It’s easy to pack on the pounds when traveling in Latin America (or anywhere for that matter). And if you’re not careful, those fancy hiking pants that double as shorts could suddenly get tight in the gut.
Not to worry, though. I have devised a solution that’s effortless yet highly effective, which is available to you during those long rides on a chicken bus, colectivo or other DCT (developing country transportation) such as trains or boats. It’s a complete workout: strength training with some cardio thrown in for good measure.
A Unique Exercise Program
Known as the Chicken Bus Workout, this one-of-a-kind exercise plan is my brainchild, which I’ve put together after many years of traveling. I discovered that after a ride of 6 to 8 hours, my body was more toned than previously. I’d also shed a few pounds despite pigging out on junk food.
And now, I’d like to share my secrets with you, my valued readers. Because you’re reading this now/today, the training session is absolutely free. (Of course, you can sign up for my RSS feed or my newsletter to express your gratitude.)
I apologize, however, since I won’t be able to offer any ginsu knives. (They come only with the Asian train workout plan and only for those who go 2nd class.)
Are You Ready to Build Muscle/Burn Fat?
I know you’re eager to get started, but I recommend that you read the disclaimer below first. This will help prevent injury and discomfort.
Disclaimer: Please remember to do a proper warm-up, cool down and to stretch; also check with your physician before starting this (or any) exercise program. Feel free to add your exercises (or stretches) in the Comments section.
This is easy. Just schlep your backpack around a large, confusing bus terminal for about 15 minutes, wondering where the heck the bus is. This will surely get our heart rate up.
As you place your backpack into the compartment under the bus or in the overhead rack, you’ll naturally be stretching your upper body (try not to pull a muscle, though). Then, as you board the bus and get stuck on the steps (due to a slow-moving line or ticket stamping), take the opportunity to stretch your calf muscles and thighs.
1) Half-Seat Squat (aka, Butt Cheek Squeeze)
You do this when you’re forced to sit in a half seat, with one butt cheek on and the other, off. In order to stabilize yourself, you have to tighten the free butt cheek so that you don´t fall off the seat. While doing so, you also tighten up the quad muscle because you’re in a pseudo squat position. Works especially well if the person next to you has body odor.
Note: this is excellent training for using border bathrooms and other bathrooms in general. You’ll be working the same muscles for the most part.
2) Butt Bridge
This happens when 6 people sit across a row designed for only 4 people. The two people in the middle, both of whom are doing the half-seat squat, end up forming a bridge of sorts with their butt cheeks. Together, the butts are squeezed and tightened isometrically. Note…the quad is not as involved as in the butt cheek squeeze.
3) Bicep/Elbow Grip
This you can do when forced to stand/lean or sit in awkward, uncomfortable positions. Example: in a collectivo designed for 8 people, there may be 12-15 people. Usually, there isn´t anywhere to hold on. So, what you do is with one hand, grab part of a seat. Then, stabilize yourself with your opposing elbow. This is especially good for people with wrist issues.
4) Sitting Ab Crunch
This often happens spontaneously when you choose the window seat, thinking you’ll have the entire seat to yourself. Suddenly, someone with a body-bag backpack sits next to you. Or a man with a chicken in a sack. Or a woman with 2 babies. Or, worse yet, someone who hasn’t showered for a long time.
Suddenly, you need to protect and maintain your own personal space. What do you do? You contort your body, carefully tightening your ab muscles, so that you take up as little space as possible and sit as close to the window as possible. This truly works the core muscles–and those of the face.
5) Passive Fat Burner/Cellulite Reducer
This is really easy; even those who are exercise-resistant can do it. Just pick a hot, sticky day and….ride on a chicken bus. If it’s humid enough, conditions will become sauna-like. During this time, you will sweat and your fat will naturally be reduced. It’s a simple as that.
Got cellulite? No worries. If your seat is torn or the person sitting next to you has a burlap sack, let your thigh (or arm) rub up against the surface. This will help reduce the cottage-cheese like appearance of your cellulite better than any fancy cream ever could!
This is quite simple. Either surrender to the madness of the chicken bus experience or pop a Xanax; either will help your heart rate slow down. Depending on how bumpy or treacherous the ride is, you may fall asleep.
How about you? What are your chicken bus workout tips?
What chicken bus exercises have you done that you recommend? Please describe them below and specify if they’re strength training or cardio. Also, please let us know how many reps are necessary. Thank you.
Chicky Bus: It’s not just the name of this site–it’s also the name of a two-part story about a very long bus ride I took from Nicaragua to El Salvador. I definitely got a workout, too–not just my body, but my mind. Come meet the cheese smugglers, a soon-to-be illegal immigrant to the US and other crazy bus characters. There’s also a video of the experience set to some very cool Cumbia.
Guaguas in the DR and How to Avoid Being Overcharged: Here, the folks over at www.ordinarytraveler.com take you on a ‘guagua,’ a Dominican mini-van. Like many foreigners, they were, unfortunately, ripped off. I do hope, though, that they at least got a good workout being in that confined space. I would imagine they did at least 2 of the exercises in the Chicken Bus Workout and that’s a good thing.
Chicken Bus Q & A: Everything you wanted to know about chicken buses, but were afraid to ask.