I love to travel, but long business trips -- especially those with non-stop networking events -- wreak havoc on me, both mentally (because I am a closet introvert) and physically (because of the open bars). Regardless, I always make it a priority to budget time for physical activity on any business trip.

Recently, I embarked on a long, three-week trip that took me to three countries, three time zones, and more meetings than I care to recount. In doing so, I challenged myself to stay in shape using only the resources available in my hotel room. What I discovered was that it was incredibly easy and convenient to generate a great sweat while working off all of the networking appetizers.

So, unless you follow a workout routine like Duane "The Rock" Johnson, here are a few simple yet effective exercise tips that, if you budget just 15 minutes per day, will help keep you in shape during your next business trip.

Push Ups

Push ups are a simple and effective stalwart. Unfortunately, most people these days believe that if you are not lifting heavy weight, gains aren't being made -- "no pain, no gain" after all. I am also guessing that these same people have never tried to do 200 pushups in a day. What matters is quality, not quantity, so just get on the floor and start pressing.

New more of a challenge? Try these alternatives:

Pull Ups

Every push exercise should be paired with a pull exercise. Pull ups, however, are a bit trickier because finding a place to support your body weight can be a challenge -- take it from me, the hotel closet bars will not work. You do not necessarily have to pull your full body weight, however, to get the benefit of this exercise. Instead, consider lying under a desk or chair and simply pulling yourself up.

No desk or chair in the hotel? Consider this:
Clearly you are traveling with luggage, so consider luggage pulls. The rugged handle of a carry on luggage make it the ideal dumbbell. Put your clothes inside, or simply stuff it full of sheets and other non-breakable items and use it to do lateral raises or single arm rows.


I remember a time when squatting implied loading a bar with enough weight to make it bend over your shoulders. This may be effective if you are trying to single-handedly take down a live oak tree, but in reality, with good form, body-weight squats are an extraordinary way of combining strength and cardiovascular exercise. Don't believe me? Try 100 slow body-weight squats with perfect form -- then you can curse me the next day when you can't walk to your shower.

Bored with squats? Challenge yourself with these alternatives:
Forward Lunges and Reverse Lunges

Jumping Jacks

The jumping jack is another go-to standard -- and for good reason. It combines light-impact cardiovascular exercise with strength training in your upper and lower body. Not convinced? Try doing jumping jacks for five minutes and watch how your heart rate soars

If you find jumping jacks boring, consider these total body alternatives:

Burpees or its radical brother, Burpee Pushup and Jump

Now that you have the simple tools, just put them all together into a routine. I suggest using an exercise timer or a timer app on our phone, such as Seconds Pro, to keep you on track. Just set up a routine as follows:

  • Round
    • 30 Seconds - Pushups
      • 10 Seconds - Rest
    • 30 Seconds - Pull Ups
      • 10 Seconds - Rest
    • 30 Seconds - Squats
      • 10 Seconds - Rest
    • 30 Seconds - Jumping Jacks
      • 30 Seconds Rest
  • Repeat the round five times

This gives you a great 15-minute routine that will combine strength and heart conditioning without every needing to leave your room. If it is not challenging enough, extend the time of your rounds (45 to 60 seconds each), do more rounds (six to ten), or substitute in a more challenging exercise.

It is that simple.

Regardless, at the end of the day, you do not need to exercise for hours. Just a few minutes a day can keep your body and brain ready for any challenge on the road.

Note: I am not a certified physical trainer, but rather just a guy that likes to stay active and fit. Before engaging in any strenuous activity or routine, you should consult your physician to understand any risks you may have.