Vacation workouts

I usually tell clients going away on vacation to take it easy, especially if it’s going to be an active trip with lots of walking and other physical activities.

This isn’t one of those trips. Visiting family for the holidays usually involves lots of sitting around, talking, catching up, and eating too much of everything including junk (is it just my family?)

I got to Phoenix on Saturday. Today, I finally got to a gym in the morning. LA Fitness. Big place, probably 3 or 4 times the size of NYSC in Forest Hills. Besides a large free weight section, a huge weight lifting machine section, 2 large cardio areas, a cycle room featuring Kaiser bikes, and a large aerobics studio. They also have 5 racquetball courts, and indoor full court basketball.

The gym was clean. Really clean, but no housekeeping was visible. The members cleaned up after themselves. Every piece of free weight equipment was in place, in order, and the members automatically put their own stuff away. It was a very nice environment to train in. So what did I train?

God knows when I’ll get back to the gym, so when in doubt, go big! I did big movements that incorporate all the major muscle groups and force core stabilization and recruitment. My workout today:

Squats. 6 sets. 95 lb. x15 (warm up), 135 lb. x 12, 185 lb. x 10, 205 lb. x 8, 205 lb. x 8, and finally 225 lb. x 5 (not very deep range of motion, it’s been awhile since I’ve attempted that weight.


Romanian deadlift. 4 sets. Starting at 85 lb., then 95 lb., and 2 sets of of 110 lb. great hamstring, glute, lower back/lumbar strengthening exercise, but with a history of sciatica you have to be careful.

0611 rom deadlift

Push Ups. 60 in 2 sets as a warm up

IMG 5182

Dumbbell flat bench press (click for video link). 5 sets. 65 lb. x 11, 10, 8, 6. 75 lb. x 3.

Pull Ups. Body weight (161 lb.). 5 sets. 10, 9, 7, 5, 4.


Bent over, one arm, cable rows. (click for video link) 5 sets. 110 lb. x 12, 11, 8, 6, 6.

Dips. (click for video link)  Body weight. 3 sets of 10

All big, multi-joint, compound movements. Total time 54 minutes. My body consumed 489 calories strictly weight training. No circuits. No aerobics. My goal was to enhance strength, and to force my body to put all those crap calories I’ve been forced to eat to the best possible use! Make sure you all put whatever you’re eating to use…you know where it goes if you don’t!

If my plan stays on track I’ll get back to the gym tomorrow and do a spin class. Thursday a hike at Camelback before turkey time. Then it’s back to NYC on Friday, and work on Sunday. Stay tuned to see if the plan holds up…


6 thoughts on “Vacation workouts

  1. Holy cow! I got exhausted just reading that! I so envy your tremendous discipline. To be honest, I consider holidays as a sort of license to indulge and a break from regular exercise. I know that goes against all logic, but logic goes out the window when it comes to creative excuses. I’ll try to follow your example a little and squeeze in a workout tomorrow. Happy thanksgiving to you and your family.

  2. That’s a great set of exercises. My weight lifting will be primarily that of lifting silverware. I’m going to focus on eating the most healthy of the foods presented so that I don’t fill up on the really awful stuff.

    Have a great Thanksgiving!

  3. On the push-ups. Do the arms go out to the side with a 90 degree angle to the body or do they go in next to the body? The photo looks like the arms could go either way. Are both both styles valid push-ups?

    Also, on the Romanian deadlifts, this exercise seems to fly in the face of the admonishment to always bend one’s knees. But I know that these are popular exercises. So what makes these exercises safe and beneficial?

    1. The position of the arm/elbow determines which muscles are targeted. The triceps are responsible for extending the elbow joint. The pecs are responsible for adducting humerus (upper arm). That is, moving the humerus from towards the midline of your torso. If you position your elbows/arms outward, your pecs will contract to bring your arms towards each other. If you position your elbows in, then your arms cannot move in towards each other, turning it into a strictly triceps movement.

    2. “To always bend one’s knees”? Who says that? I wonder what would happen in a Marine line up when ordered to stand at attention if they left their knees slightly bent? Haha.
      Actually, depending on the flexibility and the spinal health of the individual, I might say “keep your knees soft” or bend your knees up to 15 degrees. But there are very few absolutes, including the one about knees never going over and past the toes. Lie. It’s situational.

      As for the benefit of the Romanian Dead Lift, when properly performed it will develop hamstrings/glutes/lower back and spinal extensor strength.

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