By Gigi Amurao
Everybody travels. We jet-set here and there for leisure, for work, to see friends and family, or just to explore the world. It can be anything from a short getaway to weeks or even months away from home. No matter the length of time or the reason for our travel, one thing is certain—our normal routines almost always fall by the wayside!
If you’re used to training at a gym, and suddenly you don’t have access to one, or if you’re used to a good morning jog along your neighborhood bike trail, and you no longer have that familiar path to follow, what do you do?
The same goes for meals. If you always prepare your own meals, what happens when you don’t have access to a kitchen or fridge? And don’t forget the sleep factor. If you’re used to getting a good night’s sleep in your own bed, how do you cope with sleeping at odd hours in an uncomfortable bed, possibly jet lagged?
The fact is, we are creatures of habit. When we are working a normal day job, it’s easy to stick to a routine. We wake up at the same time, eat all meals at the same time, work out at the same time, and sleep at the same time. When we travel, however, nothing is familiar, and the slightest bump can be enough to upset our intentions.
It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little smart planning, regardless of where you’re going, you will always be able to get in a good workout.
The first rule of thumb: Don’t count on the hotel gym. Hotel gyms are seldom a good choice. For one thing, they never have a good set of weights. It’s easy to use that as an excuse—“Well, since I’m on vacation and the gym is crappy, I’ll skip working out”—and then next you find yourself eating whatever you want because you have that on-vacation mind-set. Before you know it, your fitness progress is stalled completely or slowed during the trip. Once you get home, you are faced with having to spend two weeks or more trying to get yourself back into a rhythm again.
I travel a lot, and I always bring my resistance bands. I have several bands, ranging from extra light to extra heavy, but they are easy to pack and don’t take up much room in my suitcase.
Resistance bands not only are affordable, lightweight, and easy to use, but they also give you a killer workout and the ability to stay in shape when you’re on the go. The workout is easy on the joints, and it targets your muscles with a controllable and constant tension.
Resistance bands help tone you from head to toe, and as long as you make the time to get in a session, you will never fall off track.
The workout outlined below features some of my favorite resistance-band exercises. You can do them in the comfort of your hotel room and or at the hotel gym. A good session of resistance training coupled with some cardio—on a machine or perhaps a run outside—and you are all set!
Hit-the-Road Resistance-Band Workout
Perform these exercises as a giant superset, taking little rest between exercises, and then rest 30-60 seconds between rounds.
Do four giant sets of 15 to 20 repetitions per exercise. If you find it difficult, start out slowly, performing fewer than the listed number of reps and sets, and work your way up.
Maintain control throughout the rep, and focus on contracting and feeling the tension in the target muscle. Hold each repetition in the contraction for one second.
1) Squat thrust with shoulder presses, 4 x 20 Stand in the middle of the cord with your feet a shoulder width apart, taking one handle in each hand. Squat, keeping your back flat and your knees over your toes. Push through your heels, and return to the standing position, lifting the handles above your head and squeezing the bands together at the top. Repeat.
2) Bent-over rows, 4 x 20 Stand in the middle of the band with your feet a hip width apart, your toes forward and a handle in each hand. Bend forward to a 45-degree angle, with your back straight, your hips engaged, and your knees slightly bent. Row the handles toward your chest, keeping your arms close to your sides and bringing your elbows up toward the ceiling. Squeeze your shoulder blades together at the top. Slowly return to the starting position, and repeat.
3) Resisted pushups, 4 x 20 Take an end in each hand, and wrap the band around your shoulders. Get into the top pushup position, and press your palms into the floor, making sure you have enough resistance. Perform a normal pushup, with your elbows tucked close to your sides as you go down, and then press up, pushing your bodyweight against not only gravity but also the resistance from the band.
4) Reverse flyes, 4 x 20 Stand on the middle of the band with one foot, with the other foot beside it or slightly behind. Bend forward to a 45-degree angle, holding your abs tight, with your knees slightly bent and your arms hanging close to your sides. Slowly pull your arms up and out to the sides to chest level, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Return to the starting position slowly, and repeat.
5) Lateral raises, 4 x 20 Stand on the band with your feet a shoulder width apart and a handle in each hand. Lift your arms up and out to the sides till they are past eye level, just as if you were holding a pair of dumbbells. Squeeze your shoulders at the top; then slowly lower back to the starting position, and repeat. You can also do these one arm at a time.
6) Bent-over triceps extensions, 4 x 20 Stand on the band with your feet a shoulder width apart and a handle in each hand. Bend forward so your back is flat. Hold your hands at hip level with your palms facing back and away from you. Bend your arms at 90-degree angles, keeping your elbows close to your sides. Slowly extend your lower arms behind you up to the top position, holding the contraction at the top and keeping your elbows in a fixed position throughout the rep. Lower slowly, and repeat. You can also do these one arm at a time.
7) Split lunge to curls, 4 x 20 Take an underhand grip on the handles, and stand with your right foot on the middle of the band. Step back into a lunge, holding your arms slightly bent at your sides. Stand, and as you come up, curl your arms up to your chest. Release the curl and repeat.
There are many more exercises you can perform with resistance bands. With a little research, you can put together your own superset, but this one will definitely get you started.
Try to maintain at least some clean eating while you’re on the road, and when you return home, you’ll feel much better that you stayed committed to your goals. It comes down to what you want and how committed you are!
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