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Fasten your seat belts, stow your bag, buckle in those muscles, and drink plenty of water as we review how to stay fit while on the road.
In today's world, people are traveling more than ever. With ridiculous flight prices as low as $62 for an international flight from Miami to Colombia, there are no excuses for not making use of that passport! With all this traveling it's likely that you'll be spending more time on the road than ever before. This makes it easier to push off workouts and fitness goals while tasting rum in Cartagena or enjoying a steak at Keens in NYC with some clients. I've spent the past year away from home and on the road visiting almost 30 countries. Since I'm constantly traveling, I can't push off my workouts until I get home, which has required me to adapt and create some simple rules for fitness. Read on to follow these tried and true fitness hacks while traveling.
Make Gumby Proud
First and foremost, be sure to stretch and mobilize after a long flight. It's surprising how tight and cramped your back and hips are after a cross country flight. Setting up under a squat rack after six hours on the plane is a recipe for disaster. Take 10-15 mins after your flight to mobilize your hips, hamstrings, psoas, and back. One thing that helps me is wearing the Rhone Torrent Pants. The great thing about the Torrent Pants versus jeans or khakis is the flexible fabric. Besides being as comfortable as Christmas day pajamas, the flexible fabric allows you to stretch your groin without blowing a crotch seam. I've done a short yoga session in the back of a plane during a 15 hour flight. A few upward dogs to open up the back and some runner stretches to loosen up the hip flexor and psoas. While I received a few odd looks, I felt much better after my flight. Wearing flexible pants will allow you to stretch as soon as you get off the plane. Once you get to your destination, spend 10-15 mins loosening up
- Upward dog & Downward dog hold each position for 10 sec and repeat 3 times
- Hip flexor stretch (1 min each leg)
- Hamstring Stretches (1 min each leg)
- Pigeon stretch (1 min each leg)
- Upward dog & Downward dog - Repeat at the end of stretching as well.
Get out of your hotel room
While some hotels are improving their gyms, most of them are pretty depressing and lack weights. I recommend going to a local gym or a CrossFit box. You'll be much more motivated by everyone around you than you would be if you worked out in your depressing hotel gym.
Lift as heavy as possible when possible. (*while it’s easy to get aerobic workouts in, lifting heavy isn’t always an option)
The biggest problem for me is how to gain weight and keep weight on while traveling. Since you won't have access to a gym every day while traveling, be sure to get the best quality workouts when you can. As I'm constantly moving, I have a goal to lift heavy two times per week. This goal is only to maintain my weight and progress. On these "heavy" days I prioritize squat and strict press on one day and deadlift and weighted pull-ups on the other. I do sets in 5x5 which is one of the best balances of strength building and hypertrophy (muscle growth). I'm also sure to take plenty rest between sets 2-4 mins in between each set. One warning, I don’t recommend deadlifting before flights if you have a sensitive back. If you can’t find heavy weights, try incorporating plyometric movements to keep muscle on your body.
Focus on maintaining not growing.
It's very difficult to walk into a new gym and want to gain establish your "street cred" by throwing up some of your best PRs. You'll have to remember
- you're out of your element - this isn't your local gym
- your sleep cycle is likely off
- you've likely been eating crappy airline food
There's no way you're going to set a 1 rep PR on your squat without blowing a disk. Set your limits to 80-90% of your max, you'll still benefit from these loads and minimize your risk of injury.
Set Attainable Goals:
While on the road, it's easy to push off your workouts for happy hour in the hotel bar. If you want to stay in shape, it's best to set attainable goals. My goal while traveling is to workout every other day. This allows you to relax when needed and not return home with an unwanted 10 lbs. It also reduces my anxiety. While I typically workout more when home, I don’t stress out trying to get in 5 workouts a week.
- Set a target number of workouts for your trip. (5 day trip - try for 2 maybe 3 workouts)
A few of my favorite hotel workouts:
If there isn’t a gym nearby or you really only have 20 mins for a workout, try one of these. They will have your lungs burning and muscles aching. Be sure to time yourself and see if you can improve the 2nd time through.
- 100 burpees for time
- 50 manmakers for time (20 lb weights)
- 1/4 Mile Treadmill Run & 50 Air Squats (3 rounds for time)
- 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups and 10 squats (10 rounds for time)
- 5 Rounds of 4 x (:30/:30 work to rest) push-ups with 2:00 rest in between. Pick a number and try to hit it in each set.
Scott Stohler is the co-owner of Roamaroo.com a luxury and adventurous travel blog designed for those seeking to get more from travel. After 8 years as a chemical engineer he decided to pursue his passions of travel, fitness, and adventure by packing his life into two bags and departing for an around-the-world trip with no end date. An avid crossfitter and science geek, he’s always testing new "biohacks" and methods to get stronger and healthier.
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