4 Challenges to Staying Fit on the Road

January 30, 2015 1 Comment

If you missed Part I of this two part post, be sure to check it out. Find out how prolonged sitting can result in more than a sore lower back, as in having a detrimental effect on key muscle groups, posture and even certain organs - like your heart!

I am not a medical professional nor pretending to be one.  So please be sure to consult with your health-care provider before engaging in any sort of fitness activity or treatment.

This post addresses 4 areas where travel can derail your fitness regime, and ways to overcome them.  

Challenge #1 - Space Constraints

If you're traveling by car or motorcycle: schedule stops not only to eat or use the bathroom, but use these breaks as key opportunities to sneak in a quick run, kettlebell swings, cleans, a snatch set...

Decide ahead of time what days you intend to exercise and what muscle groups.  Then be sure your programming takes into consideration your available space, equipment and time.  

For example, if traveling by car, pick stops or rest areas that offer a clear and discreet space beside your vehicle to train.  I pack two to three pre-filled PKBs and a jumprope.

My routine typically involves swings, cleans, single-leg deadllifts, plank-holds, pushups, shoulder presses, squats and renegade rows.  I then alter reps and intensity based on my objective.  For example, I may stack two PKBs for a heavier press for example or do single-arm swings versus double-arm swings.

Be sure to stick to a schedule.  I've found that this is actually - second to my nutritional intake - the most important aspect of implementing an effective training routine while on the road.

Nothings seems to veer me off track more than following up a good day of movement with several days of inactivity and bad eating.  If I can maintain at least 80-90% of my training routine, I've succeeded.

Of course things will come up, and you may have to miss a planned break here and there.  But if you can keep to an overall schedule and even make up a few sessions when possible, you'll return home in close to the same shape as when you left (at least I do).

How do I know?  I use my one rep max for the shoulder press and back squat as strength indicators and my time on the 1,500 meter row as an endurance indicator.

Challenge #2 - Unpredictable Schedule

Maybe you're waiting to catch a flight or sitting in line through a customs check-point. You're ability to fit in a workout may only be possible wherever it is you find yourself. The answer: roll with it.

Even subtle movement and stretching techniques to infuse certain areas with blood-flow can do wonders.

If in an airport lobby - bust out a plank hold.  If it's a long lay-over, fill a Portable Kettlebell and TANK water bladder with water and do goblet squats, presses or once again, plank holds (on a water bladder, so much more fun :)

Motion is lotion.  If you feel you're neck is getting sore, rotate your head within a comfortable range of motion.  The same with any other part that is showing signs of sitting fatigue.  

Stretch and move after the bathroom break, refueling stop or meal break. Implementing just a few exercises that are targeting the core, shoulders and legs will do wonders while on long trips.

Challenge #3 - Equipment Limitations

Packing weights is nearly impossible not to mention impractical.  Suspension trainers like the TRX are designed to address portability with a variety of bodyweight exercises.  Other common solutions I've used are rings (gymnastics) and the age-old jump rope.

I typically pack the jump rope and because I prefer to minimally vary my on-the-road workouts from my at-home workouts, I pack weights as in the Portable Kettebells.  The image below shows a full PKB next to an empty one.  

Because these can be used with water, albeit not as heavy as sand, I can still train presses, swings and sit-ups out of a hotel room.  For added weight, if I'm limited to water and have more than one bladder I'll stack two PKBs in one hand and go for single-leg deadlifts or heavier shoulder presses.  

Check-out the PKB and TANK water bladder Kit: Shop Now 

There is also the possibility of accessing a gym or training center at certain destinations. I'm not necessarily referring to the hotel facilities, although these are a no-brainer if you have access to them.

Again, if your thing is to vary your regimen the least while on the road, than planning is key. If not traveling with your quiver of tools, find out in advance what may be available at your intended destinations.

Challenge #4 - Addressing Problem Areas

Finally, be aware of any pre-existing problem areas before you hit the road.

If you have lower back issues, know how travel may affect them and implement strength and stretching exercises to help.  Keeping these on a schedule will be more critical while traveling since you'll be sitting or limited in space more so than while at home.

As discussed in Part I, consult with a sports therapists for an accurate assessment of possible problem areas and effective ways to address them. I recommend Active Release Techniques (ART) or Airrosti certified practitioners.   

Begin with incorporating a consistent routine at home and you'll find keeping it up on the road only gets easier.

When traveling, do you have a routine or piece of equipment that works best for you?

What is your biggest obstacle when training on the road?

Look forward to your comments below or through our social media!

1 Response


January 31, 2015

I drive a tractor trailer for a living and work about 55-65 hrs. A wk. so when I get home I really don’t want to go to a gym, but I make myself go at least 3x a week cause my wife likes to go too. We can spend time together working out instead of watching tv. The nutrition part is really hard as you know there is not a lot of good choices and it can be quite expensive. On my day off I have too plan all my meals for the week and make them. If I don’t it usually turns into a disaster, eating garbage knowing that in a few moments I’m. Going too feel like crap for the rest of the day.
But now I have thePKB 30lb. And I’m gonna start bringin this bad boy to work w/ me ! I do get a lot of down time at work , waiting to load the truck ( I haul gasoline so the terminals gemt busy w long lines)I’m gonna start busting this thing out and getting a work out in! I usually do a lot of push-ups , air squats jumpin Jax to get the blood flowing and to wake up and stay alert for a long ride. Well anyway cool article definetly hit home for me a lot fitness guys don’t talk about this issue

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