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Madonna's Trainer Wants to Give You a Six-Pack on the Plane

May 9, 2014

(Photo: Thinkstock)

Air travel can be great for a lot of things—napping, catching up on reading trashy mags, and binge watching “Game of Thrones.” Maintaining your fitness regimen? Not so much. Hours of sitting, jet lag, and the occasional grogginess from a sleeping pill get in the way of getting in a good workout. While burning 1,000 calories might not be possible 30,000 feet in the air, there are some mini-workouts you can actually attempt on a plane.

We went to the experts, the folks who train people who take a lot of airplanes—famous people. Here, five of Hollywood’s top trainers share their plane (and airport) exercise tips:

Owen McKibbin

Who: Personal trainer for Zac Efron, Blake Lively, Jessica Simpson, and Penn Badgley.

The Workout:  An airplane bathroom is probably the last place you want to spend your time when traveling, but frequent trips there can actually help to sculpt your body. “When you’re up and waiting in the line for that miniature restroom you can do a mini workout,”  says Owen.  "When you’re in flight, I also recommend drinking large amounts of water because it will force you to actually get up, walk, and use the restroom." 

Legs: In the airplane bathroom or while waiting in line, give me 20 standing calf raises. If there is enough room, I want you to give me 20 squats. (Ed note: He ain’t messing around.)

Arms and Chest: When you are seated again, I want you to do isometric chest squeezes by crossing your arms in front of you and squeezing your pecks. After 20 reps, bring your elbows back down to your side, so that they are resting on the inside of the armrest. Press the outside of your elbows against the inside of the arms rest. Press and hold for 10 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Do three sets of the isometric chest squeezes followed by the isometric shoulder moves each and every time you get up to use the restroom.

(Courtesy: Gunnar Peterson)

Gunnar Peterson

Who: Beverly Hills-based celebrity personal trainer for Khloe Kardashian, Jennifer Lopez, and Angelina Jolie.

The Workout: Breaking a routine can be detrimental to maintaining a fitness regimen, so Gunnar recommends having a sweat session before heading to the airport. “I go to the gym before I leave. Yes, even at 2 or  3 a.m.,” he says. If you’re not asleep after the  midnight workout, then some quick exercises can add that extra boost of toning and cardio when traveling. “While flying, be aware that being sedentary reduces circulation and increases fatigue. So, brief bouts of movement when traveling is good for the joints and helps with mental acuity.”

Legs: While still in the terminal do single (or double) leg squats using the luggage cart to balance. Turn your carry-on into a dumbbell by using as a weight for suitcase squats. Up in the air try knee raises to work your legs.

Arms: Make use of your luggage cart while in the airport by doing presses or push-ups off your suitcase. 

(Courtesy: Hard Candy Fitness)

Nicole Winhoffer

Who: Creative Director of Addicted to Sweat at Hard Candy Fitness and trainer for Madonna, Stella McCartney and Rachel Weisz.

The Workout: “I’ve been on two world tours with Madonna and I know traveling can be stressful,” says Nicole. “But, there’s some easy tips that will keep you in the moment—stress free and toning muscles.”

First Up: Start with your butt! While seated, keep feet firmly planted on the ground. Pull belly button to the spine. Squeeze butt cheeks and abs in, hold for five counts, and release. Repeat 10 times. 

Waist: While seated, pull your abs in. Squeeze in stomach as hard as you can. Slide your ribs to the right, hold for one count, then slide your ribs to the left. Hold for one count. “You may not be your neighbor’s best friend, but if he or she asks you what you are doing, you will inspire someone to join you.”  

Inner Thighs: While seated, bring feet off floor two inches, squeeze butt cheeks, and connect your knees together. Hold this position for three seconds and release. Repeat 20 times. “This is great for toning legs.”

Joey Gonzalez

Who:  Chief Operating Officer & Partner at Barry’s Bootcamp, where Kim Kardashian, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Biel, Katie Holmes, and Jake Gyllenhaal work out.

The Workout: Sometimes smaller movements make more of an impact to target the accessory muscles,” says Joey. “These exercises are perfect for toning up during your plane ride because they do not require a lot of motion.”

Abs: While in your seat with legs comfortably bent, lift your legs up off the floor and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 12 times.

Triceps: Place your hands on the armrest and straighten your arms to lift yourself up and down, squeezing your triceps and keeping your elbows pointing behind you. Repeat 25 times.

Biceps: Using one arm at a time, grab your backpack or purse with your right hand, and curl it up until your arm is bent at 90 degrees. Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side for the same amount of time. Perform four to five on each arm. Bonus if you have a water bottle or laptop in your bag—anything to add extra weight.

Legs: From your seat, extend your legs until your feet curl under the seat in front of you. Push as though you’re trying to lift the seat up with your feet by squeezing the quadriceps and holding for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. If you’re feeling brave, perform alternating lunges up and down the aisle of the airplane. Since your space is limited, hold each step at the bottom for 10 seconds before switching. Do 12 on each leg. For a more advanced burn, pulse ten times when you’re in the lowered position with your back knee hovering just over the ground.

Harley Pasternack, Author of “ The Body Reset Diet" and trainer to Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Usher.

The Workout: Layovers, delays, and missed connecting flights can be a small blessing when it comes to squeezing in a workout. The simple act of walking (or running if you’re late) can help keep you in shape when there’s no gym in sight. “I wear a  Fitbit when I travel to make sure I’m at least moving when I’m at the airport,” says Harley. “Then I focus on sleeping and eating right while on the plane.”

Cardio: Make sure to get in a ton of steps at the airport before. Keep moving until you are on board.

Arms: Do tricep dips off the bench at the gate.

Diet: It’s also important to bring healthy protein-packed snacks on the plane. I like Oberto Beef or Turkey jerky. Also, almonds, and roasted chickpeas are great. Hydrate yourself with caffeine-free beverages like Smartwater, Vitamin Water Zero, and Fruitwater.

Read more: 7 Innovations That Will Make Plane Travel Way Better