There is no doubt constantly being on the road for work is stressful. Besides the hassles, it can be unhealthy and cause you to gain unwanted fat while losing precious muscle you had worked hard to build.
According to a recent study by Manchester’s CitySuites, about 80% of business travellers eat more calories when they have to travel for work. Out of these workers, 62% were found to be consuming more than 400 calories more than their normal intake. In a year, all of that could amount to as much as 10lb of extra weight.
Where do you think the problem lies? You guessed right – eating out too much and not having enough time to work out, or at least, not making it a priority. While it might seem a difficult or nearly impossible feat to achieve, you can actually build muscle mass as you travel for work, regardless of how often you travel.
Start with what you put in your mouth
Before you start to worry about your exercise routine, think of your diet first. No one says you can’t try out new exotic foods when you head to a new place, but that should be kept minimal. One of the ways to make sure you eat right is to pack some food of your own.
What should you pack?
● Dry foods
You can easily grab some dry foods from your kitchen as you leave home and keep them in bags. Oatmeal is one you must take even if you don’t take anything else, and then throw in a bit of pita bread, rice cakes, assorted nuts, rye bread, or whatever else you like. They keep well in the fridge so you don’t have to worry about them going bad.
You can make yourself a mug of oats with the hotel room coffeemaker. It is as simple as heating up some water, pouring it in a mug with oatmeal and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Then you can mix in your favourite protein powder.
● Canned food
If you won’t mind a couple of healthy sandwiches, you could pack cans of chicken, salmon, or tuna. But be sure to take a can opener too. To make sure your salads are tasty, grab a mix of your favourite condiments and a small bottle of hot sauce.
There is no limit to what you can pack really, it depends on how you eat. Make sure they are foods that will keep well, and don’t forget to take cutlery and a small plate/bowl to eat from.
What else can you do?
That’s right, you can cook. The option of cooking does not apply so much to the business travellers who spend a few days at a destination before heading back home and then heading out again. It applies more to digital nomads and professionals who spend weeks or months in a new place before heading off somewhere else.
For example, if you are a travelling nurse working for one of the renowned traveling nurse companies like Gifted Healthcare or Tailored Healthcare Staffing, you can definitely afford to cook. Travel nurses would usually have their accommodation sorted out, so they can manage to squeeze a bit of cooking time in between their hectic schedule.
Even if you intend to cook in the new place you are heading to, it is advisable to pack what you can. You’ll need to snack and you might not get enough time to go food shopping immediately you arrive.
Now, the sweet (sweat) part – exercise
So, you decide to check out the hotel gym and it is as you expected – the gym is grossly undersized and its free-weights area is filled with featherweights. What should you do?
● Take advantage of the featherweights
Instead of scoffing at the lightweights in the gym, you can take advantage of them and end up maximising your muscle’s potential. Researchers actually recommend having at least one lightweight session in your weekly regimen. So if you have been lifting heavier for the longest time, you should definitely do the light weights. When targeted properly, your slow twitch muscle fibres provide that pump you want, and how do you target them? With lightweights.
● Ditch the gym
You don’t actually need a gym to gain muscle, especially when you don’t have access to a good gym. Steve Kamb was able to gain 10 to 12 pounds of muscle within a three-month period of hectic travel. He started with nine weeks of loading up with calories and hard core strength training, followed by three weeks of thinning out by keeping up the strength training while eating less calories.
What Kamb was able to do is certainly not for everybody because it took a lot of work which you might not be able to manage, especially if you have a hectic work schedule. You have to allow yourself time to rest.
● Create a travel regimen
You can plan ahead for your exercise regimen by creating a special travel regimen. This doesn’t have to be too big of a challenge if you keep it simple. You could aim for maintaining your regular routine where you can and replacing bits that require equipment you might not have access to wherever you are travelling to. Focus on performing bodyweight exercises like lunges, squats, and push-ups with a full range of motion to improve flexibility, train your muscles, and increase your heart-rate.
Incorporate HIIT into your workout regimen to get the most out of your workout sessions. HIIT is very versatile, so you can do whatever with it once you have the basic idea.
● Take your own equipment
Depending on where you’ll be staying, you can take lightweight exercise equipment like your jump rope.
On a final note, more than anything, consistency will get you to your goals regardless of how you travel. But remember to take it easy and not stress too much.