The Traveler's Guide to Prioritizing Your Fitness
Two things that I really love are traveling and working out. I really like to work out when I’m traveling. Not only is it fun (I’ve got to fulfill my workout addiction) but it’s actually a very important thing to prioritize. If you’re vacationing, it’s a great way to maintain your momentum and burn off a few calories from vacation style eating/drinking. If you’re traveling for work, it’s a great way to unload stress and more importantly take care of your body after hours of sitting on airplanes, in ubers/taxis, and in meetings. Sitting for long hours is awful for your hips and posture, makes your glutes go dormant, and in the end makes for a slough of back problems. A workout may be just what you need to get some movement going through the hips and spine so that you can avoid stress, pain, and experience higher energy levels, making you more effective at your job, more fun to be around, and happier with yourself when you return from bouts of travel.
The most common excuses that one may give themself on the road:
- No time
- Too tired
- No gym or equipment
- I don’t know what to do
Yes, these are excuses. If you want something bad enough you learn to prioritize it. If there is something that makes you a better version of you, you prioritize it. Here is your guide to overcoming these excuses while traveling. (Read to the end for the butter on warming up and modifying for no equipment)
This is the age old excuse that never goes away and of course being on the road amplifies it. If you NEED something you NEED to make it a priority. Do you need to be more effective at your job? Do you need a higher energy level to get through a long work day? Do you need to feel better about yourself? Are you tired of returning from your trip feeling terrible and feeling like you’ve lost a bunch of your progress? If you answered yes to any of those questions then I’d say you need to overcome this excuse immediately. There is always time. It comes down to what you choose to do with it. On the road it may be less but it’s still there. MAKE TIME. Just 15-20 minutes can make a huge difference. Wake up a little earlier or go to bed a little later. Pass on happy hour once or twice. Get a to-go lunch and use that time for a workout instead. The minutes we need are everywhere, don’t waste them. And definitely do not prioritize something counterproductive over your workout and then use no time as an excuse.
This excuse stinks. Primarily because we know that a workout makes us feel less tired. Working out consistently gives our entire life a whole new level of energy. So in fact, being tired gives you the perfect excuse to go and workout! A workout gets oxygen rich blood flowing to all parts of your body stimulating your brain and in turn your senses and your function. Set your alarm and get moving!
No gym or equipment
This is an excuse I hear often and it’s a rough one to listen to. To carry more weight this sentence should be changed to one of the following: I don’t like the hotel gym where I’m staying. I didn’t go online and look into gyms in the immediate area. I don’t want to pay to go to another gym. If you are indeed in the middle of nowhere and have no access to a facility of any kind, you my friend have a valid excuse. However, I have an easy solution. You don’t need equipment to workout.
I don’t know what to do.
This is the most valid excuse on the list. From a technical standpoint this may have merit but as an excuse it is a poor one. There are a ton of resources, mostly free, available to you while on the road.
- SugarWOD. As a member of Troy CrossFit, you have access with a great workout posted for you each day. Of course equipment can become an issue but we’ll talk about that in a bit.
- Application based workouts. Find them online or in the app store.
- Drop-in at local CrossFit gyms. This is my all time favorite mode of working out while on the road. It’s a great way to meet new people and get in a group workout. Of course it will be different than what you’re used to but that’s part of the fun. Most importantly, it’s a great way to overcome this excuse because all you have to do is show up. The coach takes it from there telling you everything that you need to know. Just be polite, reach out, by phone or email, to the gym the day before to let them know you’d like to drop-in so they know to expect you. Arrive 10 minutes early to get registered without interrupting the flow of the class.
Found a hotel gym? Found a workout but don’t have all of the equipment you need available? How to warm up for the workout? Great questions! Here is a guide.
The goal of any warmup is to:
- Elevate your internal temperature (bloodflow stage)
- Get oxygen rich blood flowing to all parts of the body (bloodflow stage)
- Increase range of motion about your joints (mobilization phase)
- Stabilize range of motion about your joints (activation phase)
The bloodflow stage can be quick. I like 3-4 minutes of bodyweight exercises, using quick motions that are easy to get into and use as many joints as possible. 3 great ones that you can combine are:
- Jumping jacks
- Mountain climbers
- Lunge + twist
As a whole these movements target the key joints, toes, ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers. Perform each one for 20-30 seconds per round or minute.
The mobilization phase is next. Here we use active or static movements to increase range of motion about the joints. The most important joints (on average) to target here are your shoulders, hips, mid-back, and ankles. With no equipment, here is your guide for this stage:
- Shoulders. We can loosen up the shoulder joint by focusing on our lats and pecs.
- Child’s Pose: Great for a lat stretch and getting spinal extension
- Scorpion: Great for a pec and front shoulder stretch
- Hips. Focus on your glutes, hamstrings, and quads/flexors.
- Deep Lunge Hold with front foot flat and rear knee off floor.
- Leg swings front/back, right/left
- Thoracic Spine/Mid-Back:
- Kneeling Twist
- Ankles. Focus on the calves and achilles.
- Downward Dog
- High Plank + Heel Drops
Choose 1-2 motions per joint and perform for 30-40 seconds each.
Last is the activation phase. Here we use focused muscle contractions to stabilize our new range of motion, because mobility without stability is dangerous. Our key focuses here will more often than not be the shoulders and the hips.
- Shoulders. Let’s focus on the lats and subscap muscles.
- Scap Pushup. Get into a high plank. With a tight midline sink down at the upper back allowing your shoulder blades to roll together. Then, elevate the upper back, spreading the shoulder blades apart.
- Front Support. Basically a plank with your belly facing up. Stay tight in the midline, actively push the floor down with your hands. The shoulder being in an excessive closed off position allows you to get a really solid lat contraction.
- Hips. Glute focus
- Bridge. With your feet at hip width and tight to the glutes, the shoulders resting on the floor, brace your belly and then squeeze your glutes which will extend your hips up and in line with the shoulders and knees.
- Clamshells (needs to be done on both sides). Lay on your side. With legs stacked. Pull your heels towards your butt, let the knees move forward until you have a 90 degree bend at the knee. With focus on the glutes, keeping your heels glued together, elevate your top knee slowly and as far as you can. This works the very important external(outward) hip rotation.
Hit all 4 of these for 30-40 seconds, either with repetition (2-3 second pauses) or with one long static hold.
This 3 phase warmup can also be your workout in the event that you can only squeeze in 12-15 minutes! You’ll feel amazing after it and ready to tackle anything.
No Equipment Exercises
- Air squats
- Jumping squats
- Split squats
- Mountain climbers
- 1-Leg toe touch
- Focused RDLs
- Pushups, reps and static holds at top/bottom
- Pike pushups
- Handstand pushups
- Superman arches
- Bent arm flies
- Reverse snow angels (Arch angels
My favorite hotel room workout
Equipment: The two $5 water bottles on the counter that they’re trying to sell you.
42-30-18 reps of:
Thrusters with your water bottle dumbbells
Bent Rows with your water bottle dumbbells
*Then put them back where you got them and grab a cheaper drink of water
As you can see, working out on the road is simple if you choose to prioritize it. Excuses are everywhere around us and will win if we let it. But if we think about what we need in order to be better, it’s clear that our fitness is a priority, especially as our environment becomes more stressful. Don’t let these excuses get the best of you any longer! Get in a workout and then go and be awesome at what you do!
All the Best!- Coach Derrick