Skip to main content

Training on the road – Keeping the fat off whilst on holiday or vacation

By August 6, 2010January 13th, 20175 Comments

Many of us like to maintain our shape when traveling for long periods of time abroad, but we don’t often think about the gym at all when we travel

It can be a hard task – Drinking too much, eating our weight in exotic foods and then there’s the exercise part (or lack there-of). The only form of activity seems to be lifting ourselves onto a deck-chair.

Is there a way to counter all of this man-boob-creating negativity? Absolutely.

Don’t get me wrong

You will not improve your physique in this scenario. It’s all about maintaining your physique, and keeping fit whilst you’re on holidays. After all, you aren’t on holiday to increase your muscle-mass, you just want to look as good as you were before you left. Right?

So how the f*%k do you find the time to train?

Take it easy Angry Man. It’s easier than you might think. When you wake up in your hotel room do a set of 20 incline pushups with your legs on the bed, then bust into 20 close-grip pushups. Now do a set of dips. Repeat this 4-5 times. In 15 minutes you have just done chest and triceps.

How easy was that?

Simple is the key to staying fit on the road

To stick to your training whilst on the road, you need to keep any sessions you plan to do REALLY SHORT. The simple fact is, you won’t stick to it if it becomes long, labored or gets in the way of your actual holiday.

Train in your down-time

As an example, most times my girlfriend took a shower on our last holiday, I’d do a 15 minute mini-workout. Most times she would be none-the-wiser. No consequence. Resume Holiday.

15mins a day whilst on holidays?

I’m talking about maintenance here, so we don’t need high volume or massive weight to try and increase muscle-mass. By all means, make the exercises as difficult as you like by elevating body parts for chest etc.

It’s all about intensity

You are aiming for high intensity to keep fat levels at bay, and to keep your muscles stimulated so when we get back to training at home again, you will still be conditioned.

What about cardio?

By all means, go for a run or do some sprints if you have the time. The problem is, the majority of us would rather be down at the pub or laying in the sun on holidays. This is where the intensity of your 15min workouts is of paramount importance.

Think of it as a form of HIIT on a smaller scale. The only other way to negate the need for cardio is to limit your calories on days when you’ll be lying by the pool. This is going to be difficult when your daily pool-side adventures includes a Margarita or 10, so consider implementing a day of ‘fasting’ into the week.

Not eating whilst away? WTF!

What about the 20 hours you spent on the plane to get to Europe? I’m pretty sure you could give up all of that yummy plane food if you really wanted to.

So your bus transfer from City A to City B is 6 hours. How about not eating on the bus ride, skipping dinner and not eating until the breakfast buffet in the morning. As you can see,fasting can be done during times when nothing else is exciting enough to warrant you to consume unnecessary calories.
For more information on fasting, I recommend checking out Eat-Stop-Eat by Brad Pilon.

The travel gym - Keeping the fat off whilst on holidays

Make things harder for yourself whenever you find an exercise too easy. Hotel chairs come in handy for a variety of exercises.

Does all of this bullsh*t work?

Speaking from personal experience on my last trip away – Absolutely.

I took 4.5 weeks off from the gym, completed my mini-workouts whilst away and came back to the gym in Sydney still conditioned. Granted, I wasn’t lifting as much as I was before I left, but 1 week back on the gym floor, and I was back to where I was before I left. Goal Achieved.

The 3 Workouts

Here I will split up body parts into 3 days calling them A,B and C.

If you want to train 4 days, then repeat A on your 4th day. If you want to train more than 4 days, you probably need a mental health check. You’re on holidays buck!

Workout A – Chest, Triceps (15 mins)

Do all exercises one after the other as a circuit, then repeat 4-5 times. Rest maximum 30 seconds between exercises.

ExerciseSetsRest Interval
Pushups (feet on bed to make it harder, or on knees to make it easier)4-530 secs
Close-grip Pushups (make a diamond shape with your hands and bring them into your chest. Use knees, bed as above to alter difficulty)4-530 secs
Tricep dips (use the room chair and dip in a controlled motion. Raise feet to increase difficulty)4-530 secs

Workout B – Abs, Legs (15 mins)

Do all exercises one after the other as a circuit, then repeat 4-5 times. Rest maximum 30 seconds between exercises.

ExerciseSetsRest Interval
Squats (Use body weight or hold your suitcase to increase the weight)4-530 secs
Lunges (Use body weight or hold your suitcase to increase the weight)4-530 secs
Abdominal crunches4-530 secs
The travel gym - Keeping the fat off whilst on holidays

Use items you are travelling with to perform bent-over-rows

Workout C – Shoulders, Back, Biceps (15 mins)

Do all exercises one after the other as a circuit, then repeat 4-5 times. Rest maximum 30 seconds between exercises.

ExerciseSetsRest Interval
Shoulder press (use your suitcase, and raise overhead. If needing more weight, do handstand push-ups)4-530 secs
Bent over row (use your suitcase as the weight)4-530 secs
Chin-ups (if there is a doorway or bar in the room you can use. Skip if not)4-530 secs
Bicep curls (use your suitcase or any other heavy objects available)4-530 secs

Editor’s note: These workouts can be altered to suit your tastes. It’s all about improvising with what you have at hand. What are some of your own traveling exercises you use to keep the fat off whilst on holidays? Comment below.

Clint Nielsen

Author Clint Nielsen

Clint is a dad and husband trying to stay in shape. He's also a highly opinionated fitness enthusiast and author of Reveal The Steel. Follow him on: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Google+

More posts by Clint Nielsen

Join the discussion 5 Comments

  • Harlet says:

    i spent 36 hours straight in a mafia run establishment in bolivia – i came home 10kgs lighter!

  • Hey Clint,

    Excellent advice! One of my first jobs out of college required me to travel 5 to 6 days per week. I went from being a 185 athlete with 6 – 8% bodyfat to a 230 lb. slob that high high blood pressure, blood sugar, cholestrol and painful gout attacks. If you travel for a living, you MUST take care of your body.

    The tips you laid out are the exact same ones I follow now when I hit the road…now mainly for fun not work. I fast the day before I leave or the day I am traveling. I do bodyweight workouts in my room or hit the hotel gym if I have time. I do some HIIT by doing stationary sprints in my room….or I pack a jumprope. Then I usually fast again on the way home or the day after I return.

    Not only does this help me not gain any weight on my trip while still enjoying as much food and drink as I want, sometimes I even LOSE weight (which really pisses my wife off).

    Thanks again and have a great weekend!

    ~ Pete

  • Clint,
    Love all the ideas you put out there! Bodyweight exercises are certainly effective at maintaining, if not building, muscle, and can be done anywhere. Incorporating fasting during travel time is a great idea as well. Innovative use of a suitcase as well!

  • physical therapist says:

    Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

  • Clint Nielsen says:

    Now there’s some ‘motivated’ sprint training ;)

    Packing a jumprope is interesting. I say that as I think my girlfriend would find it ‘interesting’ at first then probably offensive.

    There is so much exercise equipment laying around the hotel room, you just need to improvise whenever you can.

Leave a Reply