Staying in shape by hitting the gym and eating well while travelling used to be a massive challenge. That was until I developed this simple strategy that’s kept me in amazing shape and healthy.
If you read the Nomadic Adam philosophy page, you’ll know that staying healthy via exercise and solid nutrition is embedded within my style of travelling.
Many people say to me: “Why bother? You only live once – shouldn’t you be enjoying yourself instead of worrying about what you eat? Trying new foods is part of travelling!”
Another is: “Why would you waste time on exercise? When you’re travelling you should be relaxing, not stressing out about keeping in shape.”
The recurring theme is that these statements come from people who have either:
A) Took one prolonged trip in their lives, or:
B) Haven’t done the previous, and assume that it’s pointless to maintain an emphasis on exercise and nutrition whilst away (unsurprisingly, they’re often the same people at home who don’t do anything in this regard either).
Both are short-sighted, especially for somebody who travels near-enough full-time and as frequently as myself.
It also denounces the fact that staying in good shape and eating well has a positive mental effect on your well-being, which enhances the quality of your travels, not reducing it.
The quintessential point is this: health is the foundation upon which experiences and memories are built. And if you sacrifice your health, you lose longevity (which enables you to live longer and experience more exciting, happy, enriching memories), as well as the quality of your travels, because you’ll be in bad condition when experiencing them.
But it is, admittedly, about striking up a delicate balance: how do you continuously enjoy new experiences, cuisines and party without jeopardising your health?
The answer is that you can’t completely, but you 100% CAN use certain strategies and techniques to ensure you’re in good health, and I’ll outline what I do below:
The Nutritional Strategy – Intermittent Fasting
Everybody knows that one of the cornerstones of travel is experiencing new cuisines, and missing out on that completely would be too much of a compromise for most, including myself.
So how do you get around this fact without becoming a huge behemoth in the process? The answer, for me at least, is intermittent fasting (aka ‘IF’).
IF varies depending on which individual you ask, but it typically entails abstaining from food for a prolonged period of time and then having a ‘window’ (time frame) where you cram all the calories in.
The beauty of this strategy is that you have a narrow period by which to consume your food, and as such, the frequency by which you eat typically goes down, allowing for more calorie-dense meals.
It also offers a multitude of health benefits: such as lower blood sugar levels, muscle preservation, and arguably positive effects on master-fat hormones such as leptin.
I follow a 16:8 method of IF: I fast for 16 hours, and then eat for 8 (at the moment, I start eating at 12pm and finish at 8ish). This helps me to stay lean without adding too much blubber on my travels, and also gives me a great degree of flexibility with activities.
You can always go an hour out here or there, give or take, but in general, keeping feeding times consistent has been a fantastic method for me of staying in shape on the move. I’ll be writing more about this in the future as well on this site, but I encourage anybody who wants to follow the current methodology I employ to visit Martin Berkhan’s leangains.com – there’s more than enough on there to get you started.
2. The Exercise Strategy – Resistance Training 2-3 X Weekly
There is no other exercise modality that is comparable to resistance training, period.
This is because it offers a plethora of benefits far beyond just getting muscular and looking great (which is another awesome effect of it, of course).
Resistance training strengthens bone density; increases muscle mass; accelerates fat loss; improves cardiovascular health, and protects and safeguards your body from serious diseases.
This is applicable to both men and women. The benefits from resistance training are simply unparalleled by any other form of exercise.
While I encourage you all the read my book The Weight Training Antidote to learn how to train effectively with principles that will serve your body & mind well for life, there are a few bullet points that simplify things for the sake of this article:
- Prioritise compound movements when you train (think squats, deadlift, presses)
- Make getting stronger the #1 goal of every workout (read the Weight Training Antidote to understand the science behind why)
- Make sure sessions short, intense, and focus on the quality of your work and not the quantity that you accumulate during the workouts
- Do it a minimum of twice per week but always aim for 3 times as a rule of thumb to harness its benefits
Now, the hard part is finding a gym when you’re perpetually on the road that allows you to stick to this. Luckily for you, I cover a lot of the places and gyms to train at in my popular Nomad City Guides here.
My advice is simply this: you HAVE to make a conscious effort to hit the gym or do some form of exercise. If you can’t train with weights, then there are PLENTY of bodyweight or workouts you can perform at home – simply look on Youtube for some of them. No excuses.
It’s a challenge, but it has to be done.
What strategies do you use to stay in shape when on the road? Share them in the comments section below as I’d genuinely love to hear them.