In this article we’ll take a look at two different types of portable exercise equipment because the exercise equipment that really suits one person and their health and fitness goals might not fit well at all for another.
For example; If my main fitness goal was to increase muscular tone and strength in my upper body and I needed a convenient, travel size piece of exercise kit so I could work on this fitness goal when I was away on holiday or god forbid, away with work, something like a jump rope would not be the best choice for me and my specific goals. I would be better off going for one of the suspension trainers or a set of resistance bands rather than something cardio focused.
I’ll continue on this thread, but if you just want to get our recommendations then here are out top picks, click the link to scoot down the page to whatever sounds interesting for your needs.
OK then, I would advise that you ask yourself a few questions to help you identify which is the best portable workout equipment choice for you and your needs before you just jump right in and grab whatever you think is easiest to carry.
Before you buy any piece of kit, you need to identify which workout equipment (and exercises) are right for you and your fitness goals.
- Are my goals cardio/ fat loss related?
- Are my goals strength, muscle tone, muscle size related?
- Do I just want to increase my activity level?
- Do I want a mixture of muscle toning, fat loss and increased activity level?
- How much am I restricted by the size of my training area or portability?
- Am I restricted by my ability?
Portable cardio or fat loss exercise equipment
Let’s start with portable cardio or fat loss equipment that focuses on the cardio aspect of fitness. There are some great choices here but obviously some of the activities are governed by the ability of the user. For example, a skipping rope for cardio is not a sensible option for someone who has just had knee surgery or for people who have trouble with jumping due to other joint problems, so another cardio option should be chosen.
In this section I will list a few options of portable cardio equipment that can be used for fat loss and increased activity levels. Hopefully there is something here that you can work with.
Light weight portable cardio equipment
Ok, so let’s talk about the options for portable cardio equipment that you can realistically take with you on a business trip or holiday that won’t take much space and weight up in your luggage.
The most efficient, space saving and in my opinion absolute best portable exercise equipment for travel is without doubt your own body! If you can walk, you can exercise, burn fat and work on your cardio fitness.
I have found walking to be one of the most accessible and easy ways to drop body fat percentage. If you travel a lot, have limited space for exercise equipment and you want to find a way to stay in shape, you might want to consider this as your main source of cardio exercise.
It’s understandable if you find the thought of walking for weight loss very unsexy and boring so I will attempt to make this exercise option a bit more appealing with a few tips…
- Get an app for your phone or even a Fitbit: something like this can give you targets to hit, help with accountability and are hugely useful for motivation.
- Get used to walking on a daily basis even if you are not going away: this will give your body a chance to become used to the activity and it will become more efficient at burning calories.
- Try walking at a faster pace: a faster pace means higher heart rate and generally speaking a higher heart rate burns more calories.
- If you do travel and stay in hotels a lot, you might want to plan your workouts around walking up and down the flights of stairs. This is also a great way to utilise your surroundings. But don’t cheat by using any handrails!
Hopefully that has given you some ideas, there are lots of things you can do for exercise with no travel workout accessories at all, and walking can be a very effective form of exercise so don’t discount it.
Portable elliptical exercise machines
If your idea of portable is something that you can throw in the boot of your car and take to the office, and you need some form of cardio equipment that fits this bill, you might be interested in something quiet and low impact like this portable elliptical.
Jump ropes: best for portability
The skipping rope or jump rope has been mentioned already in our post on the best home exercise equipment and I want to go back to this. If you are able, and injury free, then skipping is an excellent way to burn calories and therefore it’s a good choice for a cardio exercise.
There is one thing about skipping that I think I might have mentioned in the other post that I think may limit some peoples exercise sessions and that is that jumping rope is a skill.
If you can continuously jump rope without the rope hitting your feet or your coordination going causing you to keep stop-starting, this may impact on how effective the workout will be.
I heard a great tip once and I think it has good potential if skipping is what you want to do but you need to hone your skill and coordination to get a great workout.
The tip was to only use the rope on one side of your body so if you miss coordination the rope won’t hit your feet. Here’s how that works…
- Hold both handles in one hand and spin the rope as you would if you were to skip in the usual way.
- The rope should be spinning to the side of your body and it should be hitting the floor at the lowest part of its rotation.
- Each time the skipping rope hits the floor, you should jump as if you were skipping in the traditional manner.
I have actually used this and it’s great if you want a continuous skipping workout. You may want to change hands half way through or every few minutes and/or you may want to use this method after you have exhausted yourself with the traditional technique so you improve each time you workout.
If this sounds like something that is up your street, take a look at our recommended skipping ropes.
Portable exercise equipment for strength training, muscle toning & muscle function
So, we have discussed some good options for portable cardio sessions so let’s look at some options for portable resistance equipment.
Cardio training is any type of exercise that focuses on the cardiovascular systems of the body as a priority rather than the function of the bodies muscle groups.
Resistance training is any form of exercise that focuses on the muscle function of the body rather that the cardiovascular system as a priority.
This means resistance training is exercise that uses resistance (pushing and pulling movements) to develop strength training, muscle tone and muscle function.
There are some great options for portable resistance equipment out there, and there seems to be a much wider range too.
Exercise bands are very versatile, very portable, very light weight, and the price won’t break the bank either.
You can get these bands as singular products or you can get a full set with a bunch of attachments. I own several of these sets and have put them through their paces and have yet to break any.
There are so many different companies selling these but in my experience, they are all pretty much the same product, just with a different brand on them, and slightly different styles of attachments.
Exercise band sets are pretty inexpensive and even if you are paying above the average price for a set, I think they are still worth the money. As I mentioned, these resistance band sets are very versatile and if you know what you are doing, you effectively have your own gym in a small portable bag.
