Vacation Workout Pan

Vacation Workout Pan

Most people just throw up their hands and give up when it comes to staying healthy and fit while on business trips or vacations. Its tough enough for people to exercise and keep fit at home, how can you do it while away from home or traveling? Getting proper nutrition is tough and working out seems impossible so most people just give up – don’t!

I’m going to show you how to keep in shape while away from home, its actually much easier than you think! It doesn’t matter if you are someone who has never worked out and wants to start getting in shape on vacation or you a experienced bodybuilder.

In this section, I’m going to assume you are traveling just with a rollerbag and have very little room. Here is all we are going to pack:

  • two wrist straps
  • 10′ of rope
  • two short sticks cut from broom handle with holes drilled in each end
  • protein powder, 90g per day of travel

If you are a hard-core bodybuilder, please read on – otherwise skip right to the traveling fitness section where I show you nutrition advice and how to use the above odd list of items to keep in great shape!

Pre-Trip Preparation for the hard core bodybuilder

Now a word to the hard-core, experienced bodybuilders. My first advice to you is to RELAX, you wont lose any of your hard earned gains even on a long trip. In fact, you will return leaner and stronger AND you will have a great time on your trip. The change of pace will do you good!

The most important step is PREPARATION! This pre-trip preparation consists of two parts, training and nutrition. Lets look at pre-trip training first. Your goal is to be completely overtrained when you start the trip.

Your goal is to be overtrained when you set foot on that airplane. Every bodypart needs to hurt. Now all my subscribers out there know that for advanced bodybuilders I normally recommend working out each bodypart just once every 5-7 days to allow for proper recuperation and muscle rebuilding. In this two week period we are throwing that out the window. We are going to workout each bodypart twice a week, using split workouts if needed, and we are going to do heavy workouts with low reps. Also I normally keep workouts to 60 minutes but in this two week intense training period, each of my workouts is going to be 90min – that’s a lot of time! The two weight workouts will take 3hrs a day plus an hour of cardio.

This is *really* tough on your muscles and joints so don’t do this any more than 2 weeks, I’m pretty old so I’m only going to do this for 11 days. Watch carefully for any signs of joint problems and stop this intense preparation plan should they arise.

So here is the complete 14 day intense pre-trip workout plan, remember, this is only for advanced bodybuilders! The workout is a three day cycle that we will just keep repeating during the whole trip preparation time without breaks. Three days, each is a split workout ,that is a morning workout and an afternoon workout

Day 1 chest, shoulders, triceps
Day 2 lats am biceps
Day 3 Legs legs am abs

Its important that during this pre-trip preparation that you use heavy weights with low reps (say 3-7 reps), let me explain why. You subscribers out there know that I am constantly talking about the importance of varying your workout because the body quickly adapts to any routine. Well, when we travel we are going to be doing high rep, low rep workouts because all we will have available to us is bodyweight. So in our pre-trip preparation we want to do the opposite, which is heavy weights with low reps.

The second part of the preparation is nutrition. For the two weeks before, we are going to be ultra-strict with our nutrition. NO treats whatsoever. Not a single spoon of sugar in our coffee, not a single donut, not a single cheeseburger, not a single potato chip and not a single beer. The reason for this is that when we get on the plane, we want to feel really good about how well we have eaten in the last 2 weeks and how we have earned a well-deserved break. That way we can try new foods and relax our dietary strictness without feeling guilty. The last thing we want is to get on the plane feeling fat and guilty so that we worry about every morsel of food we eat while traveling.

Traveling Fitness

Nutrition can be the hardest part when you are traveling, doesn’t matter if you are on a business trip, an exotic vacation or a Christmas trip to Grandmas house. Its tough but you can maintain control of your nutrition, keep eating healthy, and still partake in the culinary delights of the trip. Again, the key is preparation. First, carry an adequate supply of protein powder, I bring at least 90g per day of travel. The hardest part of nutrition on the road is in finding very low fat protein sources and if you bring your own supplemental protein it gives you many more options. I also bring at least one protein bar for each day of travel. This may sound like a lot but I can fit all my food, clothing, workout equipment, books and cameras for a 3 week international trip into a carry-on bag. Another secret of having good nutrition while traveling is get over the notion that every meal needs to come from a restaurant. Some of your most delicious and healthy meals will be ones that you buy from a farmers market or small local store. Stock up on fruits, vegetables, bread and dried fruit when you pass stores as these can make very healthy meals. You can supplement the local fresh vegetables and fruits with your protein powder for a well balanced meal. As I mentioned before, getting sufficient low fat protein while traveling is problematic. Outside the USA, it can be really tough to get lean cuts of meat in restaurants, you will need to do some detective work to find local lean sources of protein. In a pinch, nonfat milk is a good source of protein and you can also get the UHT nonfat milk that keeps without a fridge.

