Complete Guide To Working Out Anywhere
Shannon Clark, BPE, AFLCA
With everyone leading incredibly busy lives in today’s day and age, it can be challenging to find time for fitness. Sure, you realize that keeping active and staying fit is the healthy choice, but this is easier said than done. You don’t have time to drive to and from the gym each day, along with getting in an hour-long workout.
Does this mean you should give up on achieving a higher level of fitness? Certainly not. It’s a myth that you need to spend hours each week exercising to see great results. Likewise, it’s also a myth that you even need to be in a gym for a program to work.
The fact is, you can easily formulate a workout routine that gets you results and goes with you wherever you happen to be travelling.
This is great news because keeping fit has so much to offer. When you improve your fitness level, you will:
- Have a much easier time with bodyweight control1
- Strengthen your bones and joints2
- Combat stress3
- Improve your heart health, reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease4
- Enhance your immune function, making you more capable of fending off bacteria and viruses5
- Improve your self-confidence levels and self-esteem6
Pretty good reasons to get fit, right? Fitness offers too much to miss out on, so finding a way to get it in a must. As you’re about to see, it’s easier than ever before.
The following workout set-up is a great option for anyone who doesn’t have the time, desire, or financial resources to keep hitting the gym. Perhaps you work 12-hour days and have a family at home that demands you don’t stop off along the way. Or, maybe you’re someone who’s trying to save for a new house and that pricy gym membership just isn’t in the cards. Or, you might be a business executive who is constantly traveling for work, making it impossible to call any gym ‘home’.
Whatever the case, you can get fit anywhere. All you’ll need is your own body, a good pair of running shoes, possibly one or two pieces of travel-friendly equipment and some motivation.
What’s even more beneficial is that using this approach can actually help you see better results. The truth about fitness is that often, less is more. Take those people who hit the cardio machines for an hour each day. Chances are, two months later, they aren’t looking a whole lot different than when they first started7.
With a short, but sweet workout that you can do anywhere, you reduce the risk of this ever happening to you. Instead, you’ll come into each workout feeling fresh and ready to give 100%. And, when you put forth maximum effort into these short, but intense sessions, you’ll see far better results because you’ll spike your metabolic rate, causing you to burn calories faster for hours after the workout session. This lends very well to optimizing your fat loss results.
Likewise, the more intense you exercise, the better progress you’ll see in terms of your cardiovascular fitness level as well as your strength development.
So hopefully now you are convinced that you can get fit and you don’t need a gym or hours of time to do it.
Let’s talk about your protocol.
Fitness Fit To Go: Equipment Options
Before we dive into the details on what you will be doing, let’s talk equipment. Now, at the very basic level, you can perform a full body, intense workout session with just your bodyweight only. This is a fantastic option for when you are stuck somewhere without any equipment available and still want to get in a quick workout.
Too many people think that bodyweight training is just for very new beginners and can’t offer them much in the way of benefits. The workout you will be doing below will disprove this notion . Bodyweight exercises can be challenging if you structure them in the right way.
If you are looking to take things one step further, a set of resistance bands is a great option. These bands are easily portable, so you can take them with you wherever you happen to be going. Place them in a suitcase, in your briefcase for work, or you can even tuck them into your purse. They’re so lightweight, you won’t have any issue traveling with them either. Even better is that you can perform almost all the same exercises you would at the gym with a set of dumbbells with your resistance bands instead.
Finally, for those really looking to step it up a notch, you can also pick yourself up a suspension trainer. These are devices that you use to help destabilize the body, working your muscles in a totally new and exciting way. These will require a door frame or a tree (or overhead beam of some type) to hook up into, but as long as you have that, suspension trainers can be a fun way to get fit as well. They’re not as popular as the two previous options, but know that they are there for you if you wish.
Structuring Your On-The-Go-Workout
Now it’s time to get into the details of the approach. The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to achieve with your sessions. Do you want to achieve maximum fat burning? Are you hoping to gain muscle strength? Or, maybe you want a bit of both?
You must have a clear idea what your goals are because it’s that direction that will help you formulate a plan that delivers results. Since you are so busy, every second you spend doing your workouts needs to count. There is no room for error, so having that clear vision is a must.
If you’re looking to see maximum fat loss, your focus should be on performing exercises that utilize as many muscle fibers as possible while keeping your rest periods on the very short side. Circuit training or interval type of training works very well here. The shorter your rest periods are, the more of a metabolic response you’ll receive, meaning you burn calories for hours after the workout is completed.
You can also utilize things like supersets or giant sets where you perform two or more exercises back to back with no rest in between. These are an excellent way to intensify the workout, producing a greater overall calorie burn.
For fat burning, consider moves like burpees, mountain climbers, jump squats, jump lunges, push-ups, step-ups, plank holds, and pull-ups.
Your rep ranges should be higher for these exercises, going into the 20+ rep range for maximum results. Since you aren’t adding extra weight, doing higher reps is what’s going to help keep your muscles challenged while also creating the post workout calorie burn.8
On the other hand, if your goal is to build muscle, you’ll want to deliver maximum resistance to your body. Now, you might think this isn’t possible since you aren’t using free weights. Remember though, those resistance bands can be shortened to create more total resistance that you have to work against. Or, if that’s still too easy, use two bands. When you double up on the bands, you’ll get double the resistance and hence, better total results.
