Create Your Own Workouts at Home or While Traveling – Bodyweight Fitness for Travelers

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Create Your Own Workouts at Home or While Traveling

When I first started traveling all the time, I thought I was making compromises.

Flying in a plane from Colorado Springs to Raleigh, NC, I would feel absolutely destroyed and demotivated.  Then, getting into my hotel room and doing a bodyweight workout just to “stay active” made me resent traveling all together.

I was into barbells.  I wanted to be strong, and squat 400 lbs.  Thats what all my friends were doing.  That is what people think is the only way to get incredibly strong.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love barbell work.  There is nothing like moving a heavy load, and feeling strong.  I started looking for ways to get my barbell workouts done on the road.  I signed up for gyms that were in my destination.  I set meetings and plans to go to the gym at certain times.

It just never worked out.  It’s too complicated to get all of those ducks in a row for every trip I was taking.

Then, I started to plan my travel differently.  I would travel once every 4 weeks, giving me time at home to do a very high intensity, low duration program.  I would do a two-per-day split routine 4x a day, and feel like hell for four weeks.  Then I would travel and take my rest period.

It worked well for quick, short term gains.  Really, it was quite remarkable.  But, it wasn’t sustainable.

It wasn’t long until I lost most of the progress I made on my barbell work. I couldn’t sustain such high intensity work over a long period of time.

At the end of my rope, I nearly gave up on being strong.  I thought about just being one of the washed out masses that runs to “get the blood flowing” and doing insane amounts of pushups in a futile attempt to be fit.

I took some time to reflect on the situation.  I just needed to find a way to make them work.

I needed a framework.

How I Created The Framework

I took a look at my goals.  A long hard look at them.

I realized that most of them were bodyweight fitness related.  Only a few were related to barbells at all.

I had been training handstands, flags, and front levers for years as part of my gym routine.  These workouts can be done anywhere. Why did I feel so attached to the gym, then?

On top of that, its no secret that those people who train gymnastics skills have a higher degree of translation to nearly every other sport.  Even Georges St. Pierre agrees.

“Gymnasts are the best athletes in the world.  They can do movement nobody in the world can do.” –  Georges St. Pierre

“If you take 10 athletes from 10 different sports, and make each athlete play everyone else’s sport, on average, the guy who is going to do best in everyone else’s sports is the gymnast.” – Firas Zahabi, Head Trainer of Georges St. Pierre

I realized then, that my love of fitness and love of travel could work together.  I could be on the road, experiencing the world, while being incredibly strong.

It wasn’t even that hard, I just needed to define what I wanted to do, plan how to accomplish it and test my results.

Step 1: Define

Set a goal.

I talk about goals a lot.  A whole lot.

That’s because they work.

The first step to being a success on any program is setting up your goals.  Find some bodyweight fitness goals and just write them on paper.  Here are the most common ones that I hear from my friends:

  • 10-Sec Freestanding Handstand
  • 1 Handstand Press
  • 1 Muscle up
  • 10-Sec Back Lever
  • 5-Sec Front Lever
  • 5-Sec Planche
  • 10-Sec Flag
  • 10-Sec Elbow Lever

There are also a whole lot more on this list of Skill Guidelines (free) and in Overcoming Gravity by Steven Low (paid).

Step 2: Plan

Create a plan with action items, based on your goal.

If you can’t do a handstand, that should be your first goal. You can try our free 1-Minute Handstand course (keep an eye out for more in the future).

In the future, I anticipate making more pre-made plans for my readers.  If this appeals to you, send me an email explaining your goals, and I will push it up the queue based on the crowd’s interest.

If your goal is anything else, then you should do your research on that skill.  Just like with the Handstand Program, dedicate only 5 minutes a day to researching that skill.

If you want to jump head first into a metric ton information, read Overcoming Gravity.  If you want to start with good, free online resources Here are some good places to start:

Remember to keep your plan simple.  When I cut out a lot of the useless crap in a routine, I have found that one only needs to do a 30 minute workout session per day to get stronger, and skills like the handstand only take 5 minutes per day of consistent work.

But wait, how can things like the muscle up and front lever be done without a pull-up bar?

For years I used a plank of wood, cut to length, that fit into my suitcase.  Whenever I settled into a hotel or friend’s place, I would bring two tables or desks together. I would then perform my front lever and muscle up work with the piece of wood, suspended between two table.  You *can* work muscle ups like this if you are careful and know what you are doing.

Also, you can carry a set of rings around.  In the summer time, its fairly easy to find a place to hang them.  My rings have been hung on trees all over the US, including in Rochester, NY, New York, NY, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX and San Francisco, CA.

Step 3: Test

At a regular interval (I do it 1x a month), test your current level of skill.

I find that by testing my skills once a month, I surprise myself on my capabilities.

There is something about a set routine that keeps us held back.  It makes us think that our current capacity is stuck at our training capacity.

With bodyweight skills, testing your skill level one level above your ability is crucial.  Every single time I have done this, I found that I was further along than I hoped.

For example, when I was working on my first handstand, I would hold it against the wall for as long as possible, and not make any progress on freestanding holds.

When I decided to test my abilities one-step beyond where I was currently stalled, I shocked myself that I could hold a 15 second handstand without even trying.  My training got me to the point, I just needed to push myself to try.

If, for some reason, you are not progressing towards your goals, seek out a different plan.  Ask me (in comments or email) or someone else on the bodyweight track for some help.

There are many ways to get stronger with bodyweight fitness skills, and if something isn’t working, dump it and find something that does work for you.

Summing Up

Training bodyweight skills is not a compromise.  You don’t need barbells or a gym to be stronger than most people, nor do you need a special place to work on bodyweight fitness skills.

With the right framework, you can define goals, plan a course of action, and test your progress.  You will get results if you stick to this framework.

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