Over the years, Ina and I have come to realise that there are a few key things that keep us happy and sane no matter where we are and what we’re doing. One of those things, is staying on our training game.
Now you might think that staying in shape would be pretty straight forward right? With thousands of cities to choose from in hundreds of countries, surely it’s easy to find gyms on your way around this big, blue and green, spinning marble? Wrong! The world is a very big, diverse place when travelling, and it’s an absolute mine field when it comes to training and eating right.
We’ve done a fair bit of travelling in our few years together and we’ve seen the best, and the worst of what the world has to offer in terms of training facilities and healthy eating, so we’ve put together a little survival guide to hopefully help you a little while you try to stay on your game whilst also staying on the road.
- Plan, Plan, Plan - Might sound like a given that you would plan your route when travelling, but have you taken into consideration when/where your next chance to get a session in will be? I always plan my stop-overs at least 2-3 weeks ahead, so that I can ensure that I know when my next workout will be. This also helps you to plan the best way to train swell, as there’s no point following a 5 day split routine when you’re only going to get to a gym twice in a week. Which brings us to our next point……..
- Adapt your training - Sorry guys, I hate to break it to you but your traditional bodybuilding split just aint gonna cut it when you’re on the road. Be realistic about how many gym sessions you’re going to get in a week, and fill in the gaps with (and I hate to say it) cardio, and bodyweight sessions. I find the best way is to hit up 1-2 HEAVY full body weights sessions in the gym, followed by plenty of conditioning workouts using bodyweight, bags & anything you can get your hands on (stay tuned for a video on the soon). This should mean you hold as much of your muscle as possible, whilst remaining relatively lean and avoiding the typical bloated, skinny fat syndrome that tends to happen to long term travellers.
- Carbs, Make your choice - When you’re on the road (particularly in Asia) you have to accept that your days of clean Carbs like sweet potato are over. Welcome to the world of refined Carbohydrates. This is where you need to make a choice, and it will usually depend on how you as an individual react to refined Carbs. Do you cut the Carbs out, and inevitably lose some muscle tissue, or do you keep them in and reside to the fact that you’re going to jiggle a little when you move and you’re not gonna hold onto that six pack you’ve been working so hard on? Personally i’m currently using carbohydrates to immediately replenish Glycogen post workout but avoiding them at all other times, so that usually looks like high protein, high fat, meals for the entire day except my post workout meal where I will try to consume a large quantity of Carbohydrates (100g+). This is trail and error, so I would advise seeing what works for you.
- No more 6 meals a day - Unless you’re planning to hide yourself away in a little apartment somewhere, which you'll leave only to train, and not see any of this beautiful world we live in, then you should probably get the idea of regular/consistent eating out of your head. Again, I speak only from my own experience, but I go back to the traditional 3 square meals a day, just like your mama used to tell you :) Make these meals as calorie dense as possible (high protein, high fat), and then fill in the gaps with fresh fruit and any other healthy snacks you can get your hands on.
- Put the beer down! - Remember, you’re not on a 2 week holiday with the lads, you're in this for the long haul and alcohol is probably the biggest eraser of all your hard work that’s out there. Aside from the calories, alcohol also lowers Testosterone levels and increases Cortisol, meaning you’re on a one way track to skinny fat, not to mention the fact that you’re going to be far less inclined to train when you feel as if you’ve just been hit by a truck, the morning after a night on the buckets! Which brings us nicely to…..
- Hydrate! - If you’re serious about your training, you’re probably guzzling back several litres of water a day when in you’re back home, well news flash, if you’re in a hot country, you’re gonna need considerably more. As an active, adult male, if you’re drinking any less than 6 litres a day when you’re in the heat then it just won’t cut the mustard i’m afraid. Water is the most important thing in your diet, so make sure you get plenty of it!
- Sleep! - This one should be pretty easy for most of you. Yes, the same rule applies when travelling as it does back home, if you want to recover, grow, and develop your body then you need to get a solid nights sleep. Even if it means paying a little more to get a private room instead of a rowdy dorm room, your body will thank you in the long run and your workouts will significantly benefit.
- Get your wallet ready - Yes unfortunately in the places where you will eventually find decent gyms, allot of them are going to cost you almost what you’d pay back home. Why? Because a)They’ve got you by the short & curlys as you need them and they know it b)They are usually run by expats that know the cost of gyms back home. **Money Saving Tip** Most major cities around the world will have one of the big gym chains present, who will almost always offer a Free 1 day trial on their website. If you plan ahead enough you can usually blag your way into most of them as a potential new member. They don;t need to know you’re never coming back ;) We’ve just spent the past week touring almost every Fitness First in Singapore on their Free passes and saved ourselves an absolute fortune! (See our video of how we did it here)
So by now you should have a pretty good insight into how my training and diet have had to evolve in order to try and stay in shape. I’m not going to lie, it’s bloody tough, but it’s totally worth it! I am now in a position where i’m able to sit here, on the beautiful island of Tioman in Malaysia, writing this blog for you guys, whilst the sun begins to set over the horizon. I planned ahead so I know there’s no gym here, which means hiking in the morning before the sun is at it’s peak, followed by some TRX exercises off a palm tree……………It’s a hard life for some ;)