I train many clients who are often out of town for work or business. While this can be a challenge in terms of getting quality training sessions, I want to provide some tips for making the most of your time while away from home.
In an ideal situation there will be gyms to choose from, no matter what city you’re traveling to. Some may offer trial memberships which are great because you can use the gym at no expense while you are in town. When you don’t have the option of going to an actual gym what are you supposed to do? Some may say not to worry about training while you are traveling. It’s too much. You’re only gone a week. You’re busy with meetings blah blah blah. While these all may be true, they are only excuses.
When you’re traveling and the equipment you have is less than ideal or you have no equipment at all, you don’t need to work out for hours to get a training effect. On-the-road workouts should be condensed and packed full of solid exercises and movements that will give you the most bang-for-your-buck. When equipment options are limited creativity comes into play. Not creativity meaning you are making up a bunch of foo-foo exercises and calling it a workout. I mean creativity where you use a heavy rock as a med ball, or do pull-ups from a tree branch.
So how do you go about designing a workout when you have minimal equipment?
First, your workout should be proceeded by some sort of warm-up. This can include soft-tissue work with a foam roller, mobility drills, dynamic warm-up drills or light body weight movements to increase body temperature. I strongly suggest packing a small foam roller or lacrosse ball anytime you travel. They won’t take up a lot of space and are very handy when working out knots and sore areas.
Since we are looking at a condensed, jam-packed training session, we don’t want to spend 45 minutes foam rolling and warming up. If you have the roller on hand, pick 3-4 areas on your body that feel tight, sore, stiff etc, and roll each spot for 1-2 minutes.
Once you’re done rolling, you can move on to more of a dynamic warm-up. I like to start on the ground and work from the top of our bodies down, progressing to a few moves while standing at the end. A sample warm-up could look like this:
- Quadruped Extension Rotation
- 1 Leg Glute Bridge
- Rocking Ankle Mobs
- Split Stance Adductor Mobs
- Squat to Stand
- Walking Spiderman with Overhead Reach
In 7 moves your body is warmed up and ready for the training session.
Next, you need to pick your exercises. I suggest going with a total body workout to provide more variety and more training stimulus since equipment is limited.
You should choose at least 4 exercises from each of the following categories:
- -Hip dominant (glute bridges, romanian deadlift, deadlift, leg curl variations)
- -Quad dominant (squats, lunge variations, step-ups)
- -Push (pushup variations, overhead variations, elbow touches, handswitches)
- -Pull(pullup variations, row variations, iso holds)
Core work can also be added in. Things like planks, reverse crunches, side planks, and prone bridge arm marches work well when equipment is minimal. A conditioning exercise can be placed at the end of your circuit as well.
The environment you’re in will pretty much determine how much variability you have in choosing exercises. Whether you have a TRX with you that you can hang off a tree, or you have an area where rocks and logs are handy, your surroundings will dictate how much free reign you have with exercise selection.
Let me provide you with a few different sample workouts.
Scenario 1, location-outdoors in a wooded area/trails/park
In an area where various size rocks will be in abundance, you can treat them just like dumbbells or barbells to provide extra weight if necessary. Let’s say you do have access to some rocks of different weights and sizes. Your workout could look like this:
Warm-up as shown earlier followed by a circuit of 6 exercises.
A1) Goblet squat holding rock at chest
A2) Romanian deadlift holding rock as you would db’s or a barbell
A3) Overhead press with rock
A4) Bent over row with rock
A6) Rock slam (make sure you have a soft area of ground to slam onto)
*Complete 8-10 reps per exercise and a 20-30 second count on the plank. You can see how many rounds you can complete in 20 minutes or you can take a short break in between each round and complete 5 total rounds.
Scenario 2, location- hotel room with no gym at hotel
Many hotels nowadays provide some sort of gym or fitness area. When there is no gym at your hotel what kinds of exercises can you do that will give you a solid workout?
Warm-up as shown earlier followed by these exercises requiring no equipment:
A1) Bodyweight squats
A2) Pushups (these can be from the ground or off the edge of the bed if the ground is too challenging
A3) 1 Leg Glute Bridge on the ground- both sides
A4) ISO hold on door frame (grab door frame with your fingers and while in a standing position act as if you were pulling like a row. Pull hard for a 10-15 second hold)
A5) Side Plank
A6) Mountain Climbers
Even with no equipment you can still manage to get a total body session in. Because these are bodyweight exercises you can go higher in reps. Shoot for 10-20 on each and complete 5 rounds total. The side plank can be held for 20 seconds per side, and the mountain climbers can be 30 seconds in duration before returning back to the beginning of the circuit.
After you complete the circuits, feel free to do some light foam rolling if you have one handy, or even cool down with a few reps of the Walking Spiderman warm-up exercise shown previously.
While these examples are not inclusive as to everything you could do without gym access, they should provide you with a good template when designing your on-the-go training sessions. Working out on the road can be purposeful and fun at the same time. Try these examples out next time you find yourself traveling for work and have limited access to equipment.
Get Strong. Get Fit. Get Healthy.