Hands up if improving fitness was one of your New Year’s resolutions.
Yea, me too. Most of us want to slim down, tone up, get fit, look better, and generally feel good in ourselves.
If you’ve stuck with it so far, high five! You’ve got the first months out of the way. You’re enjoying your program, you’re looking tasty and feeling a million times better than you did last December.
And now the goal has shifted to summer. Because who doesn’t want to be in shape for the summer months, right?
So it surprises me how many people dedicate themselves to a healthy lifestyle throughout the year only to let it slide on that month-long tour. Because that’s when you need it most!
Do You Have To Be Fit To Ride A Motorcycle?
I don’t want this post to go on forever, so I won’t go too much into the technicalities! But for technical explanations, you can read more in this post.
In a nutshell, a fit motorcyclist will get way more out of a tour than an unfit motorcyclist. And I mean WAY more.
Here are just a few of the benefits you can expect when you build up your motorcycle riding fitness:
- Increased levels of concentration and alertness – making you a safer rider.
- Muscular endurance is increased – which means you can ride for longer in more comfort.
- A quicker recovery rate – you won’t be as tired over longer tours.
- Better quality of sleep resulting in fresher starts.
- Fitness has a direct impact on the ability to overcome stress.
- Improved bike handling – especially if off-road.
- Improved mental health and wellbeing.
Staying Fit On Tour
Don’t worry, I’m aware of all the equipment you currently use in the gym. And I’m also aware that you can’t take all this stuff with you when you tour. If you ever figure out a way to get a squat rack in your top box, please let me know!
But that doesn’t mean you can’t maintain your fitness when you tour. On the contrary! And not only can you maintain your fitness, but you can use it to your advantage to get more enjoyment from your travels.
And the best bit? You can do it with nothing more than a few smartphone apps and minimal kit.
So in this post, I’m going to share 11 tips and tools that will help you maintain your fitness AND help you get more from your adventures.
1. Take Your Running Shoes
If you’re a runner like me, you should consider yourself to be very lucky. Because we get to experience our trips twice over.
Touring on a bike is spectacular. But exploring on foot opens a whole new world. And it exposes you to sights, smells, and sounds you would otherwise miss on your bike.
I had a lovely time touring the Vosges mountains last summer. But one of the highlights for me was running through the wild meadows and forests.
Completely alone, I ran amongst the wildflowers and garlic. The only time I stopped was to take in the fresh mountain air and enjoy the scenic views around me.
Not only was it good for me physically, but mentally, too.
Admittedly, carrying an extra pair of shoes just for running seems like a burden. But when you’re running through the landscape, you’ll see it’s a price worth paying.
2. Pre-Plan Your Running Routes With These Apps
The secret to maintaining ANY fitness plan is preparation. The more barriers you allow to stand between you and your training session, the less likely you are to do it.
That’s why you’re more likely to go to a gym if it’s on your way home from work than if you have to go out of your way.
And it’s the same with running on tour.
Pre-planning your routes BEFORE you leave means you don’t have to worry about route planning when you get there.
Personally, I like to use Garmin Connect and MapMyRun. (Both are free and available on Apple, Android, and desktop.)
3. Garmin Connect & MapMyRun
The reason I use Garmin Connect is that I wear a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro fitness watch. But even if you don’t have the watch, you can still sign up to Garmin Connect for free and use the course planning function. The same goes for MapMyRun.
One of the reasons I love both Garmin Connect & MapMyRun is because they’re simple to use. You simply drop pins on the map, and the apps make the route for you. You can also set custom avoidances, such as going off-road (or not), making roundtrips, or there-and-back routes.
From here, you can follow your route either through your smartphone or watch in the knowledge you’ll never get lost. At the very least, you know you’ll be able to get back!
If you prefer a social aspect to your fitness, Strava could be a good option for you.
If running isn’t your thing, but you still like the idea of meandering amongst the woodlands and flowers, hiking is another viable option.
In mountainous terrain, hiking is excellent for fitness whilst not being as high-impact as running. And you can still take advantage of the mountain air and stunning views.
Garmin Connect and MapMyRun also can be used to form (and subsequently follow) hiking routes.
