Hotel Gym Workout Plan

If you’re like me, you travel for work at least 1 week a month and the hotel gyms usually aren’t on par with the gym that you have a membership with. The hotel gyms typically look something like this…1-2 treadmills, stationary bike, bench and slim pickings on the dumbbell rack. Don’t fret! There are a couple easy steps to ensure that you can get a good hotel gym workout in.  

1: Actually go. Don’t look at travel (especially travel for work) as a time where you can sit back and relax, or let your current fitness plan go up in flames. Do you usually workout before work, at lunch, after work? Keep this same routine when traveling. It will help ensure that you get your butt to the gym. When traveling you likely don’t have the same family or friend commitments as you would when you’re home. Take advantage of this extra time! 

2: Plan for this. Did you all of a sudden have to jump on a plane and fly to a city and pick a random hotel to stay in? Probably not. Do a little research and ensure that the hotel you’re staying at does in fact have a gym. There’s usually a picture of the hotel gym on the company website, so you can understand what you’re getting yourself into. You can preplan your workout routine based upon what type of equipment that gym offers. 

3: Be Flexible. Other than actually going (see 1) the most important aspect in getting a good hotel gym workout in is being adaptable. If you’re planning on hitting your Deadlift PR or performing a machine superset circuit, you’re going to be disappointed. Hotel gyms are typically set up to accommodate cardiovascular workouts. There’s nothing wrong with a nice cardio day; however, if your focus is to build lean muscle then focusing on strictly cardio isn’t going to help you get there. You can get in a good hotel gym workout with whatever equipment is provided!

I recently stayed at a hotel that had this gym:

Hotel gym
Hotel gym from recent stay in KS

With the hotel gym not having adequate weights for me to challenge myself with heavy (heavy for me) weight, I upped the volume of work. Since I’m in a hypertrophy* phase and not a strength building phase, this was an easy adaptation. *Hypertrophy is a method used to help stimulate muscle growth. With hypertrophy training, it is typical to perform high volume sets / reps (as you will read below) schemes to help muscles grow. During a hypertrophy phase, one is not necessarily focused on getting as strong as possible. If the goal was to build strength then the workout would focus on lower volume sets / reps and at a higher weight – weight that is closer to you 1RM.   

Day 1 – fell on my normally scheduled lower body day, so lower body was my focus for this workout 

Stretching, 5 minutes – after spending a day sitting at the airport and flying, it’s nice to do some stretching to help make you feel like a human again 

HIIT Treadmill Circuit, 1 min warmup with 3 pulses of 1-minute sprint with 2-minute cool down – I usually don’t do HIIT style training so this was a nice switch up

Goblet Squat, 5 sets of 15 – great for lower body and core

Goblet Squat
Goblet Squat

Dumbbell Lunge, 5 sets of 15 – another great way to stretch out the lower body after a day of traveling 


Front Foot Elevated Bodyweight Split Squat, 3 sets of 15, 12, 10 

Front foot elevated body weight split squat
Front foot elevated bodyweight split squat

Romanian Bodyweight Spilt Squat, 3 nonstop super sets of 15, 12, 10 – burnout sets completely trashed my legs! 

Romanian bodyweirght split squat
Romanian bodyweight split squat

Swiss ball crunch, 3 sets of 20 – core specific 

Stretching, 5 minutes 

For those of you counting at home, that’s 5 lower body / core exercises (not including the HIIT or stretching) for a total of 19 sets and 284 reps. Since the weights were light, the rest periods were kept to 30 seconds and the workout was completed in less than 45 minutes. Exercises performed that aren’t part of my normal workout routine were: HIIT, Goblet squat, Romanian Split Squat, Swiss Ball Crunch 

Day 2 – My normal day two is an upper body day. With my focus being hypertrophy training I will typically sprinkle in high volume machine exercises. With being at the hotel gym, and lacking in the way of any machines, day 2 was tailored to adapt to the equipment 

Stretching: 5 minutes 

Dumbbell Clean and Press: 3 sets, 15, 12, 10 – Although technically a “fully body” exercise, it was more of an upper body workout due to the weight being low to really engage the lower body  

Dumbbell clean and press
Dumbbell clean and press

Superset Single Arm Dumbbell Concentration Curls & Forearm Curl: 3 sets, 15, 12, 10 – this is a nice superset because it allows the use of the same dumbbell weight for both exercises 

Dumbbell concentration curl
Dumbbell concentration curl

Single Arm Dumbbell Pulls: 5 sets, 15, 15, 15, 15, 15 – volume is high because the weight is low 

Single arm dumbbell pulls
Single arm dumbbell pulls

Dumbbell Triceps Kickout: 3 sets, 15, 12, 10 – easier to focus on the arms with limited options  

Dumbbell triceps kickout
Dumbell triceps kickoff

Medicine ball twists: 3 sets of 20 – core workout 

Steady state cardio, walking at an incline for 10 minutes – I could say this was part of my cardio strategy for the day, but really I was killing 10 minutes until breakfast opened at 6:00 AM! 

