A Travel Strength Circuit (For When You Have No Space At All)

By Molly Galbraith

If your holidays look anything like mine, you’re visiting family or friends, the house where you’re staying is full of people, and while you might be lucky enough to snag a bed in which to sleep, that’s basically all the space you have to yourself.

You may also have great intentions about exercising regularly during this time, and you might even have some super-quick GGS bodyweight and barbell circuits in your repertoire for situations when you’re short on time. However, many of these workouts require equipment to which you don’t have access right now, or they involve exercises that require jumping — which is not happening right now, since someone’s asleep in the room right below yours.

So what’s a gal to do?

Why Move Your Body When Life Gets Crazy?

Before we get into what to do, when you’re already running around like a chicken with its head cut off, you may be asking yourself: Do I really need to move more? Don’t all those steps I’m accumulating running my errands count for something? (Answer: of course they do! But that’s not exactly the point.)

Here’s the thing: when life gets ultra busy, one of the first things that goes out the window is unfortunately our self-care practices, like purposefully moving our bodies on a regular basis. I know this all too well because it’s my default, too!

But here’s why it matters: regularly moving your body with purpose isn’t just beneficial in terms of physical health (although that’s important!). It also helps us stay consistent with our healthy habits, maintain positive momentum through the holidays, and better manage our stress, which tends to soar during these busy times.

Your Travel Strength Circuit

The beauty of this strength circuit is that it requires no equipment at all, and very minimal space: even if all you have is a couple of feet on the side of the bed, you’ll be able to get it done!

Start by performing a quick warm-up (you can find inspiration here), then set a timer for 15 to 25 minutes and complete as many rounds as you can of the following circuit (you’ll find videos explaining each exercise below):

  • Bodyweight Glute Bridge, 10-12 reps
  • Plank to Push-Up, 6-8 reps
  • Bodyweight Split Squat, 8-10 per side
  • Dead Bug, 10-12 total reps

While the goal of this workout is to get through as many rounds as possible of each exercise during the time allotted, you should remain extremely mindful of technique the whole time, and take extra rest if your form starts to break down.

Bodyweight Glute Bridge

  • Set yourself up on your back, knees bent and feet close to your body, about hip-width apart.
  • Exhale fully through the mouth to set your ribcage down into the proper position.
  • Inhale, and then gently engage your abs and squeeze your glutes to lift your hips off the floor as you exhale (make sure that your back remains neutral, and that you’re not overextending through your lumbar spine), pushing through your heels.
  • Hold a second at the top, and then inhale as you lower yourself under control.
  • Repeat for the allotted reps.

Want more challenge? Make it a single-leg glute bridge instead!

Plank to Push-Up

  • Start in a plank position on your elbows.
  • Engage your lats and your core as if you were trying to pull your elbows towards your toes.
  • Keeping your core engaged, move from your elbows to your hands, to the top position of a push-up.
  • Reverse the movement to go back to your elbows.
  • Alternated sides on each rep.

Want more challenge? Perform a full push-up at the top before resuming the plank position!

Bodyweight Split Squat

  • Start with your feet directly under your hips, and step back keeping the same width, as if your feet were on railroad tracks.
  • Make sure your hip bones are facing forward, soften your ribs down, and gently pull your pelvis under as if you were tugging on suspender that are attached to your hip bones.
  • Bring the back knee straight down to the floor, keeping your front shin vertical and your back thigh vertical and in line with the rest of your body.
  • Push yourself up, keeping your feet in place.
  • Perform all reps on one side before switching sides.

Want more challenge? Add a pulse at the bottom of the split squat!

Dead Bug

  • Start on your back, with your arms in the air straight above your chest, and your legs elevated with a 90 degree bend in your hips and your knees.
  • Make sure your lower back is firmly pressed into the ground, and that your ribcage is down.
  • If you’re able to maintain this position while breathing deeply, you can add some arm or leg movement to the exercise, extending one limb at a time on the inhale, and coming back to the starting position on the exhale.
  • Keep the movement slow and connected with your breath.

Want more challenge? Move one arm and one leg simultaneously!

Coaches’ Corner

Faced with impending travel plans — or simply with a busier-than-usual period in their life — your clients may get nervous or react one of two ways when it comes to keeping up with their movement habits. Some may wish to stick to a rigid structure of longer workouts, which can backfire and make them feel like they’ve failed if they suddenly can’t make it happen. Other clients can struggle to see how they can get any movement into their busy days, and lament that all of their previous hard work may go to waste.

This is where you can step in as a coach and help them see why this an all-or-nothing approach isn’t beneficial (and often ends up with nothing). During this time, you should work with your clients to figure out what their workout schedule may realistically look like and gently remind them that it’s much more sustainable to strive to do their best during busy times, instead of aiming for perfection.

This is not only a good strategy for your clients, but it’s good for you, too! When clients feel as though they’ve “failed” or “gone off the rails” over the holidays, they often feel ashamed or embarrassed and may start skipping their training sessions, or even quit training altogether for a period of time. Providing them with a quick bodyweight strength circuit which can be done anywhere, is not only a good way to support them, but it can be great for client retention as well.

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About the author:  Molly Galbraith

Molly Galbraith, CSCS is co-founder and woman-in-charge at Girls Gone Strong, a global movement of 800,000+ folks passionate about women’s health, fitness, and empowerment. She’s also the creator of the The Girls Gone Strong Academy, home of the world’s top certifications for health and fitness pros who want to become a Certified Pre-& Postnatal Coach or a Certified Women’s Coaching Specialist.   The GGS Academy is revolutionizing women’s health and fitness by tackling critical (and often overlooked) topics like body image struggles, disordered eating, menopause, amenorrhea and menstrual cycle struggles, PCOS, endometriosis, osteoporosis, pre- and postnatal exercise, incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, postpartum recovery, and much more.   Learn more about Molly on her website and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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