13 RV-friendly Moves for Fitness on the Road

On the road again. Although it can be an adventure, it can also be a diet and exercise nightmare. With hours of driving and meals that often consist of fast food or even convenience store fare, it’s easy to put on a few pounds, or at least feel like you did. Once you arrive at your destination (which can sometimes take days), you can take more control of your food options and be more active. But what can you do in the meantime?

Fortunately, you have several options and, for the most part, they are fun and simple. By implementing a few key moves, you can exercise your entire body in the comfort of your RV. These exercises require little to no equipment and very little space. For many of them, you don’t even need to leave your bedroom.

1. Cardio.

As the cornerstone of most fitness routines, cardio is relatively easy to accomplish nearly anywhere. Many people bring their bicycles on the road and take periodic breaks to get some exercise throughout the trip, at the end or beginning of a drive, or when parked at a campground. Others enjoy walking or running to explore their location. Use a pedometer or download an app like “Human” that tracks your minutes of activity each day for additional motivation.

Enjoying these options while on the road, however, can be tricky, since you don’t know your way around and getting lost is a real possibility. When outdoor exercise isn’t an option, or you prefer to stay closer to home, there are several ways you can still incorporate aerobic activities. Aside from pacing the length of the RV’s interior, you can try marching or jogging in place. Throw in a variety of speeds to keep it interesting and increase the intensity. Another excellent, quick, time-efficient workout to try is interval training. Start by walking or jogging in place for a few minutes, and then move quickly through the following exercises doing the specified number of repetitions for each set to keep your heat rate up. If you want a longer cardio workout, do the entire sequence again, and then follow it up with a good stretch.

Note: Most RV parks don’t have onsite fitness centers, but by getting a membership at a gym like 24-hour Fitness or even the Y.M.C.A, you can work out at any of their nationwide locations while you travel.

2. Squat.

This compound exercise strengthens and tones the muscles while improving your balance and stability. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointing forward. Squat until your knees are at a 45-degree angle, keeping them behind your toes. Raise your arms overhead, squeeze your glutes (backside), and then rise back to a standing position. You should feel this in your butt. Lower your arms and repeat the move 10 times.

Note: Make sure to keep your knees behind your toes and feet firmly planted. Also, tighten your backside and legs when rising.

3. Lunge.

The lunge is also a compound exercise; it works your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps (thighs), and calves, as well as the core (basically everything besides the arms and legs).

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and your toes pointing forward. Step one foot either forward or backward (both options offer great results) and bend the front knee to a 90-degree angle. Make sure to keep your knee behind the toes. Straighten and bring your foot back to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat the move 10 times on each leg.

Note: Keep the front knee pointing straight ahead to avoid any strain. This can be made easier by lunging to an angle less than 90-degrees or resting your hand lightly on a chair for balance. It can also be made more challenging by holding light dumbbells.

4. Side Lunge.

This move strengthens the glutes, hips, thighs, as well as the quadriceps, and improves your flexibility and balance.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and with your toes pointing outward. Step one foot out to the side, shift your weight, and lunge as low as you are comfortably able to. Straighten and bring your foot back to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat the move 10 times on each leg.

Note: Don’t let your knees move past your toes, as this can cause knee strain.

5. Heel Raises.

This easy exercise works cramping arches and can be done anywhere, making it great for travel. Work your arches, calves, and supporting muscles while improving your balance with heel raises.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Raise your heels until you are standing up on your toes. Lower them slightly without actually touching the floor, and then raise them again before lowering to the floor. This is one repetition. Repeat the sequence 10 times.

Note: This can be made easier by placing your hand against a wall to help with balance or by simplifying the move to a straight up and down. It can be made more difficult by holding light dumbbells.

6. Wall Squat.

Along with strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps, this move trains the body to squat properly. It also allows you to work those muscles for a longer period of time without risking injury from improper form due to fatigue.

Stand with your back against the wall or a closed door and keep your feet about shoulder width apart. Slide your back slowly down the wall until your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Stay in this position as long as you are able to use good form. Slide back up to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.

Note: Push your back into the wall to maintain full contact at all times. To make this easier, squat to an angle less than 90-degrees and work your way up to that.

7. Single Leg Deadlift

This one takes a bit more space, but is well worth the effort, as it is one of the most effective exercises for building core strength. It strengthens the entire back and is great for preventing injury, as well as rehabilitating from one. Since hours of driving cause back pain in many, this is a particularly important move.

