Working out while you travel can make your adventure so much more enjoyable by giving you energy, improving your circulation from prolonged sitting, and ups your metabolism so you can indulge a little without gaining weight.
Keep in mind, balance is everything and if you are only going on a one week vacation, it might be better to either skip your workouts altogether and just chill out, especially if you normally train with a lot of intensity, or just do the first workout below because it is great for offsetting too much sitting in a lounge chair drinking piña coladas.
We’ve put together this travel workout guide with 5 different styles of workouts to meet your fitness needs while traveling. Most of these travel workouts require little to no equipment, however, I did include two workouts with equipment for those athletes that are looking to maximize strength while road tripping or want some inspiration on workout routines they can do at gyms while traveling.
Fitness Equipment for Travel
You might need to invest in a little bit of equipment, however, if you really don’t have the space for it while you travel, you can do without and skip the exercises at the end or make slight adjustments to some of the Swiss Ball movements and do them off an elevated surface or skip them altogether.
For us, we travel in our RV with just a few pieces of equipment:
- 20# dumbbells
- 65 cm swiss ball
- a yoga mat
- monster mini jump stretch band
- push up bars
- suspension trainer
- exercise tubing
Although, for a few years Victor traveled with his barbell and 205 lbs of plate weights so that he could workout in the campgrounds. Can you imagine how bad our fuel efficiency must’ve been?
You could easily travel with just the jump stretch band and the travel yoga mat if you’re going abroad.
Glutes + Core
No equipment needed!
This functional workout focuses on establishing strength in the glutes and core, which tend to get weaker as your hip flexors shorten from prolonged sitting.
This workout also included push ups to give you a total body workout.
Prehab type workouts like this are the secret to the fountain of youth because they help you maintain balance among the muscles and joints so that you can play harder, longer, and better.
Here are 3 ways I’d integrate this type of workout:
1 | The no-sweat-feel-good workout.
This workout can be one complete workout in and of itself, especially if you are looking for just a “feel good” workout that wakes up some dormant muscles from prolonged siting (think road trips and long haul flights) and energizes you without having to sweat.
2 | The goal driven athlete.
This is actually the workout I do the most because it trains the smaller muscles that don’t get used as much in my adventure sports. If you actively play sports, this is a good warm up routine to your more intense workouts below or a great warm up before your hike or MTB (that’s why the VMO exercise is included with this workout routine).
This is a great workout for long road trips, long haul flights, or if you have a job where you sit a lot– yes, I’m looking at you 👉 fellow bloggers 🙋🏽♀️.
1 | Side Lying Leg Lift
Leg completely straight, foot flexed, make sure you are completely on your side. You should feel the movement in the outer hip. If your feel it in the front of your hip your are probably using your hip flexor instead of your hip/gluteal muscles.
2 | Bent Leg Bridge
Drive through the heels. Aim for your knees, hips and shoulders to be in one line at the top of the movement.
3 | Alternating Single Leg Bridge
Keep the hips high and in one plane, don’t let your hips shift side to side. Press through the heels and contract your gluteals to help stabilize. Alternate extending one leg so that it is in line with knee and hip.
4 | Reverse Crunch
Feel free to bend the legs to keep your back on the floor. Press the belly into your spine and the lower back into the floor, try to have no space between the floor and your lower back. Lift hips off floor trying to not use momentum to execute the crunch. The movement can be very small.
5 | Partial Leg Lift
Lower your feet as low as you can while keeping your lower back touching the ground.
6 | Arch Up
Keep toes on mat, place hands behind the head, squeeze shoulder bladed together while you life chest and hands of the floor a few inches.
7 | Dolphin
Keep upper body on the floor, with straight legs lift the heels up as high as your can, trying to get the thighs to come off the ground.
8 | Push Ups
Keep your abs tight so that you maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your feet. Tuck your pelvis under slightly to avoid sinking in your lower back. If you cannot maintain this position then do a modified push up with your knees on the floor. Bend your elbows to ninety degrees, making sure your hands are wide enough that the elbows stay in line with the wrists, but your elbows should be lower than shoulder height. If there was a line between your thumbs and your chest you would touch it if you went all the way down. Keep you head in neutral.
9 | VMO Leg Lift
Sit on the ground with one leg bent and the other leg extended all the way out. Lean onto the hip of the extended leg and with the toes turned slightly outward and the floor flexed, pulse the leg up and down while focusing on squeezing the muscles right above the knee cap. This exercise is very important in keeping the knees injury free.
