Mike's random thoughts and ramblings

Quick Morning Functional Strength (the "Hotel Workout")

There was a post the other day on the purplepatch forum about whether or not anybody does a daily functional strength routine.   I started to answer the question there for my teammates, but figured it made just as much sense to make it a public post because this is something that can benefit anybody.

The thing that I've learned over the past couple of years is how amazingly strong we can get with a very small amount of effort.  While the cardiovascular systems actually require a significant amount of work, a lot of the thinkers in the strength space (esp. people like Dan John and Pavel Tsatsouline) have documented that we can gain strength with very small efforts every day.   Their book Easy Strength was a phenomenal treatise on all of the different ways that we get strong (though not quite the most readable book on the planet, as it takes the form of Dan and Pavel having a conversation) - of all of the books I've read on strength training, it and Body By Science are the two best.

The routine that I do every morning takes less than 5 minutes... and, if you do it every day, you'll see amazing strength gains very quickly.   Even if you're pressed for time, doing this for 5 minutes while the shower warms up is super simple.

The workout started out based on Steve Baccari's "Hotel Workout" (hence why I still call it that) from Easy Strength and has changed to meet my needs over the last year since I started doing it.   Here are the 11 moves, which should flow from one to the other.

  1. Standing Cross-Crawls - Start with your hands at shoulder level  and touch your opposite knee with your elbow 5 times on each side (alternating).
  2. Side-to-Side Rolls - Get on your stomach with your hands over your head.  Roll to your right and then back to your left.   The point of this exercise is to engage your whole body.   I do 2 each way focused on rolling with the top half of my body, and then 2 each way focused on the bottom half.
  3. Jane Fondas  - I learned these from the running camp I did with PurplePatch last year.  3 simple straight leg-lifts, followed by 3 lifts at 45 degrees.  Do each side, and focus on engaging the glute.
  4. Bridge and Leg Extensions - Do 3 Bridges to your shoulders while keeping your abs engaged.  Then, do 3 one-leg leg extensions with the other leg straight (do each leg, obviously).
  5. Ab Series - 3 crunches, 3 leg lifts, sit up to boat pose and hold for a second.  Come down in to a seated double-leg hamstring stretch.
  6. Elbow Plank - do a 15 second elbow plank
  7. Kneel and Rock - get on all fours like you're about to do cat stretch and rock back until your butt touches your ankles.  Repeat 10x.
  8. Crawl - Like a baby, crawl on your hands & knees 10x forward and 10x backward. The number here isn't important, but you should end up at whatever wall you're going to do your handstand against.
  9. Handstand - find the nearest wall (or, if you're like me, hallway) and kick yourself up in to a handstand.  Stay there for 10s.
  10. Walking Lunge - do 3 walking lunges as you walk to where you're going to do your pistol squats.
  11. Pistol Squats - I do this one down to a chair (or usually the edge of my bathtub if I'm at home).

And, other than the pistols at the end, this should probably feel way too easy.   That's the easy part of it - just do it for a month and see how much stronger you are at the end.

If you want to see exactly how each of those exercises are performed, click to see more - I did a quick animated GIF of me running through each.

If the GIFs aren't animated in your browser, click on each of them to see them in motion.

Standing Cross Crawls

Standing Cross Crawl - Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

Side-to-Side Rolls

Side-to-Side Rolls Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

Jane Fondas

Jane Fondas Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

Bridge and Leg Extensions

Bridge Leg Extensions Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

Ab Series

Crunch Leg Lift Boat Pose Hamstring Stretch Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

Elbow plank

Plank Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout Hopefully your form is better than mine was here.

Kneel and Rock / Crawl

Crawl Sequence Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout


Crawl Handstand Wall FItoop Morning Hotel Workout

Walking Lunge

Walking Lunge Arm Drive Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

Pistol Squats

Pistol Squat Fitoop Morning Hotel Workout

That's the basic morning hotel workout.   Remember... this should feel really easy (except the end) and take about 5 mins.

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Michael Murray

Michael Murray