I am currently studying abroad in a small village in France and don't have any access to weights or a gym. The closest gym is 45 minutes away. I am a college baseball player and have recently been trying to add lean mass so I can increase my force into the ground to throw harder and relieve stress on my arm. I will be in France for the next six weeks.
I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on what I could do to either increase (preferably) or maintain my muscle mass during the six weeks that I am in France, primarily using bodyweight movements. It is also difficult for me to maintain a caloric surplus as the French tend to eat relatively small meals. I really appreciate any help!
Push-ups, swings (use a lil stool or small chair etc if that's all you have available), glute bridges, planks + walking on your hands (with your feet dragging behind ) can all be great movements to do with limited equipment.
Also, resistance bands can be really useful for training away from home (especially good for lats, shoulders & triceps etc).
The best way to gain strength which bodyweight is to train with challenging movements. Pistol squats, one-arm push-ups and pull-ups are all fantastic exercises in general, not just for in situations with limited equipment.
Having said that I am in complete agreement with @yogi1: make the most of France and get back on it when you're back home. It never matters that much. Also, calories really shouldn't be a problem in France lol.
The advice given to simply enjoy yourself in France might fly if you're little more than someone trying to be the hero at the weekly company softball game.
However, you state you're a college baseball player. And your user id futurekoufax tells me you have Big League aspirations.
So flush the notion of 'taking it easy' down the toilet because that's where it belongs.
I god damn guarantee you: as you're reading this post, there's a guy somewhere who is just as young as you, just as talented as you, but he's working harder and smarter than you.
This is the guy you'll have to compete against in college.
This is the guy you'll be compared to in the draft (if you're good enough).
And this is the guy you'll go up against through the farm system as you work your way up to The Show.
So I suggest you make the most of your time there.
First of all, don't slack off in class. Studying abroad has its many distractions - I remember my undergrad days.
Secondly, do something that will help you progress as an athlete and a ball player while you're there.
And then you can enjoy France and all it has to offer. Trust me - you'll have plenty time for this AND you'll enjoy it more knowing that you've put in the work as a student and an athlete.
So what can you do based on your current situation...?
A typical one-gallon jug with handle will weigh a little over eight pounds. If you apply yourself, you'll be surprised how many productive rotator cuff exercises you can do with that. I don't have to tell you how important it is to keep that throwing arm healthy.
And the mmc and overall knowledge you gain with just a couple of eight-pound weights will absolutely transfer over when you return to the states and hit the iron.
And instead of just push ups, which can aggravate the wrist and possibly elbow (you have to think long-term health here), I think you could do worse than that old infomercial stand-by: the Perfect Pushup.
You can order it online, get it in a few days, and it takes up very little space. In fact it's inexpensive enough that you can even gift it to a friend if you don't want to take it back home.
It keeps your wrists in a neutral position and allows just enough movement to reduce torque on the elbows.
Just remember - you DO NOT have to go through the extreme rotation like you see some people do. As long as your upper arms are at about 45 degrees (imagine your left elbow pointing at around seven or eight o'clock and right elbow pointing about five or four), plus or minus a few as you go through the rep, you'll minimize the risks.
And if you don't think the lowly push up can't put on or help retain mass, try the following. After warming up, use a controlled tempo (2 sec down, 1 sec pause, 1 sec up), do NOT lock out elbows at the top, and do as many smooth and precise reps as you can. Rest 1 minute. Then repeat the process for 45 minutes. You'll notice at some point, the max reps in one set will peak and then it'll gradually diminish. Write down the total number of reps completed.
Take a rest day or two.
Come back, warm up, do it again and try to beat that previous rep total. But DO NOT sacrifice form to get there.
That's just one variation among many.
If you decide to order the perfect push up, get some bands (as another poster mentioned). With thin bands, you can add more rotator cuff exercises. With thicker bands, you can perform band-assisted one-legged squats, pallof presses and variations, band assisted one-arm push ups (because it's important to work your non-throwing arm).
All these things - if you actually apply yourself - will establish a solid foundation for when you actually return to the gym. Furthermore, it'll help you become more accomplished at creating and performing exercises with minimal equipment. How's that for an education?
And there are countless more info but I'm growing a little bored right now.
Just remember what I said earlier about the guy out there who is just as young, just as talented, but who is working harder and smarter than his competition.
Do you want to be that guy or the one going up against him...?
Enjoy France, keep active in some way, job done. The iron will still be there for you when you get back, and if you were training hard enough before you left, a break will do you good. And if you weren't training hard enough, there's a bigger issue than a 6 week break.
Let's say he really is a college level pitcher with MLB aspirations. And if that's the case, just taking it easy or staying active in some way is simply too broad for his goals.
Six weeks is just too much time to jack off and do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Yes, I realize his trip is almost half over. But there's still time to be productive in a focused manner.
He can still train productively given his temporary circumstance - which is what he asked for to begin with. And he'll still have plenty of time for school and France.
And what if he happens to take another trip in the future...? Should he lose more time...?
As for the OP:
You have, what, about three weeks left in your stay...? If you're interested, here is a slightly more detailed outline of the push up workout I described in an earlier post.
1) Warm up.
2) Use solid form with smooth tempo.
3) Hands no wider than shoulder width.
4) Elbows at approximately 45 degrees. No need to flare them out to 90 degrees (keep the guillotine style work for advanced-level body builders).
5) Actively focus on pulling the scaps (shoulder blades) and engaging the lats together on the descent.
6) Do NOT lock out elbows at the top. Avoid sagging at the waist. Be sure to engage the glutes.
Have trouble engaging the muscles I described...? Well, yet another reason to get started sooner rather than later in your athletic training.
7) NO need to go down to an extreme range if you're using any device that allows extra range of motion (and I stand by my earlier recommendation to use something that keeps your wrists in a neutral position as well as providing some rotation throughout the rep).
8) Do as many smooth reps as you can. Avoid "bouncing" off the bottom as you fatigue. This is NOT a plyo exercise (there will be plenty of time for that when you return to the states and are under the supervision of a - hopefully - knowledgeable s&c coach).
9) Rest one minute. During that rest, write down the reps you completed.
10) Repeat the process. I stated 45 minutes total in my earlier post but I realized I don't know just how strong and fit you are. Feel free to shorten the time to 30 minutes if necessary.
11) Take a rest day or two (you can use this time to train lower body or go sight seeing), come back and do your best to match or beat the previous total.
The goal for larger men or those with average or below-average strength to weight ratio is 300 STRICT push ups - in any rep combination - in 45 minutes.
For smaller men or those with above average strength to weight ratio, the goal should be 500 STRICT push ups in 45 minutes.
When I say strict, I mean no locking out elbows at the top, no bouncing off the bottom, no sagging at the hips, etc.
Once the goal is reached...simple: add 5 or 10 extra pounds (just throw something in your backpack), rinse and repeat.
As for caloric intake, you mentioned the meals tend to be smaller. This is where protein shakes will help. But be sure to enjoy local foods there (yet another example of being able to meet your goals and enjoy your trip).
This takes MINIMAL time and equipment.
If you follow what I described, and if you don't feel and look more solid and prepared for the gym and the mound upon your return, you have every right to come back here and flame me to your heart's content.