An Elite Ultra-Marathoner & Powerlifter Explains How To Stay Fit While Traveling

Do you struggle to stay on top of your workout routine or diet while you travel? Don’t fret — you’re in good company. Even elite athletes need to make accommodations when they’re on the move, including world-class marathoner and powerlifter Fergus Crawley.

Crawley, a hybrid athlete who focuses on both endurance running and strength training, posted a vlog to YouTube on Jun. 3, 2024, in which he detailed how he adjusts his training plan while traveling abroad.

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We’re going to outline Crawley’s top tips for staying fit while traveling and then build on them to give you an action plan that you can take with you on the go, whether you’re heading out for the weekend or you’re Crawley himself breaking a sweat on a Spanish beachfront (consider us envious).

Staying Fit While Traveling: Fergus Crawley’s Top Tips

In case you’re not familiar, Scotland native Crawley has built a social media following around some truly insane feats of cardiovascular fitness and muscular strength. 

In 2021, Crawley achieved the self-imposed goal of completing a sub-12-hour distance triathlon and lifting a 1,200-pound powerlifting Total (the sum of his 1-rep max bench press, back squat, and deadlift) in the same day. Safe to say he knows a thing or two about staying on top of his routine no matter what life throws his way. Here are a few of his top tips for staying fit while traveling: 

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1. Reduce Intensity (as Needed)

Throughout his vlog, Crawley emphasized that he wasn’t afraid to cut back on his workout intensity while on vacation in Marbella, Spain. Due to a bout of international travel and a hotter-than-expected climate, Crawley pulled back on both his running workout and subsequent strength training session to avoid overtraining and limit his risk of injury while traveling.

We applaud his restraint, as does the scientific community — studies consistently show that you don’t need to train to failure 100% of the time to build muscle or strength. (1)

Your Tip: Cut back on your workout intensity or training volume while traveling by 10 to 30%. You can also use that period as a deload altogether, ensuring that you’re recovered for the gym when you return home from your travels.

2. Modify Your Movements

Crawley’s strength training workout in Spain called for deficit deadlifts — a deadlift variation intended to increase time under tension by elongating the range of motion. However, Crawley noted that the gym he had access to wasn’t suitable for the movement he planned, so he opted to modify it.

“The weight plates are affecting my setup, so we’re going to do pause deadlifts instead,” Crawley remarked. Swapping exercises out is a sure-fire way to ensure that your workout continues to run smoothly. What’s more, some studies have shown that changing out exercises regularly can enhance strength and muscle gain. (2

Your Tip: Don’t be afraid to modify movements or incorporate variations if you have limited access to equipment while traveling. Check out some of our top exercise variation lists for inspiration: 

Bench Press Variations

Shoulder Press Variations

Squat Variations

Row Variations

Lateral Raise Variations

Bicep Curl Variations

3. Shorten Rest Periods

“When I’m short on time, I like to shorten my rest periods,” Crawley noted between sets of deadlifts. When it comes to workout duration, modifying your rest between sets is one of the most effective methods to improve the efficiency of your training sessions. 

Not only will reducing rest periods increase your workout’s density (a form of progressive overload), you’ll maintain a higher heart rate and burn more calories along the way. Win-win in our book. 

You may have heard that short rest periods diminish lifting performance and can affect hypertrophy. Let’s take a look at what the science has to say: 

A 2005 paper in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research remarked that, over a 3-month training period, two groups each with either two or five-minute rest periods made similar gains in muscle and strength. (3)

One study from 2014 remarked that sub-one-minute rest intervals, “can result in acute increases in serum growth hormone levels,” which may also help promote hypertrophy. (4)

However, more contemporary data suggest a “possible advantage” of using longer rest intervals (greater than 60 seconds) to promote optimal muscle growth. (5)

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Your Tip: Don’t be afraid to reduce your rest periods when performing workouts on vacation or if you’re strapped for time. However, strive to rest for at least one or two minutes between bouts of compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, or pressing.


“The heat really does take it out of you,” Crawley lamented while on an outdoor walk after his morning training session. He’s right — studies show that exercising in hot conditions at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit can have a negative impact on power output and reaction time. (6)

[Related: The Best Electrolyte Drinks for Athletes]

That’s why it’s extra important to stay hydrated if you’re exercising in warm weather or are traveling to a destination that’s hotter than you’re used to. Long bouts of travel mixed with inadequate fluid intake can be a double-whammy of performance detriment. (7)

Your Tip: Research on the effects of air travel as it relates to hydration is scant, but the aforementioned study did remark that flying may have a “significant” effect on fluid balance. The Mayo Clinic recommends consuming up to 3.7 liters of fluid if you’re male and and 2.7 if female. 

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Grgic J, Schoenfeld BJ, Orazem J, Sabol F. Effects of resistance training performed to repetition failure or non-failure on muscular strength and hypertrophy: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Sport Health Sci. 2022 Mar;11(2):202-211. doi: 10.1016/j.jshs.2021.01.007. Epub 2021 Jan 23. PMID: 33497853; PMCID: PMC9068575.

Fonseca, R. M., Roschel, H., Tricoli, V., de Souza, E. O., Wilson, J. M., Laurentino, G. C., Aihara, A. Y., de Souza Leão, A. R., & Ugrinowitsch, C. (2014). Changes in exercises are more effective than in loading schemes to improve muscle strength. Journal of strength and conditioning research28(11), 3085–3092.

Ahtiainen, J. P., Pakarinen, A., Alen, M., Kraemer, W. J., & Häkkinen, K. (2005). Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resistance training: influence on muscle strength, size, and hormonal adaptations in trained men. Journal of strength and conditioning research19(3), 572–582.

Henselmans, M., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2014). The effect of inter-set rest intervals on resistance exercise-induced muscle hypertrophy. Sports medicine (Auckland, N.Z.)44(12), 1635–1643.

Grgic, J., Lazinica, B., Mikulic, P., Krieger, J. W., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2017). The effects of short versus long inter-set rest intervals in resistance training on measures of muscle hypertrophy: A systematic review. European journal of sport science17(8), 983–993.

Donnan K, Williams EL, Stanger N. The Effects of Heat Exposure During Intermittent Exercise on Physical and Cognitive Performance Among Team Sport Athletes. Percept Mot Skills. 2021 Feb;128(1):439-466. doi: 10.1177/0031512520966522. Epub 2020 Oct 20. PMID: 33076764; PMCID: PMC7859587.

Zubac D, Buoite Stella A, Morrison SA. Up in the Air: Evidence of Dehydration Risk and Long-Haul Flight on Athletic Performance. Nutrients. 2020 Aug 25;12(9):2574. doi: 10.3390/nu12092574. PMID: 32854320; PMCID: PMC7551461.

Featured Image: @ferguscrawley on Instagram

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