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Five strength-training exercises you can do without a gym
Exercise & Fitness
Travelling can be a tax on personal fitness, as we generally consume more alcohol, eat more food and indulge in more relaxation when we're away from home.
A lack of routine, and not having access to proper gym facilities, also makes it particularly easy to lose strength while we're on the road.
A comprehensive strength-training program can improve bone density, joint function, muscle tone, tendon and ligament power, as well as aerobic capability which improves heart and lung function.
So rather than lose strength while travelling, try using your own body weight to perform these five simple strength-training exercises in the comfort of your hotel room.
All you need is a travel bag and some holiday motivation!
1. The SQUAT
The squat is a classic strength-training exercise that incorporates up to 200 muscles, which act as either prime movers or stabilisers.
"Squats are so intense they release testosterone and other hormones vital for muscle growth," says Personal Trainer at Goodlife Health Club Ashgrove, Tim Sunderland.
Squats are perfect for quads, hamstrings and calves, but they also create an anabolic environment for all over strength-training.
To squat in the convenient setting of your own hotel room, simply hold your travel bag at chest height in front of you, with your feet placed approximately shoulder-width apart.
Whilst gripping the bag, bend your knees slightly as you'll want equal weight distribution throughout each foot during the squat.
Keeping your back straight, bend at your knees and push your bottom outwards, as if you were going to sit in a chair.
In a controlled manner slowly lower yourself down to below seated height; you are now halfway through the squat!
When you're ready, gently push up off your heels and lift the bag upwards again; well done, you've completed a squat!
"If you increase your number of repetitions, to say 10 squats one day and 20 squats the next, you will maintain any strength you gain," says Sunderland.
The standing position for a squat. You should start and finish squats just like this.
The lowered position for a squat.
2. The BENT-OVER ROW
The bent-over row targets your lower, mid and upper-back; it also includes muscles in your shoulders and forearms.
In this way, the bent-over row is a great strength-training exercise to improve your posture and spine stability.
To begin a bent-over row, lower yourself until you are ideally horizontal above a bed or chair, and have your arm fully extended while holding your travel bag.
Pull your travel bag up to your side, until it makes contact with your ribs, and keep your elbows parallel with your body.
Hold that position for two seconds, before re-extending your arm so that it is stretched out fully.
Next, swap the hand that your travel bag is placed in, and repeat the row on that side.
"For any new strength-training exercise, begin slowly to ensure that your form is correct to prevent injuries," says Sunderland.
The start and finish position for a bent-over row. Here, personal trainer Tim Sunderland is less than horizontal due to lack of space, so ideally try to lower yourself above a bed or chair.
The 'row' performed in a bent-over row.
3. The STATIONARY LUNGE
"If you want glutes like Jessica Alba's, one of the best strength-training moves is a stationary lunge!" says Sunderland.
Lunges also strengthen the hamstrings, quads, calves and lower back.
To lunge in your hotel room, pick up your travel bag and hold it at chest height in front of you, with your forearms tucked in towards your body.
Take a decent step forward with your right foot and balance your bodyweight on it, while shuffling your left foot back behind you.
While keeping your head up and back straight, slowly lower your left knee towards the ground and stop just before your left knee touches the floor; you're halfway through your first stationary lunge!
"Use your left leg to slowly raise yourself back up, while concentrating your bodyweight through the heel of your right foot," says Sunderland.
The start and finish position for a stationary lunge, the extra weight of your travel bag will improve your core strength as it changes your normal centre of gravity
The lowered position of a stationary lunge; ensure that right knee does not pass over your toes to prevent injury
4. The BENCH PUSH-UP
Push-ups are another favourite of personal trainers everywhere; as they strengthen and stabilise the entire upper body.
"Push-ups use a large number of muscles in your arms, shoulders, chest, abs and thighs; they can be considered a full body work-out," says Sunderland.
"For this reason, bench push-ups are a great way to strengthen and train the muscles that are necessary for a traditional push-up."
To begin a bench push-up, lower your upper body above a table or chair, firmly grasping the surface with your hands about shoulder-width apart.
Keeping your back straight, suck in your stomach (this will tighten your core muscles and prevent back injuries), and slowly lower your chest towards the surface.
When your elbows are at right angles and your chest almost grazes the surface below, hold that position for at least two seconds, before gently pressing yourself back up.
"A bench push-up is great for travelling, because you can do this exercise with limited space," says Sunderland.
The start and finish position for a bench push-up; be sure to never lock your elbows at this point to avoid injury
The lowered position for a bench push-up; support your bodyweight by manoeuvring through your toes
5. TRICEP DIPS
"Tricep dips are great for when you're travelling, or just working at your desk, because they can be done anywhere," says Sunderland.
Dips isolate and strengthen the tricep in the back of your arm, but also engage forearms, shoulders, chest and the lower back.
To begin a tricep dip, sit on a chair with your palms resting on the edge; next, slowly walk your body out from the chair so you are solely supported by your palms.
Slowly move your body down towards the ground, using your triceps to guide you, and without leaning your upper body forward.
You have completed the tricep dip when your arms are at a 90 degree angle, "trust me, you'll feel it," says Sunderland.
The start and finish position for a tricep dip; often painful, but the results are worth it!
The lowered position for a tricep dip; balance on your heels
As with any training session, ensure that you stretch adequately before and after, with particular focus on the areas that have been exerted.
"These five simple exercises will ensure that you maintain your strength and fitness no matter where you are in the world," says Sunderland.
"All you need is your travel bag and yourself, so no excuses!"
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