Fitness Advice for the "Average Joe"

By Paul Kim (Silicon Valley Entrepreneur & Certified Personal Trainer)


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Stay Fit while Traveling: Tips for the Road Warrior (2-Day/Full-Body Workout Included!)

One of the toughest obstacles to maintaining a good health & fitness routine is TRAVEL, whether it’s for work or for pleasure, because it throws off your routine in terms of the foods you eat, workout facilities, workout schedule, and your body’s natural rhythm. Apropos to this topic, I’ve been on a business trip to South Korea for almost a week now, with another week or two left. From the get-go, I knew this was going to be a very grueling trip, with many all-night work sessions with business partners, multiple “compulsory”  drinking events, and having to eat out pretty much every meal (many readers can probably relate to this on their trips). So before this trip, I tried to plan out as many health-related issues as I could to minimize the damage that I’d inevitably cause my body. So I made a list of the top fitness priorities while being on the road. They are as follows:

1. Get sufficient protein and vitamins.

It’s very difficult to get sufficient protein intake (at least 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight) when I’m on the road, so I went shopping on Black Friday for a bunch of protein bars, a bottle of multi-vitamins, and a ton of meal replacement powder (Myoplex) for when I’m on the road. This way, no matter what circumstance I encounter, I’d be ready. Below is a picture of some of the protein and vitamins that I brought on this trip. 

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This small preparation of protein in my luggage has gone a long way for me. In the morning, I drink a packet of Myoplex (meal replacement), which gives me 290 calories with 42 grams of protein (more than 20% of my daily protein requirement). My caloric and protein intake during the day is very sporadic and hard to predict, so this little piece of certainty goes a long way. Also, the protein bars (e.g. Atkins Bar, Zone Bar) have been extremely handy, as I’m locked in an office for much of the day, without time to go out and get the right kind of foods with high-quality protein. So I just pull one of these bars out and munch whenever a craving hits me, or when I feel I’m going too long without protein.

I brought enough protein bars to have up to 3 each day (3 x 19 grams = 57 grams of total protein), which was a wise decision. Noticeably missing from this trip is Whey protein – I had to drop this from my inventory because I didn’t have space to lug around a 5 pound tub of this stuff… yes, I could carry a smaller amount in a different container, but it wasn’t worth the hassle and extra luggage, given that I was already bringing meal replacement powder (I’m a guy, so I pack pretty light and don’t exactly travel “J-Lo style”, with an entourage and 35 suitcases, you know what I mean?).

2. Research the foods you might eat ahead of time (for nutritional analysis) and practice Portion Control when eating.

Don’t you hate getting sprung with uncertain foods that contain uncertain ingredients and calories, especially when you’re traveling overseas and you’re not as familiar with the foods of the other culture? That’s why I did my research in advance to see what the most likely foods I’d eat would be. I went online ahead of time and researched the nutritional content of some of the foods I would likely eat on the trip (Google is a powerful tool!). This helped give me a grasp of how much I would need to apply portion control to the foods I ate, based on my daily caloric budget.  If I encounter any foods that I don’t recognize, I try not to eat more than the amount that fits on my hand, until I learn more about the nutritional value. Below is a sampling of some of the foods I’ve eaten with business partners and friends on this trip, while practicing portion control:

Food Everywhere - 1

As I’ve said consistently throughout my blog, no matter what kind of diet you’re on (whether you’re trying to lose or gain weight), it doesn’t matter what types of foods you eat, as long as you (1) stay within your caloric budget and (2) get ample protein to fuel muscular repair and growth. Portion control comes in handy to help you stay within your caloric budget, and the protein bars and meal replacement powder have come in very handy in providing ample protein, given the uncertain dietary environment of this trip.

3. Adapt your workout to your environment (“Ghetto’s Gym”)

Remember that scene in Rocky 4, where Rocky goes to Russia and uses his natural surroundings to improvise workouts because he was given really crappy equipment and facilities (I especially love how he shoulder presses the carriage… what a beast!)? Well, sometimes you have to get creative because the workout facilities you encounter are inferior to the ones you are used to.

