Wednesday Musings: The Definitive Guide to a Great Workout While Traveling

We’ve all been there, right? 72 hours into the family vacation, you’re on the couch watching Elf for the 15th time in a row, you are full of baked Christmas treats, and your once ripped  muscles have turned to something more resembling pudding. Ok so that’s only what happens to Jake on vacation? Whatever, sick humble brag.

If this does sound like you though, I’ve got an answer! Because even though you can take the client out of Haka, we want to make sure that Haka is always with our clients! As creative of genius’s as we seem to be, most of our workouts follow a pretty simple formula for success, and I want to share it with you. Here’s how you can create the perfect Haka workout yourself, no matter where in the world you may be!

1. Get Warmed Up

So the first thing you need to do before you get to working out is get a good warm up. Here is a link to a piece I wrote about the Haka Warmup in case you want a detailed description of what we like to do, but I’ll give you a brief summary.

  • First we want to prime our core with some type of isometric hold. Think planks, hollow-holds, birddogs, and deadbugs. I always recommend Birddogs and deadbugs as they give you the isometric hold you are looking for while also moving your limbs and challenge you to hold posture through changing posture.

  • Second we want to prime our working muscles for the exercises we will do in our main set by breaking them down into smaller chunks. Move like swimmer pulls, bridges, caterpillars, and kneeling touchdowns are great examples here. Think of the muscles and surrounding areas that will be worked with your main exercises and pick warm-up chunks that will help get those muscles ready to work!

  • Final part of the warmup is to bring some full body movements that will not only get your body coordinated with itself but also begin to raise our body temperature. Think bear crawls, cradle-lunge-twists, and skater-hops. These exercises should be done with full ranges of motion as while not necessarily done quickly, you want to move through them with purpose, no lollygagging!

Follow these steps with 3-4 exercises and you should be ready to go after 5-10 minutes of repeating these.

2. The Main Set

Here’s where we bring the pain! If you're anything like me than you aren't trying to dedicate an hour or more to a workout while on vacation, so we are going to try and keep this thing short, sweet, and intense! I suggest putting yourself either on a tabata timer (20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest), an EMOM timer (every minute on the minute, or whatever amount you want), or a time crunch (start with 3 minutes, take 20 seconds off the timer each round until failure). This will keep you on track as well as send your heart rate through the roof!

Now when it comes to actual exercise selection I have 3 pretty simple rules.

  • Get up and down. Incorporate exercises that force you to get on the ground. Pushups, kick-thrus, mountain climbers, and….burpees are all great options that will force you to get on the ground and then eventually back up. This will send your heart rate through the roof and instantly amp up your workout.

  • Move in different directions. Move forwards, backwards and side to side. Almost all exercises have an option to move in different directions and you need to incorporate them to maintain balance and maintain natural movement patterns. No point in building a nice pair of legs with walking lunges if you tear something the moment you have to step to the side!

  • Keep it balanced. In an optimal gym setting this means a balance of pushing and pulling as well as quad dominant work and hamstring dominant work, but in this setting I’ll just keep it at upper and lower. No one likes a beef cake with toothpick legs and having a big ol butt with skinny arms is reserved for the Kardashians. Try and keep it at a 1 to 1 ratio if possible and always try and include full body movements like burpees, kick-thrus, and bear crawls to ensure you keep it balanced.

Following these 3 guidelines when selecting exercises for your main set will ensure you get a balanced workout that not only will help you maintain strength, but will also provide a cardio aspect as well. How you choose to group up the exercises or how many rounds or repetitions is up to you depending on what kind of day it is, but keeping these main sets to no longer than 15-20 minutes is typically ideal.

3. Cool Down

This is probably the easiest part of the equation, but also the easiest to forget or ignore. But we say no! With travel comes lots of sitting and inactivity and as a result you likely need some stretching! I’ll make this one super simple and instead of giving you a way to pick some stretches, I’ll just give you the stretches you should be doing!

  • Figure - 4 Stretch

  • Half-kneeling hip flexor stretch

  • Windmills (of course)

  • Alternating child's pose reach

  • Down dog to pigeon

Doing these will hammer at tight hips, quads, and hammys as well as provide some movement and stretches for your back and trunk. All of these stretches can be found here and can be done anywhere and require no equipment which makes them optimal for travel as well!

Now remember, these are the rules for the quick and effective workout you can take anywhere. Not necessarily the recipe for the perfect workout when you are at the gym and have access to more equipment and time. But if you follow this you should be able to get a solid workout in that will help you hold on to the progress you’ve made as well as undo some of the damage that inevitably comes with traveling. Keep this in mind as you travel this holiday season as well as remember to enjoy the time you spend with loved ones. Cheers!