Home Blog Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation – Part 2

Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation – Part 2

Written on April 13, 2011 at 5:56 am, by Eric Cressey

In my last blog post, Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation – Part 1, I outlined why I think it’s a good idea for most people to have at least a little structured exercise over the course of a vacation that spans a week or more.  Today, I wanted to use my own vacation workout schedule as an example of how you can stay active without filling up your schedule too much.

First, though, I think it’s important to make two points:

1. There’s a difference between “physical activity” and “exercise” – and it’s fine for a vacation to include a lot more of the former than the latter.  You’ll see below that I didn’t “exercise” every day, but I was very physically active the entire time.  We walked on the beach almost every morning, and during our trip, we did ziplined, swam, rode horses, snorkeled, and hiked.

2. What you do before you leave for vacation is likely as important as what you do during vacation.  I prefer to intentionally “overreach” right before I leave for any extended period of time, as it allows me to essentially “write off” the first few days of travel as recovery (everybody likes to sleep on airplanes and crush awful airport food, right?).

To that end, we flew out on a Saturday morning very early in the morning, so I chalked Saturday up as a travel day.  That meant that Mo-Fr in the week before were training days (MoTh – upper body, TuFr – lower body, We – energy systems work).  Since I knew I wouldn’t really have access to any heavy weights to use for lower body training, I made sure that it was the last thing I did before I left.  Here’s how the rest of the vacation looked (keep in mind that my wife joined me for all these sessions; it wasn’t like I was ditching her on our honeymoon):

Sa: Travel Day (just a walk on the beach that night)
Su: Upper body TRX work consisting of inverted rows, pushups, Ys, Fallouts, External Rotations/Ws, and some curls for the girls (hey, I was pretty much on the beach; don’t judge!)

Mo: Sprinting on the beach (eight sprints of about 80yds).  When the view is this good, you really can’t complain about being out of breath.

Tu: Lower Body TRX work consisting of pistol squats, stir the pot (video below, thanks to Dewey Nielsen), Bulgarian split squats, calf raises, and side bridges

We: Upper body TRX work consisting of (more) inverted rows, flutters, 1-arm row w/reach, and fallout extensions

Th: 2 hours of snorkeling was plenty of physical activity for me

Fr: Another light TRX session, which was just kind of a filler of inverted rows (figured I’d use this week to be proactive with my bum shoulder) and additional core work.  To be very honest, I was pretty sunburned by this point, which is why I kept it short.  Did do some prone reaches (props to Dewey below once again), which is a good exercise to try, if you haven’t seen them before:

Sa: 3 hours hiking in Manuel Antonio National Park.  Not a bad view from the top, huh?

Su: More sprinting on the beach, this time for 12 sprints of about 60yds.

Mo: Travel Day, so not much moving around besides the 2-3 mile walk on the beach that morning

We arrived home at midnight, and I was back to my normal lifting schedule on Tuesday.

As you can see, this wasn’t a ton of training time.  In fact,  I don’t think a single one of these sessions lasted more than 20 minutes, and all of them were done outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  I’m not saying that you have to include this much exercise in your vacations, but I am trying to show that if you are interested in maintaining an active lifestyle even when you travel, that it can be done quite easily and without a ton of time invested. Plus, most of these were body weight training exercises, so you don’t need a lot of equipment to get them done.

Have some vacation exercise strategies of your own?  Please share them in the comment section below.

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12 Responses to “Workout Routines: Exercising on Vacation – Part 2”

  1. R Smith Says:


    Great pix. Very happy for you.
    Cannot say enough about your “planned overreaching” philosophy.
    It crushes me on the front end, but it works so well for those times when I won’t be able to hit it hard while traveling.


  2. Stevo Says:

    Great post, EC. Very well said and gives many of us out there some solid ideas for future vacations.

  3. AnotherEric Says:

    I like the idea of the TRX being something portable you can bring along with you and use outside. I’d like to do more outside/playground workouts this Summer. At around $180, the TRX seems pretty expensive. I’m looking at various alternatives, including the Lifeline USA Jungle Gym. In addition to the stuff that you’re saying, I’d like to be able to do dips, pull-ups and muscle-ups. I’m not sure those would be as easy to do with the looser handles of the TRX. It seems like a Rings package would be needed. Crossfit has sure made the rings packages popular and affordable. I can get a nice pair of rings and long straps for under $100. I do feel there might be some exercises that would be harder with rigid rings, instead of the flexible, smaller TRX handles. Any opinions? Can you do pullups, chinups, pushups, dips, muscleups on the TRX? How do they compare to doing them on the rings? Thanks.

  4. Ben Says:

    Great post Eric!

    I also like the idea of intentionally overreaching. You are correct in saying travel time is recovery time.


  5. tim Says:

    Awesome post! Love the idea of overreaching before the flight… but Costa Rica and you didn’t paddle around on a surfboard! Come on Coach, you would be an awesome surfer! 🙂

  6. Bob G Says:

    I’ve found that 30 minutes invested in training while on vacation helps me enjoy the sitting and playing around a TON more than if I didn’t train.

    I’ve usually done some sort of conditioning about every other day. Maybe it’s sprints and/or a series of jumps, hops, pull-ups right to push-ups. The rest from heavier lifting is beneficial. And like I said, sitting around, eating, etc. feels A LOT better after moving.

  7. she-ra Says:

    I take a break from lifting while I’m on vacation. I feel like I’ve earned the time off. However, I’ll still be active while vacationing in the Canadian Rockies for a week in July; we’ll be hiking or paddling every day.

  8. Robin Judice Says:

    Great stuff, Coach!
    My husband and I live full-time in an RV traveling around the country. When we made the move into the rig last month, we included our TRX, a couple of med balls, bands and a few other things. We incorporate running, sprinting, and circuit-type high intensity training right out the door of our rig. It’s working great so far! The only tough times are extended rainy periods. The dogs and cats don’t like us jumping around inside the RV :).

  9. seop.user1 Says:

    This is god and very helpful.

  10. sid Says:

    I’m just off to spend Xmas with the inlaws and trx is loaded and now I’ve got some new routines to try.
    Took resistance bands on last break and alternated between upper and lower body, 30 min circuits, with sprints and core mixed in.

  11. Stuart Ward Says:

    First time I’ve read a blog on this important topic.
    I love my training (powerlifting and O lifting) and also treat myself to around 4 holidays a year.
    I’m normally really active when i’m away and continue using the hotel gym making do the best i can and going easier, trying new fun movements for variety.

    I recently tried a lazy 12 nights away in the sun without any training and have to say i felt really good for it. Muscles were so rested and when i went back to training I felt so refreshed.

    Of course it wouldn’t be a good idea for every holiday but worth a try ever so often.

  12. PaulBruce Says:

    Calf raises?! From an athletic coach?! This alone makes me rethink discarding direct calf training.

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