Don’t Let Vacation Kill Your Workout
“Where are you going?” my mother-in-law asks as my husband and I begin to silently slip on our tennis shoes. It’s a little past 2 PM in Greece and, according Greek “law,” we should be prepping for nap-time and not skulking out of the house like a couple of criminals. “To the gym, Ma,” my husband replies. “We’ll be back in an hour or so.” My mother-in-law slowly shakes her head. “Ooooohhh-kay. But you should sleep. It’s summer! It won’t kill you to take a break from the gym, you know?”
Funny, but for me, going to the gym is so much a part of my every day routine that I feel taking a break from it during vacation would kill me. For many women, though, summer is break time from everything. They feel they’ve worked hard in the gym all fall, winter, and spring in order to bring their best beach body to the sand, so a couple of months off from the gym isn’t going to hurt…right? Well, yes and no. Of course, it’s always a good idea to give your body a rest and in fact, most coaches encourage “rest days” or “recovery days” to their clients. However, you can take this concept too far. Studies have shown that if you’ve been training optimally for 8-12 weeks, you can definitely make biological changes that enhance performance. (1)
These changes include, but aren’t limited to, increased size and number of mitochondria; increased cardiac output; and increased cross-sectional area of muscles (hypertrophy). (1, 2) However, studies have also pointed to the fact that if an athlete stops training cold turkey, then within 6-8 weeks of cessation of exercise, the adaptations made by the body can return to baseline. (1) So those two months you thought would be ok to put the gym on vacation, too? Maybe not such a grand idea after all.
How do you stay active during the summer months, especially for those of you who travel and can’t get access to a gym? I have three suggestions that may help keep your workout routine on point so you don’t let your hard-earned gains slip away.
1) INVEST IN A TRX SUSPENSION TRAINER
These straps of nylon look innocuous enough. However, as a TRX certified trainer, I guarantee you can get an intense, full body workout in a short amount of time. When I design a TRX program, I typically have the client perform each of the 8-12 exercises chosen for a period of one minute with no rest between the exercises.
For example, we may run the following exercise circuit:
• Overhead Back Extensions
• Reverse Balance Lunges (30 seconds per leg)
• T, I, Y Series
• Bicep Curls
• Triceps Extensions
• Atomic Push Ups
• Body Saw
9 exercises at 1 minute each equates to a 9-minute circuit. If you decide to do 3 circuits with a minute recovery between them, then your full-body workout is complete in 30 minutes! Just enough time to get it in, clean up, and hit the beach!
2) INVEST IN GLIDING DISKS AND RESISTANCE BANDS
Another gym-on-the-go idea is to invest in gliding discs and resistance bands (RB) of varying weights and sizes. Like a TRX, these items are small and compact so they travel well. In some ways, these items are an even better option than a TRX as they don’t need an anchor point to suspend them from in order to be used.
For example, you could perform the following circuit for three rounds with a minute rest between each circuit:
• 15-20 RB Bicep Curls
• 5-20 Gliding Disc Plank with Abduction
• 15-20 RB Side Laterals
• 15-20 Gliding Disc Alternating Reverse Lunges
• 15-20 RB Squat-to-Overhead Press
• 15-20 Gliding Disc Leg Curls
• 15-20 RB Chest Press
• 15-20 Gliding Disc Pike
• 15-20 RB Triceps Overhead Extensions
This full-body workout is not only challenging (depending on the weight of resistance bands you use), it is one that can be performed anywhere, even in the comfort of your hotel room!
3) BODY WEIGHT WORKOUTS
Finally, there is the no cost involved, no equipment required option: the body weight workout! We tend to forget how even the most simple of exercises, when put together in the right combinations, can truly challenge us!
• Push Ups
• Sit Ups
• Mountain Climbers
• Inverted Push Ups
• Jumping Jacks
• Squat Jumps
These are just some of the exercises you can throw together in order to create a quick circuit that will allow you to get a good workout in no matter where your travels take you.
Summer is the season for relaxation and fun times, and I do take full advantage of both! The beach is always a given, and activities such as dancing, jet skiing, and ancient site exploring are a big part of my family’s vacation agenda. When it comes to eating, I do slack off a little, finding myself being a little more reliant on making what Keith Klein, CN, CCN calls “better bad choices” in regards to both my food and drink options. In regards to my workouts though, I always make time for them, even if they have to be extremely short and sweet.
I keep the intensity high, as I desire to maintain the benefits I’ve gained during the winter months. But the real reason behind my need to exercise while away from home is that I simply feel better! So definitely enjoy all that summer has to offer! However, I strongly encourage you to continue to make exercise a priority during this time. By doing so, not only will you have a greater chance of maintaining the body you’ve put so much work into, you will also feel more energized and ready to take on the adventures that lie ahead!
About the Author
Elizabeth Anastasopoulos, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist, spends significant time in the gym training her athletes. However, her time as a figure competitor in the OCB directed her passion towards nutrition and nutritional counseling. She is currently pursuing her Diploma in Comprehensive Nutrition, and she plans to continue her education by obtaining a certification in sports nutrition as well.
Her greatest joy, though, is her family. She is a proud wife, as well as the mother of an 18 year-old daughter and of 9-year old twins. As a family, they enjoy multiple outdoor activities and traveling to various destinations.
1. Holloszy, John O; Coyle, Edward F. Adaptation of skeletal muscle to endurance exercise and their metabolic consequences. J. Appl. Physiol.: Respirat. Environ. Exercise Physiol. 56(4): 831-838, 1984.-R Available from: https://jap.physiology.org/content/jap/56/4/831.full.pdf
2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 1996. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/sgr/pdf/sgrfull.pdf