We all travel – and most of love to do it.
In this day and age it is practically unavoidable.
Whether you love it or hate it, you will find yourself traveling due to any number of reasons: business, vacations, holidays with family and friends – the list is extensive. After about 4 or 5 days away from home, if you haven’t exercised in some form, you’ve probably gained an extra pound or two….. or three or four if your diet has been out of sync to go along with the travel.
While this is common, the good news is, you can maintain your weight or even lose weight while traveling without having to go to the gym. Being fit and enjoying your travels don’t have to be mutually exclusive. As Rich Froning, famous multi-winner of the title “Fittest on Earth” once said – you need to have a go-to bodyweight routine.
A few favorite bodyweight routines are indispensable to your fitness
Bodyweight workouts provide a viable option to help you stay in shape, increase energy levels and have improved mood throughout the day. Also, squeezing in a quick workout during your trip can make it easier for you to get back to your usual workout routine once you are back from your travels.
In this article, we will look at how you can utilize bodyweight workouts to stay fit – the most effective exercises AND how to put them together. By the end, you’ll have the ammo to construct any bodyweight routine at a moment’s notice.
Bodyweight Workout Routine – Do it Anywhere
One of the benefits of a bodyweight workout is that it provides you with the flexibility to do it anywhere. Whether you are in the hotel, parking lot, beach, or playground, you can perform the full routine since you do not require any equipment. Best of all, the bodyweight workout routine is functional, burns tons of calories, and targets different muscles throughout your body, including chest, arms, shoulders, back, legs, and core – without leaving you incredibly sore the next day.
Let’s begin with a top 20 list of my favorite bodyweight exercises before we display the routine:
Top 20 Bodyweight Exercises:
- Handstand Push-Ups
- Pull-up/Chin-ups (if you happen to find a playground)
- Muscle-Ups (see above)
- Air Squats
- Jump Squats
- Jump Rope (c’mon, you can fit one of those in your carry-on)
- Pistol Squats
- Bulgarian Squats
- Hamstring Bridges
- Toes-to-bar (need that playground again)
- Burpee Broad Jump
- Jumping Jacks
- Mountain Climbers
- Front and Side Planks
- Flutter Kicks (favorite of Navy Divers everywhere)
The whole point of this list is to have a ready selection to help make your workouts challenging and fun. If you are just starting out, perform the easier variation of the exercise. For example, if you can’t do a pistol squat, begin with the air squat and progress to lunges and then bulgarian squats over time until you’re ready for pistols.
With 20 exercises to choose from, we will briefly discuss the techniques used for popular bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, air squats, burpees, pull-ups and the plank.
Step by step guide
- Begin in a plank position, with both of your arms straight and fingers pointing forward. Keep your back straight and engage your core.
- Lower your body until your chest touches the ground.
- While maintaining a tight core, bring your body back up to the starting position and lock your arms.
Air Squat Technique (a.k.a bodyweight squat)
Step by step guide
- Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing straight or just slightly outward. Your arms will be by your side or slightly to the front.
- Begin by pushing your glutes back as if closing a car door. Bending your knees to lower into the squat position should come just a fraction of a second after that. Push your knees out to the side as you descend.
- Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground and as you squat down, raise your arms in front of you.
- Push through your heels to get back to the starting position.
Step by step guide
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your side.
- Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet and assume the push-up position.
- Jump your feet in towards your hands.
- Jump into the air and straighten your arms overhead.
Step by step guide
- Grab the bar with palms facing away or toward you and come to a dead hang.
- Squeeze the bar and tighten your core then pull up by imagining you are pulling your elbows toward the ground.
- Bring your chin over the bar and pause ever so briefly.
- Lower your body in a controlled manner to come to a dead hang again (arms fully extended).
Step by step guide
- Get into pushup position on the floor. Now bend your elbows 90° and rest your weight on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly beneath your shoulders, and your body should form a straight line from your head to your feet.
- Hold this position for as long as you can while keeping your core tight and unmoving.
If you are not too sure on how to perform the bodyweight exercises, head over to YouTube and search for the listed exercises for better illustration.
Putting It Altogether – Personalized Bodyweight Training Routine
For all of these methods you need to ensure, at a minimum, that you are including movements that push, pull, squat or hinge, and work the core. Many of these do almost all of them. For example, the burpee will hit push, squat, hinge, and core. So one bodyweight routine is do 100 burpees for time….try it out and let me know how you like that one :).
Method 1: Circuit – You will perform the bodyweight workout routine continuously for 30 seconds each and rest for 30 seconds before starting the set again until 20 minutes is up. Use your laptop or phone’s timer to keep track of the time period. Here pick 10 exercises and do 2 rounds or 5 exercises and do 4 rounds.
Method 2: Tabata
Tabata methodology is high-intensity interval training (HIIT) that utilizes 20 seconds of activity followed by 10 seconds of rest for 4 minutes (8 rounds). Pick 3 or 4 exercises and go to it, doing each for one 4 minute dose of Tabata.
Method 3: Benchmark CrossFit WODs
CrossFit has a number of benchmark WODs that utilize only bodyweight (although you will need that pullup bar). My personal favorite is Cindy. Seventy Five CrossFit-type bodyweight WODs can be found here.
Method 4: Run Integration. Run for a 1/4 mile (or 2 minutes) stop and perform 30 seconds of a bodyweight exercise, rest 30 seconds and repeat. If you hit it hard 2 miles is all you need.
To ensure you do not get bored with your training routine, be your own chef and mix your favorite bodyweight exercises into the routine.
As always, start with light warm-ups and get your heart rate pumping before you perform the exercises to prevent injuries.
Keep track of your workout performance as progression is the key to keep things exciting. Each time you perform your circuit, aim to improve and have a better workout. For example, you can reduce your rest period, add new exercises into the routine, or add in advanced level exercises.
You can also incorporate variety by taking that jump rope along or using suspension trainers and resistance bands to do different variations of push ups and squats. As for the frequency of training, bodyweight routines can be performed daily as long as you’re getting one to two days a week off for rest.
Travel is no excuse to not train. If you are currently traveling try some of these exercises and methods. Bodyweight exercises will provide you with full body functional strength and have helped countless people to stay fit and healthy during their travels.
To your health and performance,
Lanny Littlejohn, MD