What Is In Your Backpack? Training Gear When on the Road

Soldiers work the muscular endurance and power of their quadriceps with the TRX sprinter's start exercise during a train-the-trainer clinic at Fort Bragg, N.C. The Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command purchased 3,205 of the exercise systems to be distributed through a pilot program at Fort Bragg and to include in recreation kits headed to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (Photo Credit: Tim Hipps).

Staying true to your fitness routine can be challenging when you travel frequently for work. Here is an email question from an retired Army officer who travels often for work as a contractor.

Hey Stew, what do you do when you are on travel for training if you do not have any time of gym? I am sure you can always do some calisthenics and running but that can get old after several days. Any other ideas to spice up a calisthenics workout with a few items I can carry in my luggage or get creative with when on business travel? So, what is in your training gear backpack? Thanks Jim.

Great question. Funny you mention the backpack. A backpack can be quite versatile by not only holding your other training gear, but to be a piece of equipment as well.  You can use the backpack to ruck to add to your cardio workouts. You can also use that backpack for farmer walks, overhead presses, squats, and lunges and many other weighted calisthenics.

It does take getting creative however. Plus, you can save a ton of money over joining a gym and create versatility for your traveling workout routines. The top three fitness items every tactical athlete needs to exercise anywhere.

Item #1: TRX – Suspension Training

This item can replace just about any piece of weight machine or free weight.  You can hook to a door in your hotel room or find a playground to connect the straps to and add pullups to your workout day.

This item is key for every tactical athlete because too many people skip their workouts when they are too busy to go to a gym or on travel. With a TRX you literally have a gym in a bag with you anywhere you go. See ideas for some of the favorite TRX exercises and longer more intense programming ideas as well. 

Item #2: Sand Baby – Build Your Own Sandbag

The key idea with this item is you have a 40# weight that you can use in any way you need to replace free weights as well as keep it in your backpack to ruck with. You can add sand to sandbag while on travel with a canvas bag from companies like GoRuck.com or Brute Force Sandbags and just scoop up some sand to fill it. Or actually build your own for as little as $5 by getting a 50 lb. bag of play sand from a hardware store (Home Depot / Lowes) and a roll of duct tape.

You can then add squats, lunges, push presses, curls, situps and many of the same exercises you do with a medicine ball or sandbag - then you can leave it there when you go home.  See workouts like the SandBaby Murph for more ideas.

Item #3: Resistance Bands

What you need to understand about this item is you can increase the resistance training options using elastic bands for any movement you can think of. As a tactical athlete, you can prevent injuries with these light resistance devices and build strength in joints, especially when recovering from injury.

The resistance bands are easy to carry and they give you very flexible options for resistance training. For example, if calisthenics are too hard for whatever reason, resistance bands can assist with any level of resistance needed. And, if calisthenics are too easy, you can use bands (or any of these items) to make them a lot harder.  

One Last Idea – Hotel Swimming Pool

Most swimming pools are too small to get a good swim workout in as you can kick off one end and glide to the other side typically. But you can use the pool to tread and work on your mobility.  Add a Mobility Day to your training day or for a few minutes after a tough run or ruck and leg day. These small pools are ideal for treading and doing dynamic stretches in chest deep water.

Hope this give you plenty of ideas to add to your backpack and consider using your backpack as a piece of equipment. Check out a complete list of Tactical Fitness Training programs that help with creative ways to train, add mobility, and how to use non-traditional gear to make a better training program.

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