Putting Your Weight to Work for You

Several years ago, I used to travel five to six days a week. I was known among colleagues as an airport junky who tested airport limits and tried to make the most of my many hours spent there, from asking a TSA agent, knowing that scissors with two-inch blades were allowed to be carried on, if seventy pairs of scissors with two-inch blades were allowed to be carried on (I used scissors during presentations), to doing triceps dips and push ups in the pre-board area, and to painting my nails on a plane (I found out the hard way that this is absolutely not allowed).  I had a gym passport that would allow me to work out at a gym in any city and state, but that wasn’t always convenient when battling airports many hours a day, most days of the week.  As many travelers have, I tried packing a ten-pound medicine ball and deflated exercise ball in my suitcase so that hotel room workouts would be possible, but that quickly became a no-go in light of extra fees incurred by airlines for too heavy or too many bags.

During another life stage, having small babies at home kept me out of the gym more often than I would have wished, and ‘doctor’s orders’ post-delivery dictated that I steer clear of weights for six whole weeks.

The solution? Using my own body weight rather than equipment to allow for on-the-road and at-home workouts that can be adjusted for any fitness level, whether partum, post-partum, or just partial to staying out of the gym.

Here are a few exercises to try:

- Push Ups: This exercise gives you a good bang for your buck, as it works lots of muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps, back, core/abs, and biceps).  A benefit of push ups over a weighted chest press is that you’re working the back muscles, too.  Try doing four full push ups and then lowering halfway down and holding for five seconds.  Repeat this cycle five times.  Push ups can be done on your toes or on your knees for a modified, less intense exercise.  For an extra challenge, grab a few books, stack them, and put your hands on top of the books.

- Chair Tricep Dips: The triceps are one of the first muscles to decrease in strength when not exercising, and they’re also one of the easiest muscles to improve.  Place two chairs facing each other, about three feet apart.  Sit on one chair with your hands palm down and gripping the edge of the chair.  Place your heels on the edge of the other chair.  Slide forward just far enough so that your bottom clears the edge of the chair.  Lower yourself so that your elbows are at 90 degrees.  Do as many repetitions as you can.

- Wall Sit: Stand against a wall so that your back is leaning on the wall and your feet are about two feet away from the wall.  Slide your back down until your knees are at 90 degrees.  Hold as long as you can.  Hold in your abs and you’ll work the core, too.

- Planks: Get into push up position on your hands and toes, or on your elbows and toes.  Contract your abdominal muscles.  Keep your back straight (don’t collapse in the middle) and hold this position for as long as you can.  Great for abs, back, and shoulders.

- Walking Lunges: Start at one end of the room and take a long stride forward with the right leg.  Bend down so the forward knee is directly over the toes and at a 90 degree angle.  Raise up and repeat with the other leg across the room.

All it takes is a little motivation and some creativity, and you can get a full-body workout any time, anywhere!  Good luck!

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