Stretching: 5 minutes 

That’s 6 upper body / core exercises (not including the steady state cardio or stretching) for a total of 20 sets and 246 reps. Similar to day 1, the weight was relatively light, the rest periods were kept to 30 seconds and the workout was completed in less than 45 minutes. Exercises performed that aren’t part of my normal workout routine were: Superset single arm dumbbell concentration curls & forearm curls, Dumbbell triceps kickout, Medicine ball twists

As you can see, it’s not difficult to get in a really good hotel gym workout with limited equipment and time. *The pictures weren’t taken from the home gym (obviously). As you can see, the workout can be almost entirely replicated from your home with a couple dumbbells and a chair.

To recap:

1. Make time in your day to get in your hotel gym workout. It’s usually easier if you stick with the current schedule you have with going to your home based gym. 

2. Plan ahead of time. Do a little research on the hotel gym and build a workout plan that will accommodate what is offered. 

3. Be flexible. As you can see from my 2-day hotel gym workout routine, more than 50% of my exercises weren’t part of my normal workout routine, and the ones that were needed to have a major volume increase to offset the light weight. 

No excuses! Get that workout in and don’t let travel impeded you hitting your fitness goals! 

Why Plant Based?

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

— Hippocrates

I used to be your typical gym going meat head (pun intended). My daily meals for years looked something like this: 

Breakfast: 2 hard boiled eggs, 2 slices of bread with peanut butter and coffee with cream and sugar

Mid-morning Snack: Whey protein shake with water 

Lunch: Cobb Salad (lettuce, chicken, egg, bacon, onion, avocado, cheese and dressing)  

Mid-afternoon snack: beef jerky

Post workout: Whey protein shake with water  

Dinner: Pan fried chicken, onion, peppers and rice 

At a quick glance you can see that it is a diet highly skewed towards large amounts of animal protein and fat with a limited amount of carbs and almost no vegetables. Eating like that did help me maintain my strength levels from the ages of 21 to 30, but it came at an internal cost. First it started with sever, and seemingly random, stomach pain at the age of 23. It’s difficult to explain, but a few times a month I would be hit with stomach pain and was left immobilized to a certain degree – walking would be painful and I couldn’t eat, go to the gym or do any other normal activities. I visited a gastroenterologist and after undergoing an endoscopy and colonoscopy the doctor was able to rule out Crohn’s and IBS, but couldn’t trace the cause of my pain. It wasn’t until I underwent a hydrogen breath test (this is a GI test that measures the bacteria in the colon or small intestine. The patient breathes into a bag every 15 minutes for 5 hours to collect the hydrogen levels.) that the doctor was able to identify that the cause of my pain was due to bacterium in my small intestine. After 2 weeks of antibiotic regiment, the pain ceased and I was back to normal (that is until the pain started up again 3 years later and I had to undergo the same process all over again!). Although this couldn’t be tied to eating animal products, it was the first look into what was put in the body had a direct correlation to health. 

The next health concern for me was DIRECTLY linked to eating animal products. At the age of 28 my cholesterol level was 210. As you can see from the graph below, 210 is necessarily cause for concern according to Journal of American College of Cardiology, but it was for me. Although it wasn’t a concern for me right away, It took a few years to get there, but ultimately at the age of 31, I understood that unless I made a change, the cholesterol number was going to continue to go up and then I would be forced to take medicine to keep my cholesterol levels under control. I probably don’t need to tell you all the issues associated with having high cholesterol, but will remind you that according to the Mayo Clinic, high cholesterol can be associated with chest pain, heart attack and stroke. With only changing the types of foods I eat (no other lifestyle changes), my cholesterol went from 210 down to 170 (18 months of 100% plant based) and it will continue to drop as the plant based diet continues. 

Above you saw what I ate to compromise my health, now take a look at what I’m eating to optimize my health:

Breakfast: Oatmeal (rolled oats, blueberries, flax seed, cinnamon, banana, almond milk) and coffee with almond milk and cacao powder 

Lunch: Pasta, red sauce, nutritional yeast, black beans, spinach  

Post workout: Green smoothie (Spinach, broccoli, sweet peas, banana, date, chia seed, hemp seed and white beans) 

Dinner: Taco’s (white flour tortilla, rice, red beans, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado) 

The abdominal pain has disappeared and the cholesterol levels are trending in the right direction. Get your internal health in order – go plant based!!

This is the Why Plant Based post focused on internal health. The next Why Plant Based will be for external health.