Rocky Scenes - 1

My business and pleasure trips have taken me to some remote places, including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. If you want to stay fit on trips to such places, you have to adapt and do what I call Ghetto’s Gym… this is where you improvise exercises based on the existing fitness equipment or do a ton of body-weight intensive exercises like push ups, burpees, bear crawls, inverted wall shoulder presses (upside down), pull ups, and situps. For example, on my trip last year to El Nido, a remote nature reserve in the Philippines, I performed a lot of wide-grip pull ups, behind-the-neck pull-ups, and bicep pull-ups while hanging off the side of the boats where I spent a lot of my time on during scuba diving and touring excursions… I just did them until I couldn’t do any more, then I’d force myself to do a few more partial reps 🙂

Ghetto's Gym - 1

Fortunately on this trip to Korea, the gym close by is of acceptable quality (better than most hotel gyms). I just pay ~$10 each time I work out, which is fine.

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Now, given the intense schedule on this trip, I condensed my workout to train my entire body in 2 sessions, with each session lasting about 35 minutes (I took the pic above after my first workout session in Seoul). I do these workouts every other day. Of course, this is not ideal to get maximum results, as I’m not training frequently enough or giving each body part enough attention, but it suffices for a super-busy business trip. I’ve outlined the workout regimen I’ve been using on this trip to Seoul below. Let me know what you think!

Busy Traveler’s 2-Day, Full-Body Training Workout: (each session is ~35 minutes)

Day 1: Work your Chest, Triceps, Biceps, Abs (~36 minutes)

  • Super-set #1:
    • Incline Bench Press (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your chest (I use 135 pounds)
    • Barbell Biceps Curl (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your biceps (I use about ~70 pounds).
    • Rest: 60 seconds.
  • Super-set #2: 
    • Incline Bench Press (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights and focus on pumping blood into your chest while getting used to heavier weights (I use 225 pounds)
    • Barbell Biceps Curl (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use modestly light weights and focus on pumping blood into your biceps (I use about ~90 pounds).
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #3: 
    • Incline Bench Press: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top (I use 285 pounds).
    • Barbell Biceps Curl: Target 6 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top (I use 145 pounds).
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #4: 
    • Incline Bench Press: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top (I use 235 pounds).
    • Barbell Biceps Curl: Target 8 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top (I use 125 pounds).
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #5: 
    • Dumbbell Flys: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top.
    • Hammer Curl: Target 6 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #6: 
    • Dumbbell Flys: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top.
    • Hammer Curl: Target 8 reps and go to failure.  Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #7:
    • Dumbbell Flys: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your chest at the top.
    • Hammer Curl: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights and focus on squeezing your biceps at the top.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Tri-set #8:
    • Lying Triceps Extension (warm-up): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your triceps.
    • Lying Knee-up Crunches: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 90 seconds
  • Tri-set #9:
    • Lying Triceps Extension: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Lying Knee-up Crunches: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #10:
    • Lying Triceps Extension: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Lying Knee-up Crunches: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #11:
    • Cable Triceps Pushdown: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Seated Leg Raises: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #12:
    • Cable Triceps Pushdown: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Seated Leg Raises: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.
    • Rest: 120 seconds
  • Tri-set #13:
    • Cable Triceps Pushdown: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Seated Leg Raises: 30 seconds.
    • Plank: 30 seconds.

Day 2: Work your Shoulders, Back, Legs (~37 minutes)

  • Super-set #1:
    • Barbell Squat (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your quads.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use moderately light weights and focus on pumping blood into your hamstrings.
    • Rest: 90 seconds.
  • Super-set #2
    • Barbell Squat (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights and focus on pumping blood into your quads.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure.  Use moderate weights and focus on pumping blood into your hamstrings .
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #3
    • Barbell Squat: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (intermediate warm-up set): Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 150 seconds.
  • Super-set #4
    • Barbell Squat: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Stiff Leg Deadlift (intermediate warm-up set): Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 150 seconds.
  • Super-set #5
    • Hang Clean Push Press (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row (warm-up set): 15 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderately light weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #6
    • Hang Clean Push Press (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row (intermediate warm-up set): 10 reps. Don’t go to failure. Use moderate weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #7
    • Hang Clean Push Press: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row: Target 6 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #8
    • Hang Clean Push Press: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Barbell Upright Row: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #9
    • Barbell Bent Over Row: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Dumbbell Side Raises: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #10
    • Barbell Bent Over Row: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Dumbbell Side Raises: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Super-set #11
    • Barbell Bent Over Row: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Dumbbell Side Raises: Target 10 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 120 seconds.
  • Set #12
    • Machine Calf Raise: Target 8 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 60 seconds.
  • Set #13
    • Machine Calf Raise: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.
    • Rest: 60 seconds.
  • Set #14
    • Machine Calf Raise: Target 12 reps and go to failure. Use heavy weights.