With camps, tournaments, showcases, college visits and everything else, youth athletes can spend a ton of time on the road.
While this travel time might be necessary, it can also be a barrier to fitness and peak performance. During long drives, the muscles become stiff and contracted. It can take more than just your standard warm-up to help battle those effects. The good news is that a car can serve as a sort of on-the-go gym; you just have to get inventive.
By implementing some simple workouts when traveling to competition, you can arrive feeling better and stronger than when you left, giving you a home field advantage no matter where you play.
Here are four road-trip friendly exercises you can use to stretch and strengthen your body.
1. Start Road Trips With a Stretch
Just like any other workout, your travel routine should start with stretching, and passengers can do many effective stretches without even leaving the car. One simple stretch is raising your arms up and reaching back to the headrest for a shoulder stretch. Don’t hesitate to cross one leg on top of the other for a modified hip opener, either.
2. Trunk Push-Ups
What do you see when you pop your trunk? For most athletes, the answer is a pile of gear and empty water bottles. But your trunk can also help you get a killer upper-body workout. You can put your feet up on your trunk and your hands on the ground for a set of Decline Push-Ups, which will challenge your serratus anterior (an important muscle for shoulder health) and your upper chest muscles more than a standard Push-Up.
You can also switch position and put your hands on the trunk and your feet on the ground to perform an Incline Push-Up, which—while easier than a standard Push-Up—will still challenge your lower chest muscles more intensely. You can also pair these Push-Ups with a simple Down Dog pose.
Here’s one pro tip for these elevated exercises: They work best with small vehicles. Small cars with a hatchback make it easy to prop up your feet without a trunk lip in the way, but if your car has a traditional sedan trunk, you might want to try these exercises with your feet inside the door. Just make sure you aren’t contorting your body into any awkward, painful positions, as that will do more harm than good.
3. Pulling Power
No matter how much gear you have stuffed into the trunk of your car, there’s always room for some resistance bands. While there are plenty of exercises you can perform via a resistance band without your car, you can also loop one around your wheel well or door handle (make sure the door’s locked if you do this) to perform exercises like Seated Band Rows and Band Face Pulls. Not only will these exercises improve our pulling power, but they help fight the anterior dominance and poor posture long hours in the car contribute to.
4. Car Core
You can also loop that resistance band through the door handle (or really anything on or in the car you can find to make it work) and activate your core with Pallof Presses. You core is sitting stagnant and inactive for hours on end on long car trips. Band Pallof Presses are a great exercise for building anti-rotational strength and stability and firing up those dormant core muscles.
Driving is uncomfortable and boring, but working out can make it better—and better for you. So stretch it out and enjoy the ride. You’ll be there in no time.
Photo Credit: mixetto/iStock