The secret to this fitness thing is momentum.
Actually, that’s pretty true for a lot of things. Consider Jerry Seinfeld’s classic advice for comedians: Write a joke, put a big red “X” on your calendar for the day, and don’t break the chain.
Our environments have a big impact on our habits and the ability to keep the momentum going. If you live or work near to your gym, have lots of fit friends, and keep healthy foods in your kitchen, you’re golden. Long commutes, a stressful job, and an empty fridge is only good news for the pizza delivery guy.
Travel plans can put us in some seriously sub-optimal training environments. Long car/plane rides, disrupted sleep patterns, poor meal options, and limited training time all conspire to sabotage your momentum.
You don’t have to schedule your life or your travel plans around your workouts to make progress. Make a plan including these simple, easy-to-follow workout ideas and you won’t miss a beat.
The Day Before Your Trip
It may be tempting to go all-out on your last big workout before a trip. Resist!
One session isn’t going to make a big difference in your results, so don’t use an upcoming trip as an excuse to do something reckless in the gym. Unless you’ve been working up to a personal record or another type of peak in your program, don’t excessively push the volume or intensity.
Sitting out of beach volleyball because you tweaked a shoulder on bench day is no fun.
Neither is a 4-hour flight in the middle seat with a severe case of quad DOMS.
Stick with normal training and don’t skimp out on the stretching/mobility/corrective work you know you need.
Travel Day Workouts
Jumpstart the momentum of your travel day with a walk outside if possible. Sunshine and fresh air might be off the table for the rest of the day, so get it early!
If weather, time, or location prevent a walk outdoors, just take a few minutes to loosen up the hips and shoulders with this combo move:
The Mobility Burpee sequence covers a lot of ground.
Set a timer for 3 minutes and get to it!
If you have more time, get in some soft tissue work. Roll out the feet, adductors, and lats.
My #1 rule for airport fitness is simple.
Don’t sit down!
Once you’ve found your gate, just keep walking the terminal. I purposely pack a wheel-less duffle bag for carry-on use so I’m not tempted to roll my stuff around. Bonus farmer walk practice!
If possible, find a quiet corner where you can stretch out away from judging eyes peering over iPhones and laptops.
It trips me out that most people freely choose to sit for hours at a gate before being forced to sit for hours on a plane.
Try 2-3 rounds of this lower body strength/stretch sequence before boarding:
Rear-Foot Elevated Split Squat x 6-8 each (3s down, 3s hold, 1s up)
Elevated Hamstring Stretch x 30s each
Standing Hip Circles x 3-5 each way
Standing Quad Stretch x 30s each
Single-Leg Deadlift x 10 each
Rest Stop Workout
Long hours in a car takes a toll. Especially when you’re driving.
Take advantage of every pit stop to get some movement in.
Park in a far spot, walk around, stretch your calves and hamstrings, and try this 5-minute workout:
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⭐️ 5 MINUTE REST-STOP WORKOUT ⭐️ ⠀ Long hours stuck behind the wheel can make you feel tight and tired. ⠀ But we’ve all got places to go, people to see, fuel to burn and roads to drive, so mitigate the insult to your amazing body by hopping out of your metal box every hundred miles or so and do this 5-minute movement sesh: ⠀ 30s Jumping Jacks 30s Reverse Lunge (with twist) 30s Calf Stretch & Raise (each side) 30s Push-ups Repeat! ⠀ You’ll be glad you did 🕺🏼 ⠀ Be sure to save this post for your next road trip!
Be sure to hop out every 100 miles or so.
Airplane (And Car) Workouts
Long periods spent sitting can be quite an insult to your body. Hips get tight, shoulders round, and the lack of movement keeps your metabolism slow and cold.
Your options may be limited, but you can still work in some moves that will keep your blood pumping and joints happy while buckled in.
Basic joint rotations are a good place to start. Assuming you’re not driving, make 5-10 circles with the feet, wrists, shoulders, and head in each direction.
Isometrically tensing the muscles is another good idea. Squeezing your butt as hard as you can for 10 seconds may not be as effective as squatting, but it’ll help keep your cheeks from falling asleep.
Here are two more isometric ideas – one for the hamstrings and one for the upper back:
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✈️ STAY STRONG AT 30,000 FEET ✈️ ⠀ Long hours in planes, trains, and automobiles can stiffen up even the most limber of lifters. ⠀ Your options might be limited when you’re confined to a seat, but you can still make the most of your travel time with some simple ideas like these: ⠀ 💺 The Seated Iso Leg Curl ⠀ Pull a knee up to your chest. Sit tall and line the back of your heel up with the front side of your seat. ⠀ Drive the heel back into an isometric hamstring curl. ⠀ Support the knee with your hands or let go for an extra challenge. ⠀ 💺 The Elbow Push Back Thing ⠀ Tight seats will give you a hunched shoulder posture before takeoff. ⠀ Fight for space by engaging the upper back. ⠀ Tuck the chin and gently press the back of your head into the seat/headrest. ⠀ Follow up with the same idea for the elbows. Squeeze the shoulder blades back and down. Maintain pressure back through the arms and experiment with angles. ⠀ These isometric based exercises are great for keeping the blood pumping when you otherwise can’t move around. ⠀ Try 3 rounds of 10 second contractions every 20 minutes and you might even land a stronger version of yourself.