Then for any bodyweight movements you do, you want to slow down. Moving more slowly through the exercise is going to increase the total time under tension on the muscle tissue, which can then lead to better overall results.9
This is something that you may have never thought about while in the gym doing traditional weight lifting because you were just too focused on adding more weight. Sometimes you can actually see better results by adjusting other factors of the exercise execution (such as speed/tempo) and really feeling the movement fully. Focus on the muscular contraction as you go through each rep and you’ll be seeing excellent results.
For muscle building results, focus on exercises such as band squats, band deadlifts, walking lunges, step-ups, band push-ups, pull-ups, band rows, band shoulder press, band bicep curls, band tricep extensions, and band lateral raises. Almost every movement that you perform with a standard dumbbell you can do with a band.
For this goal, you’ll keep your rep range lower in the 12-20 rep range while keeping your rest periods slightly lower. This way, you can achieve greater recovery between sets, ensuring that you can push yourself hard with each set you do and see maximum results.
Now let’s take you to your workouts. Below you’ll find three different workouts. Two that are geared towards maximum fat burning and cardio fitness improvement and the third, which is focused on building strength and muscle mass.
On-The-Go Workout #1: Bodyweight Circuit
For the following bodyweight circuit, you’ll want to perform as many reps as possible in a one minute time frame. If you need to stop and rest before that minute is up, do so, but pick right back up again as soon as possible. After the minute is up, rest for 30 seconds before continuing on with the next exercise. This workout will be done and over with in just 15 minutes. Make sure to do a very brief warm-up and cool-down before and after the session.
Lying Leg Raise
On-The-Go-Workout #2: Tabata Training
Tabata training is the most intense form of interval training out there, designed for maximum fat loss, and takes just 4 minutes. That’s right – 4 minutes total. If you can’t squeeze this into your day, fitness just isn’t that big of a priority for you.
What you’re going to do with this workout is select one full body movement and perform it as hard as possible for 20 seconds. After the 20 seconds is up, rest for 10 seconds and then repeat. Do this for 8 rounds total, forming the 4 minute workout. Be sure to do a brief warm-up and cool-down as well.
Good exercises to choose from for this workout include:
You only need to choose one exercise for each workout, so alternate between them as time passes on.
On-The-Go-Workout #3: Full Body Strength Training Routine
Finally, the last workout you can do is a full body strength training routine. For this one, you’ll complete the exercises as indicated, doing the sets and reps as outlined. Remember to really feel each rep as you do it. Think about the muscle you are targeting as it contracts and relaxes. That will get you optimal results. This workout should take about 25-30 minutes total and can be done up to three times per week on alternating days.
Band Push-Ups – 3 sets of 12 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets:
Band Squats – 3 sets of 10 reps, 45 seconds rest between sets:
Band Bent Over Rows – 3 sets of 12 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets:
Band Stiff-Leg Deadlifts – 3 sets of 10 reps, 45 seconds rest between sets
Band Shoulder Press – 2 sets of 15 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets:
Bodyweight Stationary Lunges (with slow speed) – 2 sets of 10 reps/leg, 30 seconds rest sets
Band Bicep Curls – 2 sets of 20 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets:
Band Overhead Tricep Extension – 2 sets of 20 reps, 30 seconds rest between sets
So don’t think that you need a great deal of time to improve your fitness level. With a little creativity, a good dose of motivation, and proper time management, you can achieve the fit and healthy body that you desire. And, as an added bonus, as you begin learning to make time for these workouts, it’ll teach you great time management skills that transfer over into other areas of your life as well. Time is no longer an excuse for you!
- Wu, T., et al. "Long‐term effectiveness of diet‐plus‐exercise interventions vs. diet‐only interventions for weight loss: a meta‐analysis." Obesity reviews10.3 (2009): 313-323.
- Haapasalo, H., et al. "Exercise-induced bone gain is due to enlargement in bone size without a change in volumetric bone density: a peripheral quantitative computed tomography study of the upper arms of male tennis players." Bone27.3 (2000): 351-357.
- Hassmen, Peter, Nathalie Koivula, and Antti Uutela. "Physical exercise and psychological well-being: a population study in Finland." Preventive medicine30.1 (2000): 17-25.
- Morris, J. N., et al. "Vigorous exercise in leisure-time: protection against coronary heart disease." The Lancet316.8206 (1980): 1207-1210.
- Nieman, David C., and Bente K. Pedersen. "Exercise and immune function."Sports Medicine27.2 (1999): 73-80.
- Fox, Kenneth R. "The effects of exercise on self-perceptions and self-esteem." Physical activity and psychological well-being13 (2000): 81-118.
- Epstein, Leonard H., and Rena R. Wing. "Aerobic exercise and weight."Addictive behaviors5.4 (1980): 371-388.
- Talanian, Jason L., et al. "Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women." Journal of applied physiology102.4 (2007): 1439-1447.
- Gentil, Paulo, Elke Oliveira, and Martim Bottaro. "Time under tension and blood lactate response during four different resistance training methods."Journal of physiological anthropology25.5 (2006): 339-344.
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