The only drawback I’ve found is that carrying boots can be an issue if you’re into serious hiking. I usually stick to non-technical routes so I can leave my hiking boots at home.
5. Stay Fit With Swimming
Swimming is another form of non-weight-bearing fitness that offers an element of relaxation and luxury to your trip.
If you’re wild-camping and not too afraid of the cold, wild swimming is certainly something you could enjoy.
Prefer to stop in hotels? You can (if you book early enough and take advantage of offers) find hotels with swimming pools at reasonable prices.
Cycling is a superb way to maintain fitness – great for cardiovascular fitness, is low impact, and promotes wellbeing.
Obviously, you can’t carry your bike with you. But in many places (especially tourist hot spots) you can hire a bicycle for a day and go explore.
As with running and swimming, little to no kit is required, and it’s the perfect way to spend a rest day.
7. Fitness Apps
Okay, so maybe you’re not into running, hiking, swimming or cycling. Perhaps you prefer the muscle pump from good ol’ fashioned exercising or resistance-based workouts.
In that case, I highly recommend fitness apps. There are loads available for free, but my two favourites are the apps by Nike and Puma.
Both have search functions where you can select intensity, duration, and even the equipment available. From here, they offer you a range of follow-along workouts from a range of fitness professionals.
Many of the routines are in a video format (a bit like YouTube) so you can follow along in real-time.
The videos also offer instructions on form and technique. Considering they’re free, take up zero space, and are fully customisable depending on your fitness level and the equipment you have available, I find both of these apps invaluable.
You can also download the routes straight to your phone. And this means you can follow them without relying on WiFi or mobile internet.
8. Resistance Training
If you like lifting weights, then I’m afraid you’re shit out of luck. Well, unless your hotel has a gym (which many do, these days.)
As mentioned at the top of this post, you’re can’t carry dumbbells, barbells, or anything else needed for resistance training.
But resistance bands offer a great way of adding a resistance component to your training. And they’re especially good if you want to do specific strength training exercises for motorcyclists.
Get three bands in various tensile strengths, and you can use them for a myriad of exercises. From here, you can form a tonne of your own full-body workouts.
You can also tell the apps listed above that you have resistance bands and they will find workouts for you.
9. Get Fit With Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training is awesome when touring. You don’t need any equipment whatsoever, and providing you have space, you can come up with some creative workouts!
For resistance training, you can choose from hundreds of exercises – including, squats, lunges, press-ups, chin-ups (door frames work well), sit-ups, and isometric exercises – amongst many others.
And you can even pick exercises that are functional for long-distance motorcycling.
If you want a CV workout, you can choose standing sprints, burpees, jump ups, star jumps, running lunges, skipping, and a whole lot more.
Want a real workout? Combine the two for some serious motorcycle fitness training!
YouTube is another good option for follow-along workouts – although nowhere near as customisable as the Nike and Puma apps.
Remember that YouTube videos can also be a bit hit-and-miss in terms of quality. Unlike the apps, they are largely unvetted.
11. Holistic Exercise & Meditation
I know this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’ve never tried Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, or meditation, I highly recommend you give them a go! Personally, I can live without Tai Chi or Pilates, but I find Yoga and meditation especially beneficial.
For flexibility programs (including stretches for motorcycle riding), YouTube is your best bet for something free and simple – although there are paid apps out there that do it better.
The Nike & Puma apps listed above also offer flexibility-based programs for free.
If you want mediation, there are various paid apps you can choose from. Headspace is generally considered to be the best freemium app available, but I actually prefer Insight Timer (also freemium.)
Staying Fit On Your Motorcycle Tour: Conclusion
So as you can see, staying fit on tour doesn’t have to be the nightmare you envisage. With minimal kit and a few apps, you can ride the fitness bug all year round.
I’d even argue that maintaining your fitness levels will help you get MORE from your tour.
How do you like to keep fit when travelling? Help your fellow biker brethren by letting us know in the comments below!
Want more like this? Have a glance at these:
- Motorcycle Fitness: Get More From Your Tour
- Motorcycling In The Vosges
- Riding Motorcycles Benefits Mental Health
- Why Motorcycle Travel Is Good For You!
- Long-Distance Motorcycling: 17 Tips
Top image: Malik Skydsgaard