Everyone wants to have a “beach bod” when summer comes around, but it can be tough when you’re starting with “big-rig bod.” Every driver knows how tough it can be to stay healthy when on the road, making it no surprise that approximately 70% of truckers are overweight. But if you want to get more active this summer and improve your physical health, here are exercises to help you stay fit during long hauls, with little or no equipment required*:
*Any physical exercise should only be done in consultation with your doctor or primary care physician
Sit-Ups & Crunches
These exercises require no equipment and minimal space, and don’t take long to do, fitting easily into morning and evening routines or breaks on the road.
To do a sit-up, simply lie down on your back and bend your legs so your feet are flat and firm on the ground. Cross your hands to place them on your shoulders or place them behind your ears (but don’t pull on your neck), then curl your upper body up and as close to your knees as you can, exhaling as you do so. Slowly lower your upper body back to the ground as you inhale. Aim for 10 reps at a time.
A crunch is almost exactly the same as a situp, but this time you only raise your head and shoulders off the ground (instead of curling your body all the way to your knees). Crunches only work the abdominal muscles (unlike sit-ups, which also exercise the chest, back, and hips), but are great for beginners who may struggle with sit-ups. Aim for 15-20 reps at a time.
These exercises require little or no equipment and, though they can take a little more time, help you lose weight and strengthen your heart and lungs.
Walking, Jogging, and Running
Stretching your legs with a brisk set of laps around your truck or a parking lot is one of the best exercises for your body. Best practices for this exercise include looking ahead as you move, keeping your hands relaxed around waist level, keeping your back straight and shoulders level, and taking steps that are short and light to ease the stress on your knees. Aim for 20-30 minutes two or three times per week, at least.
Not every cab can fit a stationary spin-bike, but almost every driver can bring along an easy-to-store folding bicycle, which lets you get the cardio benefits from running, without putting as much weight and pressure on your knees. As with running, avoid slouching in any direction and aim for 20-30 minutes two or three times per week.
Push-Ups & Planks
These exercises require no equipment and only minimal space and time, while improving your strength, posture, and flexibility.
Set your hands on the ground, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your elbows pointed slightly back. Your feet should also be about shoulder-width apart, with your weight on your toes. Keep your body in a straight line, so your butt is not sticking up in the air or sagging low. Look slightly ahead of you while lowering yourself to just above the ground, then raising yourself back up until your arms are straight. Aim for 10 reps at a time.
Place your body in the pushup position, but this time place your forearms entirely on the ground — with your elbows placed directly underneath your shoulders and bent at a 90° angle — and look down towards the ground. Simply hold this position for as long as you can without bending your hips. Aim for 30 seconds at a time. To make the exercise more difficult, alternate raising each foot off the floor for a few seconds at a time.
Dumbbells, kettlebells, and resistance bands are easy to store and transport. Dumbbells and kettlebells are compact and versatile weights that allow you to perform a number of lifting, squatting, and swinging exercises, with lots of quality weight training programs described online. Alternatively, you could use resistance bands to perform suspension training, which involves stretching rubber or elastic bands that are hooked to a stationary object (like your parked rig). Resistance bands allow for many, many different kinds of exercises for a full-body workout.
Stretching & Yoga
One of the best ways to keep your body loose and limber is to stretch, which improves blood circulation, burns fat, builds muscle, and prevents soreness. Shoulder shrugs, shoulder rolls, and hand stretches can be done while you are stopped at red lights. Front, back, and side bends can be done at any rest stop, and you may even consider yoga, which many truckers credit with helping them to destress and stay focused throughout the day.
Conclusion: Whether you do sit-ups, push-ups, cardio, strength training, or stretching — or all of them! — we hope we’ve provided you with an easy beginner guide to the simple exercises that can help you go from “big-rig bod” to “beach bod.” And if you’re looking to purchase a truck or van that’s as healthy as you, keep in mind Commercial Truck Trader’s nationwide selection of new and used commercial vehicles.