by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com

Over the years, I’ve been asked countless times what sort of strength, conditioning, or exercise routine one can use on the road. Usually, the question goes along the lines of:

“I’m going to be traveling soon and may not have access to a gym. What kind of workout can I do?”

Most folks think that just because they don’t have access to a commercial gym or their MMA gym that they can’t get a good workout in. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I know because I’ve recently done quite a bit of traveling.

You might have noticed I hadn’t had any articles up in a while. This is because I was just re-hired to go overseas to work in the Middle East for a government contractor. I’m currently in Diwaniyah, Iraq.

First, I spent roughly two weeks in Texas (I’m from North Carolina) for processing. Then, I spent a few days traveling overseas and then a few more days at a holdover station in Iraq. Though I was away from home and traveling the entire time, I was able to get consistent workouts in, simply because I used a little creativity.

You don’t need equipment to get good workouts on the road. Some equipment such as elastic tubing/band can make for great workouts and travel easy. We’re going to assume, however, that you have brought no equipment with you and have to use what you have available wherever you’re at to get good workouts in.

Here is a list of various things you could utilize – most of which I did at least once during my recent travels:

Good old-fashioned bodyweight calisthenics. Taking a page from Program #5 of my “Working Class Fitness – The Programs,” I did circuits of various bodyweight exercises, alternating movement types (e.g. – push/pull), and intensity/volume (e.g. – harder exercises for low reps & high sets or easier exercises for high reps & low sets). Virtually the only limit here is your imagination.

One real good workout I did one day in my hotel room was to alternate sprawls, jumps, and running in place. I’d run in place for a count of 6-8, jump up onto the bed x 5, run in place for count of 6-8, sprawl x 5. Rotate this circuit for 20 minutes non-stop. (Just don’t let the hotel staff know you’re jumping on the bed!!)

“Animal” training is also great. Bear crawls, crab walks, seal walks, etc.

Continuing on the last point, you could do virtually nothing but variations of Burpees and it would be all you need. Try all kinds of variations – with and without different kinds of push-ups and jumps. Maybe hold onto your suitcase (fill with clothes for a little more weight) and clean & press it with each rep. Make them harder by thrusting your feet back and up onto a high surface, such as the bed or a chair. Get creative. If you need motivation, search on YouTube for Burpees – you’ll come across all kinds of crazy ideas.

If you want a real challenge, try out the exercise I dubbed the “Ultimate Burpee” a few years back. Start standing, squat down, thrust feet back and apart, landing in the “up” position of a dive-bomber push-up. Perform one dive-bomber. Thrust feet back to the squat position and thrust body forward to the “up” position of a normal push-up. Perform one push-up. Thrust body back to the squat position, and jump up doing a tuck or star jump. Get to the point where you can do 10 sets of 10 with 45-60 seconds rest and you’re one tough mofo.

Shadowboxing and shadow-striking are good ways to keep your form good and work up a good sweat. Drill various combinations and work on your footwork by moving all around the hotel room.

Many hotels these days have some sort of fitness center. Call the front desk and see what they have. If they have a pool, go swim some laps. If they have a weight room, it probably won’t be much, but at least it will be something. If nothing else, most have a treadmill or elliptical machine that will be good for running some intervals on. A good treadmill interval workout I like is to warm up with easy jogging for 5 minutes, run hard for 35-40 seconds, rest by standing on the side rails for 20-25 seconds. Repeat intervals for 20-25 minutes. Cool down with some more easy jogging for another 5 minutes.

When all else fails, just go for a run. Map out an easy route – something that you know you’ll be able to find your way back to the hotel on. It’ll be a good way to get some fresh air and get to see some of the local scenery. Better yet, if you’re close to a park or school, jog there, and workout in the park. You can do sprints and play around on the playground. Don’t laugh – it’s a great workout! The horizontal ladder, pull-up bars, balance beams – all kinds of great stuff. Make a little obstacle course out of it and go for rounds. Or, depending on what kind of equipment there is and how it’s situated, play a game where you have to get from one end of the playground to the other without touching the ground. You have to jump from piece of equipment to piece of equipment, making your way across. You’d be surprised how hard it can be! Yeah, you might get some weird looks from the locals, but who cares? You’re out of town – you don’t know any of them anyway, right?

That should give you some ideas on getting great workouts in while you’re on the road. Don’t let a lack of equipment hold you back – you might find that not only are you getting great workouts, but you’re having a lot of fun while you’re at it!!

Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard. 

Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins is a strength coach and author living in Cameron, NC. Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength moderator at mma.tv, columnist for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of Mixed Martial Arts Training. His site, Working Class Fitness.com, is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result MMA Workouts, Navy SEAL Workouts, and programs for “regular joes.”

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