Get Adobe Flash player

The No Equipment Workout on the Road

I talk a lot about working out on the road. I know a lot of people like to go into “vacation mode” and laze about while traveling, but if you are a long-term nomad who spends more than a couple weeks a year on the road, your body will most likely suffer if you don’t make an effort to stay in shape.

Recently, when hanging out with the Globetrotter Girls, we got into a discussion about how difficult it can be to work out when you are in a rented apartment, hotel, or hostel that has people staying underneath you. Obviously, you can’t do all kinds of crazy jumping movements that will have your downstairs neighbors pulling their hair out and plotting your demise.

Don’t worry, there is hope

While a lot of my favorite moves involve jumping, there are alternatives that will work for those times when hopping around simply isn’t an option. And so, I present to you:

The No Equipment Workout On The Road that Won’t Annoy the Shit Out of Your Downstairs Neighbor

Let’s just call it “The Quiet Workout” for short. I even made you a totally pin-able image, but you should actually read the post because I give you some awesome modifications and tips. But seriously, appreciate this image because it took me about 30 minutes of awkward self photo/video shooting to get even these 3 usable photos.

no equipment workout


First, try some strengthening exercises. These are slower, steadier, and (most importantly in this case), quieter.

5 Go to Moves:

1. Pushups
2. Lunges
3. Squats
4. Planks
5. Tricep Dips

Try doing each move in sets of 15-30, running through the list and repeating 2-3 times. There are plenty of ways you can spice these up too. If you feel like these are too easy, try these modifications:

1. One Arm pushups or Diamond pushups
2. Lunges with a weight, twist to the side on each lunge (2 liter bottles filled with water work great for a weight on the road)
3. Squats with a weight (You can also try Plie Squats and stand on a tip toe 1 foot at a time to target your inner thighs)
4. Planks, alternate bringing each knee to the opposite elbow.
5. Tricep dips with 1 leg off the ground (then switch legs)


5 Go To Moves:

1. Plank Punches
2. Bicycle Crunches
3. Reverse Crunches
4. Oblique Crunches
5. Supermans

I have a weak lower back, so these are all moves that are easy on the back. I’d start with at least 20 reps for each of these (for the supermans hold for 20 seconds before releasing). Repeat 2-3 times.


This is definitely the trickiest category. Most cardio is pretty noisy, so I’m choosing moves that still give you some calorie burn but won’t involve heavy banging, running, or jumping on the floor.

5 Go To Moves

1. Jabs
3. Hooks
4. Mountain Climbers
5. Front Kicks

For all of these moves, I recommend using a timer instead of counting reps. Start with 30 seconds, then 45, and work up to 1-minute segments of each move. You’ll notice I included a lot of boxing moves. These are great for cardio and don’t have to involve any foot movement at all. You also don’t need a punching bag or gloves. For all three punching moves, get into a deep squat position. Set a timer and do a “burn out,” meaning punch as hard and fast as you can until the timer goes off. Keep your core tight and punch like you mean it – you may not actually be hitting something, but you need to put force into the punch as if you are.

The mountain climbers can be noisy, so here’s how to be careful. Opt for slow and steady. Instead of going for speed, bring each knee into your chest and hold for a few seconds before switching. You can also toss down a mat if you have one to muffle some noise.

No excuses

When you are on the road, it’s so easy to come up with an excuse not to work out. I have now taken “I don’t want to bother the people downstairs” off your list. You’re welcome.

9 Responses to The No Equipment Workout on the Road

  • Eva says:

    Thanks for the post, it struck a chord! I’m a runner and do strength training at least 5 times a week, so I’m kind of freaked out about the prospect of losing my shape during my travels (going to Southeast Asia for at least 6 months ). Do you have any ideas how to keep up the workout routine while staying in hostels with shared rooms? Obviously I can’t start doing burpees and crunches when I’m sharing a room with 5 more people 😉 Also, any tips for running outside in that particular part of the world?

    • reasek says:

      I won’t lie to you, it’s much harder to work out when you are in hostels. If they do have a common area and you don’t mind being watched, you can always try that. I’ll be honest though, I could never bring myself to do much more than some stretches with other people around.

      I suggest using parks as much as possible. If the weather is nice, go for a run. Actually, go even if it’s not nice. I once went for a run in the rain in Santa Fe, Argentina and I loved it. I also think running is a great way to get used to the city and see some things. In the parks you can do functional training, using things like benches and stairs to vary your workout so you aren’t just running. Don’t be afraid to get dirty and just throw yourself down on the ground for some burpees or crunches. I worked out in parks A LOT when I was staying in hostels. As for safety – do NOT run with any more money than you would need for a cab home. Also, do NOT run the same route every day. I have personally known someone who did that and eventually got jumped and robbed because he was predictable (and also running with a nice iphone and wallet). I’m not saying you can’t run with a iPod, but be aware of your surroundings. When in doubt, ditch the tunes in exchange for safety.

      If the weather is just too unbearable, try going to a local gym. A lot of places will allow you to buy short term passes. If you take classes, you can practice your language skills!

      Feel free to email me if you have more questions or want more tips!

  • OCDemon says:

    I’ve been enjoying that “7 minute workout” that has been in the news recently. Kind of a similar idea to what’s going on here in that it uses no equipment and can be done in a tiny living room, which is a good way to go. Pretty strenuous if you give it all you can the whole way through.
    OCDemon recently posted..The Potemkin Steps, i.e. My ConfusionMy Profile

    • reasek says:

      If you are talking about the same 7 minute one I am thinking of, then I have tried it. I agree it is strenuous. I don’t put a ton of stock in fad workouts, I let the calorie burn do the talking! Haha. I try to vary my workouts whenever I can.

  • Jess says:

    Thank you! It seems like the only time I can get to workout when I’m traveling is really late or early, and I always worry about the noise – less because I don’t want to bother people, I admit, and more because I’m self conscious about sounding ridiculous.
    Jess recently posted..Twin Cities Ice Cream FavoritesMy Profile

    • reasek says:

      You are very welcome! I totally understand about sounding stupid. No one wants to sound like they are falling over repeatedly and/or having an asthma attack. I hope this one helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge