The image of a trucker in America is that of an individual that sits all day in their truck, hauling cargo across the country. And sometimes this stereotype is true: trucking is often a lonely profession that leaves you in the company of only your thoughts, your phone or radio channels.
Even world-champion swimmer (and current trucker) Siphiwe Bakela referred to trucking as the most unhealthy occupation in America — and that’s saying a lot. But with the help of experts like Bakela, who consults as a wellness coach for those grappling with long drives and little exercise, truck drivers can improve their fitness levels through regular workouts.
In this article, we’ll explore truck driver exercises to keep you fit while on the road or taking a break.
- Warm-up Truck Driver Exercises
- Cardio Workout for Truckers
- Indoor Truck Driver Exercise Program
- Portable Sports Equipment for Truck Drivers
Warm-up truck driver exercises
Every physical activity, regardless of difficulty, boosts your fitness. But you always need to condition your body through warm-up exercises.
Why warm up every morning?
According to Mayo Clinic, warming up removes muscle soreness by increasing blood flow to the target muscle groups. Apart from that, warming up opens up your lungs for aerobic activities by jolting your cardiovascular system into action. If you want to ease into other, more demanding activities, warming up prepares your body and muscles for it.
Everyday warm-up activities include jogging in place, sprints, and power walks. You don’t need to have access to a treadmill; a quick on the spot light run for a few minutes till you break a sweat does wonders.
Windmills are also important for warming up the arms and upper body muscles. By swinging your arms over and over — aim for 100 reps, but listen to your body and don’t overdo it — you will remove tightness in the joints and get the body ready for action.
You can also perform truck driver stretches every morning for a few minutes before heading into your truck. Stretching focuses your workout on specific parts of the body. Elastic bands can also add extra resistance during your morning and evening stretches.
Cardio workout for truckers
Working on your cardio is a top-of-the-list recommendation for truck drivers who wish to maintain high fitness levels. People with outstanding cardio are less susceptible to diseases — and truck drivers often have habits that make them vulnerable.
According to the CDC, most long-haul drivers are smokers or drinkers. Another CDC study also shows that 70% of truck drivers are obese, which makes them susceptible to hypertension, heart disease, and sleep apnea.
But when you add some cardio to your personal truck driver workout plan, you can protect yourself from these ailments — or mitigate the adverse effects.
Running is an excellent cardio workout for truckers because it helps you exercise all muscle groups in your body. If you run 4 miles every day (15-20 minutes), your body will maintain a toned shape. That may seem like an unattainable obstacle at first, but starting slow and steady is key — literally walk before you run, as the saying goes, and start with a mile, then two, and so forth.
And if you don’t want to go away from your truck, you can run around it and use it as a mini-track. By going around the truck 30 times, you’ll cover the equivalent of 1 mile. Again, you can power-walk the same distance if you don’t want to run — the main ingredient here is movement, and some is better than none.
Alternatively, you can cycle every morning or evening to boost your cardio. Carry a foldable bicycle on your long-haul trips if you have enough space.
Depending on the space in the truck, you might not be able to carry equipment on your trips. But that shouldn’t spoil your truck driver exercise program; bodyweight exercises can replace other workout routines.
Some bodyweight exercises you can do around the truck without equipment include:
Get down on the floor, spread your arms to shoulder width, and push up off the ground. For starters, try doing two sets of 20 pushups every morning.
This might pose a challenge depending on the truck’s design. If you’re able to set up a pull-up bar, aim for doing as many as possible in one set (2, 5, 10, etc.), and then repeat that for a second set to get you going.
Sometimes you get a tingle or feeling of numbness when you get off the truck, especially after long drives. In such situations, shake off your limbs and do squats. Besides, you also need squats to strengthen your quads and hamstring.
It’s never too late to add abdominal exercises to your repertoire. Bicycle crunches, leg lift crunches — any and all types are good as long as you don’t hurt yourself! Start with 20 crunches every morning and grow from there.
As part of building a strong core, you can do a plank every morning after doing crunches. Start with 30 second intervals, and move your way up to one minute at a time.
