This week I left town for twelve days. I won’t have access to pads, a mat, or someone to amiably hit in the face. I will, however, have constant access to pints of beer and meat-filled pastries and other ruinous delights. Calling this a recipe for disaster would be a bit of a stretch, but such a scenario as this is certainly conducive to holiday love handles. So how can your be sure you are finding physical balance in a situation like this?
Here’ a few of the hotel room workouts I’ll use to make sure I maintain some semblance of fitness while away for the holidays:
Never underestimate shadow boxing. With a little gusto you can work up a sweat while maintaining and even improving your Muay Thai skills. The beauty of it? You need nothing except fifteen minutes of free time and a bold and grizzly countenance to dissuade passersby from bothering you with questions about what the hell you’re doing. Tighten up your jab or master the pivot on your kick while getting your heart rate up. Use power breathing to rev up the intensity of your workout, as this contracts your muscles more.
I know that many students at F5 have a deep affection for squats and swings, as they should. But unless you want to lug a fifty-three pound bell onto an airplane you won’t have the tools of resistance necessary for a challenging squat or swing. Jumping in place is admittedly no substitute for a proper squat or swing, but you’d be surprised what it will do for your hips, legs, and heart rate. Try a few sets of ten jumps after warming up with shadow boxing, making sure to hinge at the hip and jump as high as you can with each rep. Make sure to land softly, both for the sake of your knees and anyone who might be trying to sleep downstairs.
With your stomach in contact with the floor, engage your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back to lift all four limbs off the ground. I like to do these as ten-second holds, but they can be performed as longer holds or single reps. Supermans will help you keep the vital posterior chain muscles active and alert despite all those hours sitting in a car or airplane. Make sure to keep your eye down so your neck is aligned with your spine.
Push-ups or Push-up Plank Position (PUPP)
If you’re capable of doing strict push-ups then go for it, but if not then just hold the starting position of a push-up. Engage every muscle you can consciously control—quads, glutes, abs, and lats especially. If you’re unsure how to properly engage your lats, try corkscrewing your palms into the ground in an outward direction. Pull up your kneecaps and squeeze your butt to get your lower body engaged. While you’re in this position, imagine that someone was about to kick you directly in the stomach—your abs will know how to react. Try to hold this very tight plank (SFG Plank) for 15-30 seconds, rest and try again. When you are using your tension correctly a longer plank with absolute tension will be impossible. Think quality not quantity! Use these techniques of the PUPP with every rep of your push up and be prepared for a killer workout!
Pistols (editor’s addition)
If you can do a unassisted pistol they are a great way to work leg strength without weights. However, even if you can’t get down to the bottom of that single leg squat and back up, you can still work single leg box squats where you sit on a bench or end table (make sure it’s sturdy) and drive up from the bottom using the strength of a single leg. You can also work active negatives, by slowly lowering yourself to the bench or table, tapping the bottom and driving back up. Make sure to create tightness in the glutes and abs and use power breathing to give you added strength and remember that the free leg must not touch the ground.
Bands and TRX (editor’s addition)
Throw a resistance band or a TRX in your luggage and you’ll have an bunch of exercises to chose from. Here’s a affordable suspension trainer on Amazon if you don’t want to buy the $200 pro version. Resistance bands are affordable and light to pack. There’s always room in your suitcase for them! Use all the great exercises you learn in our Fighter Fit classes for bands and TRX training.
Realistically, if you’re only out of town for a few days then you should just focus on enjoying yourself. The idle time spent relaxing with family will probably help you—physically and mentally—more than insisting on squeezing in a workout. But if you’re going to be out of town a little longer it might help to sneak in a little skill practice, whether you’re skill is strength, Muay Thai, or both.
Coach Daniel Davis-Williams, CPT, CSCS