As a fitness professional, I have a lot of tools in my repertoire for crafting workouts, but there’s one simple formula that never fails me and has been my go-to for years for creating workouts for both myself and my clients. I love it because it helps me produce a well-balanced workout every single time but still gives me plenty of flexibility to add in weight or use my own body to everything in between. It’s also perfect for creating travel workouts when you are not sure what kind of equipment you will find in the hotel gym. So, what’s the secret formula? Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Core.
These five movements target different areas of your body, allowing you to easily create a balanced total body workout. After a quick warm-up of your choice, pick an exercise from each category. Either choose a set number of reps for each movement and complete 4-5 rounds or set a timer for 20-25 minutes and switch exercises every minute. See below for a description of each category and at the end, find one of my favourite take anywhere workouts that you can try on your next vacation, no equipment needed.
Upper Body Push
The humble push-up is the classic upper body push movement, but you can think of this as any exercise that targets the anterior (or front) part of your upper body. Any push-up variation works well here whether you perform them on your knees, elevate your feet, complete them on a TRX, or change your hand position to a narrow or wide grip. Other push movements include any sort of dumbbell pressing, bench press, and even a handstand hold.
Upper Body Pull
This is any opposing movement to the upper body push and these movements generally target the posterior (or back side) of your body. Common pulling exercises include the pull-up or chin-up, TRX row, any version of a dumbbell row, and supermans or cobras.
Lower Body Squat
These movements target the anterior side of your lower body, but it’s easier to think of these as anything where the movement comes primarily from your knee joint. Examples include any squat and lunge variations, single leg squats and step ups.
Lower Body Hinge
The lower body hinge targets the posterior side of your lower body and these movements are primarily initiated by a hip hinge. Examples include any variation of deadlifts and glute bridges or hip raise variations.
Round out your selection by adding in your favourite core work. In addition to any plank variations, you can play with loaded carries such as farmer or suitcase carries, hollow holds, ab wheel rollouts, or hanging knee raises.
My Favourite Travel Workout
After a warm-up of your choice, complete 4-6 rounds of the following
30 Second Handstand hold (can use a wall, tree, or pole for assistance, or substitute any push-up variation)
20-30 Alternating Reverse Lunges (10-15 each side)
30 Second Prone Upper Back Extension
20-30 Single Leg Hinge (10-15 each side)
30 Second Hollow Hold
Rest up to one minute in between sets