With summer upon us, chances are that many of you will be traveling and possibly staying in small hotel rooms that really don’t offer much space to turn your room into a gym. I can also bet that a lot of the hotel fitness centers probably will not make for an impressive workout experience. To help keep you on track with your exercise regimen, I designed five simple and fun moves that are sure to get your heart beating. Best thing is, the only piece of equipment you will need is something there’s never a shortage of on vaction—a pillow!
How It works: This workout is based on proprioception, which is basically the feedback loop between the body and brain. Training on a pillow is much like training on a wobble board or balance disc in that it offers the same unstable surface, which is perfect for core stability development and lower and upper body strengthening. Using a pillow will also focus on smaller stability muscles, which might be overlooked with conventional gym equipment.
Bonus: it’s a fast workout that takes only five minutes
Time: perform each move as many times as possible for 60 seconds
Rest: do not rest between exercises
Sets: perform all five moves as one workout cycle. You can perform up to three total cycles
1. Pillow slams: Begin standing with your legs wider than shoulder width apart. Raise the pillow overhead with your arms fully extended while standing tall. Next, in one explosive movement, drop into a low squat position while bringing the pillow down in front of your body, release, and slam it into the floor. Pick the pillow off of the floor and repeat the movement as many times as possible. Be sure to keep your arms fully extended throughout the whole movement.
Coach’s tip: To keep your back straight, hold your chin parallel to the ground throughout the entire movement.
2. Pillow planks: Place a non-down or feathered pillow underneath your elbows as you get into a traditional plank position. With both elbows resting on the pillow, hold this position for as long as possible throughout the 60 second time frame, resting if necessary.
Coach’s tip: To keep your hips from dipping, which can cause tension in your lower back, be sure to contract your glutes and abdominal region throughout this exercise.
3. "T" holds: Stand on the pillow with your right foot. Extend both arms to the side at shoulder height. Next, lean forward from your hips while simultaneously extending your left leg backwards. You should look like you are forming the letter "T". Hold this position for 30 seconds before switching over to your left side.
Coach’s tip: Aim to keep you head, hips, and heel in one straight line. This can be easily achieved by focusing your eyes towards the ground.
4. Pillow twists: Get into a lunge position with your right leg forward and hold a pillow in your outstretched arms. Rotate your torso and arms as far as you can to the right. Retract and return to center. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch and rotate to the left.
Coach’s tip: To help strengthen your forearms, hands, and wrists squeeze the pillow as hard as possible throughout the exercise. Squeezing the pillow and strengthening these three areas may actually help decrease the chance of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
5. Uni-pillow presses: Begin in pushup position with both knees placed firmly on the pillow and both hands aligned directly under your shoulder. Next, extend your right leg backwards while keeping your left knee on the pillow. Simultaneously, bend your elbows and lower your shoulders, chest, and hips towards the ground lowering your body as close to the ground as you can. Then, drive your weight back into the floor pushing through your palms while pressing your body back to its original position. Repeat for 30 seconds with your left knee on the pillow before switching over to your right side.
Coach’s tip: In order to keep your back flat, aim to keep the extended leg approximately two to three inches off of the ground.