As of posting this I’ll be out of my country of birth and on the road again.
It hasn’t happened much in recent months, but I still do like to think of myself as a somewhat nomad, a pseudo vagabond or a casual wayfarer.
Travel for me, is so much more than walking around with a camera out and heading frantically from tourist spot to tourist spot.
I’m a very visual person. The new sights, the new faces, the new surroundings and stimuli recharge me. They fill me with inspiration, excitement and a fire that staying in one place can’t quite deliver.
For that reason travel in my mind has to be slow.
A hectic few days spent in one location documented entirely through the eye of a lens and then repeated once again somewhere new, just isn’t for me.
It all just feels like an exercise in narcissism. The joy of recounting the words “when I was in” seems to top the joy of actually experience a place wholeheartedly.
I don’t want to miss a thing. Yes, I want to see the touristy sights, eat at the places rated highly by Trip Advisor, but those are holiday acts.
I want to blend in with the place. See how it works. Watch the people there live out their day-to-day lives. Make connections with people in the small shops, café’s and restaurants frequented only by the locals – Truly embracing the life in the area.
Everyone will have their own axiom of what travelling is. But for me, I know it’s not sitting on a beach or staying in the most expensive place in the area. For me, it’s truly embracing the new surroundings wholeheartedly.
Work during travel is easy. Wherever there is strong coffee, a space to quietly work and a decent internet connection – I’m sorted. I can still coach online (if you’re interested in this, feel free to contact me by the way, I have a few spots open), I can still do design work with no issues and I can still write. Hell, I agree with Rollins:
“If I lose the light of the sun, I will write by candlelight, moonlight, no light. If I lose paper and ink, I will write in blood on forgotten walls. I will write always.”
But, often travel workout options are the challenging factor.
I love the touch of the kettlebell’s cold handles, the sound of weight plates banging against themselves and the uncomfortable, damp, awkwardness of the stones and logs I so often train with.
Depending on the place of travel, there is no guarantee of any of the above. Yes, chances are there will be a commercial gym available, but they’re not for me, or for that matter generally approve of my particular flavor of training…
The new surroundings create a temporary parameter for travel workout models. I treat this new confinement as a chance to grow. Even in the smallest of spaces I can, and you can, find a little room to develop physically and mentally. Even with no equipment on hand, you have the ability to expand your current strengths and bring up your weaknesses. The human body is an incredibly powerful and adaptive tool. It’s more often than not limited by the mind’s lack of creativity, motivation or drive.
I find myself on a balcony three flours up in Berlin with the 6°C air keeping me cool. No gym, no equipment, not even a comfortable floor below my feet and I’m – happy.
This is truly simplicity at its best.
Bodyweight Training during Travel
If you’re like me, chances are the bulk of your training, off the mats, will be with some form of weighted resistance. For me, like I mentioned above, it’s kettlebells, barbells, sandbags and whatever nature provides.
During travel though, bodyweight workouts provide an excellent and incredibly convenient way to train hard while giving the body a much needed time off from the abuse of weights.
Moving your own body gets so overlooked my many.
It’s one thing to be strong under a barbell, or strong carrying a rock, but when a set of push-ups crushes you – it’s time to reevaluate your “strength”.
Bodyweight training offers up that special blend of relative strength, mobility, coordination and control.
Travel Workout Options
Here are some of the workouts I like to use during the periods of travel.
My preference is to train early in the morning, post meditation, pre-work. It seems to have a great recharging effect on the body and mind, plus as an additional bonus, it gets the body burning calories throughout the day.
Always start with a solid Warm-up consisting of:
- Shoulder dislocaters with a broom handle, PVC pipe, resistance band (pack a few, they come in so handy)
- Y’s, T’s, W’s, I’s
- Roll out hips, hammies, quads, calves, t-spine, lats… using a lacrosse ball (pack one of these too)
- 5-10 minutes of movement flow*
*Check this video from Chip Conrad – An incredible coach who’ll explain it much better than I.
Travel Workout #1 – Strength and Power:
1a. Dead-stop Push-up x 1*
- 10 seconds up, 10 seconds hold, 10 seconds down – A killer, KILLER amount of time under tension.
1b. Dead-stop Clap Push-up x 1
5-10 Rounds Total
2a. Diamond Push-ups 3 x sub max
3a. Prisoner Squat Ladder 1 – 10 – 1
4a. Walking Lunges x 25 total each leg
5a. Ab work: Deadbugs, Hand walkouts, Hollow holds… your choice.
*The dead-stop push-up begins face down on the ground. The body has to generate tension from nothing – there is no stretch reflex because the movement starts at the bottom. This variation has its flaws, but it also yields a number of positives.
Firstly, there is no cheating the range of motion – It’s from a face down position on the floor to a full lockout, no impressions of a bird eating seeds here.
Secondly, the chance of a sagging midsection is greatly reduced.
The dead-stop push-up, to me, is the purest push-up. It’s not about the reps, or the weight, but rather producing a great fatigue in the body, without damaging the structures, so the body can accordingly adapt and grow in size and strength. It’s a discipline. Flopping around a set of 50 push-ups, half range of motion, with zero regard for the movement or mechanics is simply an act of exercise and ego masturbation.
Travel Workout #2 – Conditioning
Below is a simple, yet effective routine that is perfect for those short on time and in a space restricted environment. It’s performed using the Tabata protocol – a very effective and popular method for producing great results in fat-loss, body comp and fitness levels.
The original protocol calls for 20 seconds of “balls to the wall” work, followed by a brief 10 second rest and is repeated 8 times total, making it a four minute round. I like to stick with MMA 5 minute rounds, so the work/rest remains the same at 20/10, but the total changes from eight to 10, giving you a five minute round. This five minute round is followed by a 60 second rest and repeated anywhere from 3-5 times.
The exercises are purposefully kept simple to maximize work output.
- Prisoner Squats x 20 seconds – rest 10
- Push-ups x 20 seconds – rest 10
- Sprawls x 20 seconds – rest 10
- Jump Lunges x 20 seconds – rest 10
- Clapping Push-ups x 20 seconds – rest 10
Repeat 1-5 again to make up the full round.
There you go. No excuses for not training during those times away from home be it work, holiday or travel. Shameless plug for travel workout options… looking for more bodyweight conditioning workouts, do check out 100 Metabolic Workouts on Amazon – get it in the US here and the UK here.
Get up, get shit done and go explore your surroundings.
Stay strong physically and mentally.