Summer’s here, and for many of us that means it’s soon time to go away on a much-deserved vacation. Taking some time off with friends or family is always nice, but there’s just one problem, especially for those of us who like to go the gym… to train or not to train?
It’s a tough decision, so here’s some advice to help you decide whether to carry on working out or take a break.
Do you need to train on holiday?
The key thing to remember is your overall goal and why you’re actually training. Then, ask yourself if those reasons outweigh the need for rest and relaxation.
Depending on your goal, you may find good reasons to continue training or to leave your training at home and enjoy your holiday.
3 reasons not to train:
Holidays are often the target date for a training plan. This means they're a good time to give your body some time off.
Many people go on holiday to get away from their day-to-day routine and find time for rest and relaxation. Take the opportunity to let go, just for one week or two.
You might be short for time on certain holidays, like city breaks. If you’ve planned plenty of excursions, it may be difficult to find a spare hour to even get to the gym. So don’t sweat it — just enjoy your time away and spend your time seeing the sights.
3 reasons to train:
1. Aligned goals
If you're going on holiday to relax, and training helps you do this, then why not? As long as you don’t feel compelled to get it done and you have plenty of time to spare, there’s no harm.
A structured routine is important to many people. Even though a holiday is a time to get away from what you’re used to, maintaining some element of structure can be a good idea.
3. Change of scenery
Sometimes it’s nice to try out different facilities and equipment. A slight change in what you’re used to might even provide an extra dose of motivation.
Will I lose muscle if I don’t train for a week?
You’re unlikely to lose any muscle mass in just one week — it usually takes at least 10 days for that to happen — but you may notice some physical changes.
This could include a reduction in the amount of water retention in the muscle belly (more commonly known as the post-workout “pump”). You might also notice a change in your posture, due to feeling less tight from training.
These changes are nothing to worry about and should disappear immediately after you resume training. But if you wish, you can do a few exercises during your time away to help keep your body in shape.
If I don’t want to train, how can I make sure I don’t lose progress on holiday?
You don't just have to train to keep up the progress you have made - here are 3 ways to keep on track while still allowing yourself time to take a break from your routine.
1. Stay active
Even if you’re not doing full workouts, by staying moderately active your body shouldn’t change too much.
Holidays are a time to indulge without worrying too much, but it might be worth not completely abandoning your usual diet. By continuing to eat plenty of protein, you can keep any muscle loss to a minimum.
Working out will usually help you to maintain mobility. Without training, you may feel a little stiffer than usual. Just 5-10 minutes of stretching every day should help you loosen up enough to enjoy your holiday in comfort.
Quick 20-minute workout in a small space for holiday
This 20-minute travel workout is perfect if you want to train but are short on time, space, and equipment.
Warm-up (20 seconds on, 10 seconds rest, repeat twice):
- High knees
- Star jumps
- Heel flicks
- Lateral skater
Main body (12 reps per exercise, 3 sets, 1-minute rest between sets):
- Reverse lunges
- Bench dips
- Bicycle crunch
- Plank (30-second hold)
Take Home Message
Holidays are a time for taking some time away from it all, so if you want to sit back, kick your feet up and relax, then don’t feel guilty about it. Use the time to let your body recover and your mind reset so you can return feeling totally refreshed.
But if you do want to get to the gym and keep up your training, that’s fine too. Just make sure to not let it get in the way of your hard-earned time off.
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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.
Simon started his fitness journey from a young age, and was playing sport as soon as he could roll a ball. This pushed him to compete in a variety of sports from rugby to squash.
After completing an MSc in Strength & Conditioning, alongside a PT qualification, he gained an academic role at the University of Chester. From lecturing to research-based studies, his applied role caters to both team and individual sports.