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and place your weight over one leg. Slowly bend forward at the hips, keep your core tight and maintain a flat back, as you raise the other leg straight behind you with your toes pointed down. Using the hamstring (back of your thigh) muscle of the leg you’re standing on, pull yourself back to the starting position. Repeat the move 10 times, and then switch to the other leg.

Note: Make sure to keep the core muscles tight to maintain a flat back and only bend as low as you are comfortably able.

8. Bent-over Rows/ Upright Rows

This combination move works the entire upper body. Bent-over rows target a variety of back muscles and upright rows strengthen the biceps, chest, shoulders, and triceps.

Standing with your feet shoulder width apart, bend forward at your hips and lift the weight toward your chest. Lower the weight and, using your hamstrings, pull yourself to a standing position. Then, with your palms facing backward, lead with your elbows and lift the weights straight up toward your neck, allowing your elbows to bend out to the sides, and then lower them. This is one repetition. Repeat the sequence 10 times.

Note: This can be done with a barbell, dumbbells, or resistance bands. Choose a weight that makes it challenging to complete the sequence but not impossible. Keep your back straight. If you aren’t using good form, the weight is likely too heavy.

9. Triceps Dips

Some consider this common exercise the best option for strengthening the back of the upper arms. It uses your body weight for resistance and can be done nearly anywhere. In fact, some even use their kitchen countertops to get a couple of quick sets in throughout the day.

Sit on a stable chair or bench with your hands about shoulder width apart, your elbows pointing backward and your fingers facing front. Extend your legs out in front of you and slowly lower your body in front of the chair or bench as far as you can without reaching the floor or being unable to rise. Use your arms to push back up until your elbows are almost (but not entirely) straight. Repeat 10 more times.

Note: This can be made easier by bending your knees to a 90-degree angle. It can be made more difficult by extending them fully. Make sure not to lock your elbows.

10. Plank

Originally a Pilates move, the plank strengthens the abdominals, oblique muscles, arms, back, and thighs. Since it can be done anywhere, it is a great exercise while you’re traveling.

Start by lying face down on a solid surface with your hands under your shoulders. Tighten your core (pull in your stomach muscles and keep your back straight), squeeze your glutes, and straighten your arms to result in a push-up position. Keeping your body in a straight line, maintain the pose as long as you can. As you grow stronger, you will be able to maintain this position for a longer period of time. Slowly lower and rest there for a minute. Repeat this 3 times.

Note: This can be done on a yoga mat, on a towel, or on the floor.

11. Pushup

One of the most basic exercises is the pushup. It’s great for your chest, your abdominals, shoulders, triceps, and torso. This move requires no equipment and can be done almost anywhere.

Start the same way you would for a plank, lying face down on a solid surface with your hands under your shoulders. Keeping your body in a straight line, straighten your arms. Keep your elbows near your body, as you lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat at least 10 times.

Note: This can be done on a yoga mat, on a towel, or on the floor. To make it easier, do the pushups with your knees on the floor or widen the distance between your feet for better stability.

12. Bridge

Another exercise that can be performed just about anywhere, the bridge strengthens the glutes and improves core stabilization to prevent strain and lower back pain. This is another one that is great for travelers.

Start by lying face up on a flat surface with your arms along your sides, your knees bent, and your heels on the floor about hip-width apart. Tighten your core, push your heels and arms into the floor, and lift your hips off the ground until your knees, hips, and shoulders make a straight line. Your weight should be balanced between your shoulders and feet. Squeeze your glutes and hold for 2-3 seconds, then slowly lower back to the starting position. Allow your hips to touch the floor before immediately repeating. Do this 10 times.

Note: This can be done on a yoga mat, on a towel, or on the floor. Since it requires a firm surface to obtain the full benefit, this shouldn’t be done on your bed.

13. Seated Twist

Possibly the best move out of the entire sequence, the seated twist is great after a long day of driving, as well as any time you feel tense. Plus, it can be done anywhere. It strengthens your core, stretches your back, and feels fantastic.

Start in a seated position with both legs straight in front of you. Keeping your foot flat on the floor, bend your left knee, and then twist slowly to the left, bracing your right elbow on your outer left knee. Hold for as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Slowly, return to the starting position, then switch legs and twist to the right.

Note: Although a stable surface like the floor is more supportive, this move can be done on the bed making it a great way to begin or end your day.

In Conclusion

As you can see, with a bit of creativity, and maybe a few accessories, you can exercise your entire body within a two-foot wide area, in the comfort of your RV. Fit a few dumbbells in a range of weights or a yoga mat under the foot of your bed. Hang resistance bands in the closet or stuff them in a drawer out of the way. In a pinch, you can even use items you already have around the RV like bottles of water, to increase your workout.

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