Working out on the road is much easier said than done. Trucking isn’t a 9-5 job where you can find ample time to exercise during the evenings and on weekends. Truckers are out on the road for days, sometimes weeks at a time, which can make finding the time or ability to exercise very difficult.
That’s not to say that exercising while on the road is impossible. Just check Instagram or Tik Tok and you’ll see dozens of truck drivers sharing their workout tips. So how are these OTR and regional drivers able to work out while on the road? There are a few different options for truck driver workouts you can do.
Becoming a master of your own body weight is one of the best feelings out there. These exercises center around using either no equipment or the equipment around you (or on your truck) for support.
Pushups are the most well-known bodyweight exercise and for good reason. They’ve been used for centuries to help people build up the muscles in their chest, shoulders, and arms.
Pushups can easily be done in a parking lot or even in your sleeper berth. If you do plan on doing them in a parking lot, a rubber exercise or yoga mat is a good investment, so you’re not digging your hands into the asphalt.
2. Bench Dip
Bench dips are great exercises for working out your triceps. This exercise involves placing a bench or stationary bar that can support your weight behind your back and holding on to it with your arms fully extended at shoulder width. Keep your legs extended forward as well and bent at the waist, so you’re in an “L” shape. Then, slowly lower your body by bending your elbow until your arms are close to 90 degrees. Using that same motion, bring yourself up again and repeat.
In a gym setting, these can easily be done on a workout bench. For a truck driver on the road, bench dips can be done on the steps leading up to your cab or at a bench you find at a rest stop.
Planking is more than a short-lived internet fad from the late 2000’s. It’s a great exercise for burning fat and stabilizing your core and ab muscles.
You start by lying face down on the ground. Next, put your forearms and toes on the ground, while keeping your legs and torso in the air. Your body should be straight (like a plank). Now, you hold this position for a designated amount of time. You can start off by doing it for 15-20 seconds, and then work yourself up to a minute plus once you get the hang of it.
Just like pushups, planks can easily be done in your sleeper berth or in a parking lot. You can even do a modified version called a “side plank” that works out your external obliques.
4. Shoulder Shrugs
Probably the easiest exercise on this list, shoulder shrugs are great for strengthening your neck and shoulder muscles while releasing tension. Lift your shoulders up to your ears as if you’re saying, “I don’t know.” Hold the position for a few seconds then release. Perform 10 to 15 reps and repeat for however many sets you want to do.
Try this exercise while stopped at a red light, waiting on a shipper, or just taking a break.
If your goal is to burn calories, there’s no substitute for a good run or jog. The bad news is that this isn’t always an option while on the road, since most parking lots aren’t ideal for running in. But there are ways to get around this. Check your maps app to see if there’s a nearby park or trail that’s within walking distance of the stop you’re going to.
While running is great for you, it’s not the easiest exercise to get into. If this is the case for you, practice high intensity interval training (HIIT) running. This is just a fancy way of saying that you run for a certain amount of time, maybe a minute or two, then you walk for a designated amount of time. You do this repeatedly until you’ve reached your time or distance goal.
As you get more comfortable, you can up the amount of time spent running and decrease the time spent walking. It’s a much easier way to start off than trying to run non-stop.
Light Exercise Equipment
While bodyweight exercises are great, keeping a bit of spare room in your cab for some light exercise equipment will give you a whole new range of workouts to do.
6. Grip Strength Trainer
Grip strength trainers are great for working out your forearms and increasing your hand dexterity. The awesome thing about grip strength trainers is that you can use them while you’re watching tv, looking at your phone, or just relaxing before bed.
7. Resistance Bands
Resistance bands are the Swiss army knives of working out. They can be used in any number of exercises that work out your arms, legs, chest, abs and shoulders. Resistance bands come in a few different types that are usually color-coded, with red or black usually having the hardest resistance.
While there’s dozens of exercises you can use resistance bands for, some of the most common are squats, triceps extensions and chest press.
While you probably won’t want to put an entire set of dumbbells from 5 to 100 pounds in your cab, just having one or two can be great for drivers looking to do some light strength training while on the road.
Even better, consider getting a pair of adjustable dumbbells. These lock into a base, and you can move a notch to select your desired weight. You can find more information on these here.
Bicep curls, triceps extensions, lawnmower pulls, and shoulder presses are just a few of the exercises you can do with a pair of dumbbells.
9. Find a Gym
While most of the exercises you’ll see for truck drivers center around things you can do with your own bodyweight or equipment that can fit in your cab, it’s easier than you think to find a gym if you really want it.
Take Planet Fitness for example. There are thousands of locations across the country, and with their black card membership, you can access any one of them. The great thing about these gyms is being able to use all the fancy exercise equipment like treadmills, circuit machines, and free weights.
Now, the caveat with going to a gym is of course finding parking. If you’re going late at night, the staff may let you park in the lot, but that’s a very big maybe. Aside from that, you could keep a bike in your cab and bike from the nearest truck stop to the gym.
As you can see, going to a gym as an OTR or Regional trucker isn’t the easiest thing to plan out. That’s why this option is usually better for local drivers, or drivers who have a dedicated route and have learned all the do’s and don’ts of their local gym.
This doesn’t mean that OTR or regional drivers have to give up on the idea of going to a gym. There are some truck stops and rest stations that offer gyms specifically for truck drivers. Pilot Flying J and Travel Centers of America are two such companies.
10. Bonus Tip – Healthy Eating
If you’re really looking to change your lifestyle and get in better shape, you can’t overstate the role healthy eating plays. You can have the best workout regimen around, but if you’re still eating poorly, getting fit is going to be an even bigger uphill battle.
Simple changes like packing your own healthy lunches before hitting the road, and limiting the amount of sugar you take in will work hand in hand with exercising to help you see results quicker
While exercising as a truck driver isn’t the easiest thing to do, it’s by no means impossible. Whether you’re looking to get in better physical shape, lower your risk of disease, or just feel better about yourself, there’s nothing stopping you from doing it while on the road.
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