Fitness holidays

The 6 lessons I learned from hiking

Need a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life? Going on hike in the rugged beauty of the mountains may be the getaway you need to refresh yourself! UFIT Personal Trainer and avid hiker Lizzie Wright shares the 6 lessons she learned from from her hiking trips.

4 simple tips to maintain your 6-pack abs on holiday

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You train intensively at home. When on holiday, do you still feel the need to stick to your regular workout program for fear of losing your hard-earned fitness?

To paraphrase a brilliant American strength coach Marty Gallacher – if you are working out 5 to 6 days a week and eating well when at home, then a holiday should be exactly that, a HOLIDAY. With the appropriate rest, recovery, stress reduction, and a ‘few’ additional calories, a well deserved break from your daily routine will have a profound impact on your energy levels and result in improved energy and focus when you return to training after your break.

More often than not, your body would benefit more from a period of rest and recovery, not another weekend of intensive training. This is based on observations from my own experience of training my clients, who often train intensively week after week without a break. For these individuals I would advise 2 to 3 days of recovery without any strenuous physical workouts when you are on a holiday.

Obviously moderation is the key. Giving yourself a treat versus going on a massive binge and ruin weeks of hard work are two different things. For most of us, we can still benefit from some light training and stay active as much as we can while on a holiday. Here are some tips on how to keep in shape on the road.
 

1. Pack the essentials for basic home/outdoor training

Unless you know where you are going, never assume there will be good training facilities or good weather conditions to get some quality training done. Pack your luggage with these basic indoor/outdoor equipment that’s designed for easy traveling:

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  • Skipping Rope Lightweight, and requires only a small space for a great cardio workout. Also can be used for shoulder mobility and stretching. Absolutely essential.
  • Resistance Band Lightweight, space-saving and can add resistance to your bodyweight workouts such as squats and overhead press, working the muscles on your back and lower body.
  • TRX I think the TRX is massively underrated as a ‘travel-training’ tool. It’s lightweight and compact which makes it great for packing, easy to set up, and offers a huge variety of full body exercise options anywhere on the road.
  • Massage Ball A great tool before the start of every training session, the ball is great for myofascial release, loosing the knots on your feet, calves, glutes and rotator cuffs.
  • Foam Roller Another great tool for myofascial release of the larger muscle groups. Although I would consider this to be essential in sessions at the gym, its size usually does not make it practical for travelling. (Although, there are some travel versions now available which are smaller and easier to pack).
     

2. Explore your local surroundings on foot

Have a look what natural locations you have around you for training. If you are heading to a holiday destination which is close to mountains, hills or beaches, these locations offer great variations to your training and are also free. With the basic training kit mentioned above, and access to an awesome natural view, it is the best place to train, and is completely free!

*Trainer Tip: I am always reminding clients and friends about a training option available to almost everyone whether you are travelling or at home - STAIRS. Every hotel or apartment block has them ranging from 4 to 44 floors! In my experience, 10 floors is a decent challenge before you start to really feel it in your legs. Doing laps on the stairs is a great option to end every session. You can start with 2 flights of stairs, and progress by adding 1 or 2 floors every round. Return to the first floor in the lift, or run down the stairs for some serious legs DOMS (delayed onset muscle fatigue) the next day!

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3. Look for local food options that are not too different from what you eat at home

Search online, ask your local friends, or walk around and explore to find restaurants that serve food that are similar to what you would normally eat at home. It is always advisable not to stray ‘too far’ from your normal eating habits while away. Of course, holiday time is the best time to relax about eating and do as you feel. No need to stress out about nutritional choices and decisions, eat what you fancy. But there are good and bad choices to be had at every meal and drink, and there needs to be an element of self-control to avoid unnecessary excesses. Whether you’re training or not training while on holiday, eat real, whole, natural foods is a good rule of thumb, and generally avoid the things you would normally avoid, without being over restrictive.


4. Search for a local fitness outfit that offers drop-in sessions or short term offers

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If training alone and outdoors doesn’t suit you, the next option is to find local training operators that can cater to your training goals. In many holiday destinations, you should be able to find local yoga studios, fitness gyms, CrossFit boxes, or outdoor bootcamp sessions. Aside from getting a good workout in with new trainers and training buddies, it is also a great way to make new friends and get expert local tips!


About the author

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Nathan Williams is a Personal Trainer at UFIT Orchard. Originally from Wales, Nathan spent the last 12 years as a fitness coach in Cyprus, New York, Dubai, Bahrain, and Singapore, working with elite athletes and regular folks to transform their lives through fitness.  Nathan specialises in Strength, Bodyweight and Kettlebell training. Having worked exclusively with older clients and golfers in the Middle East prior to coming to Asia, he has a keen interest in corrective strategies and mobility work for everyday workers, ex-athletes and anyone looking to continue their physical training whilst staying pain-free for the rest of their lives. Nathan is one of UFIT's most experienced personal training and bootcamp coach. 

Get to know kids rugby coach Chris Hodges

Chris is one of the head coaches at the upcoming kids rugby development camp happening from the 9th to 13th April. An affable and soft-spoken man with a fiery beard, Chris is well liked and respected by his young charges. We caught up with him before the camp to ask a few questions! 


