How to create a two-a-day exercise program that keeps you out of the gym. A common request I get is for workout tips while traveling. Many people have a good routine going at home and are able to eat and train consistently in their familiar gyms and in their own kitchen or at the restaurants they know well, but aren’t sure what to do once they’re away from that.
Physical fitness wasn’t meant to be confined to a gym. Very few of the goals one has in a gym setting can’t also be attained in the real world, yet most of the meaningful experiences you can have under the sun, in the water or in the mountains can’t be replicated anywhere else.
Ultimately, what we do indoors should be a means to facilitate the physical life that we lead outside. You train indoors to build strength, rehab injuries, correct imbalances and develop the capacities that you know you’ll need on the other side of that door. It’s a portion of what is generally necessary for a happy, healthy, fulfilling life.
It’s like the auto body shop where you take your car for maintenance, to get it detailed or to upgrade components. There’s not much point if you don’t actually take the car out on a real road and see what it can do.
Most of the movements people should be doing in a gym merely imitate what they would be doing if they didn’t live in Cleveland in February anyway. It was never meant to be the other way around. Gym life should reflect real life.
Forget about what you would do if you could bring your gym with you and understand that your gym is everywhere. It’s a physical life and a physical world.
Get outside and do what your body was meant to do. Swim, surf, run, jump, climb, play.
You don’t need a someone with a doctorate to explain to you the subtle nuances and theories of what your body is doing. You don’t need to read a book. It will work itself out. Just go.
Same with nutrition. How did we ever go so wrong that people actually need an expert with ten years of education to tell them what to eat for breakfast? Your ancestors weren’t out hunting and gathering Pop Tarts and there’s a reason you get diabetes when you take up the practice. Do what would come naturally if you weren’t living in a cage being fed corn and soy pellets and you’ll be fine.
Here’s a sample of my “workouts” for two days while traveling through Costa Rica on the Nicoya Peninsula.
Day One Workout One – AM
Lower Body – Quad Dominant Energy System and Capacity – Primarily aerobic with periodic maximal effort sprints which are generally short enough in duration to remain in the alactic range. Develop local vascular networks, mitochondrial density and improve cardiac output and left ventricular hypertrophy. Required Equipment – Kona Kahuna 29’er mountain bike, single track trail. Method – Ride the entire Pura Vida Ride trail system through the rainforest overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Duration – Approx 90 minutes.
Workout Two – PM
Upper Body – Back Dominant (horizontal/scapular retraction) and Lumbar Anti-Rotation (abs) Energy System and Capacity – Primarily aerobic, approximately 20-30 reps per minute at a high force output to develop oxidative capabilities of fast twitch fibers in the upper back musculature and anterior core. Required Equipment – Stand-up paddleboard, ocean. Method – Paddle a stand-up board around the furthest island in the bay in front of Pura Vida Ride, pause for several minutes to dive underwater and listen for whales, then paddle around the point into the adjacent bay and return. Duration – Approx 90 minutes
Day Two Workout One – AM
Lower Body – Hip Dominant Energy System and Capacity – Develop high-threshold fast twitch oxidative capacity, primarily in the lower posterior chain. Develop aerobic recovery capacity between maximal effort bouts. Secondarily develop upper body anterior chain (horizontal pushing/scapular protraction) fast twitch oxidative capacity and lumbar spine anti-extension stability. Required Equipment – Wristwatch (I.e. G Shock) or stopwatch with countdown timer and a beach with enough space for ten second sprint repeats. Method – Maximal effort barefoot sand sprint for ten seconds. Allow heart rate to recover to below 135 bpm. Perform eight explosive pushups, followed by a twenty second pushup position plank. Allow heart rate to recover to below 135 bpm and repeat for up to 20 reps. Duration – Approx 45 minutes
Playa Guiones, Nosara Costa Rica. Also a good place for a sprint workout.
Workout Two – PM
Upper Body – Back Dominant Energy System and Capacity – Develop anaerobic threshold with local emphasis on oxidative capacity of fast and slow twitch fibers in the upper body posterior chain (vertical pull, scapular upward/downward rotation/depression) and shoulders. Improve thoracic spine extension and the ability to maintain high levels of T-spine extension for extended periods during a fatigued state.Secondary emphasis on hip mobility and proprioception. Required Equipment – Surfboard, ocean. Method – Find the guys from Nosara Tico Surf School. Rent a board and go along to whichever beach they’re heading for that day. Bonus points for sessions at the secret break (4×4 access only) outside of town. Duration – Until sunset. Approx 90 minutes.
I know it’s not always possible.
But it’s not always impossible either. And “workouts” like this can be found almost anywhere in the world.I know there are reasons you’ve never tried most of the things you sometimes think about late at night when you can’t find sleep and start to wonder what else is out there. Those mental forays are pretty easily quashed though. You’ve got a job, you’ve got offspring, you’ve got a mortgage and you need save up for that sweet 52-inch plasma and get your car paid off so you can buy a shinier one.
Stop it. You’re going to die soon.