If you want to workout while you are traveling, or travel often for work, your options to exercise are usually limited to either using the hotel gym (which is usually small and doesn't offer much) or do bodyweight exercises.
But what if you'd like to hit your back muscles and do some chin or pull ups?
If this is you, then you should keep reading.
What Exactly Is The Problem?
Let's assume a few things here.
- your hotel doesn't have an adequate gym (because if it did, you wouldn't need to read this)
- and you either want to work out your back somehow, or you simply want to do pull or chin ups
While you could either find a place outside or stay inside your room and do some calisthenics, the main problem is that it is very hard to directly hit your back muscles using only bodyweight exercises.
To illustrate this point, check out the table below. Training your other body parts using nothing but body weight exercises is easy. But your back (and by extension, your biceps), simply cannot be hit directly without some kind of tool.
Body Weight Exercises
Push-ups, close-grip push-ups, wide-grip
Squats, lunges, calf raises
Sit-ups, crunches, leg raises, etc.
Back & Biceps
And if you can't hit your back and biceps with direct calisthenics work, you might be wondering if it's possible to simply bring your pull up bar with you.
Why You Can't Bring a Pull Up Bar With You
There are three main issues with bringing a pull up bar with you.
Let's tackle them from biggest to smallest.
Problem #1: Virtually Every Pull Up Bar Won't Fit In Your Luggage
This is even assuming that you have a decent-sized luggage suitcase to begin with...
If you're traveling somewhere for a few days via plane or train and just carrying a small bag, you simply won't have enough room.
And if you're traveling overseas with a larger suitcase?
Even that will be too problematic.
Let's use the ProSource Multi-Grip as an example.
With 6 separate parts and with it's biggest part being nearly 41" long, there is just no way you are going to pack all of that into a suitcase, and still have adequate space left over for your other belongings.
And that isn't even touching the issue of weight. Many of these bars weigh 8-12 lbs. And while that is not significant, coupled with anything else you may be carrying, your suitcase will probably get real heavy, real fast.
If you absolutely, 100% need to bring a pull up bar along with you (if for instance you are traveling by car), then I would highly suggest the Iron Gym as the best travel chin bar. For a few reasons...
- It only has four parts
- It weighs 2.2 lbs
- It fits the overwhelming vast majority of doorways
- It works well enough for the overwhelming vast majority of people for most circumstances
The thing with both the Iron Gym and ProSource, is that they are both doorway mountable chin up bars, and as such, they would take up a decent amount of space. The more parts, the more space.
That doesn't leave you with a bunch of options, considering the fact that you simply would not be able to use the much smaller, and much more compact screw-in pull up bars like the j/fit Deluxe.
Using these types of bars without also using the screw in mounts is simply too dangerous.
But that's not the only problem.
Problem #2: Your Travel Chin Up Bar Might Not Even Fit Your Hotel Room's Doorway
This brings us to the second biggest problem.
Even if you can easily bring with you a pull up bar, that pull up bar might not even be able to properly fit your hotel room's doorway.
First, there is the problem of dimensions.
And while you can avoid most of this issue with a bar such as the Perfect Fitness Multi Gym, which is adjustable and fits most doorways rather easily, it will also depend on a number of other factors.
For example, in many hotel rooms, the door doesn't swing open entirely, leaving part of the door remaining in the doorway. And unless the door can totally clear the doorway, your pull up bar simply won't fit.
The Solution to the Problem - Resistance Bands
Now, since I've already shown that it's really not that pragmatic to haul a pull up bar with you on the road, you've got two options left, at least in terms of hitting your back and biceps muscles.
- Find a nearby playground or outdoor exercise equipment (which is not always easy)
- Find or use a different tool to hit your back and biceps muscles
Ideally, if you prefer to exercise within your hotel room, it's better to simply find another tool.
This tool however, needs to meet certain requirements.
- It needs to be highly portable and easily fit into your luggage, suitcase or bag
- It needs to be something that can be adjustable, and can adapt to whatever is in your hotel room (if need be)
- Most importantly, it needs to allow you to exercise your back and biceps muscles!
Luckily, there is just such a tool for you.
Check out the Master of Muscle Resistance Bands. Not only are these bands incredibly highly rated by consumers, they are also insanely cheap.
Resistance bands are perfect to carry with you when traveling as not only do they meet all three above requirements, but they are also incredibly light.
Moreover, resistance bands will not only allow you to exercise your back and biceps, but your shoulders, chest, triceps and more.
So, while they are probably not the best exercise tool to build muscle (compared to free weights), they are a much better tool to get in a solid workout when you are on the move or traveling.
Even better than that, is the fact that most resistance bands out there are rather inexpensive.
How do they work?
Essentially, they are elastic bands that increase in resistance the farther apart you pull them. You would attach a handle to your hotel doorway, then simply attack your resistance band and perform a row, or a bicep curl.
You can also place the bands under your feet to perform shoulder presses, as well as a ton of other exercises.
To sum up:
- Doorway pull up bars are simply too much of a hassle to carry with you while traveling as;
- They are too large and cumbersome
- They might have trouble fitting most hotel doorways
- If you absolutely have to or want to bring a bar with you, the Iron Gym is the best travel chin bar.
- Resistance bands are the best choice to replace a pull up bar when traveling on the road