Sweat It Out Travel Workout
Now it’s time to get the heart rate elevated! This is the perfect HIIT workout to do if you just spent a night indulging too much 😉. The goal is to move from one exercise to the next as quickly as possible without sacrificing form. After you complete one round, allow your heart rate to come down significantly before repeating the sequence.
This is also a great workout routine to do at home if you have limited equipment.
1 | Jumping Jacks (1 minute)
I hope you know what these are 🙂
2 | Rock and Roll with a Jump (15 reps)
Place your hands lightly on your knees while rounding the spine and rolling back. Keep the spine rounded and the abs engaged while rolling back up. Draw the heels close to the glutes and drive through the feet to jump as explosively as possible.
3 | Swim Kicks (30 reps total)
Start lying on the floor with the legs up and perpendicular to the floor. While keeping the low back on the floor, alternate lowering one leg until it almost touches the floor, then switch.
4 | Walking Lunges (10 per leg)
Make sure your feet are hips width apart before stepping out to do your lunge. When you step out and make sure your stride length is far enough apart that your front knee stays over your front ankle. Descend with control, your back knee should come close to the ground without touching it. Squeeze your front thigh and gluteal while ascending.
5 | Squat Jump (15 jumps)
Start with feet shoulder width apart, maintain a natural arch in your low back while descending. Descend just as you would a squat, then jump as high as you can, driving through the heels, trying not to let your knees go over the the balls of the feet.
6 | Bicycle Crunch (30 reps total)
Keep the lower back pressed into the ground. Lightly place your hands behind your head and alternate touching opposite elbow to knee. Try to round and twist through the upper back so the shoulder blades alternate coming off the ground.
7 | Frog Jumps (15 reps)
Start with your knees apart and hands on the floor between your feet. Jump as far as you can and land, with control, in the same starting position.
8 | Hollow Hold (20 seconds)
Start by laying flat on your back, place the hands on the top of the thighs and round your upper back as if doing a crunch. At the top of the crunch position, start to bring the legs off the floor a few inches. If it’s too difficult to keep the lower back down, then bend the knees until the low back lies flat on the ground or keep the feet on the ground until your abs get stronger.
9 | Animal Walks
If our campground doesn’t have grass, which it usually doesn’t in the States, we skip the animal walks. I’ve found that most of my female clients don’t like to do animal walks, which is fine, but as awkward as they may seem, they are great for developing coordination, mobility, and power.
Rx: Do each of these animal walks for 30 steps in each direction.
- Bear Crawl Forward, Backward, and Sideways
- Crab Walks Forward, Backward, and Sideways
- Bonus: Add in High Knees, Fanny Kickers, and High Skips
Total Body Workout With Just a Swiss Ball + a Band
This is a great total body workout that can be applied to improve strength, size, or leanness depending on the rep range you choose, except for the triple threat which we recommend doing 15 reps of in each direction and the jackknife you should do for max reps.
1 | Bulgarian Squat
Elevate one foot behind you on a bench, block or ball being careful to select a height that doesn’t force you to arch the low back excessively. Bend the front leg to 90 degrees using a long enough stance that the knee of the front leg doesn’t pass the ball of the foot. The torso should lean forward slightly inclining forward over the working leg but not rounding. *You can skip using the Swiss ball and place the back foot on a picnic table, chair or just on the ground and make it a lunge.
2 | Back Dips
For this movement, you can place your feet on the floor or elevate them if you’d like more challenge. Place hands on the edge of the bench, chair or elevated surface with the finger facing forward. Bend elbows to 90 degrees or as far as comfortable, keeping elbows over the wrists.
3 | Swiss Ball Triple Threat (15 in each direction)
This combination involves three different movements each targeting a different area of the posterior chain. Start lying on the ground with the arms out to the sides and head resting on the floor. Place your heels and lower calves on the swiss ball for all three movements. The first movement is done with the legs straight and focuses on squeezing the glutes while lifting the hips up and down. The second movement is done with the legs bent at 90 degrees and focuses on the hamstrings while lifting the hips up and down. The last movement involves the low back, hips, and hamstrings and requires the hips to be held high without straining the neck while rolling the ball in and out.
4 | Swiss Ball Jackknife (max reps)
Place your hands on the floor and your shins on the swiss ball. Holds a tight plank position. If your hips sink, you will feel it in the low back which you don’t want. Lift the hips as you bring your knees towards your armpits.
