I’ve been travelling for a few months now, and generally speaking, I’m happy with the progress I have made. Through a combination of regularly training with my bodyweight and doing my best to find local gyms, I have managed to continue pushing myself towards my fitness goals.
It hasn’t always been easy, though. There have been times when having some of the best fitness equipment for travelers with me would have made my life a hell of a lot easier.
Out here in Asia, the weather is either insanely hot or torrential rain and insanely hot. Needless to say, finding a park to do chin-ups in isn’t always the most appealing idea.
Other times, there simply isn’t a gym in the area that will let you train there for a reasonable price. Or if there is, it’s one of those hardcore underground gyms only the locals know about and you need to know a secret handshake to get in. The hotel gyms that are easy to find are often expensive to use, and have limited equipment.
Instead, staying on track with my endless quest to build muscle and obliterate fat could have been made easier by bringing some extra pieces of equipment with me.
Below is the best fitness equipment out there to get a quick, brutal workout in before heading out sightseeing for the day.
In recent years people have gone crazy for minimalist footwear. The idea is that humans evolved to walk barefoot and it’s therefore the way we should be walking around today. Proponents of minimalist footwear will tell you that traditional shoes have weakened the muscles in our feet and legs. Whilst this is probably true, the fact remains that people have been in shoes for most of their lives, and suddenly switching to barefoot often leads to injury.
I’m on the fence with minimalist footwear. It’s simply a matter of preference.
However, I like to pack as efficiently as possible when I travel, and this means taking as few pairs of shoes as possible. Minimalist footwear, like the Vibram FiveFingers, might be on trend, but they aren’t practical for everyday use.
I opted for a compromise, trainers like those in the Nike Free range are based on minimalism, but are still practical enough to be worn in most situations. They are lightweight, super flexible and pack down easily in an already overfilled backpack.
If there was only one extra thing I could have brought with me on this trip, it would have been a TRX Suspension Trainer.
Without going to the gym, the only way to give your back and biceps a serious workout is to find a park to do chin/pull-ups, or perhaps work towards some advanced callisthenics like the human flag. But for those days when it’s too hot, or too wet, or you simply can’t be bothered, a TRX is the perfect solution.
It comes in a small netted bag that you could easily cram into a backpack, and is lightweight. You can simply hook the TRX up in any door frame, tree, or railing and you’re good to go.
It can be used for a tonne of different exercises, but is particularly useful for bodyweight rows, bicep curls, core training, and pistol squats.
What makes the TRX so awesome is that exercises can easily be made more difficult by using a single limb, or performing them at different angles. For example, the bodyweight row can be done from an almost standing position to begin with, and eventually it can be performed with your feet against the wall. This follows the all-important principle of progressive overload that I talk about here.
After the TRX, resistance bands are the next best thing.
Again, they can be used to effectively train your back and biceps, or make traditional bodyweight exercises harder. An example of this can be seen in this video by strength expert Tony Gentilcore (I highly recommend you check out his blog):
Whilst resistance bands are light and easy to pack, they come in varying degrees of tension (resistance). If you want to build muscle, this means you will need multiple bands of varying resistance to progressively overload your muscles and force them to grow. This isn’t ideal if you are going to be travelling for a long time, but would work perfectly for somebody away for a week or two.
When you are away from the beach, jumping rope is a great way of getting a tough workout that will burn fat and improve your cardiovascular system within minutes.
A skipping rope is obviously lightweight and easy to pack. All you need is a space where you’re not going to get it caught in a light fitting.
Any skipping rope would do, but I’d opt for the Rogue Bearing Speed Rope (pictured above), just because it’s the most badass skipping rope I’ve ever seen.
Foam rolling has been steadily growing in popularity for some years now as its benefits have become increasingly apparent.
For the uninitiated, foam rolling is a form of myofascial release that smooths and lengthens your muscles, breaking up adhesions and scar tissue – otherwise known as ‘the poor man’s massage’. It is commonly used by athletes and therapists and can greatly help with recovery from intense workouts.
Whilst I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend foam rolling to the regular gym-goer, a roller might take up valuable space in your backpack or suitcase, making it a matter of practicality.
If you don’t have space, don’t worry about it. Make the most of your trip and go for some massages. If you do have space, the best solutions are the travel size version of the highly popular GRID foam roller by Trigger Point Performance, or simply a lacrosse ball.
If you’re considering any of these options, or there’s a particular piece of equipment that you love to travel with please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!