If you’re a bit of a gym-freak, you probably have your established routine. Programmes, protein, macros, metabolisms – physical prowess is a pretty multi-faceted commitment these days. But what if you’ve got a long trip coming up? How can you replicate all of this when you’re on the road?
Truth be told, you can never perfectly replicate your gym routine when you’re travelling, and, in my humble opinion, you shouldn’t try. If you’re exploring the best our planet has to offer, you should have more on your mind than getting your morning dose of Creatine, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t heaps of things you can do to keep in shape and maintain those gains.
Here's how to stay on track, even on the roads less travelled.
Make friends with bodyweight exercises
If you want to keep strong this is the key. Why would you want to be cooped up in a gym when there are so many earthly wonders to explore? What if there was a training machine that was always available, any time and any place – a machine that always takes into account your fitness and energy levels and adapts accordingly?
Your own body is one of the best training machines you can have. By simply utilising your own weight, you can get stronger, fitter and faster – as evidenced by mountain climbers, sprinters and ballet dancers across the world – or simply maintain those gains you were working on at home.
What routine is best? It doesn’t need to be anything too fancy. You can do pull-ups on bus stops, tree branches or parking lot structures, but even if you can’t find anything to use, simple squats, dips, planks and push-ups will suffice. Three sets of ten for each exercise will give you a full body workout that will leave you in great shape, or if you’re looking for something more advanced there are heaps of routines online to adapt to your needs. The best part? You can do bodyweight exercises absolutely anywhere. Whether you’re in a London park, the Australian outback, or on a beach in Hawaii, you can stay strong and prepare your body for anything travel has to throw at it.
Another fantastic bodyweight option is yoga. A therapeutic and deceptively thorough workout, yoga is a great way to stay in shape and enhance your peace of mind when you’re on the road. If you’re a beginner and can’t find any classes on your travels then there are plenty of tutorials online, so you can bust out a downward dog wherever, whenever.
Pack resistance bands
If you’re looking for a portable workout that targets more specific muscle groups, resistance bands pack light and allow you to do a tonne of different routines. Stack bands for bicep curls or create custom sets for triceps, legs and chest workouts. Resistance bands are easy on the joints and are pretty versatile, so they’re a great way to go if you’re looking to get a gym experience without the gym. Not sure where to go from here? Google has all the answers.
Food & drink
Your diet plays a huge part of how you feel and look. Sure, you’re on holiday, and it’s worth treating yourself, but stuffing your face with soft drinks, beer and burgers all day every day is going to leave you feeling bloated and devoid of energy. Food is one of the most rewarding parts of travel, and if you’re seeking the right kind of regional food, made from fresh ingredients, you’ll find it’s pretty easy to eat cheap, healthy and delicious meals wherever you are.
When I travelled through Vietnam I left in the best shape of my life, not because I was counting calories and skipping meals, but because all of my favourite local food just happened to be nutritious and healthy.
You’re most likely going to want to drink alcohol on your trip, and that’s fine. Enjoy yourself, but think about what you opt for – if you’re drinking buckets of rum and red bull every night you’re going to be consuming hundreds of empty calories. As always, sugar is the mortal enemy.
Keeping active (without really trying)
Ultimately, travel shouldn’t be a sedentary activity. From hiking to cycling, walking tours to watersports, exploring and adventure will often have a nice side effect of keeping you fit and healthy. At home we don’t typically walk very far every day, but I found it was fairly easy to break 20k a day when travelling, just through exploring, hiking and getting hopelessly lost.
If you insist...
If you’re intent on replicating your home routine in its entirety, then there are always gyms to be found. It may be difficult to fit everything into your itinerary, but many hotels have very basic gyms and when it comes to finding local places to pump some iron, google, as ever, is your friend.