This week, I'm reporting from the chilly West Coast. (No, really. It was 94 back home today, mid-60s here. Brrrr!) What better
way to keep warm than with some training?
When hitting the road, it's always a good idea to plan ahead to take advantage of your location. For example,
most hotels have fitness centers (of widely varying quality), a beach trip can feature lots of water activities
(swimming, snorkeling, bodyboarding, wind surfing, etc.), and a trip to the Bay Area can (and should) include
hiking and biking and, of course, hill walking.
But what about strength training? A hotel might have weight machines but few have the much more versatile--and really,
just better--free weights. Another option is to bring some travel-friendly equipment with you.
(not like U2,
but giant, super-strong rubber bands) travel well and are very versatile. Suspension trainers
is the most well
known) offer plenty of options with a doorway attachment.
But there's an alternative that's always available: bodyweight training. And that's what I've got going on this week. At
, rather than targeting specific muscles we focus on covering basic movement patterns: push, pull, hinge,
squat, and lunge, plus some core stabilization work. So here's my quick but thorough workout for this week, with
some suggestions for modifications to make them easier and/or harder. This will be only quick introductions to the
movements rather than detailed explanations. As with all such exercises, having someone who knows what they're doing to
help you learn the movement is invaluable.
: Hip hinging is an often overlooked, but extremely important training movement. A couple of the most common
loaded exercises here are deadlifts
. With just bodyweight, we can use hip raises (sometimes
called hip bridges). For the basic version, lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat, then push up through
your heels to get your hips in line with your torso and thighs, squeeze your glutes, hard, then lower. When done correctly,
it's harder than it seems, but if that's too easy, use one leg at a time.
: This is the only one that requires more than a floor because if you're going to pull your bodyweight, you need
something to hold onto. Fortunately, suitable things are pretty easy to find. Here, I'm using that old standard: pull-ups.
(By convention, a "pull-up" is done with the palms facing away; a "chin-up" with palms facing toward you.) Things to
pull-up on include tree limbs and ledges. (If you have strong fingers, a sturdy door frame will work.) I went with the
ledge. If pull-ups are too much, stand on a sturdy bench or chair and use your legs--only as much as necessary--to help
you complete the movement.
: These are notoriously hard to do correctly, with a strict vertical movement of the hips. I like split squats
because they put you in the lunge position and keep you there for all your reps making it easier to focus on consistent
form. I'd rather do them while holding dumbbells, but they're good unloaded as well. (You can always improvise loads,
of course, by holding buckets of water, for example. Or sacks of cats.) If these are too difficult, hold on to something and use your arms to assist the movement.
: The easiest one to answer, thanks to the classic pushup. There are far too many variations of this basic movement
to even scratch the surface here. But the basic version is fine. Too easy? Put your feet up on a box. Too hard? Put
your hands on a box or table (higher = easier).
: This is another one of those neglected movements that is very difficult for most people (like me!) to do correctly, which
is unfortunate since it's not only an extremely important movement, it's one we grow up doing perfectly but lose along
the way. The goal is to get your hips low enough that the top of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor. But
it's important to do the movement by pushing the hips back to take stress off the knees and quads and move it toward
the powerful (but neglected) glutes and hamstrings. A good way to develop this is by squatting down to a chair or box,
lightly touching your butt to it, and pressing up through your heels. Keep lowering the box until you get the
thighs-parallel position, then eliminate the box which will enable a bit of bounce off the bottom. Too easy? Slow
it down. Take three seconds on the way down, pause, and take three seconds on the way up.
: Planks and side planks. That's all I have to say about that.
You can do these as a circuit: do one set of each and then repeat them all one or two more times. It doesn't take a lot
of time, but it does a lot of good. So next trip, give it a shot. Heck, you can even do it while you're home!
Be seeing you.