We all have that favorite workout that is the GO-TO plan when you miss your normal workout due to a variety of reasons such as a busy day at work, facilities closing early, and travel. Some people go back to a basic calisthenics circuit that they remember from the military, while other take a day off. Whatever your workout plan is today, sometimes life gets in the way and things happen. The pool closes early. The gym loses power. The basement is flooded and you have to deal with that problem first. Or you just overslept and missed your morning workout time. Things happen! Here are some of my personal favorite back up plans that I have used over the years, and some from the many readers of these articles who answered my social media request for their GO-TO plan:
NO SECRET HERE: My first three are a PT (calisthenics go-to) when I cannot make it to the gym. Some times during the year of training these are our actual workouts that we do to get our PT scores up quickly:
1. The PT PYRAMID: You cannot go wrong with the PT Pyramid. This is probably the first workout I remember when I first joined the military to get PT scores higher. There are many derivations of the standards 1-10-1 Pullup, Pushups x 2, Situps x 3 PT Pyramid, and you are only limited to your imagination and some common sense.
2. The Super Set: When you have a short time and no equipment, you can always do the PT Superset to get your reps completed for that day and say you actually did something physical. You are only limited to how many sets you have time to do or your body can handle.
3 – The Max Rep Set - Once you have mastered the PT Pyramid and the Super Set and can handle workouts with volumes of 100 pullups and 200 pushups, it is time to test your new found strength. This workout will increase your muscle stamina and endurance, which are really the goal of mastering PT tests. Find out how to push your numbers even higher.
4-6. Classic Variations: These fall into the Max Rep Set category and can be done quickly. In 30 minutes you can really get a great workout if you push yourself. The Murph, made popular by CrossFit, as well as the Sandbaby Murph and 500 also fall into this category and require minimal equipment (pullup bar and a back pack).
Sometimes, you may go to the gym having forgotten your routine at home and have to wing it. Here are some classic Lift / PT / Cardio Mix workouts that will help you still get something done.
7. The "Kitchen Sink" Circuit: Sometimes, when I walk into a hotel weight room (plenty of time to kill) and just see a room full of machines with no free weights, I try something to challenge myself. Every exercise available you do as much weight as you can for as many reps as you can. In between, bouncing from one machine exercise to the next, rest with 50 abs of choice or 1 minute plank post. "Rest with abs" is a great way to keep moving and feel like you are doing something constantly. Also see how quickly you can burn 100 calories on ANY of the cardio machines – all out sprints.
8. Short Run Plus: If you have a short place to run, like a basketball court, a driveway, or yard, adding a variety of exercises on each end of that run can be a great quick workout. You can also pyramid each set as well. One of our favorites is the Burpee Pyramid with 25-30m run in between. 1 Burpee – run 25m, 2 burpees – run 25m, 3 burpees – run 25m, and keep going until you run out of time or ability. Try to build up to 20 sets and that will equal 210 reps. Go up to 24 sets and you have 300 reps. Not into burpees? I cannot blame you. You can replace them with other exercises, such as pullups on one side and pushups or squats on the other side of the run. Often, you only have 30 minutes to do something. Many of those PT (1,2,3) can be accomplished in 30 minutes. But sometimes, you just have to go do something with nothing.
9. Just Run: Sometimes you only can get in a run. You make these long and slow or short and fast intervals depending on how you feel. I usually like to jog around, find a track, and do a mix of bleacher runs, run and leg PT sets, and sprints.
10. Just Stretch and Work on Mobility: There is the easy "stretch PT" day. Take a few minutes to warmup and spend the rest of your time stretching from head to toe. Focusing on mobility, foam roller work, and some dynamic stretches can help loosen the body or aching joints and muscles. A mobility day in the pool is also a great way to deviate from the original plan, if you feel your body needs a rest. Enjoy the options of these classic Go-To programs above. Some gear you should consider if you need something besides a calisthenics workout as your back up plan:
Mobell Muscle: If you are deep into a strength training program and do not have a gym in your area of travel, consider the gym you can bring with you. It is complete with barbell (foldable) and sand bag weights that also double as bags you can lift and carry as well. All you need is sand / dirt.
Do not forget the jump rope. Get creative with the jump rope and you will have a go-to high intensity plan for life.