits.
Travel Fitness Workout A
- Long Jump to Push-Up to Reverse Toe Tapping: 5 repetitions
- Plank to Twisting Mountain Climber: 10 reps
- Side Lunge: 6 reps
- YTWL: 5 reps
- Burpee: 5 reps
Travel Fitness Workout B
- Jump Squat: 5 repetitions
- Push up with Shoulder Tap: 5 reps
- Single-Leg Calf Raise: 5 reps on each side
- Marching Bridge: 5 reps on each side
- Burpee with Tuck Jump: 5 reps
What Are Your Favorite Exercises to Do While Traveling?
Whether you’re on the go or just looking for a way to break up your at-home workout routine, bodyweight exercises are a great option.
They’re convenient, can be done anywhere, and don’t require any special equipment.
I’ve shared some of my favorite lower, upper, and total body exercises that you can do anywhere, but I want to hear from you!
What are your go-to bodyweight exercises? Share them with us in the comments below and help fellow travelers get in shape while on the road.