As a PT I always encourage clients to continue exercising on holiday. Now this doesn’t mean sticking to your 4 day body-part split, but to just continue exercising. Holiday’s are a time to relax and indulge. This however doesn’t mean you should stuff your face from the moment you get to the airport to the second you get home. If I take a week completely off training, I won’t be hitting the same numbers for nearly a month, and this is what I tell my clients “If you want a month setback, don’t train on holiday, if you only want a week setback, keep active” and most of them try to do some form of exercise while they’re away.
Exercising on holiday is not always possible. I recently had a stag do in Budapest which was 2 days of booze and junk food, and besides a hefty hangover, we didn’t have time to exercise anyway. For any heavily alcohol-based boys or girls weekend away, you’re probably not gonna find the time (or want) to train on that weekend.
For longer holidays, around a week or so, I think there’s no excuse for not training. There’s always a free morning, afternoon or evening where you could fit a 30 minute workout in. Doesn’t matter whether you’re with your partner, family, or friends, there will always be time to exercise (unless you’re on the smash every single night and if so bravo to you!).
I think a major barrier to not continuing your exercise regime is the accessibility of facilities. If you’re used to your gym, your friends, your dumbbells, your machines, your routine etc, sometimes it can be daunting to go into a new gym with different equipment not knowing what to do, thinking it’s a waste of time. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have a gym in your complex! For those of us into our weight training, I get that you don’t feel like you can get the same workout without all those weights, but you just need to suck it up for that week. Train differently, use new machines, use higher reps, try different training principles for the few workouts while you’re away. It’s better than doing nothing for the week.
Should you stick to your diet while you’re away? I use the same question I mentioned at the start of this blog “If you want a month setback, eat what you want, if you only want a week setback, enjoy yourself within moderation”. I always encourage people to enjoy the delicacies of where they’re going, and I do the same. Try to stop me having Sangria and Paella in Spain, or a Pasty in Cornwall, but I try to limit these treats to one meal of the day with the other two being (moderately) healthy. We enjoy staying in Airbnb’s as we can make most of our meals our self which is a lot healthier and a lot cheaper. If you opted for an all-inclusive resort, good luck sticking to your diet with all that on offer!
The easiest type of training to do on holiday is Bodyweight Training. If you had asked me a few years ago if you can workout without weights I’d think it would be a waste of time, but I’ve learnt how to use and manipulate the body to work every muscle group just like a weight training workout. Simply put: how often do you use press ups in your workouts? They might not be hard enough to do sets of 10 but I challenge anyone to do 100 press ups and not tell me their chest, shoulders and triceps are buuuuurning. The same with sit ups, or squats, back extensions, lunges, plank, there’s so many bodyweight exercises that are overlooked which can be used while you’re on holiday, either on the beach or in your room. If I told you to do 10 rounds of 10 press ups, 15 sit ups, 20 jump squats, that would be enough for a holiday workout. You don’t need to train at the same intensity as you do at home, just something to keep your muscles active and your fitness ticking over.
What I do on holiday. As mentioned before, if I have a heavy weekend away, it’s almost impossible to exercise on that weekend. To counteract the 3 days off I’d squeeze my workouts into the weeks before and after the weekend away. I usually wouldn’t do 5 workouts in a row but to allow me a few days off at the weekend, it’s an easy way to get around it.
For the longer holidays I like to ensure I keep active. I either follow a whole-body bodyweight workout as mentioned before, or I just make sure I am partaking in plenty of activities. Having a girlfriend like Lara Croft means I’m forced to climb, run, cycle, swim, play, snorkel, jump, pedal and dive off cliffs nearly every day of the holiday. Whilst it’s exhausting at the time, it’s still exercise. It’s different from my regular gym-based workouts but hey 5 hours of climbing up cliffs and jumping off them is still a workout!
My advice for you. If you’ve got a short weekend away, make sure you fill your weeks before and after you go with plenty of exercise. If you have a week holiday or more, commit to exercising at least every other day, either a home workout, beach sprints, a hike, a big swim, something to keep you active. In regards to food, enjoy yourself, but just know the more you binge the harder it is to get back to where you were.
But at the end of the day, who am I to tell you what to do on your holiday… if it turns out you haven’t done any exercise and stuffed your face for a week, who cares! Just get straight in the gym when you’re back from holiday and start working it all off!