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15-Minute Upper-Body Workout Using Nontraditional Equipment

For many people, travel is a necessary component of life. Whether it’s for work, vacation or visiting family for the upcoming holiday season, your client’s ability to find the resources and time to stick to his or her regular workout regimen may not be possible. The following circuit, however, is one possible solution that you can offer your clients when they’re on the road, pressed for time and have no access to traditional equipment. This efficient workout uses non-traditional equipment and can be performed just about anywhere. Urge your clients to repeat this circuit three to four times for an upper-body hypertrophy workout that will help them maintain the progress they’ve been working so hard to achieve back home.

Suitcase Clean and Press

  • Drive the hips back into flexion while maintaining a neutral spinal position and grasp under the suitcase or bag with both hands.

  • Explosively drive the hips forward and straighten the legs, while pulling and guiding the suitcase up to the shoulder.

  • Push and guide the bag to full extension by straightening the arms overhead.

  • Bring the bag down to the shoulder with control and then back to the floor.

Complete eight to 12 repetitions. Adjust the load by adding or subtracting materials from the suitcase.

Single-arm Suitcase Rows

  • Stand to the left side of the suitcase with the left leg forward and the right leg back.

  • Place the left hand on the left knee; flex the hips so that the torso comes forward to approximately 45 degrees.

  • Maintain a neutral spinal position and grasp the handle of the suitcase with the right hand.

  • Pull the right hand back toward the right hip; squeeze the shoulder blades together.

  • Reverse the feet, switch arms and repeat on the opposite side.

Complete eight to 12 repetitions. Adjust the load by adding or subtracting materials from the suitcase.

Towel Chest Fly Push-up

  • Assume a standard plank position with each hand on a separate towel over a smooth surface such as wooden floors or tile.

  • Bend the elbows and lower the chest toward the floor while sliding the hands away from each other in a slow and controlled manner; keep the elbows slightly bent.

  • Press back up to plank while bringing the hands toward each other.

Complete eight to 12 repetitions. The smoother the surface, the easier the exercise will be. To reduce the intensity, perform this exercise with the knees on the ground.

Water Bottle Reverse Snow Angels

  • Lie face down on the floor, with the arms at the sides of the body and the palms facing down; hold a filled water bottle in each hand. Raise the shoulders and hands a few inches off the floor by pinching the scapula.

  • In a slow, controlled motion, bring the arms up past the shoulders and up to the ears until the thumbs meet directly above the head.

  • Bring the arms back to the starting position. Keep the arms straight and the elbows locked through the entire movement to engage the back and shoulders.

Complete 10 to 15 repetitions using a three-second up and three-second down tempo.

Luggage Biceps Curl

  • Hold shopping bags in each hand and stand with feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Keep the elbows close to the body and curl the shopping bags up toward the shoulders.

Complete eight to 12 repetitions. Adjust the load by adding or subtracting materials from the shopping bags.

Chair Bench Dips

  • Sit on the edge of a chair, with feet flat on the floor and hands on the edge of the seat.

  • Walk the feet out away from the chair—the farther away the feet are from the chair, the greater the intensity of the exercise. With straight arms, slide the glutes off the edge of the chair. Rest the heels on floor with the legs extended.

  • Flex the elbows to approximately 90 degrees and lower the glutes toward the floor.

Press through the palms and straighten the elbows to return to the starting position.

Complete 10 to 15 repetitions. Reduce the intensity of this exercise by flexing the knees up and bringing the feet closer to the chair.


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