The 20-Minute Hotel Workout

This past week during my road trip, I spent a night at a hotel in Richmond, VA.

I hadn’t exercised out in a few days, and had no desire to go find out if they had a gym on site…so I made up my own workout while IN the hotel room, using nothing but myself and the room’s furniture.  In just 20 minutes I had warmed up, exercised my entire body, and stretched out afterward.

Now, although I did this in a hotel room, it doesn’t mean it won’t work in lots of other places, like your own bedroom for example – I just know it works in a hotel because I did it a few days ago.

So there.

Whenever I create a workout, I always aim for a complete full body routine that will build muscle, burn fat, and also exercise your heart.  These types of workouts burn more calories than simple cardio too (booooo to boring cardio!).

I hit four types of exercises:

  • Legs – working both the front and back of your legs
  • Push – chest, shoulders, triceps
  • Pull – back, biceps, forearms
  • Core – abs and lower back

That means that you can work out almost every muscle in your body with just four exercises – simplicity for the win!  Unfortunately, I was the only person on my trip, and I wasn’t going to ask the maid “hey can you come videotape me in my hotel room?” so I wasn’t able to put together a video IN the hotel room of me doing these exercises (the videos are of me doing them in a park, but you get the point).

Always start with a warm-up (to get your core temperature up and muscles loose): 25 jumping jacks, 15 body weight squats, 10 push ups, 10 lunges (each leg), 10 hip raises, 25 jumping jacks.  Do one exercise right after another – this should take you probably 3-4 minutes.

After that, move into your workout – set your watch/laptop for 15 minutes and then do as many full circuits as possible in that time frame, using PERFECT FORM for each repetition.  I’ve split the workout into three levels – beginners should start at level 1 until they feel comfortable enough to advance to levels 2 and 3.

Do each exercise, one after another, without stopping if possible. If you need to stop between exercises or even in the middle of the set, go for it.  Just remember you’re trying to complete as many circuits as possible within the 15 minutes without compromising your form.  Advance to the more challenging exercises at your own pace, and if some exercises are too difficult or it’s too many reps, adjust them to fit your experience level – just make sure you are getting stronger and challenging yourself with each additional hotel stay.  For example, if you can only do 5 incline push ups…aim for six when do the workout next time.  So, here it is!




After your workout (you should be sweating like crazy if you did it right), ALWAYS remember to stretch. Pick four or five of the exercises listed under “stretching” in the how-to videos section for a good full body stretch.

And if you’re looking for help TRACKING your workouts, you can use our Beginner Bodyweight Worksheet as a template to know exactly how to track your movements, your reps, and your workouts while on the road. Enter your email below and we’ll send you the downloadable template (and other our other free guides).

T-Rex Arms and The Fitness Buster

I’m currently typing this article with T-Rex arms.

“WTF are T-Rex arms” you ask?

T-Rex arms show up after you manage to push yourself a little bit too hard with certain exercises in a workout, and in return your biceps and forearms are so tight that you can’t even straighten out your arms for a few days.  So you have to walk around like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

That’s me right now.  It’s painful as hell, and I look ridiculous.  But I’m still glad it happened.

Here’s why.

This past Friday, on my drive from New York City to Boston, MA, I swung through Norwich, CT to connect with Shawn Guiney, a gym owner who happened to read Nerd Fitness and wanted to know if I was interested in coming in for a workout.  Considering I had had a little bit too much fun in NYC, and planned on going out with friends in Boston the following two days, I figured I might as well kick my ass in the gym to help balance things out.

I arrived at Shawn’s gym in Norwich and immediately felt like I had stepped onto the set of a Rocky movie shoot: old wooden floors, brick walls, high vaulted ceilings – this gym had some SERIOUS old-school character.  Shawn asked how hard I wanted to push myself, and I said “give me everything you got.”  He told me that he had a crossfit-style workout set up for his advanced members that day, if I felt up to the challenge.  I haven’t been taking care of myself lately (too busy planning crazy adventures, I guess) and my last crossfit experience almost made me puke my brains out, so I don’t really remember why I thought this was a good idea.

Oh well, screw it.

After a warm-up (3 minutes of jumping rope, 100 jumping jacks, mountain climbers and a lot of hip mobility work), this is the workout (called “Angie” in Crossfit land) I went through:

  • 100 pull ups
  • 100 push ups
  • 100 sit ups
  • 100 squats

Yikes. I had to complete each exercise before moving onto the next one.  I did probably 30 dead-hang pull ups (split across a few sets) before my arms refused to work anymore, so then I moved onto band-assisted pull ups, and then chair-assisted pull ups.  Needless to say, by rep#100 my arms were COOKED.  After that, I moved onto push ups (which normally wouldn’t have been an issue, except they came after 100 pull ups), then sit ups and squats.

Overall, I think it took me around 30 minutes or so, not a great time, but we did quite a bit of talking in between sets and I wasn’t too concerned with setting a new course record.  After working out, I sat down with Shawn and talked about his training philosophy, experience in training, passions, etc.

I could tell these things within 10 minutes of talking with Shawn:

  • He’s exactly like me and has a very similar training style and philosophy.
  • He has years and years of experience and an incredible passion for helping people getting in shape.
  • He knows his stuff.
  • His clients are all over the board in terms of age/experience, but he treats each of them with personalized attention.

So, although I definitely bit off more than I could chew and pushed myself too hard, I’m so incredibly glad I got a chance to stop and work out with Shawn.  He’s a guy who is doing what he loves, and is doing a really good job at it.  He launched his own blog over at, and I’d really appreciate it if you swung by the site and left a comment.  He’s new to the blogging thing, so go easy on the guy – I told him to just start publishing content and figure the rest out as he goes.

Oh, and if you happen to live anywhere near Norwich, CT and you’re looking for a place to exercise, Shawn’s gym is the place to go.

Do it.

Keep Pushing

Just because it’s cold and snowy doesn’t mean you can slack off – hard work in the winter will pay tremendous dividends come summer.  Get stronger, get faster, do one more rep, finish one second sooner…always be improving.

What kind of workouts are you doing these days?

Did the workout above make sense?

Do you have any questions? Let me know!



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    The burn you get in your muscles after exercising is great, and shows you that you’ve actually worked hard. However, pushing yourself too hard when trying to get fit can put many off through injuries. Another great exercise though forming another great healthy living tip for your readers!

  • Alex Asher

    I didn’t have a desk in my pokey hotel room so just changed it up the inverted row. Was on advanced level – reverse crunches were great and added ab russian twists to make up for it. Thanks again Steve. Massive fan!

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    I just started doing this tonight. I am tired. I’m skinny, will this get me bigger?

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    That means that you can work out almost every muscle in your body with just four exercises – simplicity for the win! Unfortunately, I was the only person on my trip, and I wasn’t going to ask the maid “hey can you come videotape me in my hotel room?” so I wasn’t able to put together a video IN the hotel room of me doing these exercises (the videos are of me doing them in a park, but you get the point).

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