Won't have access to the gym? The best solution for you!
January 9th 2019
I have been to places where there is no gym anywhere in sight. It begs the question, what is the best way to preserve my gains if I won’t have access to the gym?
What you will be doing and how long you will be gone for greatly determines your body’s ability to preserve your gains if you do not have access to a gym. For example, if you are heading to the ARMY basic training, be prepared to lose a substantial amount of muscle mass. If you are going on vacation for eight weeks, you will lose a minimal amount of muscle. So, it largely depends on what you are doing and the lifestyle you will adopt when you are not pumping iron.
How to get fit at home without equipment
If you are looking to get fit at home without equipment, there is good news. There are plenty of alternatives. There are thousands of programs and exercises that you can choose from. However, I would say this is even more important than having a home exercise program.
How consistent will you be? How badly do you want to get a workout in? Do you really want to change your life and physique for the better? Well, the most important thing, other than actually working out, is to be consistent with your workout.
For example, most programs that have you going to the gym force you to go on a consistent basis. There are no exceptions. You either go, or you are not following the program. This is also the reason why these same programs are widely successful, having lifters add on thousands of pounds on their max lifts through time.
So, I ask you. How often do you want to go to the gym? If you are just starting off and are looking to change your lifestyle, you must commit to it. No matter what circumstances arise. So, if you are thinking about doing home workouts 6-7 times a week, expect to do it for at least a year before stopping.
If you are starting a home workout program without equipment, I would say start off lifting 4-5 times a week. In terms of what exercises you should do, I have listed a few of my favorites that will guarantee you progress if you stick to a consistent workout schedule for at least one year:
How many sets and reps? Something that is challenging for you. 10 pull-ups for me is a moderate stimulus. For others, that may be a killer workout. For others, it may be a warmup. So, I would recommend that they do a few sets to near failure.
If you are participating in training like ARMY basic training, there is some bad news. You will lose some progress, depending on how much muscle you have. Due to the nature of ARMY training, you will be expected to lean down. As a result of their training environment, it is not optimal to stay muscular as you will be doing a lot of cardio and endurance based exercises. So, for now, you will lean down. But do not fear. There will always be many opportunities to regain your muscular frame and strength. Get your training done now; focus on one goal at a time.
Travel workout routine
If you need to travel and want to maintain a certain level of physique, there are some options you can take. If you just want to keep moving, going to a hotel gym or nearby gym is a great alternative. If that is not available, doing a few exercises in the hotel room like pushups, squats, crunches, suitcase rows, and lunges are all great exercises to do. How many sets and reps?
Why not do a circuit? Do 5 circuits of the following:
- 10 pushups
- 10 squats
- 10 crunches
- 10 suitcase rows
- 10 lunges
- Rest for 10 seconds
Your heart rate will be elevated after doing 5 circuits. When you are on the road and there is no equipment in sight, you definitely need to be creative.
But what if your regular workout program involves you going to the weight room? For the time being, just stick to what you have available. There is no point of being stressed about your workout environment when there is clearly no option available. If you are dedicated to hitting the gym while traveling, do your research and find out options where you can have equipment available. This is a lot of extra planning and potential costs but it depends on how you want to spend your traveling time.
Another option is to just enjoy your travels. If you have been training consistently for the past 3 years and there is an opportunity for a 5-week vacation with no gym available, you can just enjoy your vacation? Sure, you may lose some progress but traveling is a rare opportunity. Treat yourself and enjoy paradise.
If you frequently travel, a week every two months or need to take a flight every six months, you may want to consider what your fitness goals are. Obviously, frequent traveling will impact your fitness goals, whether you will admit it or not. So, it depends how serious you value your health, physique and strength levels.
Strength training while traveling
If you are a powerlifter or a strongman, you will need equipment. There is no other way around it because your competition forces you to lift heavy weights. So, the best arrangements are if you can locate places that have training equipment you desire. If not, you will just need to program traveling into your workout routine or just accept that you will potentially lose some strength while traveling.
I had some experience with traveling and strength training. I was going to Ohio for about 8 weeks for work training. However, I have not been to Ohio and did not do my research. It ended up being a good training experience because fortunately, there was a hotel-gym association. And the YMCA nearby had plenty of equipment, including weights and barbells. A perfect situation to stumble into. However, prior to going, I went on a 3 week trip to China. Let's just say that summer really screwed up my schedule for strength training. There is no consistency and if I tried to make a plan, it ended up making me miserable since I did not have any control over my schedule.
So, I have been on both sides, where I was able to strength train while training and where if I tried to strength train, the traveling experience was very poor. So, at the moment, I am leaning towards not planning your strength workouts if you are traveling. Unless you have full control and are willing to spend extra coin to make your workouts happen, it is all up to your preference.
If you are beginning to strength train or are looking for alternative workouts, definitely see if your hotel gyms have any equipment. Get a workout in with what is available. If there is no gym room, try some bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, pull-ups, and dips.
Another option is to bring resistance bands. If there is nothing available, a resistance band is better than nothing and can provide some resistance for exercises.
When it comes to bodyweight exercises, there is certainly not a lack of them. While there are some better than others, the most important aspect of training is consistency. Following consistency, you should be doing exercises that help you reach your goals. For example, if you are training for a powerlifting competition, you may want to consider making barbell compound movements, like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press, your main lifts. Everything else would either be a waste of time or just not enough stimulus to make your body adapt.
I had incorporated a bodyweight segment into my strength training program one time. I was training for basketball at the time and figured that doing bodyweight exercises would help me get stronger and to gain mastery of my own body mechanics. So, I incorporated a pushup/pull-up split, where I would go to the gym 7 days a week. I would just alternate doing pushups and pull-ups. I initially set my benchmarks at 40 pushups and 20 pull-ups as my minimum goals to hit. By the end of six months, I doubled my benchmarks and gained noticeable size and strength. While I do think that being consistent and having a clear goal in mind is crucial for long term progress, we cannot forget to get adequate sleep and nutrition. Doing everything I can inside the gym is great, but if you cannot recover from your workout, what is the point of breaking down your muscles to a point where your body cannot make the necessary repairs in time for the next workout because you only got 3 hours of sleep the last three days? That is just a bad way to make progress.
So, if bodyweight exercises are what you need to get to your goals of living an active and healthy lifestyle, feel free to create your own workout from the exercises below. How many sets and reps should you do? Until you are feeling fatigued or you are improving each week.
- Wall sits
- One legged squats (Pistol Squats)
- Calf Raises
- Handstand pushups
- Glute Bridges