Let’s face it, we all live hectic lives. Be it career responsibilities, family time, community engagements, errands or extensive travel, it’s often hard to find time for the activities that refresh and strengthen us. And when we do, achieving consistency is a feat in itself. So what does this mean for exercise regimens —specifically strength training— that require consistency for injury prevention and for gains? We get creative! With time, space and equipment.
Word to the wise, strength training is for everyone and it’s not just about getting strong or developing an enviable physique. But, hey, it can be about those things too! For those looking to jumpstart their fitness journeys, know that you can effectively burn calories, achieve a reduction in body fat and increase everyday stamina by increasing your muscle mass. Because muscle mass diminishes as part of the natural aging process, there is no time like the present to take action. For athletes who are looking to have that breakout season, know that strength training will improve your body composition and your game day performance. Think of it as foundation building for body and mind — increased bone density and increased mental acuity.
So you’re ready to embark on this building journey but you don’t know where to start. Your schedule is more than demanding. Perhaps you even don’t have access to a gym or you travel more often than you don’t. Let’s take a look at that last reality. We can still get it in and here’s how:
Know Before You Go
Many hotels and airports are answering the call to create hospitable exercise facilities for people on the move. Visit the websites of your departure and arrival airport or visit information kiosks to find out more. This is especially important for international travelers as federal regulations demand early arrival times. Why sit in the airport all day when you can move? Upon arrival to your hotel, tour the on-site fitness center and inspect the equipment. (SPRI outfits all Hilton brand properties.) If the hotel doesn’t have one —or if the equipment is in disrepair— ask about any partnerships they might have with local gyms. They may even extend the courtesy to guests if it’s not a normal practice or request, it won’t hurt to ask. Also, map the area in which you’re staying. There may be points of interest, intriguing strength classes or charismatic trainers you’ve heard about — check them out.
There’s an App for That
Research has proven that strength training programs should change every three to four weeks to ensure that the body does not become too accustomed to the work being asked of it. That being said, it’s important to know what your workout(s) will be in advance of travel. Being organized will help you stay on track but what if your program requires moves or equipment or a spotter and just can’t be done while on the road? Find alternatives. If working with a professional trainer, ask for modifications. If designing programs on your own, seek out mobile apps that categorize moves by body part, by difficulty, by goals desired. The great thing about these resources is that moves are paired with images and video of proper execution. Most smart devices also come with exercise tracking tools so that you can record and review your workout data to measure gains and assign future training strategies.
Pack This, Not That
Yes, strength training is typically performed in the gym with machines and free weights. But you needn’t have the classic tools to get the job done. Plus, can you imagine trying to pack dumbbells into your checked and carry-on luggage? You’d be charged an overage fee for sure! Rubber resistance to the rescue. Exercise bands are lightweight, inexpensive, can be rolled up, packed inside tight spaces and carried on the plane. One of the most versatile tools in any gym, the SPRI® Original Xertube® can be used for strengthening the entire body and difficulty can be modified by changing the speed of pushes and pulls and by shortening or lengthening grip position. Also try the SPRI® Flat Band Loop for moves to strengthen the lower body.
You Are the Gym
Body weight training is a highly effective —not to mention cost and time effective— modality to consider. The key to remember though is precision. It’s not just about doing as many push-ups, pull-ups, squats, and dips as possible in as little time as possible. To improve efficacy of body-weight moves, the proper muscles must be recruited to prevent faulty movement patterns and/or overuse injuries.
“You’re free to move about the cabin.”
Well, not really. Space is at a premium at 35,000ft and unless you’re seated in First Class or you’ve landed the coveted exit row, options may be limited. But here’s the deal, try to use your time on the plane not to build, necessarily, but to maintain and recover. While you may not be able to push barbells around, you can work to keep your body as loose and supple as possible so that when you land, you can get back to action sooner. This is an especially important note for folks who’ve lifted intensely before getting on a plane or sitting in a car for long stretches of time. A few tips (yes you’ve heard them before!):
- Walk It Out - Try to secure the aisle seat when flying and take strolls every 30 minutes or so making sure to reach towards the ceiling to elongate every so often.
- Roll It Out - We know that ankle mobility can improve the depth of squats and weight lifted so make certain to roll your ankles, flex and point feet while you’re seated.
- Knead It Out - Discreet and effective, the SPRI® Muscle Relief Massage Ball and the SPRI® Tiger Tail™ can be used to work out knots and increase range of motion which will yield greater performance when back on land.
- Knock it Out - Go ahead, you know you need it. You deserve it. Take a nap!
Remember, building size and strength doesn’t have to be a cumbersome endeavor. By employing these small, actionable steps you’ll be able to stay accountable to yourself when at home and on the road. What’s better, your body and your mind will thank you.