The Traveling Warriors Workout Routine Part 1
It seems like no matter what city I’m working in or whom I’m working with, one thing stays the same; a lot of my clients travel!
A few of my clients have recently begun jobs that require them to be away from home a majority of the week, leaving us with Saturdays and one weekday to train in the gym. Thus the question, “What can I do while I’m away?”
Those who have worked with me know that I take a minimalist approach to training and strive to do the minimum necessary for maximal results. In fact just over the last year my approach to training has become even more minimal. I’ve become a strong believer in the simplicity of kettlebell training.
With a single kettlebell one can do everything and anything he/she needs to become not only extremely fit, but also strong and powerful.
One problem though…
Most hotel gyms don’t have a set of kettlebells and it’s not feasible to consider traveling with one as you might with a lacrosse ball or stick for some myofacial release. That being said, one of my clients just got back from Dallas and noted that a Marriott there does indeed have kettlebells. Shocking and great news!
When thinking of workouts my clients could do on the road I had to take 2 things into consideration. One, the routine would have to involve exercises that every one of my clients could do no matter what hotel they were staying at. If the hotel happened to have a set of kettlebells or dumbbells, consider it icing on the cake.
And two, it had to be easy enough that they would actually do it! Or at least consider doing it more than they normally would cause as we all know, working out on the road sounds good in theory, until you check into your hotel after a long day of travel and work.
Regardless, I came up with a routine that involves purely your body weight. In addition, you can go through it as frequent or infrequent as you’d like.
At the very least you’ll stay loose, get your blood flowing, and stay fresh for your upcoming workout when you return home. On the other hand, take it seriously and put in some quality work and you’ll come back stronger than you were when you left!
Not possible you say? Let’s take a look!
I used to make individual workouts for my clients when they traveled. However, once I found out just how little work they were actually performing I narrowed my advice down to “just perform your warm-up routine, and then stop.”
Even a new client after a few weeks has the warm-up routine down. With a little friendly reminder of what to do here and there, it’s a simple 7-10 minute movement session that at the very least primes your body for more movement. It also serves as a good way to use active recovery in between training sessions.
Every training session begins with what’s called “positional breathing.” It’s a term I use to describe the breathing drills we perform in order to retrain the diaphragm, position the body in more of a neutral state, and ultimately put the body in a better place to accept change.
The breathing drills I’ve adopted from PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) courses I’ve taken over the years. I still find these have the most bang-for-your-buck in terms of positional power before a session, and for the most part can relate to anyone performing them. Take a look at the videos below to learn more about why you’d want to perform such drills and how to perform them on your own.
For your Traveling Warriors Workout, you’ll be performing 3 sets of 4 breaths of each of the two exercises shown below.
90/90 Hip Lift (w/or w/out a balloon) and Standing ZOA (Zone of Apposition)
At this point you’re more relaxed, a little more focused, and ready to move more freely. Enter neurodevelopmental patterning; the software, the inner workings of our body and our movements.
I like to include these during workouts for 2 reasons.
One, most people have a strong disconnect between what happens on the outside and what goes on inside their body when it comes to stability, mobility, and overall movement.
Two, it’s challenging! Yes, sometimes it’s that simple.
Two movements I like to play around with are dead bug and bear variations.
The dead bug for most is a “rub your tummy and pat your head” type of movement. There’s usually an initial disconnect at first, however the human body is amazingly quick in adaptation. Focus on quality work and your body will inherently do the rest for you.
To perform the dead bug, start by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor, and arms up towards the ceiling.
Initiate the movement by first closing the gap between your lower back and the floor by pressing your back “through the floor.” When done properly this will trigger tension in the mid section.
Next, load your abdominals with the weight of your legs, keeping your knees bent and lifting from the hips. Begin to tap one heel to the floor while reaching back with opposite hand.
The key here is to maintain contact with your lower back and the floor throughout the entire exercise. If you lose contact after a few attempts, take away the arm movements and focus primarily on the hips. As you get stronger you’ll be able to re-introduce the arm movements rather quickly. Here’s what it should look like:
The second “software” drill I like to use is called the bear. Like the dead bug there are variations you can play around with, however I recommend everyone begin with the leg lifts first.