Pre-Eating is a very important technique for keeping your nutrition on track while traveling This is most helpful when on family trips or on business trips. You are expected to join family or business associates for meals and you often have little control over where you eat or what you eat. In this case, pre-eating can save your waistline! Here’s how to do pre-eating. Before the meal, drink 20-30g protein powder in water. If you think the meal is going to be particularly unhealthy, then have some fruit or vegetables also. When you sit down for the meal, you have already satisfied your protein requirements and you are free to chose an item from the menu (or from dishes on the table) that are low in calories and high in fiber. If you are at a business meal, you can order a big meal salad without dressing and a big side of vegetables. If you are eating with family, you can pass on the fried chicken (or eat just enough to be polite) and then pile on the complex carbs, vegetables and salad. Using this pre-eating technique you can eat enough volume of food that people will not notice that you really didn’t eat that many calories.


The main source of cardio when traveling is going to be walking. Try to walk everywhere you can, no cars. You will enjoy your trip far more if you stay out of the car. Another great source of cardio is jogging, you can do it virtually anywhere and all it takes is a pair of tennis shoes that you are probably packing anyway. If its cold and icy outside and you cant walk or run, then you can jump rope! The rope in your travel kit can be thread thru the sticks and used as a jump rope in your hotel room or garage. The resistance training workouts do not have any lower body exercises, the cardio will serve as the leg workout. Running is the best to insure that you will not lose any lower body strength while traveling.

Resistance Training

Workout Equipment Handles Assembled

If you recall, we only brought three things with us to workout: a 10′ rope, two sticks, and straps. These fit nicely into a small ziplock bag and hardly take up any room at all.You can do pushups anywhere but pullups are tougher which is why its time to pull out your kit. From the two sticks and the 10′ rope, make a harness that you can hang over anything to do pullups. Here I have slung them over a beam in my grass hut. You can hang it over beams, pipes, or even tree limbs – you have NO excuses to skip the pullups! The straps are to provide you with extra grip strength so your wrists do not give out before your lats. If you are a beginner, choose something low to sling your pullup setup over so that you can use your legs to assist your pullups.

This is a really efficient workout and you wont be resting at all, just going from one exercise to the next. Although this workout only uses three exercises, its a full upper body workout and hits every single muscle. The pushups work chest and triceps. The pullups work lats and biceps, and the crunches get your core.

Travel workout for the beginner (20min twice a week)

  • pushups: do as many as you can with good form. Then without any rest …
  • crunches: do as many as you can with good form. Then without any rest go back to pushups
  • pullups: do as many as you can with good form. Then without any rest …

Repeat the above until your 20 minutes are up. This workout is not only a great resistance training workout but its a great cardio workout as well and by the end of the 20 minutes you will be really huffing and puffing. Remember, just do as many repetitions as you can with good form. If you cant do traditional pushups with good form, then do them from your knees rather than your feet (see pushups for beginners). If you cant do good, slow pullups without swinging or jerking then do an assisted pullup – use your legs pushing off a chair to get yourself into the “up” position then lower yourself under your own power. Try to do at least 6 reps even if you have to use your legs to assist yourself up each time.

Travel workout for the intermediate and advanced bodybuilder

The travel workout for intermediate and advanced bodybuilders requires 30 minutes every day and its a repeating 4 day cycle with no rest days. You don’t need a gym or any special gear other than the 8 oz travel workout kit above and you can do this workout in a hotel room or a park. Here is the workout:

Day 1: chest and triceps. (30 min total, 30s between sets)

  • Backpack pushup
  • Basic pushup
  • Squeezing pushup
  • Extra-wide pushup
  • Hip pushup
  • … repeat …

Day 2: 30 min running or jumping rope

Day 3: lats and biceps. (30 min total, 30s between sets)

  • Pullups holding suitcase between legs
  • Underhand pullups with suitcase with suitcase held between legs
  • Narrow grip pullups
  • Alternating grip pullups
  • Ledge pullups on door
  • … repeat …

Day 4: 30 min running or jumping rope

Since we did high weight with low reps before the trip we are going to switch it up during the trip and do high rep low weight. Doing 30 minutes of exercise per day is a good tradeoff, it gives you an incredible workout in a minimum amount of time. If you really want to up the intensity, between the sets do crunches or bicycles instead of resting 30 seconds!!! Its important to note that in this int/adv travel workout you need to adapt it to what you have available. If you don’t have a backpack then skip the backpack pushups and substitute one of your favorites, try clapping pushups. The most variation will come in your lat/biceps workout depending on what kind of bar you have available. For example, if you only have a sturdy bathroom door available then you will only be able to do three kinds of pullups: ultra wide grip and normal width pullups with your nose to the door and narrow grip pullups with your nose on the edge of the door. If you only have a tree limb and your portable pullup bar setup available then you will only be able to do narrow grip pullups. Adapt the workouts as you need to but include as many variants of the exercise as you can think of.