How Should I Work Out While Traveling?

For long term health and fitness, and if you want to see consistent and continual changes in your body, you need to keep your workouts consistent and to continually progress, aka become harder in some way. But when you throw traveling into the mix, it gets tough!

Spending time away from normal gym equipment often means that progressing by getting stronger goes right out the window as an option. But that’s no reason to abandon your workouts.

Have some fun with it though!  Based on what equipment you have available, what you’re used to doing, and how long you’ll be away from your normal routine, you can do a new way to train progress while traveling, and continue to see great new results! Here are some progressions for you to try:

1. Increase intensity

Intensity just basically means “difficulty,” so this means: make things harder each week. Get your heart rate racing with explosive moves, like squat jumps, tuck jumps, power skips, clapping pushups, and bounding. Progress by jumping higher, farther, or sharper. If you can’t do full pushups yet, starting on a wall and slowly decreasing the height of your hands each week until you’re doing full pushups would be an excellent bodyweight progression.

2. Increase volume

Increasing workout volume just means doing more!  That can mean doing more reps, more sets, more exercises per body part, or just more workouts per week. It can even be a combo of a few of those!

How do you increase workout volume? That depends on what you’ve been doing recently. If you normally do 3 sets of 8-10 squats with weights, you might discover that while traveling, you want to do 4-5 sets of 15-20 squats at bodyweight. If normally you only work out with weights 3 days/week, while traveling you might decide to do a bodyweight workout 5-6 days/week. Or maybe your workouts are usually short and intense, like 20 minutes of smashing weights in a circuit. In order to offer yourself some progression while traveling, you might want to do nice long workouts, using whatever equipment you have available or just your bodyweight, doing lots of sets and reps over the course of an hour.

3. Increase density

Density means how much work you get done in any one particular span of time.

If you want to progress density, so the same workout with less and less rest periods over the course of a few weeks. This is a very useful way to progress a simple workout while traveling, because you can do a big bodyweight or minimum-equipment circuit with say, 45 seconds of rest between each exercise. Then the next week when you do it, you can drop the rest to 30 seconds, then 15, then none at all.

If you’re only on hols for a week or so, you really don’t need to worry about any of this at all. Take the week off. Relax. Go swimming or walking or surfing or whatever, and then come back to your gym routine fully rested and relaxed.

If you travel often, or for big chunks of time, and are looking to continue maintaining, or even improving, your hard-earned gym results while doing so, here are some ways that you can do so:

1. Take advantage of local movement opportunities

Is there yoga where you are? Hiking?  Biking? SUP-ing? Swimming? Rock climbing? Slack-lining? Yoga? Do what’s available, and enjoy it. Don’t get so caught up in viewing gym-based “fitness” as the only way to stay fit.

2. Take advantage of ANY available equipment

Pack in a resistance band or medicine ball, you can do a ton with that! Get creative and have fun. You’ll be surprised how tough and effective you can make your workouts for a few weeks.

3. Focus on the opposite of what your usual goals are

This could mean focusing on cardio instead of strength. If you rarely do cardio you’ll have tons of room for improvement. Choosing a completely different new physical goal or challenge gives your body lots of new stimulus to adapt to. If you’re normally big on cardio, work toward nailing some tough bodyweight moves, like pushups, pull-ups, pistol squats, or 10 second all-out hill sprints.

4. No equipment?  Train your upper body with bodyweight exercises

If you’re stuck with no equipment, it’s easy to hit the chest, shoulders, core, and quads with just bodyweight exercises.

5. Move more often

Go for long restorative walks and explore a new city on foot and do it often. If your normal training is high, it will be dialled down while you can’t get to the gym. So you’ll need to dial up your overall movement volume.

6. Don’t be a perfectionist about it

Just because your normal workout isn’t available while you travel, don’t throw in the proverbial sweaty towel. Movement feels great, and traveling is an opportunity to discover other aspects of training that you might have thought you didn’t like, as well as aspects you might have thought were just a waste of time. Relax and have fun!