The bear looks easy but is actually very difficult for more people. In a nutshell, we’ll be transitioning from 4 bases of support to 3; working to mainly stabilize throughout the mid section as you shift from 4 to 3 points of contact. Here’s what it looks like below:
A few coaching cues on the bear:
- Spread your fingers out as wide as possible to trigger more scapular awareness
- Lightly push your sternum (center of your chest) up towards the ceiling to “fill the gap” between your shoulder blades
- Only lift the knees 2-3 inches off the floor and only lift one leg 2-3 inches of the floor
- Use power breathing to increase intra-abdominal pressure when initiating the left lift
- This can be done mimicking a short and strong “sip through a straw”
In your Traveling Warriors Workout you’ll perform 3 rounds of each exercise alternating between the two. Perform 20 dead bugs total and 10 bear leg lifts total.
Lastly, we’re ready to get up off the floor and move around. The squat to stand exercise is a favorite of mine mainly because it touches on so many areas of your body; hamstrings, hip flexors, t-spine, and shoulders.
Think of these steps when performing the Squat to Stand exercise…
- Bend over to grab your toes
- “Pull” yourself into a squat position by grabbing your toes, and figuratively by using your hip flexors to pull you into position
- As you pull down, pull your chest up
- Elbows go between and against the knees
- Reach to the sky one arm at a time and stand up
Take a look:
For a lot of people this is a tough one. If you have trouble squatting low, grab a couple magazines or a book and place it under your heels while performing the same exercise.
If you have shoulder issues and have a hard time raising your arm overhead, the positional breathing exercises will help you but play around with your range of motion. Don’t drive your arm overhead to the point where you feel a pinch in your neck or shoulder.
Work with a safe, reasonable range of motion. It might mean cutting the arms out of the exercise all together temporarily.
The last warm-up drill is some simple locomotive work from a standing position; also known as gait.
The Reverse Lunge to balance drill is another favorite of mine because it continues to hammer neurodevelopmental patterning while at the same time mimicking gait mechanics from a standstill position. This drill, for our traveling purposes, will be done with body weight.
A simple coaching cue on the Reverse Lunge to Balance:
When you step into your balance think “toe up, knee up.” This will help with opposite glute contraction.
As you also saw in the video, you can play around with the Lateral Lunge to a Balance as well. When performing the lateral lunge think, “sit back and reach forward.” This will help you sit into your hips as you land from your step into the lateral lunge.
Perform them individually or together, working for 6-8 reps on one leg before switching to the opposite side. Perform 2 sets of the Squat to Stand and 2 sets of the Lunge to balance drills alternating between the two.
I know what you’re thinking, “That’s just the warm-up?!”
For some people the routine listed above will be the perfect amount of work to do on the road. For others, it will seem routine and simple. Understand where you are currently and either continue on to this next portion of the workout or stop after the warm-up and call it a day.
The great part about this warm-up routine is that there’s room for variability.
When you break it down here’s what you’re focusing on:
- Positional Breathing
- Neurodevelopmental Patterning
- Movement Integration
Plug and play other exercises as you see fit.
Unless you’ve taken extensive PRI coursework, you’re probably better off doing the routine as I’ve laid out for you. Even if you stick with the exercises I’ve listed here for you, you can progress with light weights or resistance bands in the hands for dead bugs and move to opposite arm/leg lifts with the bear. Eventually you can transition to forwards and backwards bear crawls and even move laterally as well.
Probably the best thing about this warm-up routine is the fact that YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ON THE ROAD TO DO IT!
I know it’s a crazy concept but the reality is this is something that can and should be done frequently, whether you’re on the road or working/relaxing at home. Once you get the hang of it, it should take you 7-10 minutes to do the whole routine. I guarantee you that you’ll feel great afterwards.
You’d be shocked at what this warm-up routine will do for you. I’ve had clients completely change their breathing mechanics, increase their shoulder mobility, sleep better, and dramatically decrease the time it took to learn proper movement patterns just by performing this routine twice a week.
To quote Dan John, “It’s so simple, you won’t do it!”
Look for part two later this week when I’ll go over the remaining portion of the workout and tell you how you can actually get stronger using just your bodyweight, in a hotel room, while traveling for work. It sounds too good to be true but it’s not. It works. Traveling may never be the same!