Have you ever been traveling for several weeks or months, being active all day walking, and sometimes running to catch taxis, buses and planes? At the end of each day you lie down exhausted and think, “wow I am getting way more exercise than I did back at home. But when you return to your regular exercise at home you find that you are slower and weaker than before you left. What happened?
Regular activity throughout the day is great for your health but it won’t make you faster or stronger unless you were very slow and weak to begin with. This is in accordance with the principle of Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID). To gain or maintain strength or speed one must continue to move fast and lift heavy things. While traveling, it takes a little more creativity and effort to keep up strength and speed because these types of exercise don’t come along naturally with most travel.
For the last year I have been working towards reaching my genetic potential in slow velocity high load force production, focusing on the one-rep max. The goal has been to lift something heavy one time and then sign autographs for like ten minutes before lifting something else heavy.
I had basically been building up the muscle with reps of 8-12 for the last 9 years but hadn’t yet taught myself the motor pattern of maximal exertion on a one rep max. Wendler’s 5,3,1 program emphasized training that motor pattern. The result was that I progressed rapidly with hardly any effort, from lifting kittens to lifting the equivalent of about three newborn giraffes in both the squat and dead-lift. Jessica also made great progress, but the program was much more difficult for her. The autographs have yet to come…
For the next 10 weeks though we won’t have access to weights which makes it impossible to follow a weight lifting program like Wendler’s that requires precise increases in weight. Can I maintain my strength gains without weights?
I am almost positive that my one-rep mas will deteriorate, so I am going to take this opportunity to focus on some of the fitness goals that are well suited to traveling.
Goals well suited to traveling (require no equipment or common equipment)
- Balance- ex: standing on one leg
- Motor Control Skills: ex: juggling
- Plyometrics for lower body: ex: vertical jump
- Stamina of upper and lower body: Ex: 100 pushups, 100 air squats
- Low intensity endurance: ex: biking, hiking or paddling for 8 hours
Goals poorly suited to traveling (require heavy or uncommon equipment)
- Heavy barbell training
- Equipment specific motor skills such as snowboarding
- Medicine ball training
- Kettlebell training
The Masai of Africa achieve impressive results with no equipment
I’ve divided my goals up into outcome (what I will measure) and process goals (what steps I will take to achieve those outcomes).
Bryan’s Outcome goals
- Increase vertical jump by 1 inch
- Increase # of muscle ups on rings
- Increase duration of eyes closed right leg balance
- Press from down dog to handstand with feet on step
Bryan’s Process goals
- Plyometric workout twice a week
- Set up rings twice a week
- Stand on right leg whenever waiting around
- Work on handstands whenever there is a flat, relatively clean surface
Jessica also set a few Outcome Goals
- Climb vertical tree like the Huarani
- Learn optimal way to carry a baby
- Take 10 steps on slackline
I wrote the paragraphs above before my 10 week trip to Ecuador and Peru. I was formulating a plan to 1) Prevent loss of strength as much as possible and 2) take advantage of the “time off” to improve my motor skills.
Did I achieve my goals? Stay tuned to find out what happened!