A guide to not just keeping, but increasing your fitness through travel.
I know what it is like to be on the road, in the air, staying in a hotel and being away from home and away from your normal routine several days or weeks each month. I know that it is less than ideal when you are truly in pursuit of fitness goals or just even trying to maintain your current body fat or activity level. The steps below are some basic “GO TO’S” that I heavily rely on in order to stay on schedule when it comes to both my nutrition and my training! I hope they offer some great insight for you!
When you land, have a plan!
The first thing you must do is look deeply into your schedule for the week or weekend. You need to know where you will have time for the gym, where you’ll have time to eat, snack or even meal prep. Will you be staying in a room with a kitchen? Will you have a fridge? All of these are questions that you have to know the answer to prior to landing. Once you can develop a plan and some general expectations for your trip, you’ll know what you have a chance to accomplish. This also includes being able to decide if the hotel gym will be where you train or if you will have time to stop into a local affiliate or globo gym. But you must have a plan BEFORE YOU LAND!
Find a grocery store!
This is an important piece of the puzzle that many skip out on. But it should be the first step upon arrival. Truly from the airport, before checking into the hotel (because you already know what the hotel will have fridge or kitchen wise from step one) you must get prepared for your time in this new city. Of course you will eat out with co workers or grab dinner after the work day, but what about snacks? How about breakfast? You don’t want to be limited to your environment. If you are on a particular diet, you may not be able to stay 100% compliant to it on the road, BUT you can increase the percentage of your compliance by having food already with you! Some go to’s for me are to stop by Whole Foods and load up from their “prepped” food section. I’ll get a clean source of carbs like sweet potatoes or rice; a few chicken breasts and maybe some salmon; and a few apples, berries and some “kale” based salad. All of these things are prepped to the point that I don’t have to do anything other than have a fork and a napkin ready! Of course most of it will need refrigeration, so that is key! But again, this is a serious point of emphasis, be prepared with food for snacks and even lunch or breakfast and you will be in a good place.
How to Eat.
In my experience when traveling and eating out, I’ve seen that most meals with friends include a few drinks, and lots of fat and carbs. My advice for food selection throughout the day is to drink lots of WATER. Even when you are presented with a juice option, choose water, you will avoid so much sugar and added calories by simply not drinking them. Second is to keep most of your fueling through the day as veggies and protein. Think about eating chicken, fish, turkey, salads, grilled veggies and some fruit. Again, this heavily relies upon points 1 and 2, you need a plan and also the food to make the choices from. Making yourself aware of these choices all day will allow you a chance to splurge out at dinner without setting yourself back so much with that one meal! When we eat out, no matter how conscious we try to be about “good” selections, the food is often prepared with so much oil, butter and added salt you notice over time. Eating food like that at each meal, even when making the most healthy decisions will leave your body fat percentage, water retention creeping up with your fitness and ability to perform dropping down. Eat with purpose all day when you can, so you can enjoy the evening!
Train with speed!
Look, I am all for getting in the gym and spending quality time warming up, being thorough and even cooling down to aid recovery. HOWEVER when you are on the go you may not have more than 20-30 minutes to get some training or working out in. The truth is while traveling you have to be open to the idea that “some” is much greater than “none.” Below are a few workouts that I love to hit while traveling and a couple can even be done right in your room without ANY EQUIPMENT.
Air Squat, Push Up medley
Set a clock to 12 minutes. Then proceed to get as deep as possible in this couplet of movements as follows. Start with 2 air squats, then 1 push up. 4 air squats, 2 push ups, 6 air squats 3 push ups, 8 air squats , 4 push ups…you see the pattern? Continue to ascend as far as possible up the ladder as you can in 12 minutes. This workout is great and makes you a sweaty mess. You need no real warm up, just take it a bit slower on the first few squats and push ups and then HIT IT HARD!
Lunge Jump and Burpee INTERVALS
This workout is based on the clock of going :30 of work and :30 of rest between movements. Start with Lunge jumps: begin in the bottom of a lunge, jump vertically and switch your legs while in the air. (This movement is scaled to a traditional stepping lunge.) Your goal is to accumulate as many reps as you can in that :30 window. Then you get :30 to rest then do the same thing for Burpee’s as the next minute starts. A burpee is where you lower yourself to the bottom of a push up (chest to the ground) then stand up and jump and clap at the top. Do this for :30 and accumulate as many reps as possible in that time, then you get :30 to rest. The emphasis in this session is intensity. With the 1:1 work/rest ratio you should feel like you can catch your breath and try to keep the number of reps as high as possible throughout.
The workout is 16 minutes! That is 8 rounds of :30 of jumping lunges and 8 rounds of :30 of burpees. Alternate movements each minute.
Run the Hill! (OK or the treadmill)
For this workout all it will take is to get to the gym in the hotel and use their treadmill. I love this as a way to train when I’m a bit sore or tired of pulling, pressing or squatting!
Run 3 minutes at an easy, warm up pace. Hop off, stretch for a minute or so and GO!
Set the incline as high as it can go. (on most treadmills it is to 12 or 15% of an incline. Start at the pace you warmed up on for 3 minutes.
Hop on the treadmill and run for :30, hop off and rest for :30. Continue this for the next 17 minutes! Your goal is to continually increase the speed to something you can sustain for :30 but IT SHOULD BE HARD! You should feel as though :30 is barely enough time to catch your breath and continue. If the pace becomes too much, don’t quit, just regress the speed and see it through the end of the 17 intervals. If you are tight on time, finish here, and you can hit the showers. If you have time for a cool down, I suggest you finish how we started with a 3-5 minute easy jog/ walk and some static stretching.
Thruster and Sit up
Ok, most of you know that I love a good challenge with some weights and heavy breathing. It is where our results are the best! You’ll love this one, I’m sure of it. All you need is a pair of DB’s to do 15 consecutive, crisp thrusters and some space on the floor for sit ups! A thruster is a movement where you hold the DB’s on your shoulders, send the hips down and back in a full squat then stand rapidly. As you drive the hips open, use that lower body momentum to help drive the DB’s over your head into a press as the knees and elbows are both locked out at the top. For the sit up, set the DB’s on the ground and slide feet under handles to create leverage and lay all the way back and use the arms for momentum to sit up (yes we want momentum in this workout) and sit all the way up until your shoulders pass your hips.
In 10 minutes do as many reps and rounds of these two movements as follows: 8 Thrusters & 12 sit ups. Continue to do this as many times as possible. For a warm up you can simply practice some “light” thrusters and do a few sit ups and you should be ready to go!
You work hard to be healthy and improve your fitness. Don’t let travel--be it for business or for pleasure--be a reason you can’t continue to chase your goals. Life is much more enjoyable when sticking to a plan, and if that plan allows you to have a healthy body that is capable of more adventurous activities and more energy to use, it is worth making a priority! Use what tips I’ve provided to get the most out of your travel time. And if you can stick to your normal training by finding a gym, and still eat well, then you are what we call a UNICORN…..enjoy it my friend!