Getting in a workout when you’re traveling can be a real challenge.
Fortunately, you’ve always got your body and gravity.
With these two tools, you’re able to perform a bodyweight workout no matter where you find yourself.
Before long, though, bodyweight exercises can become too easy.
Do you want to know how to make bodyweight exercises more challenging when you’re on the road?
In this article, I’ll provide five strategies to ramp up the intensity of your bodyweight workouts when you’re traveling.
Use Your Environment
The first way to increase the difficulty of bodyweight exercises is to use what’s around you.
When you elevate a part of your body during various bodyweight exercises, you can make it either more or less challenging.
It all depends on the angle and which exercise you’re performing.
For example, when doing push-ups in your hotel room, you can make them harder by putting your feet on the bed. But you can make them easier by doing push-ups and using the bed (which is elevated) as the platform to push off of.
You can also make an exercise more challenging by lifting a foot off the ground or raising an arm off the floor when doing an exercise on all fours.
Change the Support Base
Adjusting your support base is another way to make the exercise harder.
Let’s take the staggered squat for example. This involves moving one foot behind the other when squatting, which will make the front thigh work that much harder.
You can also perform a single-leg squat. By lifting one foot completely off the ground, you make it even more challenging.
Isometrics involves holding a static position to increase time under tension.
This immediately makes an exercise more challenging. 
Try pausing and holding for five seconds in the middle of a squat, push up, or pull up and you’ll see what I mean.
Here are three ways to make your reps harder that work especially well with bodyweight exercises.
Pyramid sets involve doing your sets in an ascending then descending manner with shorter rest periods than normal.
When you’re working out with weights, pyramid sets involve adjusting the weight on the bar and the number of reps. With bodyweight, though, the focus is on reps and very short rest between sets.
The number of reps that you start with will depend on the number of reps you can perform with good form.
Your starting number should be about 40 percent of your max rep count.
So, as an example, if you can pump out 40 good push-ups in one set, then your first set should be 16 reps.
Once you have your starting number of reps, you increase that by one until you reach the halfway point of your sets.
From there, you climb back down the ladder, decreasing the reps by one.
Here is an example using a rest period of 10 seconds between each set.
- Set One: 10 reps
- Set Two: 11 reps
- Set Three: 12 reps
- Set Four: 13 reps
- Set Five: 12 reps
- Set Six: 11 reps
- Set Seven: 10 reps
One and a Half Reps
A personal favorite of mine, one and a half reps are one way I maintain muscle while traveling.
One and a half rep sets involve completing a full repetition and then doing a half rep before you move on to your next full rep.
So, when doing bodyweight squats, descend to your level of comfort. This is usually at or just below the thighs being parallel to the floor.
Pause for a moment then come back up to a quarter squat position. Pause again, lower yourself back down then come all the way up.
When counting your reps, one and a half reps (what I just described above) is counted as a single rep.
Pulse reps are similar to an isometric hold in the middle of a rep. But rather than holding in a static position, you pulse up and down through a range of 2-to-5 inches.
Hover up and down for a few pulses and then lower to complete the rep.
This technique will give you a great pump in the working muscle and cause a post-workout burn that indicates that you’ve effectively stimulated the muscle.
This is an especially good way to make squats harder without adding weight.
The tempo is the timing of the various portions of a repetition. There are four phases to an exercise:
- Eccentric (lowering)
- Eccentric transition
- Concentric (raising)
- Concentric transition
The eccentric phase of an exercise refers to lowering the resistance.
Adjusting the speed of each portion of the rep will affect the intensity of the exercise.
Most people tend to power through a 10-rep set in around 20 seconds.
Yet, research indicates that the ideal time under tension is between 40 to 60 seconds. 
Slowing down the eccentric portion of the exercise can make the move far more challenging. 
For instance, the eccentric phase of a push-up is when you lower yourself down to the ground.
Here is an example of accentuating the eccentric part of the rep using the standard push up:
- Lie on the floor, face down in a standard push-up position.
- Focus on lowering yourself to a slow, 3-to-5-second count.
- As you are lowering, concentrate on squeezing your elbows.
- Push back up to the start position, taking one second to go up, then immediately go into the eccentric portion.
Eccentric training allows you to increase your time under tension to more fully stress the muscle fibers.
When you add extra resistance to your body, you are, in effect, increasing the amount of weight you’re lifting.
Weight vest training will allow you to do that. However, you’re not likely to pack a weight vest in your suitcase.
But there is a pretty good chance that you’ll have a day pack with you.
Doing a bodyweight exercise while wearing a loaded daypack will increase the resistance of the exercise.
Load the pack with books, magazines, or anything else that will add an extra few pounds.
Then wear the daypack over your shoulders when you’re doing push-ups, squats, lunges, and other exercises where you are using your torso as resistance.
You can also use your day pack as a makeshift barbell to perform biceps curls, shoulder presses, and triceps extensions.
Simply take hold of the shoulder straps and rep out as you would with a bar.
How to Make Bodyweight Exercises More Challenging
With just gravity and your body weight, you can get a great workout while you’re on the road.
As you get stronger, however, your body won’t provide enough of a challenge for your muscles.
By incorporating the five exercise hacks covered above, you’re able to constantly challenge yourself as you continue to get fitter and stronger.
Let us know in the comments section what techniques you’re using to make your bodyweight workout more challenging.
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- Vogt M, Hoppeler HH. Eccentric exercise: mechanisms and effects when used as training regime or training adjunct. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Jun 1;116(11):1446-54. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00146.2013. Epub 2014 Feb 6. PMID: 24505103.