5 | Rear Delt Pull
Hold the band just outside shoulder width at shoulder height. With the arms straight pull the band apart until the band touches the chest. As you separate the hands keep the shoulders down and squeeze the shoulder bladed together. If you need more or less of a challenge, you may need to upgrade to a different size band. The band I use in the picture is a #3, or 35# resistance band. You can also make it more challenging by doubling up the band.
6 | Clapping Push Up (max to failure)
Just like a push up but accelerate as you ascend so you can add a clap at the top of the movement.
Elite Athlete Body Weight Travel Workout
This is the workout I do when I want to have fun and challenge myself, but I don’t have any weights to use.
1 | Burpee (20-30 reps)
There’s nothing quite like a set of burpees to wake you up and get you ready to push yourself! Squat down and place the hands on the floor, jump back to a plank. From the plank, hop the feet back to the hands then jump powerfully up as high as you can.
2 | L-sit (10-30 seconds)
Using yoga blocks or an elevated surface. Sit in pike position (legs straight and in front of you) and press your feet and legs off the floor.
3 | Spiderman Push Ups (6-10 reps per side)
Do a push up while bringing one knee to the same side elbow. Your hands won’t be even like they are in traditional push ups. Instead, think of them being in a diagonal from one another with the elbow that touches the knee lower than the other hand and switch with each rep.
4 | Vertical Jumps (10 reps)
Make sure to swing your arms powerfully and jump as high as you can while controlling the landing.
5 | Handstand Push Ups (4-8 reps)
As a beginning option, start facing away from a wall and walk your feet up the wall. Eventually, you will get your feet up high enough and your hands in close to the wall to do some partial push ups in this position. The end goal is to be able to start facing the wall and kick up to the handstand with your back against the wall and then do push ups. Or have someone hold your feet.
6 | Standing Broad Jump (10 reps)
As you bend your knees, swing your arms behind you and bring them forward powerfully as you jump as far as you can landing in a squat position.
7 | Handstand Tap Ups (10 reps- try starting 5 with each foot in front)
Start with one foot in front and arms overhead. Visualize trying to keep a straight line from the arms overhead to the the toes of the back leg. Slowly lean forward keeping the body straight and tight. As the hands touch the floor use some momentum to kick up to a straight body position.
8 | Box Bound (10 reps)
Pick a height that is challenging but safe. Descend down with good squat mechanics and swing the arms to jump onto a safe elevated surface.
9 | Cartwheels (10 reps- try starting 5 with each foot in front)
10 | Tuck Jump (10 reps)
Jump up as high as you can and at the the top of your jump, bring the knees to the chest.
Pure Strength Travel Workout
This is a great workout if your travel takes you to a gym or if you road trip long term like us and want to carry dumbbells or even a barbell with some plates with you (or are we the only crazy ones who did this 🤷♀️).
Rx: Do this routine from top to bottom two timse through with a weight that fatigues you by 15 reps. For true strength gains, your RPE (rate of perceived exertion should be between a 6 and 8 and your rep range from 8-12 so adjust the weight accordingly.
1 | Shoulder Press
Hold a pair of dumbbells at shoulder height with the palms facing forward. Press the dumbbells overhead and together while keeping the neck long, ears in line with the shoulders, and scapula depressed.
2 | Alternating Bicep Curl
Start with the palms facing towards the body and as you bend one elbow, rotate the palm to face that shoulder. Remember to keep the elbow close to the body and pointing down.
3 | Overhead Tricep Extension
Hold one dumbbell in both hands and extend the arms straight overhead. Focus on keeping the elbows pointing upward and triceps parallel to one another as you bend the elbows and then re-extend the arms.
4 | Squats
While maintaining a slight arch in the lower back and the chest lifted, bend the knees so that the thighs get close to parallel to the floor. You should have even weight in the toes and heels and the knees shouldn’t go past the toes when you descend.
5 | Good Morning (aka Straight Leg Deadlift)
With a flat back, hinge forward with mostly straight legs until your back is parallel to the floor or you reach an end point in the stretch of the hamstrings. Then squeeze your glutes to return to standing. You should feel a nice stretch in the back of the legs for this one but use your butt muscles and not your back to bring you up to vertical.
6 | Bent Over Row
Bend the knees and hinge forward so that your back is almost parallel to the ground. With a nice arch in the lower back and the chest slightly lifted, start with the dumbbells handing under your shoulders then squeeze your shoulder blades together as you draw the elbows up past the rib cage.
More Fitness Resources:
- Yoga for Surfers
- Yoga for Hikers
- How to Train for a Strenuous Hike
- Yoga for Climbers (coming soon)
- Best Tools for Myofascial Release