This title is bound to raise some eyebrows, and I would be surprised if it didn’t. How in the world can you workout in your car?! If you are envisioning doing pushups across the bench seat of your pickup while driving on cruise control, you have the wrong idea, I assure you! Another question might be, why would you want to do that?!
I can answer both of the above questions very easily! I for one have a very long and tedious commute to work every day, and I suspect I’m not alone in this. I try to make my drive time at least somewhat productive by listening to informative talk radio, books on cd, how-to cds, and things like this, fairly often. Sure, sometimes I just crank up the tunes and settle for a little entertainment; I’m not a TOTAL nerd! However, I am always looking to make what would be boring, tedious “downtime” more productive and less mentally draining.
I have been using some of these methods, and am continuing to invent new ones on an ongoing basis. While it would be difficult to make this a “stand alone” training system, I feel it has merit as a supplementary program to those already doing other types of exercises at home or at the local gym. They would also be beneficial as a starting point for the folks that have not been working out recently. I have been constantly trying to figure out more stretches and exercises to try. I hope you will think outside the box and come up with some additional exercises and ideas yourself.
One of the aspects of training and keeping all the joints in good working order, that I tend to neglect or slack off in, is the area of flexibility or stretching. It occurred to me that some form of stretching could be done in the car, while commuting, and especially when stuck in traffic and the car is not moving at all. Of course, a full body, thorough stretching routine might be a bit tough to achieve in the car, but you can definitely get some stretching done, as I have learned.
Also, in my research , I came across some very interesting older routines which required no special equipment, and some of which required very little space in which to perform the exercises. Later, I started to frequent forums on body weight exercises, and some new terms came up and aroused my curiosity. Really, the new terms were just “catch phrases”, used mostly by folks selling exercise programs based on long pre-existing routines. The terms were DVR (Dynamic Virtual Resistance), Iso-tension, Dynamic Tension, Virtual self resistance, KSHD, and some others.
“Dynamic Tension” was the term used by Charles Atlas for his isometric and self resistance courses which are still being sold to this day. KSHD stands for Kin Shi Hai Do, which is an ancient martial art form which basically translates to lifting weights without the weights, or “virtually lifting”.
Probably all of these concepts had their roots in ancient martial arts traditions that have been revamped, rehashed and re-hyped in more modern times. What all of these methods have in common is that they can be done sans equipment, though some can be aided or enhanced in some cases by the use of equipment.
Stretching and Isometrics
Lots of stretching moves can be done in the car, many even while driving. Stretching one leg or arm at a time is fairly simple to do while driving. You can use the roof of the car, the steering wheel, your seat, console, etc. as objects to push or pull against while engaging in stretching or doing simple isometrics. Reaching your arm up and back as far as you can while pushing against the roof is one example. Reaching around the back of your seat with one arm is another example, but be sure you have enough room to complete both sides, one a time, of course. Shrugging the shoulders, moving the head around in a circular motion, arching your lower back are a few more things that can easily be done, with minimal distraction.
Of course, there are a few downsides to this type of routine. For one thing, the person driving the car next to yours might just think you are an escapee from the nearest sanitarium. I don’t concern myself too much with this one; the heck with them if they can’t take a joke.
Another item is potentially getting overly distracted in concentrating on the exercise and not your driving.There are ways around this, most obvious of which is to only do the exercises during longer traffic stops. You can set your cruise control when driving on the highway at a relatively fixed speed, which will free your feet up from having to be on the pedals constantly. Safety is always the number one concern, so if you feel distracted or unable to concentrate while driving, doing any of these things, then save them for traffic stops and lay-overs.
One thing that requires little or no movements is simply flexing or contracting different muscle groups. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder flexing in the mirror, going from one pose to the next? This is written off by the masses as narcissism, but the bodybuilder is not simply admiring himself or herself when doing this. (At least, not always) Besides practicing for an on-stage posing routine, designed to display one’s physique to the best possible advantage, this posing/flexing actually hardens the muscles, makes them more vascular ( veins visible and not covered by fat layer) appearing, and can even provide additional growth.
While you can find various catchy sounding exercise routines that incorporate muscle flexing, it is nothing new, and I am certainly not claiming to be its inventor. This is without any doubt the most practical and simplest form of exercise you can do while driving.You can concentrate on one muscle or muscle group at a time, flexing and then relaxing each section until you have completed the entire body. You could do multiple sets of each exercise, and you can experiment with longer or shorter contraction times or intensity of contractions. Between the stretching, flexing and virtual resistance movements, you can put a decent little routine together that can be done during your commute. So be inventive, try and see what types of movements you can do in your car, I think you will be glad you did.