One thing that I would look for if you are going to buy a set of these is the door anchor attachment.
These door anchors can vary a fair bit. You should look for one that has a large sponge pad that attaches to the other side of a closed door. A large door anchor attachment that is well padded will give you a more reliable anchor and the padding will make sure your door does not get damaged.
This is a good set that’s worth a look.
Body Boss exercise platform
Although the Body Boss is still very portable, because it is a little bit heavier and takes up more space than a bag of exercise bands, this may not be really be the best portable exercise equipment choices out there. But if you are using your own transport or just have a short distance to travel the Body Boss vs the Gorilla Bow (below) or just exercise bands alone may be the best portable gym option.
The concept of the Body Boss is that you can have a compact training platform that utilises exercise bands and attachments to simulate many important exercises that you can do with dumbbells and barbells in the gym, but at a fraction of the price, and a fraction of the space needed.
On the space saving aspect of the body boss training platform, it actually folds flat and can be stored easily under a bed, a desk or be kept in the boot of your car for emergency training needs.
It could be a lifesaver for those times when you are staying at a hotel with sub-standard gym facilities, or for training on the front porch of that cabin in the woods you’ve always wanted to visit.
Have a look at the Body Boss to see what you can do with it.
Exercises such as chest press, bicep curls and seated rows can all be done on this piece of kit and because of the design, you can easily add more bands to the bow. More bands means more resistance.
Portability wise, I would say that this is probably suited for home / office gym use. Storage should be pretty easy but I can help imagine that this might not be the ideal piece of exercise equipment to take on a plane. If they don’t let you take bottles of water through security at an airport, I find it hard to believe that you would be able to mosey on through airport security with a five foot hardened plastic bow. If you do try this, please let us know how you get on… If you make it out of the airport.
Joking aside, the Gorilla bow does look interesting from a training point of view and I think it would certainly add an extra dimension to your resistance band workouts.
There are other types of bar attachments that can be used in conjunction with exercise bands but I think this is a solid choice.
If you want to see what else you can do with it, check out the video over on the sales page.
TRX suspension trainer system
By far the most well-known suspension trainer is the TRX suspension trainer. This was actually invented by a guy called Randy Hetrick. To cut a long story short, Randy invented this product directly from the idea of training in the field where there was minimal equipment.
The TRX suspension trainer is based around a push and pull exercise system that utilise body weight for resistance.
As you can imagine, this suspension trainer is highly portable and can fit in a small bag, so this is great for travel.
If you can get a good anchor point, you can do an awful lot with this suspension trainer.
There are exercise choices for beginners, intermediate and advanced users so there is a lot of scope for progression if you are into this type of training.
You can use the suspension trainer for push, pull and even cardio type movements but it will take a bit of getting used to if you have not trained in this way before.
For example, if you perform push ups on the suspension trainer, you will be using a lot of extra stabiliser muscles than you when compared to push ups on the floor or push ups on a bench.
This is because instead of just controlling your “up/ down” movements, you will have to control a 360 degree rotation to make sure your arms do not move position. This is very beneficial and will give you a lot more muscle function development than regular exercises.
Overall the TRX suspension trainer is highly portable and very easy to store. It is great for training for muscle tone, function, muscle strength and fat loss but it may take some getting used to it when it comes to actually working out if you are new to bodyweight training.
There are different options when it comes to getting your hands on one of these, but this one gives you a quick start guide and some exercises to get you started.
To sum up, let’s take a look at…
Top picks for the best portable workout equipment
- Good running trainers for walking, jogging or running.
- Resistance bands or travel exercise band set.
- TRX suspension kit is great for portability.
- Skipping rope for cardio exercise.
- Exercise workout platform such as the body boss.
- P90X style of fitness program or circuit training plan.
- Fitness tracker such as a Fitbit to keep you motivated, focused and on track.
So, this was a list of the best travel fitness options in my opinion when it comes to fitness and portability.
When it comes to all round fitness there are a few options that you can utilise that we have already mentioned above. I would advise that whatever your end game is, whether it’s focused on building muscle, or purely cardio fitness, that you set yourself up with a workout plan that incorporates both aspects specifically for when you travel.
For me, I usually choose to take a set of exercise bands along with my trainers, and for each of my workouts, I start with a full body resistance workout with the resistance bands immediately followed by a walk or jog outside.
If you are into bodyweight training, you could exchange the exercise bands for a TRX suspension kit and either use the suspension kit for the resistance training and then go for a jog or walk for cardio or, if you are imaginative enough and the facility that you are in allows, you could use the TRX suspension kit for cardio too.
There are a lot of options with this and some even relate to a cross fit style of training.
Circuit training is an option for burning fat and toning at the same time so you can use this option too if you would like to merge your cardio fitness with your muscle development fitness.
This is a very convenient option but it will require a bit of forward planning and knowledge of designing a circuit beforehand to make it a time effective option.
Even using travel equipment, have a good fitness plan
Even if you have the best intentions, and the best portable fitness equipment brands and models at your disposal, you should still plan your workouts before you set up to start working out.
One of the most valuable fitness tips that I think I can offer here is that whatever path you choose, whether its suspension training kits, exercise bands or travel cardio equipment, you should learn how to use your equipment correctly and have a workout plan in place before you ever start.
So in short…
- Set a goal
- Get a plan
- Buy the workout equipment that aligns with your goals
- Start training
- Stay consistent
And you will get results!
I hope this article has been useful and I wish you all the best with your portable workout plans!
Oh and don’t forget to let us know how it goes down if you happen to travel through airport security with the Gorilla bow!