6 Weeks Travel in Mongolia, How to Keep the Gainz?

Hey Coach,

So as the title says, I’ll be traveling to Mongolia and will be there for 6 weeks. I will not have access to a gym for all but maybe 2 or 3 days during the whole trip.

I have purchased a TRX in hopes to keep some upper body size. Strength is going to plummet but that’s easy to get back.

Do you have or know of any good resources? Maybe you can help me out a bit with what to do.

Find some rocks and use them. Pushups, chin ups. Hill sprints.

Over reach before vacation, Go hard as fuck on the days you can get to the gym. Then Rest and relax to keep you cortisol low.

The whole losing gains thing is vastly, wildly over blown. Will you lose a teeny, tiny bit? Sure. But it’s not like your going to lose 4 years worth of gains and it’s going to take 4 years to get them back.

MAYBE you lose a full pound or two of muscle. But it will come right back when you begin training again.

If anything you might even grow the first week or two because of the rest.

CT has an article on it here already: How to Keep Muscle During a Layoff


Had to lay off for 3 whole months, couldn’t eat more than 2000 kcal for 3 weeks at least, lost 13 pounds. Got 4 back in the first week of training and I’m not that far away from where I was weight wise. The whole losing muscle thing is overblown as long as you eat enough. A break like this even helps your body recuperate and repair the tissues other than muscle. Don’t stress over it

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Workout tough before vacation.

During vacation just do BW exercises and runs when you have a chance.

You might lose 10%-20% of your strength, but you’ll get it all back within a few weeks of coming back.

It’s a vacation man, just enjoy it and have fun!

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Ride the open steppe, on a fleet horse, with a falcon at your wrist and the wind in your hair.


Listening to The Hu puts hair on your chest and muscle on your frame

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I used to get hung up when travelling as it would interfere with my routine. Eventually the penny dropped and I learned to try and embrace the challenge. Sometimes this was stuff like:

  • wall and handstand pushups;
  • I carried around a door wedge and used it to support a door to perform door pull-ups (yes, they exist);
  • chairs and other crude instruments to do split squats, etc;
  • some countries are more forward thinking when it comes to communal exercise and have those areas to allow dips, chins, etc, otherwise kids area can be used;
  • I recently went to New York and saw folks in Central Park doing loaded carries using large rocks (if they can do it anyone can!).

As someone else mentioned, you can also switch focus and do conditioning. Come back lean and ripped. I have never been to Mongolia but they are famous for meat consumption so your diet should have no excuses either. Good luck. Sounds like a cracking adventure.


What kind?

Calisthenics for sure, as most people here mention. Also, what are you doing there? If you are walking for hours and hours on end then maybe you don’t need to do… more, depending on how your nutrition will be.

But, lacking any sort of equipment L-sits on the ground (if you can do these on your fingers, great, otherwise start by doing push-ups on your fingers). If that is too easy, V-sits. That has your abdominals covered. Pistol squats, usually quite easy to load (your travel backpack for instance held out in front).

If you want to get some free conditioning, this ab circuit is killer:

Scott Abel has a lot of good stuff actually, you certainly wouldn’t regress I believe if you did the above and this:

Do isometric holds, push against things that cannot be moved, and get creative.

These are all great responses! I’ve got enough ideas to help me think outside the box (literally).

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Like others have said, calisthenics will work very well. I had a two-month trip some summers ago and still wish I’d done bodyweight circuits a few times each week. Here’s one of many ways to structure it - twice a week, you could do five rounds of:
Single leg calf raises

Wear a backpack filled with whatever you have handy for everything but the ab exercise. Two other days each week, run. Enjoy the remaining three days.

Just one of those heavy rubber door wedges. In fact, two just to be safe!

A post from TC today… Basically the first 2 weeks, as long as you keep protein high, you might actually continue growing!

I’ll be honest with you. In 6 weeks you will very likely lose size in 6 weeks on such a trip. I’ve had 2 friends do something similar and they were both EXCELLENT at body weight exercises (so they could do a wide variety of them during the trip0 and they all lose a pretty good amount of muscle.

First because of the food. In Asia protein portions are very low, especially if you are trekking and going through villages instead of big cities (not many big cities in Mongolia). And your overall caloric intake will also likely be much lower than here.

Second because your daily energy expenditure will be very large, you will likely walk a metric ton.

Third because your sleep likely won’t be that good and that plays a big role in muscle growth.

While body weight exercises can help you maintain muscle mass to some extent. You are likely not profficient enough in them to do the more advanced variations that provide enough demands to compensate for the lack of loading.

You can try to minimize muscle loss by applying all the strategies mentionned above. The key IMHO will be to try ti get in as much protein and calories as possible. My friends did bring protein powder with them to help with that.

“Planned overtraining” for 1-2 weeks prior to leaving is a good strategy, and should prevent muscle loss for 2 weeks or so.

But might as well come at peace with the fact that you will lose muscle, otherwise you will be obsessing with it and won’t enjoy your travels. But the good things is that the muscle that was lost will return pretty rapidly when you get back to training.


Mongolian diet is high in dairy and animal meats. Protein shouldn’t be an issue and food will be cheap.