Rest stop fitness: Easy workouts while traveling

Travel is a mainstay in my personal and professional life so if I want to practice what I preach, I have to find creative ways to get in exercise when I’m on the road. I’ll admit, at first, it seemed overwhelming because I wasn’t able to duplicate my home routine. The secret to my on the road exercise success is in thinking outside the box. Coincidentally, that was also when my traveling workouts got really fun!

Although it may seem like a challenge to find ways to stay fit on the road, the truth is, there are opportunities everywhere you look. The key is to plan ahead, be mindful, and get creative. Here are three fun 10-minute workouts to stay active while traveling on the road.

Lace up your shoes!  Wear your exercise shoes when driving and you’re one step closer to getting in a great workout on the move. Stop at a rest stop area and perform 30-second intervals to boost your circulation, heart rate and burn calories (it’s also a great way to stay energized and awake at the wheel).

Start out by walking easy for one minute to loosen up. A great place to do this is on the grass or sidewalk to avoid traffic in the parking lot. After one minute, pick up the pace to a power walk for 30-seconds, and follow with walking easy for 30 seconds. Repeat this nine times for a total of nine minutes of heart pumping activity. If you want a more challenging option, pick up the pace to a run for 30 seconds and walk it out to recover. Finish with the following three stretches and you’re off.

  • Chest Stretch: Interlock your fingers behind your lower back. Relaxing your shoulders, keep your arms straight, squeeze your shoulder blades together and raise your hands up toward the ceiling until you feel a stretch in your chest. Perform this stretch on each side once for 30 seconds.
  • Hip Stretch: Using a mat, towel or the grass, kneel on your left knee with your right foot forward. Your right knee should be aligned over the ankle. Relax your back leg and focus on pushing your right hip forward and up towards the ceiling. Reach to the sky with both arms and clasp your hands together for a full body stretch and hold for 30 seconds. Perform this stretch on each side once.
  • Calf Stretch: Stand with your feet hip width apart and your hands on your car just above your shoulders. Move your right foot back about 2-3 feet and bend your left knee.  Keep your right foot on the ground and hold for 30 seconds. You’ll feel this stretch in your back calf.

Jump to it! Remember how much fun jumping rope was? There’s a reason professional fighters use it as a training mode – it’s quick and easy way to get in a high intensity cardio workout that will boost your metabolism for hours. Toss a jump rope in the car for your next trip or, compromise with jumping jacks instead. Try this jumping workout to get your heart pumping and burn a ton of calories.

Walk around at an easy pace for one minute to loosen up. Then repeat the following intervals for five times for a total of ten minutes. You’ll feel like a million bucks after this hard core cardio workout.

Rest Stop Circuit. This workout will help loosen your tight muscles, keep them active and strong and burn calories. Walk around for two minutes to loosen up and perform the following four exercises for one minute each. Repeat a second time and follow with the three stretches mentioned above.

  • Caterpillars: Start in push up position on a mat. Perform three push-ups and then push your hips up towards the ceiling into a downward dog position (in the shape of a V, with your hips elevated to the ceiling. Hold for 5 seconds. Slowly walk your feet one at a time to your hands keeping your legs straight (bend your knees if this is challenging). Hold for 5 seconds with your hands on your feet (or shins) and feel the stretch in your hips and hamstrings. Slowly walk your hands forward and into push up position and repeat again for a total of one minute.
  • Walking Lunges: Stand with your feet hip width apart on stable ground (sidewalk).  Take a long step forward with your right foot and kneel down towards the ground by bending your knees until your forward leg is parallel to the ground. Press up and through your heel and take another step forward and kneel toward the ground. Make sure to line up your knee over your ankle as you move forward.  Repeat for one minute.
  • Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Sit back as if you are going to sit in a chair until your legs are at a 90-degree angle with your thighs parallel to the ground, making sure your knees are over your ankles (not toes). Reach your arms straight out in front of you to shoulder height for stability. Pause and hold for two seconds and then press your heels into the ground, extend through your legs.  Repeat slowly for one minute.
  • Calf Raises: Stand with your feet hip width apart and the balls of your feet at the edge of the curb so your heels are off the ground. Bring your arms out to the side for stability. Raise up on your toes and hold for two seconds and then release down until and through the full range of motion with your heel lower than the curb and hold for two seconds. Repeat this for one minute.

Staying fit on the road is easier than it sounds, and once you get started, the options are endless along the way.

Happy Trails.
Coach Jenny Hadfield

Coach Jenny Hadfield is a published author, writer, coach, public speaker and endurance athlete. To find out more, visit our Meet Our Writers page or visit Coach Jenny’s website.

