Strength Building While on Vacation

Take your strength building workout on vacation with you with these exercises and diet tips.

Going on vacation is a great way to break out of our normal routine, but it could be very disruptive for those trying to commit to a strength training regimen. Is it possible to strength train without any weights or gym equipment?

Dr. Jan Kasprowicz: Absolutely. We do a total body conditioning program here in our office, which basically focusses on creating a lot of core stability in the body. This way once your body has that core stability then your arms and legs can move much more freely. We don’t have much equipment in our office either.

Two pieces of equipment (they’re not big or heavy and they’re easy to put in your suitcase) are TRX straps or what’s known as suspension training straps. There’s also a heart rate monitor, which I recommend everybody use. With TRX straps or suspension training, you are basically utilizing your body’s core to create stability so that you could do a variety of different exercises. You could do push-ups, you could do pull-ups, you could do presses, you could do squats, you could do lunges, you could do almost any exercise you wanted with suspension training straps. You could attach them to the door in your hotel room. If you’re outdoors, you could attach them to a tree, you could attach them to your car, you could attach them to your truck. You could pretty much bring them anywhere and get a full workout with them.

The other piece of equipment I think everybody should bring as well is a heart rate monitor. It’s very simple. We use a Polar H7 Heart Rate Monitor, which hooks up with your iPhone or your Android and then basically it’s going to tell you what your heart rate is. There’s a chest strap that goes across your chest. It picks up your heart rate and hooks up to your phone. If your goal is to lose body fat or maintain a certain body composition and you’re training between 50 to 80% of your maximum heart rate, your body is primarily using only fat for fuel.

Now once you start training between 70 to 80% of your maximum heart rate, your body is not only using fat for fuel, but it’s also working your heart and your lungs. This way you can make sure that while you’re on vacation, you can use the suspension training to go ahead and build lean body mass then also if you’re going out for a walk, or you going to go out for a run, you can use the heart rate monitor to make sure your body has been totally burning fat for fuel.

What are the most efficient exercises for a whole body workout?

Dr. Jan Kasprowicz: There’s two exercises I recommend everybody get really good at. The first is a squat. I’m a chiropractic physician and the majority of cases of low back issues that I see in my office are due to the fact that people cannot squat. Now it’s not a squat per se, but it’s actually a hip case where they can’t squat down. If you go to and look into Asian populations, when people are standing on the corner and they’re actually talking, they’re not actually standing. They actually sit and they squat in position. Now low back pain is very rare in Asia because they have so much hip mobility.

Once we have decreased hip mobility, not only do we have increased low back pain but our overall health is actually compromised as well. Learning to squat is very important and you could do a standing squat, you could sit to squat by holding onto a pole and doing a squat. You could do lunges, which is also a variety of a squat. You could also do another thing called an isometric squat, where you actually just sit in a squatting position for 30 to 60 seconds. This works your core, it works your hips, it works your glutes, it works your quadriceps, and it also works your hamstrings.

Another exercise that’s also very important to do are push-ups. Push-ups are a very basic exercise. People don’t understand that in order for your body to perform a push-up, it’s not dependent upon your shoulder strength, your chest strength, or your triceps strength. It’s all based on how strong this thing in your back called your posterior line of fascia. If you’re lax or your back muscles and your glute or your butt muscles aren’t activated, you cannot perform a push-up. If you have strong glutes and a strong back, you can do push-ups. Then having the ability to do push-ups, you could do regular push-ups on a floor, you could put your feet up on something. Or if it’s a little bit difficult, you could put your knees down on the floor and do push-ups as well.

Considering it might be hard to find indoor space, what are the best leg exercises we can do?

Dr. Jan Kasprowicz: Best leg exercises to do, and we do try to have our patients focus on doing a lot of leg exercises because leg muscles are so large, especially the quadriceps, the hamstrings and glutes. They do burn the most amount of calories just because they’re such large muscles. Very easy to do is a basic squat. You can do squats, a narrow squat, which is a little bit less than shoulder width. Then you can do shoulder width squats. Then you can do squats with your legs a little bit further out from your shoulders. You can also do an isometric squat. I also call them a skier squat where you’re just literally standing there in a squatter position with your hands behind your back. You can also do lunges where alternating with your legs forward and back.

I know planking is a great way to strengthen our core, and we can do that anywhere. Are there other good core exercises that we can do just about anywhere?

Dr. Jan Kasprowicz: Absolutely. A very good core activation exercise – planks are good. They’re used quite a bit but they’re only good when you’re in a planking position. What you can also do is if you could actually perform a plank … What we do with our patients and our clients in our office and our athletes, we have them put themselves into a planking position and then underneath their feet we put these little sliders that are used for moving furniture. You get them at Home Depot. They’re called furniture sliders.

Then we have them do these things called mountain climbers, where they’re in that plank position, and now they’re bringing their legs up to their chest. They’re alternating right leg and left leg. That’s one thing they can do. Another good core activation activity is standing on an unstable surface such as a bosu ball. Which is half a physio ball, which actually has a lot of bounce to it. Another activity that you can do that will actually activate your core as well is literally just standing on one foot. Because you’re standing on one foot, that’s actually filling a lot proprioceptive information into your joints with your awareness of where you are in space and your brain goes ahead and starts firing your core muscles.

On vacation we tend to eat whatever is convenient but we know diet plays a big role in building muscle. What should we make sure to eat everyday to keep building muscle?

Dr. Jan Kasprowicz: In order for our bodies to continue to build muscle, the big misconception is that you need to eat protein. If you’re going to be training while you’re on vacation and you want to maintain muscle mass, the number one thing to eat is to eat foods which are high in nutrient density. The number one thing to eat is lots of vegetables. I’ve noticed that when our clients exercise and they are excessively exercising sometimes, when we do an Inbody Body Composition scan on them, we notice that sometimes they’re burning through muscle mass. They’re actually losing muscle mass. The reason why that happens is because they’re not eating enough food.

There are two types of food. There is nutritious food and there’s non-nutritious food. The reason why sometimes when people are eating non-nutritious food like junk food and they’re constantly eating it all day and they’re losing muscle mass is because the body is not being fed any nutrients. If the body is not fed nutrients then it goes ahead and starts burning lean body mass to try to pull some nutrients from there. If you’re going to go ahead and supply the body with nutrients from broccoli, from asparagus, from dark leafy greens, from peppers, from tomatoes, foods with an abundant amount of nutrients in it, you are going to be able to keep that lean body mass that you obtained through training.

If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Jan Kasprowitz, visit, or call 917-748-2902 to schedule an appointment.

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