Hotel workouts can suck. But they don’t have to. You can lose fat and stay jacked with travel workouts. Or at least minimize the damage.
So howdy from the home of tacos and tequila!
Before I dive into this post I have a gift that will enable you to crush your training on the road. It will also work at home, or in any situation where you have minimal equipment or time.
The gift is The High-Performance Travel Guide, a free eBook you can download right now.
In the meantime, forgive me for sounding like a douche, but June has been a whirlwind month. In 15 days I have:
- Crashed with three other fitness dudes (who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty) in two beds at a Toronto boutique hotel. Shit got weird, especially after we ran into a Toronto-based fitness celeb at the rooftop bar and pool.
- Returned to my adopted hometown of Denver.
- Traveled to New York City for my first ever trip to The Big Apple to network up and catch presentations.
- Returned ever so briefly to Denver before departing again for Mexico with my wife, where I ran into two online clients from New Zealand.
Whew! So, what does all this have to do with you? Plenty.
My problem in the last few weeks has been something I hear about a lot:
Travel makes training and eating right a royal pain in the ass.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel. But there are downsides: I miss my wife and my dog. And since I travel on the cheap, I usually end up sitting like a crouched Neanderthal on crowded airplanes where the idea of “legroom” is a sick joke.
My back ends up feeling someone stuck an ice-pick in my vertebrae. On a recent flight, eight-year-old Jimmy made it his mission to kick my seat every 15 seconds. Add in a little dehydration and I felt like punching myself in the face would be more fun than another flight.
When staying at hotels, my usual morning routine is disrupted. The beds (if I’m not on the floor) feel like sleeping on bricks. Plus, I’ll average 4-5 hours of sleep instead of the usual 7-8.
Which brings us to the dreaded hotel gym. Most hotel gyms are poorly equipped and consist of a few mismatched dumbbells and a recumbent bike.
But enough whining. Time for some solutions.
Even if my body clock is off and diet AWOL, I’ve discovered how to enjoy myself to the fullest, crush work, and stay lean.
You’re probably wondering: …”Ummm, How?”
Here’s the deal.
When you’re on the road nothing is normal.
Food is one of our top ways to experience a different culture. So it’s natural to indulge. On that note, I’ll be damned if I didn’t eat pizza in New York, a peameal bacon sandwich in Toronto, and crush a shot of fine Mexican tequila before I sat down to write this.
Keeping on track on the road boils down to the ruthless execution of the basics.
Training on the Road
The number one mistake motivated people make is having fitness stay a primary focus when they travel.
Don’t fall into that trap. Unless you’re a pro athlete, training should improve your life, not consume it. That’s especially true when you’re on the road.
Hotel workouts leave us with four options:
1. Fuck it. Completely skip it. Sometimes travel is all about relaxing. I get it.
2. Bodyweight Circuits. Sprint, jump, lunge, push, pull, and use bands. I’ll do a sprint workout or two on the road, and then use bodyweight countdowns.
Here’s an example:
• Push Ups
• Band Pull-Aparts
• Split Squats
• Bodyweight Squats
Perform 10 reps of each, moving from exercise to exercise without rest. Then, repeat for 9…8…7… all the way to one. That’s a killer 20-minute workout anywhere, anytime.
Or, try the Push-Up, Stand-Up Challenge:
[Push Up stand up Challenge] Initial credit for this challenge goes to back to an old Testosterone Nation article by Martin Rooney (I think). Do 1 push up.. Stand up 2 push ups… Stand up And repeat to 10, going as fast as you can with good form. This is my go-to hotel workout when I'm on the road and an excellent finisher. Aim for 2:30 or under, and post your time below!
3. Find a Local Gym. This is a great way to meet other people and explore the city. Personally, I love finding new gyms and having a blast. Either search hashtags like #whereveryouareFitness or pull up Google. After three minutes, I found this awesome gym in downtown San Diego.
4. Book a Hotel with a Solid Gym. Call before your reservation and find out what’s available.
You can make due with dumbbells up to 55 lbs. Even strong dudes can crush a workout. Here’s a few tips to make any workout harder.
• Unilateral Exercises: Since the gym might be missing dumbbells anyway, unilateral (one arm, one leg) exercises are excellent. They require greater balance, proprioception, stability, and individual strength.
Try This: Switch from a bodyweight squat to a pistol squat or an overhead press to a single arm press.
• Change Exercise Loading: Dumbbells only up to 50? Move resistance away from your center of gravity.
Try This: Top- Dumbbell Lunges. Instead of holding dumbbells at your side for lunges “rack” them on top of your shoulders.
Ditch Reps for Timed Sets: Instead of counting reps work against the clock. Timed sets are a powerful method to focus on the execution of each rep rather than aiming to finish the set. Working your muscles for 30-45 seconds elicits tons of tension and metabolic stress, perfect for muscle growth to offset those Margaritas.
Try This: Stuck with only a dumbbell for squats? Hold a dumbbell in the goblet position and perform reps for 30 seconds rather than ten reps.
Metabolic Circuits: These are my go-to. They’re ultra efficient and take 15-20 minutes tops, leaving you more time before the beach or a meeting. Plus, they’ll give you the benefits of EPOC, boosting your cardio and fat burning for hours after training, helping limit the damage of a cheat meal.
Try This: Pick a push, pull, lower body exercise, and core exercise.Let’s say push-up, pull-up, goblet squat, and plank.
Perform 4 sets of 10 for each exercise and 30-60 seconds for your plank. Keep rest minimal between exercises.
I love to eat.
Especially on the road, I’m going to crush the local grub. It helps me connect with the city and its culture, and I’m sure you’re nodding in agreement.
That means Sourdough soup bowls in San Francisco and BBQ in Texas, and ironically, even better barbecue at Pig Beach in Brooklyn.
Still, the plan is always to make the most out of dining experience without bursting through your jeans. Here’s how to get it done.
• Fast 12-16 hours, then feast. That means most days skipping breakfast and crush a coffee and tons of water. Beyond benefits of intermittent fasting (IF) like better insulin control, fasting leaves more time to message clients, meet up with cool people, and hit the town. Plus, there’s no worrying about where to eat. Besides, you have other plans, so the fewer decisions the better.
• Eat protein with each meal. Getting enough protein is tough when traveling. Unless you want to fork over $8 for beef jerky or crush a 1,000 calorie burger your have limited options. To make ends meet, pack some OatMega or Warrior bars, hard boil a few eggs, or pack protein powder. Just get your brotein, bro.
There are two extremes to staying fit on the road.
Some folks say “fuck it,” then come back 12 lbs heavier and stressed out after a trip.
Others obsess, worrying non-stop about fitness. They should focus on business or family and take ample time to enjoy themselves.
I’ve tried both and failed miserably. But there’s a happy medium.
Stay active and make good choices whenever possible.
Accept that fact that you aren’t in your normal routine, nor should you be. That’s the point of most travel:- to experience something new, whether it’s a presentation or beach.
Forgive yourself for diet and training lapses and above all else, sit back and smell the roses.
If you’re traveling, you’re fortunate.
Enjoy the sunset, have a good meal, and then do some damage control.
Now, here’s your travel guide.
But first, drop me an answer. What’s your favorite trick to stay fit on the road?