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When you’re traveling, fitness can quickly become the last thing you want to think about. If you’re traveling on business, for example, a busy schedule may prevent you from making time for exercise. And when you’re on vacation, there’s a good chance you simply want nothing to do with anything that resembles strenuous physical activity.
If this is you, I strongly caution you to rethink working out while traveling. Science has shown us that regular exercise can increase your life expectancy, improve your mental clarity and even make you smarter. So if you travel a lot, establishing a daily fitness routine is critical for your happiness, longevity and maintaining healthy habits at home and on the road.
After all, if someone told you spending a few minutes a day moving around would reduce your risk of heart disease, obesity and chronic disease, you’d have to be crazy to not do it, right?
And the higher the intensity, the better. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is arguably the best, followed by running at a moderate pace. If you can’t do either, at least commit yourself to taking a daily walk, bike ride or performing bodyweight exercises.
The great thing about bodyweight exercises, aside from the fact that they’re incredibly effective, is that you can do them in your hotel room or outside. You’re not at the mercy of a gym.
Using your own weight as resistance will build strength and burn fat — and the lack of isolation forces multiple muscle groups to work together to perform the movement properly.
Doing a push-up, for example, requires the chest, shoulders, triceps, abs, obliques, back muscles and glutes to all work together to lower your body to the floor and to properly get you back into the starting position. This triggers a metabolic response that will cause your body to burn calories long after your workout has ended (unlike the elliptical, where the effects stop when you stop).
Bodyweight movements also have tremendous carryover to everyday life activities. Performing squats will improve the mechanics of how you get up from a chair. Posture and muscular imbalances will improve. You will strengthen your muscles and joints, leading to a decreased likelihood of injury. Compare that to the elliptical, where little to no joint or muscle strengthening occurs.
As you get better and progress with bodyweight movements, you can add a weighted vest, or hold a dumbbell or kettlebell, for increased resistance.
You can’t go wrong with the basic movements. Master the push-up, pull-up, squat, glute bridge and burpee, and you’ll have all your bases covered. There are also countless variations to increase difficulty, including incorporating unilateral (one-arm or one-leg) movements or changing leverage by elevating your feet during push-ups, for example.
Keep workouts short and straightforward. Maximize your time by performing high-intensity bodyweight circuits right in your hotel room. This will allow you to build muscle, burn more calories and get better results in less time.
Perform 100 burpees for time.
That’s it. It’s so simple that it almost seems easy. A proper burpee is a push-up to a squat to an explosive jump to a squat and back to a push-up again. The level of intensity involved in performing these many movements so quickly leads to increased metabolism, improved cardiovascular health and full body muscle activation.
In return for the hard work you put in when doing burpees, you’re burning fat, building muscle and improving your conditioning in a very time-efficient manner. That’s not a bad deal. The reason it’s so effective? It involves a number of muscle groups working together all at once.
Perform 100 reps of each exercise.
- 100 Push-Ups
- 100 Sit-Ups
- 100 Air Squats
This workout, while simple, contains a high number of repetitions. Those with higher levels of fitness may not have a hard time doing all 100 reps in one shot for each exercise. Most people would be better off partitioning the reps of each exercise. There are many ways you can do this, but here are a few that I have tried and liked:
- 10 rounds of 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 squats.
- 5 rounds of 20 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 squats.
- 4 rounds of 25 push-ups, 25 sit-ups, 25 squats.
Decreasing reps from 10 to 1 (10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1)
- Air Squats
Set a timer and move through the 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 sequence. Start by doing 10 burpees, 10 push-ups and 10 air squats, and then repeating the sequence this time doing 9 reps of each movement. You will continue doing one less rep each time for all three movements until your last, single air squat.
Chris Castellano is a travel fitness specialist and the founder of Fittest Travel. He recently self-published his first book, “Fit For Travel: Your Guide to Losing Weight and Feeling Great While Traveling.”
Featured image by PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty Images.
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