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3 ways to progress a workout plan while travelling

A lot of my normal advice and preferences become difficult or impossible during travel times. Spending weeks or months away from normal gym equipment often means that progressing by getting stronger goes right out the window as an option. But that’s no reason to abandon smart training.

Luckily, this is where some fun programming can come into play! Based on what equipment you have available, what you’re used to doing, and how long you’ll be away from your normal routine, you can pursue a new way to progress while traveling, and continue to see great new results! Here are the three types of progressions I recommend:

3 kickass ways to progress a workout plan while traveling

1. INCREASE INTENSITY

Intensity just basically means “difficulty,” so ramp this up look at variations of a basic exercise and mix it up !

In a permanent gym space and routine, I recommend increasing intensity by upping your weights at the gym, but traveling often means less/no access to equipment, so that might not work. Assuming you’ve been doing somewhat of a consistent full-body strength training program recently, and you don’t have gym access while traveling, the best ways to increase your workout intensity are with difficult bodyweight moves, and with plyometrics.

Plyometrics are explosive moves, like squat jumps, power skips, tuck jumps, clapping pushups, and bounding. These are generally easy to progress by jumping higher, farther, or sharper. “Difficult” bodyweight moves is totally relative to you and your body. If you can’t do full pushups yet, starting on a wall and slowly decreasing the height of your hands each week until you’re doing full pushups would be an excellent bodyweight progression. So would stepping into a dead hang, then stepping into eccentric pullups, then half-stepping into eccentric pullups, then doing a pullup, all over the course of weeks or months. Or doing bodyweight step-ups on an increasingly high step. These would all be awesome ways to increase you workout’s intensity while only using your bodyweight.

Note: Doing a plyometric travel workout plan is NOT a good idea for anyone who has never done plyos before, or for anyone who doesn’t have impeccable, sharp, crisp form. Jumping is lot of impact on the joints, and done poorly it puts you at too high of risk for injury. It’s just not worth it, trust me.

2. INCREASE VOLUME

Increasing workout volume just means increasing the number of reps, more sets, more exercises per body part, or just more workouts per week. It can even be a combo of a few of those!

The key to using volume as a progression is knowing that with increased volume must come a decrease in intensity, and vice versa. In normal gym life (for women especially), I often suggest doing harder workouts with more rest in between. I take advantage of the heavy weights available, and increase their intensity while decreasing their volume. But while traveling and lacking gym equipment access, it can often make a lot of sense to do longer or more frequent workouts that aren’t quite as hard.

How do you increase workout volume? That depends on what you’ve been doing recently. If you normally do 3 sets of 8-10 squats with weights, you might discover that while traveling, you want to do 4-5 sets of 15-20 squats at bodyweight. If normally you only work out with weights 3 days/week, while traveling you might decide to do a bodyweight workout 5-6 days/week. Or maybe your workouts are usually short and intense, like 20 minutes of smashing weights in a circuit. In order to offer yourself some progression while traveling, you might want to do nice long workouts, using whatever equipment you have available or just your bodyweight, doing lots of sets and reps over the course of an hour.

3. INCREASE DENSITY

Density means how much work you get done in any one particular span of time.

If you want to progress density, I recommend doing the same workout with less and less rest periods over the course of a few weeks. This is a very useful way to progress a simple workout while traveling, because you can do a big bodyweight or minimum-equipment circuit with say, 45 seconds of rest between each exercise. Then the next week when you do it, you can drop the rest to 30 seconds, then 15, then none at all.

I love using density to progress for about 3-4 weeks at a time, but you’ll eventually hit a limit (when you run out of rest to cut out!) and have to find another way to progress.