If you worry about losing your hard-earned gains when you travel, it's time to stop fretting and do something about it. Start with this four-point guide to making a plan for your on-the-road fitness. Not having access to a gym or a lot of training equipment is no longer a reason to miss a workout even if you're on the road. Plus, there are crucial nutritional quick fixes that can boost your performance and keep your body's anabolic action switched on.
1. Think Minimal Equipment
Your workouts can, in fact, be completed with the use of your own body weight and either a pair of dumbbells or a single kettlebell. As counterintuitive as that may sound, some of my best workouts have taken place on the road like that. What makes this minimal training maximally effective, though, is the weight, or load, you choose. While load specificity depends on several factors, including your relative strength level and training experience with certain types of equipment, here are some general guidelines to consider.
- For men: Select a kettlebell or two-dumbbell load that is equivalent to 30-40 percent of your body weight. For example, a 200-pound man would use a 60-80-pound kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells weighing 30-40 pounds each.
- For women: Select a kettlebell or two-dumbbell load that is equivalent to 20-35 percent of your body weight. For example, a 125-pound woman would use a 25-45-pound kettlebell or a pair of dumbbells weighing 12.5-20 pounds each.
Select a load that you can move well and without stopping. It should be challenging but not so challenging that you break your form on any exercise. You should be able to train proficiently with this load for at least 30 seconds without stopping.
2. Be Aware of Time Efficiency
Your workouts should be effective and efficient, easily completed in less than 45 minutes, including a 5-10-minute warm-up. Whether you're vacationing or traveling for work, no one wants an inordinate dose of training time to interfere with the main purpose of the trip.
Here are three highly effective work/rest templates that will leave you feeling pushed, challenged, and unstoppable after a fast, furious training session. Use the option that best suits you and your current level of fitness.
- Do repeat bouts of 30 seconds of non-stop work alternated with 10 seconds of passive rest.
- Do repeat bouts of 45 seconds of non-stop work alternated with 15 seconds of passive rest.
- Do repeat bouts of 60 seconds of non-stop work alternated with 20 seconds of passive rest.
I prefer to create a unique timer in my phone and mix and match the three work/rest templates above. Make sure to prepare mentally for sprint-type work so you drive your physical capacity to go all-out for the designated work interval and train yourself to recover as quickly as possible during the passive rest interval.
You will exhaust and highly challenge your immediate, ATP-CP, and glycolytic energy systems, which operate during work bouts lasting roughly 30-60 seconds, depending on your fitness level and training experience.
Here are two sample workouts that combine the three templates above. For each round:
- 30 seconds of work, 10 seconds of rest
- 45 seconds of work, 15 seconds of rest
- 60 seconds of work, 20 seconds of rest
The total time for each round is 3 minutes: 2.25 minutes of work and 45 seconds of rest.
- Workout A: 10 Rounds = 30 minutes of total time = 22.5 minutes of work and 7.5 minutes of passive rest
- Workout B: 13 Rounds = 39 minutes of total time = 29.25 of work and 9.75 minutes of passive rest
3. Focus on Intensity
Your workouts should be flat-out hard. You won't stand around much, you will sweat, and you should step outside of your comfort zone. A relatively short session means you have to train with an all-out mindset. If you examine the two sample workouts closely, you'll see that the time spent actually moving is less than 30 minutes in both cases. Based on my personal and professional experience, I believe that is a perfect amount of time for you to work extremely hard and come out of the workout feeling both challenged and accomplished.
Make it your number-one priority to lift nonstop during your work intervals. Occasionally pausing your timer is perfectly acceptable; I do it all the time, especially to hydrate, sip on my supplements, and ensure that the quality of my training session remains sky-high.
Ideally, you would never set down your weight(s) during a work interval; you want to recover as quickly as possible during your very brief rest periods and be ready to go at the very beginning of every new work interval.
4. Target Your Whole Body
Your workouts should hit the entire body with the primary muscle groups—the big, compound muscles. Emphasize multijoint exercises, and make a balanced attack by selecting exercises that work opposing muscle groups; for example, chest and back.
In choosing the exercises for your total-body workout, consider the following points:
- Use multijoint exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges, Romanian deadlifts, swings, high pulls, shoulder presses, chest presses, push-ups, rows, and upright rows.
- Look for balance and variety. Generally, you want to pick 6-12 different exercises, including upper-body and lower-body moves.
- Also select 2-4 exercises that are not resistance based for cardio and/or active recovery, such as jumping jacks, mountain climbers, bodyweight squat jumps, split-squat jumps, sprints/high knees, planks/bridges, and ab/trunk work.
- Organize your workout along a classic sequence of exercises; for example, performing multijoint exercises plus isolation exercises for each individual muscle group, alternating opposing muscle groups, and/or alternating upper-body and lower-body muscle groups.
Supplementation Is King
When I travel, convenience trumps everything. Make it easy for yourself to fuel your body properly with minimal prep time when you're on the go. No solid food and Tupperware; just one shaker bottle and two main supplements…easy breezy!
Approximately 15-30 minutes before beginning your warm-up, grab and smash a C4 ON-THE-GO for a pre-mixed pre-workout drink you can easily pack in your suitcase. I love C4 ON-THE-GO's cutting-edge, science-backed, results-proven formulation that aids energy and mental focus, in addition to priming my energy systems for a stellar workout.* It only has 8 calories, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 0 grams of sugar, and the taste is outrageously good (my favorites are Watermelon, Cherry Limeade, and Icy Blue Razz).
In addition, research has shown that, even at rest, you can stimulate muscle protein synthesis by taking in branched-chain amino acids or a complete protein source. On the road, I recommend you remove the guesswork by having one of my favorite BCAA powders—Scivation's XTEND—on hand to sip immediately before, during, and immediately after your workout. Mix it in a shaker bottle with water or in a water bottle using a funnel.
As a convenient muscle-building quick fix, you can also drink your BCAAs between solid-food meals in order to trigger muscle protein synthesis and keep the gains pouring in!
Blazing the Road to Growth
There's no excuse to skip training when you're on the road. My best advice is to plan ahead. Write up a few different training protocols using my recommendations, pack your supplements, and bring your equipment and workout clothes. Then, find an open space—an open field, your hotel room, or even the hotel fitness center—focus your mind, and keep those gains coming!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.