Gold Member Badge


  • You're all caught up!
<Back to Posts

5 Easy Ways to Make Your Vacation Workouts Harder

castillodominici_iStock_Getty Images

Relaxing vacations are great, but for people who want to stick with their exercise programs while they’re on the road, the training conditions are usually far from desirable.

But if you're a relatively fit person, you can still put together a tough workout: All it takes is tweaking some key variables.

With these five simple strategies, you'll increase the intensity and the results of each session, even if the equipment is lacking. While the following tips focus on using lighter dumbbells and kettlebells, you can use the same strategies to take most exercises up a notch.

Make your vacation workouts harder in 5 easy steps.

1. Go Slow: By slowing down the speed of the exercise and, more specifically, each repetition, you'll increase the time under muscular tension. This increases the intensity because you'll not only be working for a longer duration, you'll also be increasing the metabolic demand on the muscles. Try counting to three or four for both the lowering and lifting portion of each exercise.

2. Go Fast: Just the opposite of the first strategy, try performing your exercises quickly or more explosively. This doesn't mean "out of control," but as explosively as possible while maintaining proper form. This will target the fast-twitch muscle fibers and increase your power output. Focus on moving the weight through the concentric phase (lifting portion) of the rep quickly first, and then you can try making the entire rep explosive.

Even something as simple as slowing an exercise down can pump up results.

3. Pause: Similar to slowing the repetition down, taking a pause at the most difficult portion of the rep will increase the demand on the system. Also, by pausing at the hardest part of the rep, you are working on maintaining proper form at the point where you are most likely to get sloppy. Try pausing for two to five seconds at the bottom of a squat, lunge or push-up, for example.

Read More: 8 Unilateral Exercises to Challenge Your Balance

4. Go Unilateral: Often we find ourselves focusing on bilateral movements like squats, deadlifts, pull-ups, push-ups, bench presses, rows, etc. While loading these movements with heavy weights is a great way to get big and strong, when the weight is not enough try going unilateral.

Working one side at a time increases the stability demand and requires you to work for a longer overall duration. Try single-leg squats, lunges, single-leg deadlifts, single-arm dumbbell presses, single-arm rows, etc.

Read More: 3 Kettlebell Complexes for Faster Fat Loss

5. Reduce Rest/Make It a Complex: By reducing your rest between exercises you don't allow the system to recover and the metabolic demand increases. A great way to do so is to complete a complex. A complex is a series of exercises performed back to back with one implement without dropping the implement. In the case of the hotel gym, try a dumbbell complex. For example, do a  dumbbell squat, then immediately perform   a push press followed by a reverse lunge and then a bent-over row. Be creative!


Readers -- Do you try to stick with your exercise regimen when you're on vacation? If you do, but you're not successful, why not? Do you have any other tips or tricks to make a workout harder? Leave a comment below and let us know.


Kyle Arsenault, CSCS, is a strength and conditioning coach, human-performance specialist and author. As the former head strength and conditioning coach with Momentum PT, Kyle now combines his extensive knowledge of efficient human movement, rehabilitation and strength and conditioning to create performance-enhancement programs for top fitness athletes and online clients.

Connect with Kyle on his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Must see: Slideshow & Video

Member Comments