Training while travelling on the road
Since I just got back from the road and will be departing town again in a few weeks for the Christmas holiday I thought I would point out what I bring with me on the road to still do some training and how preparation is key. Now a first point here when on the road is I like to think about Pareto principle where the first 20% of your efforts give you 80% of your results. Now this isn’t always the case, but if you at least get in a gym and do your main movements and some basic conditioning you won’t fall apart when you are on the road for a week. So the key I use is to hit my main movement and then get in some simple body building style sets of ten on whatever assistance movements the gym I am at has available for me. On the road I’m not likely to find a Swiss bench bar or a safety squat bar, but I’m sure to find a straight bar so get in the work just not the fancy specialty bar work you typically do.
When travelling you will typically be limited on how much equipment you can take with you. Anyone that has been in strength sports knows that over a long enough period of time your gym bag starts to get the be the size of a hockey players equipment bag. I take all that I need in a simple backpack that is small enough to go anywhere with me and yet large enough to not be a problem going anywhere.
No that is not a bag of cocaine, but I hear it is a heck of a drug. This fits in a small plastic bag, some folks use a smaller Tupperware container or you can get a rock climbing bag to sit this in. Great for saving your hands and helping your grip on any movement where your hands touch a bar so pretty much everything. Some gyms are not a fan of its uses so I keep the next product in my bag:
These are simple short straps that work for any movement. If you find yourself in a gym where chalk is not allowed these are great for saving your hands and giving you a solid grip when pulling. Super cheap to buy and hold up to the test of time.
This is for occlusion work I have been doing recently. I also use voodoo floss bands for this. These obviously can be used on your knee for heavy training cycles to help you squat more weight, but they are light and small and easy to bring along.
These come in various strengths and sizes, but these Ironmind knee sleeves hold up to all of the training that I have been doing and are super small and light to travel with. These are great things when you are feeling a little beat up and keep you warm during your training. Definitely worth the money, but feel free to buy heavier knee sleeves to help with your training and knee health.
Simple athletic tape. Most gyms frown upon you bleeding on their equipment so if you open up a shin while deadlifting or rip your hand from pulling without chalk this is a simple way to give yourself some support and cover up the blood quickly.
I don’t listen to “mommy didn’t hug me enough as a child music” when I’m training (that often), but being at large gyms you will be at the mercy of the top 40 list or have to listen by proximity to the spinning class’s music so this is an easy way to mute that out. I’m a fan of cheap mp3 players since I’m rough on them. Charge before you leave town and perhaps have your charging cord with you.
I like to do weighted pull ups and dips there are a number of ways you can rig things up to work on the road (a later post will cover this) so buying a good dip belt has been worth the cost and it is just as solid as the day that I bought it. Key is it is light and pretty damn useful to have.
Who really wants to have to remember each little piece of lifting minutia in the back of their minds? Writing down what you do will always help you with keeping track of progress and otherwise. Plus, you can simply know what you need to hit that week and move on.
Not pictured: Fat grips
If you are traveling and you like the grip training effect and how pressing with a fat grip tends to be easier on your joints. These are relatively cheap and once again light so easy to pack with you. There are a number of grip fattening products on the market, these are simply what I have and enjoy using.
Not pictured: Lacrosse ball
Carrying a full sized foam roller or PVC pipe can be a bit much to travel with, but one lacrosse ball to roll out a bit with is easy to bring with you and inexpensive. A baseball or softball can do the same trick here.
Side note: smell
If your dirty Rhebands or lifting shoes are riding in the car with you for hours on end and then stuck in your room with you at night it is safe to say your significant other will likely not be happy about this. So either wash your gear before you go on the road or be sure to store your bag outside on a hotel balcony ledge or in your friend’s back yard so you don’t stink up the place.
Be nice and friendly and you can find people to train with if you happen to head back to the same cities time and time again at different points in the year. Every time I head to St. Louis or Louisville I know of gyms that I can go train at and people to even train with. If you are going on a trip to unfamiliar places, aside from using the googles, I’m a fan of using powerliftingwatch.com search for gyms function. Facebook is even a viable option and most gyms will at least allow for a drop in visit, but be prepared to pay some high prices for single visits. One thing you can exploit is some places allow for a 24 hour pass so go late one day and early the next, or do two session on the same day if your schedule can allow.
All this being said I like the line from Jim Wendler of: “when in doubt squat, if still in doubt run hills”. You don’t necessarily need to be in a gym when on the road, go find a hill or football field and just do some bodyweight work. Sometimes I will pack a belt or other gear, but this is all I need for my current programming. If you have anything you want to add or ask feel free to.