Use lunges to exercise your knee, ankles, and other joints in the lower body. Give yourself a target — say, 10 times from the front wheels to the rear and back again, feeling healthier with each completed stride.
Place your arms on the side step of your truck, or the bed inside your cab (room permitting), or anywhere you can imitate the sitting motion. Let gravity pull your butt down and you push it back up. This workout acts on your triceps.
Use the truck’s step to exercise your leg muscles. Step up and down with alternating feet for at least two minutes daily.
Indoor truck driver exercise program
Weather conditions can limit the range of truck driver workout routines. Going out for a jog while it’s raining might be more detrimental to your health than staying inside. And during winter — depending on what part of the country you’re in — you can’t always do cardio outside without risking catching a cold.
With these adverse factors in mind, you need to think about any truck driver exercise program you can do in the safety of your truck:
Yoga and Pilates
Although it might look boring, yoga is a great routine to exercise all your muscles. You only need a make-shift mat and some personal space to practice it. If you are transporting an empty flatbed truck, you’ll have enough space to do yoga inside. You just need to download an instructional yoga video and follow the routine.
Pilates is similar to yoga since it focuses on balance, flexibility, and correct posture. When you do Pilates on the road, your body will establish a clearer connection with your mind.
Unlike full-on cardio routines, breathing exercises only focus on airflow into the body. You don’t need any equipment for this particular workout; you just need to breathe in and out.
While aerobic exercises decrease stress levels in the body (and you should do them), so does focused breathing. When hauling loads over long distances, you can do deep breathing behind the wheel. And you can always park your truck and do breathing exercises before continuing the journey.
Lateral leg stretch
While stuck in the truck during a trip, you can seize the opportunity to perform lateral leg stretches when stopped for gas or anything else. Prop up one leg on the adjacent seat or sit on the floor of the cab, legs all the way out (again, room permitting), and slowly lean forward. This exercise helps stabilize the knees, hips, and ankles.
During your trip, you can ease off a bit by working out your trapezius muscles. By doing shoulder shrugs, you will reduce stiffness and soreness in your neck and shoulders.
Twist your pelvis while sitting to activate the rectus and oblique muscles. Use the car seat to stabilize your back during this workout.
Portable sports equipment for truck drivers
As mentioned earlier, you can only carry sports equipment if you have enough space in the cab or driver’s compartment. That said, check out some portable workout equipment you’ll need for truck driver exercises:
Weights (kettlebells and dumbbells)
Kettlebells provide multiple workout options, including cardio, flexing, and muscle building. With dumbbells, you can do curls to tone your biceps and forearm. So, carry a kettlebell and one or two dumbbells on your trip.
Resistance stretch bands
Resistance bands are quite versatile for on-the-road workouts. Since they are small, you can carry them in a bag and easily store them when not in use. These elastic bands add an extra level of difficulty to your morning stretches.
Cycling fans can carry their bicycle on the road to maintain their fitness. A folding bicycle doesn't occupy much space, and should be easy to transport.
Elite athletes skip rope to kick off their workout routines, and drivers can maintain this level of fitness as well. As part of jogging in place, you can use a jump rope to work on your cardio and exercise all muscle groups in the body simultaneously. And elastic jump ropes can double as stretch bands.
Portable pull-up bar
Bring along your adjustable bars for morning and evening pull-ups. Hook both ends to the doors and adjust them to fit.
Grabbing onto the steering wheel can cause soreness in your wrist and metacarpals. But you can reduce tension in the hands by playing around with this rubber ball. At the same time, these balls can help you eliminate pent-up stress and anxiety from long hours of driving.
Truck drivers need to exercise regularly, whether they are on the road or resting. The workout routines highlighted here work out important muscle groups and keep your organs in shape as well. And most important of all: regular exercise can help truckers lead a healthy lifestyle and avoid heart disease and obesity.
When leaving for a long drive, carry portable sporting equipment to help you maintain your workout lifestyle. Do your best to give all muscle groups at least some focus when cycling through your daily routine.
Also, in order to stay healthy, you need to have a seat cushion. There is a huge variety of pillows that are designed for various diseases. Choose the best truck driver seat cushion that's right for you.
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