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Workouts for Women

Jet-Set Your Fitness With This Pre-Travel Workout

Learn how to travel-proof your body and your fitness routine with these moves.

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If you’re an avid traveler, you already know the toll long trips can take on the body. Aside from the usual culprits of fatigue and dehydration , hours of sitting in one position can easily lead to stiff, sore muscles and chronic pain. While there are stretches you can do during travel to help alleviate some of the strain, a better option is to prepare and strengthen your body before you travel with this pre-travel workout .

Pre-Travel Workout: Getting Fit for a Better Trip

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This certainly holds true with travel because studies show healthier travelers are at a lower risk for some of the scarier side effects of travel, such as deep vein thrombosis. Aside from the typical dehydration, bloating, headaches and fatigue that accompany most long journeys, getting in shape with a pre-travel workout can just make travel easier on the body.

You can do this entire workout with a kettlebell or pair of dumbbells, but feel free to modify any exercise for barbells if that’s more your speed. Perform each exercise for the prescribed sets and reps, resting one to two minutes before moving on to the next, or run through the list as a circuit, resting two minutes between each round.

Pre-Travel Workout

Exercise Sets Reps
Goblet Squat 3 12-15
Single-Arm Clean 3 10-12 (per arm)
Curtsy Lunge 3 10-12 (per leg)
Shoulder Press 3 12-15
Sumo Deadlift High-Pull 3 10-12

Goblet Squat

If you’ve ever dropped your keys or boarding pass while juggling multiple carry-ons, you know just how valuable this move can be. A full-range-of-motion squat performed while holding the weight in a somewhat awkward position, the goblet squat is a great way to build strength in your shoulders, back, core and legs while improving balance and flexibility in your hips.

How-To: Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart holding the kettlebell upside down in a goblet hold. Alternatively, you can hold a heavy dumbbell vertically by one end in front of your chest. Keeping your core engaged and your chest up, bend at your knees and hips to lower your hips into a squat. Do not allow the weight to pull your upper body forward. Pause at the bottom, then push through your heels and extend your legs to stand up.

Single-Arm Clean

While this exercise can be a little complicated to master, it’s essentially the same move you do when you heft a backpack up to your shoulder with one arm. This is where the awkward weight distribution of the kettlebell really makes a difference, since it more closely approximates its real-world counterpart.

How-To: Stand over a kettlebell. Bend at your knees and hips and grab the kettlebell with one hand, lifting it slightly off the floor in preparation for the lift. Keep your back straight and chest up. Exhale as you quickly straighten your legs, using the momentum to pull the kettlebell up to shoulder height, swiveling your elbow around and under to catch the weight with the outside of your forearm. When done correctly, the kettlebell will not bang against your arm. If this version is too difficult, use a dumbbell instead.

Curtsy Lunge

One of the problems with travel is it forces you to move and bend your body in ways it is not accustomed to moving. This makes unusual, multi-planar movements like the curtsy lunge great for strengthening the stabilizing muscles that protect your joints and developing better balance and flexibility. The curtsy lunge is also a great all-in-one glute and quad builder.

How-To: Stand holding a kettlebell in a goblet grip. Shift your weight to one leg as you step back and behind with the other foot. Stay upright and keep your core engaged as you bend your front knee and lower your back knee toward the floor. Pause and then push into your front heel as you straighten your leg and step your back foot back to the starting position.

Shoulder Press

Lifting heavy bags into overhead compartments is where travel can get tricky if you haven’t built up the strength. Shoulder presses are a great strength builder for your shoulders and core, both of which must be strong to endure the rigors of travel. You also can use two kettlebells instead of one to create more of a challenge for your balance and coordination.

How-To: Stand holding a weight in each hand at shoulder height. Alternatively, you can hold one kettlebell by the horns. Engage your core to protect your back as you exhale and press the weight straight overhead. Keep your spine neutral and your knees straight but not locked out. Inhale as you lower the weight back down with control.

Sumo Deadlift High-Pull 

Deadlifts and high-pulls build functional strength, so it only seems natural that a movement combining the two would be a perfect pre-travel exercise The sumo deadlift high-pull is a total-body strength builder, giving your arms, back and core the extra umph they need to lift heavy suitcases and withstand hours of travel. To further develop your core strength and protect your body from travel aches and pains, check out 6 Moves to Improve Your Upper-Body Strength and Posture

How-To: Stand over a kettlebell with your feet wide and toes pointed out. Sit back into your heels, allowing your knees to track over your toes while keeping your chest up and your back straight. Grab the kettlebell handle. Push through your heels and straighten your legs, using the momentum to pull the kettlebell straight up under your chin. Keep your elbows above your wrists. Straighten your arms to lower the kettlebell down first, then bend your knees and hips to lower back to the starting position.

Using this pre-travel workout routine to improve your total-body strength will help your body withstand the stress and strain of travel. Not only will you be better equipped to lift heavy bags and tolerate long periods of inactivity, but consistent exercise also has been shown to improve sleep quality, reduce soreness and fatigue, aid in digestion, boost mood and protect immunity , all of which can be negatively impacted by travel Plus, developing a strong, toned physique certainly can’t hurt if your destination is a sandy beach where you can relax and show off all that hard work in the gym.

For more ways to improve your travel experience, check out 5 Seated Stretches to Do While Traveling