Do these every 10 minutes or so. You’ll feel amazing.
As always, keep you mind on your posture.
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Put out your cigarettes, stow away your tray tables, and listen up cuz this is important. ⠀ Flying is crazy. ⠀ From any city, you can climb aboard a giant metal tube that sails above the clouds to take you anywhere on this planet you might want to go. ⠀ It’s pretty cool when you stop and think about it. ⠀ Of course, there are some downsides. Like you can’t exactly have a dance party up there (unless you’re flyin private). ⠀ But you can make the best use of your time by doing some simple, productive, and, dare I say, sexy beast things! 👹 ⠀ One of the coolest things travel affords you is the opportunity to meet new people. So take out those headphones for a second and introduce yourself to a neighbor. ⠀ I always have fun, interesting conversations with folks willing to say hello. You just never know who fate might put on your arm rest. ⠀ Got the row to yourself? Well, lucky duck, perhaps you could get acquainted with a good book. They even give you a reading light for such an occasion. ⠀ I get that the seats aren’t always super comfy, but drooping your head into “text neck” just to scroll thru Instagram won’t make it better. (Unless you’re stalking @zackhenderson_ ‘s profile. In which case, leave a comment!) ⠀ Embrace “Airplane Mode” and remember – you can use it on the ground, too! ⠀ Holding your noggin up will keep those airways open for deep, calming breaths during those turbulent times. Plus, you won’t miss the snack cart! ⠀ Bookmark this post (and the previous one on airplane exercises) as a handy reference for flying strong and sexy. ⠀ ✈️🕺🏼
Hotel Room Workouts
You’ve made it to your destination and, if you’ve been following along, you’ve got some good momentum going already. If your hotel has no gym, or Aunt Sally won’t share the kettlebells, you’ll be training with bodyweight exercises.
Remember, the idea here is to keep moving. The specifics of the workouts, no matter your goal, aren’t nearly as important as actually doing them! With that in mind, let’s keep things quick and simple so you can get on with enjoying your travels.
Your workout will only take 15 minutes. We’ll divide the session into three 5-minute blocks each with its own focus: mobility, strength, and cardio.
Block 1 – Mobility
Perform each of these moves for 30 seconds, 2 rounds through:
Now you’re warmed up head to toe and ready for the next block.
Block 2 – Strength
Perform each move for 30s. Finish with 60s of push-ups:
Alternating Airborne Lunge
Alternating Single Leg Deadlift
Alternating 1-Leg Hip Thrusts
Alternating Reverse Lunge
Block 3 – Cardio
You have two options here depending on your internal and external environment.
- 5 minutes of a light jog, jump rope, or jumping jacks with nasal breathing only.
Steady state cardio with nose breathing is a great option for the stressed-out. If you’re limited on space or don’t already do some form of low intensity cardio, stick with this one.
- Hill or stair sprints: 10-second sprint / 50 seconds rest x 5
Sprints just flat out get it done – leg strength, speed development, fat loss, conditioning… it’s all there.
Hotel Gym Workout
If your hotel has a fitness facility, let’s just assume you’ll have access to three things: a bench, a treadmill, and dumbbells up to 50 lbs. We’re gonna use all of them!
Warm up with the mobility sequence listed above.
Goblet Squat x 15 / 1-Arm Rows x 15 each
x 2 Rounds
Run .15 Miles
Split Squat x 10 each / Push-Press (with 3s negative) x 10
x 2 Rounds
Run .15 Miles
RDLs x 12 / 1-Leg Hip Thrusts x 12 each
X 2 Rounds
Run .15 Miles
Wrap up with this:
Grab the heaviest weights you can find and perform 10 slow high-knee marches in place. This is a stationary farmer’s walk. Park the weights and drop into a high (push-up position) plank for 3 deep breaths, then drop into a low elbow plank for 3 more deep breaths.
Repeat 3-5 rounds.
And there you have it – ideas and strategies to help you get stronger on the road, no matter where you’re going or how you get there!
PS – If you’re working towards your first pull-up, I put this 6-step guide together for you.
You’ll also get my 13-minute morning mobility routine video when you sign up. Click here to get started.