Adding Strength Training Into Your Cardio Routine


Are tight schedules and a lack of equipment keeping you from getting the benefits of strength training? If you find yourself making excuses rather than making your workouts, it’s time to develop a program that works with you and your schedule. Low equipment and no equipment forms of strength training are excellent ways to build muscle and improve your functional movements. Plus, adding in circuit-style strength training to your cardio workouts at home can keep your heart rate up so you don’t have to choose between strength training and cardio when time is short.

From burpees to tuck jumps, there are plenty of equipment-free ways to keep your heart pumping while you build muscle. If adding impact to your workouts seems a bit extreme, you can choose no-impact options such as planks and squats. Bodyweight strength training will increase your functional capacity, making you stronger for the movements you do (or should be doing) every day.

A great program might start with a warm-up on your Vision treadmill, indoor bike or elliptical, followed by five stations of exercises targeting the chest and/or back, lower body, core, arms, or entire body at once. Spend one minute at each station and repeat the entire circuit 2-3 times depending on your schedule. During the second and third rounds, you can increase the intensity on your fitness equipment to be sure that you keep your heart rate within your cardiovascular training zone. If you’re already in good shape, try to aim for intense intervals during your time on your fitness equipment, as well as during your lower and full body exercises.

For options that will suit everyone from beginners to athletes, this list of 50 Bodyweight Exercises you can do anywhere will give you plenty of choices to design your first circuit and keep it fresh for months to come. If you need help designing your first workout, here’s an example of a beginner workout using bodyweight exercises.

Whether you’re just getting started or want to seriously power up your workouts, low equipment and no equipment forms of strength training are excellent ways to build muscle and improve your functional movements.

Check out part two of this article on how to add in more free weight and resistance band workouts to boost your home cardio routine.

Fitness Myths: Spot Training

One of the most common fitness myths is spot training, sometimes called spot reduction. Spot training is the idea that you can cause weight loss or muscle definition in one area without affecting other parts of the body. This myth is particularly persistent because everyone wants it to be true. Everything would be so much easier if only the infomercials promising “rock hard abs” and “buns of steel” — after just a few minutes with a specific product — were telling the truth!

What’s the science behind spot training being labeled as a myth? And how can you achieve real and healthy muscle definition?

How Muscle and Fat Work

Understanding how both fat and muscle function will help you understand why spot training is anatomically impossible. Fat makes up a layer between your muscles and your skin. Although it is true that fat is used as fuel during exercise, your body doesn’t care where the fat it burns for fuel comes from — and muscles do not take fuel from just the fat immediately around them. Weight loss is a result of total body metabolism. Often, factors that are beyond your control, such as genetics, determine where on your body you will lose weight first.

Muscle definition, then, is a balance of muscle growth and weight loss. When people dedicate themselves to one form of training or focus all of their efforts on one muscle group, they are doing themselves a great disservice. For example, many people set out to have “six pack abs” and commit themselves to doing enormous amounts of situps. This will give them very strong and large abdominal muscles, but unless they change their diet and lose the fat that obscures those muscles, the six pack will never be visible.

What Science Says

There are no reliable studies that support the idea of spot training. There are, however, several that discredit it. One of the most well-constructed studies to provide evidence against the concept of spot training was conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts in the 1980s. During the 27-day program, 13 male subjects were required to perform 5000 sit-ups. Fat biopsies were taken from the subjects’ abdomens, buttocks and upper backs before and after the study. Although the subjects only trained their abs during the course of the study, the results showed that fat decreased similarly at all three test spots.

In commenting on this study, the American Council on Exercise (A.C.E) suggested that these results highlight a possible reason why spot training sometimes seems to occur. When the exercise is difficult enough to burn a significant amount of calories, weight loss occurs evenly around the body — including the target area.

How to Really Tone Up

The spot training myth can become a discouraging stumbling block for people who want to increase their muscle definition. Although it’s not possible to tone just one specific area or muscle group, it is very possible to increase your overall muscle definition. Doing so is simply a matter of decreasing the amount of fat on your body, while increasing the amount of muscle.

One extremely effective method for accomplishing this balance is circuit training. This workout method involves a fast-moving strength workout that incorporates every muscle group, with no rest between exercises. This keeps your heart rate up, working your cardiovascular system much more than traditional strength training.

Spot training is a fitness concept that is simply not supported by any scientific evidence. Don’t let that discourage you, though: you can safely and realistically achieve a lean, defined body through a balanced routine of diet and exercise.

For information on other fitness myths see Seven Fitness Myths Busted.

What has helped you lose weight and increase your muscle definition? Please share it in the comments!