For most people, holidays always bring about this scenario: too many calories and too little exercise! Whilst holidays should be about relaxing and not thinking about your health and fitness goals as much as usual -- there are ways to keep up progress using equipment you can take with you.
This article outlines three pieces of equipment that can help you maintain some of your strength progress whilst you enjoy your time away.
1. Tube Resistance Bands with Handles:
Resistance bands have been shown to be effective for muscle strength and growth in not only the elderly (1) but in healthy university American football players men from 18-30 years old (2).
With one of the key principles of muscle growth being metabolic stress, resistance bands will fatigue and fill your muscles with blood in a way free weights cannot, in turn allowing for metabolic stress (3).
You'll need at least five bands with various resistance. You want your fifth to be very challenging, and the rest to be a little less with each band. Here, you're able to do work many muscles, just make sure you take the sets to muscle failure or thereabouts for optimal results!
Below is how you can use the resistance bands with handles for 10 intense sets for the mentioned muscle group:
Perform 5 sets of the first exercise, the chest presses. You're imagining you're lying flat and performing a standard bench press exercise.
Then, do 5 sets of elevated push-ups with your feet up on a bed. Perform as many reps as you can until muscle failure on both exercises!
Simply perform squats as you normally would, except hold the handles as if it were a squat bar. 5 sets to muscle failure!
Whilst you'll get other quad exercises from the loop bands at number two on this list, grab a chair from the room you're staying in (or a fold-out chair) and perform 5 sets of Split Squats as seen below!
Start with 5 sets of the standing bicep curls as seen below (using both hands).
Then, perform 5 sets where you isolate one arm at a time. You can do this by dropping the opposing handle to the arm you're working, and taking a little step towards the bicep you're working, to increase the resistance!
Perform tricep extensions by using your extended elbow to call upon the triceps. Don't use your shoulders to throw your hands towards your glutes!
Remember: Let your elbow extend and call upon your triceps. Slow reps, 5 sets!
Again, same deal with the one arm tricep extensions below:
5 sets, and slowly extend your elbow to be sure to not cause injury.
5 sets of the glute kickbacks below will really get the blood pumping! Be sure to hold it at the end position to really get a strong contraction.
Then it's time to move into the Frog Pumps -- 5 sets without any bands here.
We're imagining the handles of the bands are the handles of dumbbells.
Tip: The further back your leg is (see the left leg of the performer below) the more resistance you can create!
To emulate side raises with a dumbbell, perform 5 sets of the lateral raises below:
Begin with the bent-over rows for 5 sets as seen below:
Then it's time to do one arm at a time for 5 sets. Do that by getting yourself into the position as seen below, and bring the handle up to your chest region:
Those workouts for each muscle group will really test you!
You can choose one exercise from one muscle group for 5 sets, and perform another from elsewhere (for example, 5 sets of one of the quad exercises and 5 sets of the glute kickbacks). The key is to make sure you simply give it a try and keep the blood pumping.
2. Loop Bands
Loop bands are similar to the aforementioned tube resistance bands with handles, although they allow for certain exercises the others don't.
You'll be able to see how the loop bands can allow for the same exercises as mentioned above:
So this as we saw above:
Another great way to work the quads is the standing leg extension:
Stretch the foot out of the leg you're working slowly and hold the contraction before bringing it back.
But here's where the loop bands will give additional exercise options:
You can emulate cable or dumbbell flies with the below:
Push-ups are made harder by utilising loop bands:
The standing hamstring curl with your loop bands looks easy until you try it!
Once you're comfortable here, you can try it lying down, too.
The key here is to hold the contraction at the top and allow yourself to come down slowly.
The band will go around just above your knees for an exercise called glute bridges (similar to the Frog Pumps above).
Be sure to slowly separate your knees when you get to the top of the movement, and squeeze and contract your glutes at the top of the movement.
Another alternative for your bands during glute bridges is to have it across your waist:
The glute lift (below) is another powerful way to attack your glutes! Be sure to leave your leg that's on the mat there: don't let it lift up with your reps.
Perform the reps slowly to ensure you're in control.
Incline Glute bridge
This one is tricky!
Step 1: Start by lying down with a band around your knees and your feet on a chair. Tilt your pelvis towards your belly button and remember to squeeze your glutes.
Step 2: Raise your hips while opening your knees as wide as possible. You'll feel the resistance of the band at this point! Breathe out, and hold this for two seconds.
Remember to keep squeezing your glutes and fight against the band. Then lower yourself back to the original position. Let your glutes touch the ground before starting another rep.
Banded hip thrusts
This is similar to the glute bridges but is significantly harder due to the elevation of your body off the ground.
Remember: plant your heels into the ground and don't let them move! Take a close look below:
3. Yoga mat
Let's face it, the hotel room floor can be tough. And if you're on a road trip, well, the concrete is even tougher!
So you're going to need a yoga mat to perform these exercises and be sure to not hurt yourself unnessecarily.
Find one that is thick enough, keeping in mind where you're heading
So there's three pieces of equipment that:
1. Don't weigh much
2. Are easy for you to travel with
3. Can give you a proper and fulfilling workout to maintain your progress
(1) Lee JW, Kim SB, Kim SW. Effects of elastic band exercises on physical ability and muscular topography of elderly females. J Phys Ther Sci. 2018;30(2):248-251. doi:10.1589/jpts.30.248 (2) Ghigiarelli JJ, Nagle EF, Gross FL, Robertson RJ, Irrgang JJ, Myslinski T. The effects of a 7-week heavy elastic band and weight chain program on upper-body strength and upper-body power in a sample of division 1-AA football players. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 May;23(3):756-64. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181a2b8a2. PMID: 19387404. (3) Schoenfeld BJ. Potential mechanisms for a role of metabolic stress in hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training. Sports Med. 2013 Mar;43 (3):179-94. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0017-1. PMID: 23338987.