Travelling and training: The Do’s , The Don’ts and the Valuable tool of VBT
Are you like me? Always trying to fit your training around a busy life? Traveling for work and priorities need to change? Or maybe you’re just looking for a new regime. Look no further as I explain my experiences and the “dos” and “don’ts” of a busy life-style and the importance of a well-tailored program for training.
Remaining active is hard enough as is. The more stressors if your life, the easier it becomes to “skip today’s workout” and thus begins a pattern of uncompleted programs, annoying weight gain, injury risk, and a sense of dread returning to lifting. It’s no secret the longer of a break from the gym the harder it becomes to jump back in. So here I am, using my experiences traveling and training to help you.
“Who am I?”
My name’s Ben Langley, I’m a 2-time Canadian National Powerlifting Champion as well as a Loadmaster in the Canadian Airforce. My job brings me to new locations around the world almost twice a month for extended periods of time. I also fly locally in Canada multiple times a month, with an unknown schedule and at all times of the day (or night!).
Trying to fit in training in my life has often proven very difficult until I figured a few key things out. This ensures I have a great session and always fit training in.
The DO’s for a Successful Training while Travelling
Identify where you are going
Identify early where you are going, familiarize yourself with your surroundings, and formulate a plan. If you are planning a vacation for pleasure then it may be easier to choose certain locations with training facilities, however, if you are like me with little-to-no-say and go wherever the Military dictates, then its paramount to identify locations and plan where the nearest gyms are. Ideally, map, where locations are prior to arrival in the case internet or data, is minimal at your destination.
Make a schedule
Look ahead on your program and plan the training days to maximize your time at the gym. Be sure to schedule in extra time for your workout, and plan for delays in case your uber gets lost or somebody decides to curl in the one squat rack. It is also important to plan your sleep schedule to ensure enough rest, and plan your nutrition accordingly – it’s not advised to drink that last mojito on vacation if you have an early morning session. Trust me.
Have a solid program
It’s important to communicate your travels with your coach, and have a program that allows for flexibility. I’ll discuss this more later when I dive into velocity-based training and your tools for autoregulation. Within my training, I use a Vitruve tracker on the road to inform my training and optimize my sessions. Its portability and long-lasting battery ensures I am prepared for every session no matter the facility and location.
Get it done early
In my experience, after an 18-hour workday, I never feel like going to the gym. I know if I plan a training for “after work” then I’m setting myself up to fail. While no one considers it fun to wake up at 3 am, it ensures I stay on the schedule I made and get every session done. Obviously, barriers and things come up (especially in the military!) but as long as you plan for uncertain circumstances you can minimize your chance of failing on your schedule.
Get out of bed you B!$%#
So it’s 3 am and your alarm just went off, but your hotel bed is so comfy. “I’ll do it tomorrow”, you tell yourself; but tomorrow will turn to the same thing. To avoid any chance of sleeping through a session, put your phone or alarm clock on the other side of your room to force yourself to get up. Getting out of bed to get it done is probably the most important, yet hardest step.
The DONTS for Training while Travelling.
Get up, get out the door, and head to the gym.
Don’t negotiate with yourself
You made a schedule, now follow it. If unexpected things pop up, make a new schedule and plan. Waking up and hitting snooze because “I can just do my accessories tomorrow” is something that may pop into your head. Get up, get out the door, and head to the gym. Don’t keep your training a secret and tell your travel partner (and beautiful significant other back home) about your training sessions to keep yourself accountable. Sometimes, you may even inspire your travel pals to come along, which means there is no backing out now.
Don’t put too much on yourself in the morning
If you wake up and already feeling overwhelmed and “behind the ball” then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Lay your gym clothes out the night prior, scout your route to the gym, have cash at-hand for any gym drop-ins, etc. The more prepared you are the easier it will be to get to the gym, get done, and enjoy the rest of your day.
Don’t underestimate jet lag
If you’re crossing multiple time zones then jet lag will be a factor. There are plenty of methods to mitigate the effects of jet lag but never dismiss it. This goes back to the scheduling phase where figuring optimized sleeping schedules will be your best friend. For example, crushing a quick nap and then powering through the rest of the day (even if exhausted and on no sleep!) to reset your body and get it to the local time zone. Don’t be afraid to go to bed early.
Don’t expect World Record results from your body
Just because you squatted 400lbs for easy reps at home doesn’t necessarily mean your body is ready to adapt and perform at this awkward time and after travel. Flying is hard on the body, jet lag is hard on the body, breaking a routine may be hard on the body (and brain!). Staying injury-free, healthy, and enjoying training are always crucial steps to achieving your athletic goals.
You are at the gym. Now what?
Autoregulation methods within training can be great tools to ensure you optimize your training
Whether you’ve traveled half-way across the world for a leg day, or you’ve decided to start your training at 4 am to make time for an additional family member (hello new puppy!), a tailored program will be your best tool.
Autoregulation methods within training can be great tools to ensure you optimize your training. If you have a coach communicate with them, or if you do your own training program factor it in. The last thing you would want is a “test day” across the world after minimal sleep and in unideal conditions.
Listen to your body! Don’t “ego” lift, and if you can use 400lbs for the sets then perfect, but if not, no worries.
How I use Velocity Based Training and a Vitruve Tracker
Setting up a unique velocity profile is key here to establish velocity ranges for your lifting
Velocity Based Training is a tool for auto-regulation and informing your training. Essentially, VBT takes the guesswork out of your autoregulation. You can measure the speed of the barbell, and correlate it to a specified lifting range. Setting up a unique velocity profile is key here to establish velocity ranges for your lifting. The Vitruve encoder will tell you your exact velocity for both the eccentric and concentric (or individually) as well as; power produced, range of motion (ROM), estimated 1 rep max, and some more cool data points.
. There’s lots of good articles and blogs written by people much smarter than me, so I’ll let them tell you how exactly it works.
If your program, for example, says;
Squats |5 x 5| 400lbs/182.5kgs.
Then transition your program to;
Squats |5×5| 0.4-0.5 M/S.
If you find yourself in need of that extra tool to help navigate training while traveling, adapting to and implementing schedule changes, or just wanting to improve your training and your strength training goals, then velocity based training can be great for you!