Staying healthy can be an uphill battle, especially when your job consists of sitting in a truck for 12 hours or more per day. Many truckers are on the road for weeks at a time and they just don't have the luxury of going to a gym on a regular basis. Staying fit shouldn't have to be hard.
Fit for the Road
A 2014 survey from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health disclosed that 69% of truck drivers were obese. There are 3+ million trucks on the the roads in the USA. When you consider the health ramifications of obesity (diabetes, stroke, heart attack, and fatigue), you realize how many truck drivers are high on the health risk list.
Many truck stops along the highway now offer 24-hour fitness facilities on-site and there are even in-cab workout systems available to purchase. However, with cost-of-living on the rise and truckers trying to minimize their expenses, not all truckers can afford gym visits or the cost of in-cab equipment. But the truth is, you can get a great workout without ever going to a gym.
You can get a full body workout 4-5 days a week by bodyweight training using the one thing that you always have with you on the long haul—your rig. No expensive equipment needed and no gym membership fees. BigRoad consulted with a certified personal trainer to get the scoop on trucker wellness and help us build a bodyweight-based workout that's fit for a trucker!
The most important thing you can do before working out is warming up. Think of your muscles like rubber bands. If you spend all day sitting in your truck, hunched over a steering wheel, those rubber bands have gone almost completely unused all day. Now, combine this lack of movement with a cold morning. Your rubber bands are now extra tight and constricted. Then, start an intense workout—those cold, constricted rubber bands will very likely snap.
Warming up doesn’t have to be complicated. It can involve a few low intensity walking or jogging laps around your rig or even a lap of knee hugs and walking leg lifts to get your heart rate going and warm up those muscles at the same time.
Some truckers may be anxious doing their workout where people can see them. While I say: "Hey—at least you're getting your healthy on!", know that some of your workout can be done in the comfort of your sleeper away from prying eyes. You do not need a lot of room to get some good core exercises into your workout, and they will definitely help to round out your workout.
Plank exercises help strengthen your back, arms, and legs as well as your core. Start off the exercise by getting on your hands and knees. Place your forearms and hands onto the ground, directly under your shoulders. Keep your feet about hip-width apart, or, for better stability, wider. Your entire body should maintain a straight line (no back arch or hip dip). Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Planks are one of the most effective exercises to strengthen your abs. You can keep your workout fresh and switch things up with these plank variations that target other core muscle groups as well:
- Side Planks: With your elbow under your shoulder and your feet staggered, lift your hips. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
- 3-Point Plank: Start in a forearm or pushup plank position. Raise your left leg to hip height or just above hip height. Hold for 1-2 seconds and return to the start position. Repeat with the other leg. Repeat for 30 seconds.
- Forearm Plank to Pushup Plank: Start in a push-up position. Lower to forearm plank position on one side, then the other. Return to the start position and repeat. Repeat for 30 seconds.
You don’t need big expensive equipment to get fit. You have a great workout tool at your disposal all the time when you are doing a haul. Your truck has bumpers, handles, steps, and tires—all of which you can use as part of an amazing workout.
Lunges work your thighs, butt, and hamstrings. You can easily lunge around your tractor trailer anywhere that you park. You might get some looks, but remember that you are the one getting healthy. Place your hands on your hips and stand tall with your shoulders pushed back. Step forward with your right leg and slowly lower your body until your front knee is bent at least 90 degrees. Pause, then push yourself to the starting position and switch legs. Repeat for one lap around your rig.
Squats are the perfect staple in any workout.They work your thighs, butt, and calves. Facing the front of your truck, stand as tall as you can with your feet spread shoulder-width apart and your arms stretched out in front of you.
Lower your body as far as you can by pushing your hips back and bending your knees (try and touch your front bumper with your outstretched finger tips). Pause, then slowly push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat this for 12 - 15 reps.
Rows (also called pull ups) work your back, biceps, traps, and the stabilizer muscles in between. To do these, you’ll want to hold onto something steady like your truck door handle. Lean back at an angle (the steeper the angle, the harder the exercise), and pull yourself back upright using one arm and then switch arms. Repeat this 12-15 reps for each arm.
Using the steps of your truck, step up and back down for 12-15 reps on each leg. Use your grab handle for support if necessary.
Dips are a great way to work your triceps. Sit on the step of your truck with your hands holding the edge of the step on either side of you. Position your feet on the ground in front of you. Straighten your arms and, while still holding the step, lift your butt off of the step. Rest your heels on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Lower your body towards the ground by bending your elbows, pause, and then raise your body back up using only your arms. Repeat 12-15 reps.
Pushups are a simple exercise that everyone knows how to do. They’re great for strengthening your core and can be done anywhere! Make sure to keep your back straight and your head neutral. You can always make them more difficult by placing your feet on an incline (like your truck step or even your bumper). Try starting with 15 pushups per circuit and build up from there.
Truckers trying to maintain their health don’t always have the luxury of taking a full hour to workout at one time. This workout is designed so that you can do a quick set of squats or stepups and get the most out of a rest break without affecting your schedule.These workout breaks are also key to helping you stay alert behind the wheel and help to reduce the risk of hypertension and other problems that can be caused by sitting too long.
Depending on your current fitness level, start with one rep of the entire circuit per workout or work through the circuit up to three times for a more challenging workout!
No trucker sets out to drive from Miami to Seattle their first day—likewise a fit body doesn't happen overnight. Many people abandon their fitness programs because they expect to see instant results, but try to remember that long term health is a series of ongoing choices.
How BigRoad Fits Into Life On The Road!
With BigRoad’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) solution, there is no need to keep track of your hours manually. It’s all done for you. Save yourself time and let BigRoad do the work. Request a demo to see how BigRoad can help make your life on the road a little easier.