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Full throttle

Flying an airplane is a lot like getting fit. First, take a look at the physics of airplane flight:

  1. To climb, the energy from the engines must exceed what is necessary to maintain level flight.
  2. Once at cruise altitude, the engines are throttled back to achieve a level wing lift.
  3. Less energy is needed to maintain cruising speed than what was required to get there.

The physics of getting in — or returning to — good shape is similar, particularly as you grow older. I was cruising for a while, but then took a month off from the gym for a European vacation. My subsequent climb back has been a bumpy ride. For almost two months, I’ve had to apply max power and make an effort that far exceeds what is necessary once I’m able to level off.

I don’t want to go through this again.

Nevertheless, vacations, even long ones, have value, and work travel can be unavoidable. As a result, I sat down and put together a plan for maintaining resistance training cruise altitude. I’m anticipating a location with a bare-bones hotel gym, or even just my own bodyweight to work with. (Your aerobics conditioning can be salvaged by going for a walk.)

My program is basic. I’ve avoided the awkward and clunky mechanics that you find in a lot of YouTube bodyweight training videos. I’ve also skipped arm exercises since you’ll be hitting them in the compound movements, and it’s tricky to get at these muscles without gym equipment.

— Vacation Protocol —



  • Reverse snow angels
  • Door pull-ups
    • Place a towel across top of a door to protect your hands. Then, place a shim (a book, stack of papers) under the open corner of the door so you don’t rip the door out of the wall. One cool variation I’ve seen with this kind of pull-up is to slide from side to side. Come up emphasizing left arm; with your chin above the door, shift bodyweight over to right side; come down right dominant. Reverse.


  • Regular push up (warm up)
  • Knuckle/fist pushups
  • One arm pushups (can be done with your hand on a couch armrest to make it easier)
  • Diamond pushups (index fingers and thumbs of opposite hands touching – triceps dominant)


With just bodyweight, you’re not going to be able to do pressing movements or even lateral raises with dumbbells. The good news is that you’ve hit shoulders when doing your back and chest exercises. Also, you’ve found a great opportunity to do these excellent pre-hab exercises:



Here’s a chance to do some calf work that might ordinarily get neglected at the end of a punishing gym leg workout:

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