The answer to this question, as with most things training and fitness-related is - it all depends. Most avid fit-fans would set reminders to not forget their super breathable training wear, yoga mats and protein shakers when going away for the summer (I’m looking at you, readers of the blog). I’d suggest we take a moment to think it through before all the sun, sand and fun commences.
Before I get trampled by an angry mob of Metcon militia for even alluding to the fact that everyone should not train 6 times a week on holiday, allow me to state the case for sanity and vacation’s sake. Hopefully this post will serve as a guide to the ever-fit, the occasional beach joggers and even those that never prepared to train during their summer break.
No train, no maintain… right?
The greatest factor influencing your holiday training program is your current training program. There are upsides and downsides to keeping your training going non-stop and the determinant lies in the context of your lifestyle and continuity of your recent training. Contrary to popular belief we don’t get fitter, stronger or faster due to our incessant training, we gain those benefits by recovering from training and allowing our bodies to adapt to the stimulus which the training provides. So while vacation allows you ample time for unencumbered training, the flip side is, the time could be more beneficial when used for some easy R&R (rest and recovery). Now I can sense calloused hands scratching sweaty heads.
To train or not to train, that is the question.
The answer - train (cue cheers and applause from the watchmen of the WOD)! Thankfully not all recovery means doing nothing and watching all your hard-earned gains fade into blubbery oblivion. We do however need to dig into the type of fitness enthusiast you are:
1. The Iron… uh… person.
You are typically the type of fit-fan who runs their program tighter than spandex with more than four sessions per week. You probably have a professional trainer, years of experience or an individualised program and would more likely skip a heartbeat than a training session. In case you are not on a periodised plan which already incorporates your vacation sessions, consider substituting some sessions with light activity or dropping one or two per micro cycle to allow for longer recovery between sessions. You will maintain your rhythm and your body (joints especially) will thank you in the long run.
2. The “Don’t stop me now…’cause I’m having a good time”
You found your rhythm in maintaining good continuity with a couple of training sessions per week and you are reaping the benefits. My advice - “Keep going it’s a good thing”! Chances are you are not nearing training induced burnout and are still reaping the wellness benefits of a steady exercise routine. Add some variety by trying something out of your usual training: stand up paddling, outdoor workouts, bootcamps or anything that keeps your fondness of exercise fresh.
3. The Annual athlete
Yes, by annual I imply you basically only train once a year i.e. during your summer holiday. The rest of the year is too busy and thus filled with a couple of loose training sessions neither here nor there. You typically run the risk of trying to fit all the sessions you skipped into the first week of holiday, rendering you immobile after 3 days, after which you erroneously conclude that exercise just isn’t for you. If you don’t come off a steady training routine, make sure to ease yourself into holiday activity. Limit the volume and intensity until you have an idea of what you can reasonably tolerate.
In order to get the full benefit from your well-deserved break, you have to consider why you are taking a break in the first place. Unwinding, spending quality time with family and friends and finding time for general recreation are some of the soundest reasons that come to mind, but more importantly you need to take a break from the non-stop race of work and routine. De-stressing is the main aim. High levels of stress will eventually lead to burnout, turning you into a zombie-like vegetable that slowly loses efficiency in all areas of life.
Consider the context of stress in the following manner. It is a bath with many taps: emotional, physiological and psychological. Routine, work pressure, relationships, illness, sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating habits etc. are all taps. Some are only dripping while others are fully open. A proper vacation is the perfect time to pull the bath-plug. While your habit of exercise is the key to your wellness and the undisputed champion in keeping you healthy and sane, understand that intense exercise is also a stressor on the body. Excessive training can unfortunately be a stress-tub-filling-tap.
The take away is this; do keep training during your summer break, but let it not just be for training’s sake. Make sure it contributes to your overall wellness. Here are some tips on keeping it fun and fresh:
Family and friends fitness
Share the love and get everyone involved, mix your quality time with activity - play games, go jogging, cycling, rowing… whatever floats the family boat.
If your everyday is ruled by your wearable tech, consider doing some untracked sessions for a change. Train for the rush of it and maybe hit the road without any tracking.
Going flexible with your schedule lends great opportunity to be flexible (pun intended). Take the time to work on your real weaknesses in terms of flexibility and mobility. Fix your ranges and posture to step back into your usual routine chest open and fully upright when the time comes.
Depending on your destination, equipment and gyms might not be around the corner. Be creative in using bodyweight workouts and interval sets. Pack some resistance bands to give you loads of accommodating resistance options.
All being said, make sure your sessions are fun and leave you feeling fresh and restored for when you return to owning your normal weekly routines.
That aside, there are also the nuts and bolts of reps, sets and detraining rates that can be a factor. If you need a customised and periodised approach, our trainers and strength and conditioning coaches at UFIT can help you with your goals.
See you after summer!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
With a fascination for the human body’s physiological ability to adapt to training and respond to different demands, Henri ventured into the world of sports and fitness. He specialises in athletic movement and improving physiological performance.
For Henri, fitness contributes to all aspects of life and he finds motivation in hearing peoples’ stories to help them improve themselves. He enjoys working out to old-school Rock and he believes his unknown talent lies in the ability to fix things by referring to YouTube tutorials.