January 24 , 2012

Anthony

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I’ve been on an engineering work assignment in China since January 10th and since then I haven’t had any opportunity to visit a gym that has free weights greater than 45 lbs, olympic bars, or even a squat rack.  How in the world am I supposed to maintain my fitness level without training with the equipment I’ve been used to on a daily basis?  If you’ve ever been on a business trip that’s longer than a couple of days then I’m sure you’ve asked yourself that same question.  There are many ways you can maintain your fitness levels but how you maintain it on the road all depends on what exactly you’re training for in the first place and what equipment is available to you.

For example.  If you’re a typical runner that doesn’t incorporate strength training and heavy lifting and you’re training for a 10km race or marathon, then you can pretty much just bring your running shoes on your trip and head out for your tempo run or LSD.  If you don’t want to run outside then most decent hotels are going to have a treadmill that you can use.

If however, you’re training for slow-speed strength and you’ve been using heavy weights say 85-95% 1RM loads then you’re kind of out of luck unless you get your self a week pass at the local gym or Crossfit box.  Most hotel gyms aren’t set up with the equipment required for heavy strength training.  If you’re working in a place that doesn’t have a gym close by your hotel then unfortunately you’re going to have to stick to lighter weights or body weight exercises until you get back home.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing as I explain in the next paragraph.

If you’re training for power then you may be able to use some of the weights offered at the hotel gym to perform exercises like weighted jump squats, weighted split jumps, or ballistic med ball bench press throws.  Loads for power training are lighter than for slow-speed strength training 30-60% 1RM for lower body exercises like the jump squat or 46-62% 1RM for upper body exercises like the ballistic bench press throw with a medicine ball.  So you strength training people can switch it up with power training for your trip.

For me, I was following a Crossfit program that incorporated a combination of O-lifts, body weight exercises, and heavy lifting so I was extremely limited with what I could do at the hotel gym that I’m staying at.  In mycase I had to omit all the O-lifts and heavy lifting and create workouts that used body weight or the lighter loads available to me at the hotel gym.  There are tons of body weight, AMRAP-style exercises that anyone can do in your hotel room.    This link provides a bunch of body weight exercise work outs you can try (thanks to Dai for posting this).  Feel free to make up your own too!

If your hotel gym has some weights then you could do 4 sets of 10-12 reps of hypertrophy-style exercises that will give you a good pump.  If you mix in a quick 200m or400m run on the treadmill between sets, then it makes for a pretty good training session.  If you’ve got some extra time on your hands then you should try and find a good local place to hike and get some good pictures.  Exercising isn’t limited to your hotel room or gym (unless you’re training for either slow-speed strength increases or power remember).

Today I went to the Huairou District and hiked the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall for a muscle endurance workout session like no other.  Here are a few pictures of my adventure.

As you can see, some of the sections were crazy steep.  The hike was definitely a nice switch from my hotel room or hotel gym and the view was unbelievable.

So in summary: What you’re training for and the equipment that’s available to you will dictate what you can actually do.  If you don’t have the equipment required for heavy lifting for building strength, then you’re going to have to switch it up and perhaps train power with lighter loads.  No worries though.  A week or two of switching up your training program will do wonders for your mind and body.

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