Source: Tanglin Rugby Club

Source: Tanglin Rugby Club

Tell us a bit more about yourself – your background, what does fitness mean to you, and what do you love most about working with your clients?

I've always played sports and love being active, so working in the fitness industry has been an easy choice. I studied exercise and sport science at the university in the UK, and have subsequently worked within a range of sports at both elite and club levels. I specialise in strength and conditioning, post-injury strengthening, and youth athlete development.

I've had my fair share of injuries over the years, so overcoming and preventing them has always been a big goal for me. To get someone fit and healthy is very individual. Whether you aim to run a marathon or walk pain-free, fitness training should help you to achieve that goal.

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What I love most about working with my clients is that each person is an individual, everyone has something that makes them unique. It is the same in fitness training. Each person responds differently to the training programs, so finding the best and most effective way to train is something I really enjoy.

I'm always looking to learn and improve myself. The more I know, the more I can bring to my clients. So continuing my development through my master’s degree in strength and conditioning is really helping this.

You will be running the week-long UFIT Rugby Development Camp next week. What skills and qualities can kids develop through rugby training?

There’s plenty of qualities that can be developed from rugby, not only in terms of skills, but also in physical and mental strengths. The kids will gain endurance and speed, improve hand-eye coordination, and also learn self-discipline and self-confidence. These are all positive attributes that you want to see in your kids as they grow up.

The UFIT rugby camp is five days of healthy social interaction with other kids their age, learning the best qualities from each other, and be under the guidance of expert coaches who have played rugby at the elite levels.

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6 QUICK TRIVIAS:

  • Best advice given to you: “You can only make a good impression once.”
  • Biggest inspiration: Neil Back
  • Unknown talent: I am a grade 8 musician
  • Favourite quote: “To be a good leader, first be a good follower.”
  • Go-to workout music: Drum and bass
  • Favourite cheat meal: Burgers!

ABOUT CHRIS

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Chris is a level 2 rugby coach with a bachelors of science in exercise and sports science. He has worked with the England Under-20 rugby squad, as well as with top English rugby club the Exeter Chiefs as their strength and conditioning coach and the head of performance focusing on youth players ages 13-18.

Chris coaches and plays in Singapore with the Bucks 1st XV, and as the captain he led them to their first premiership win in six years.  Chris is currently completing his masters in strength and conditioning.

Improve results with Nathan's rest and recovery tips

Modern day societies are exercising more, yet obesity levels are on the rise. The reason why people aren't achieving results is their lifestyles aren't as balanced and their bodies are surviving not thriving.

Training all week and partying, working or being busy is the classic pattern of the modern day human, the “weekend warrior” who gives 110% in the gym class, bar and at home. Aggressive modern fitness trends are targeting the “work hard, play harder” mantra when in reality that should be “work hard, recover and be happier”.

Sleep, hydration, nutrition and stress are all huge factors that make or break a health and fitness regime and every fitness enthusiast needs to understand where they sit on the balancing scales. Nathan Williams, Manager and Personal Trainer at UFIT Orchard tells us how recovery work can be the best thing for our fitness.

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Why rest and recover between training sessions?

The “no pain, no gain” slogan has been sold to the fitness masses for the last decade or two and its legacy is wearing as thin as its followers' tendons and cartilages!

Recent trends of training multiple times a day which were designed for full time athletes has been adopted by mainstream fitness enthusiasts as a go-to method to get “Fitter, Leaner, Stronger” when the real results will leave the majority of normal athletes “Fitter, Fatter and Exhausted”.

Muscles need rest to grow, and the central nervous system needs recovery to reset in order for the human body to function optimally.

How much rest do we need?

Everyone is different and I recommend trial and error with training frequencies and intensities.

Burning the fitness candle at both ends can lead lead to long term, chronic depletion of hormones like testosterone (think of this as jet fuel for the body) and raise levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) which can act like a brake on your fat loss goals and overall training progress.

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How does rest and recovery enhance our training?

There are several easy methods to use and it really depends on what you need more, than what you like: 

  • if you do a lot of strength training you'll benefit from 1-2 hours of yoga or stretching a week
  • if you run as a main form of exercise you may find massage and stretching will help better
  • if you have fat-loss goals you'll need active recovery (or blood flow) sessions to keep the body moving and recover ‘actively’.

The majority of people now do not sleep well at all and this huge part of the training puzzle is not being looked at with the attention it demands. "Every minute of quality sleep enhances the quality your waking day”. If your sleep is poor then there is a big chance your daily performance will match - allowing your body and mind to burn out quickly.

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am i overtraining and what should I do?

When all things are balanced (training, travel, sleep, rest, recovery, hydration and nutrition) it's actually pretty hard to “overtrain”.

The reality of modern day fitness trends and lifestyles is that the areas are far from balanced so the gateway to overtraining/overliving is way bigger than it should be.

Poor sleep into a morning run may make someone 'feel’ good when the endorphins kick in (endorphins are actually a mechanism to number the body into stopping activity - not give us a buzz to keep going) but this has only put a person deeper in the training hole.

When poor nutrition and under-eating are combined with multiple training sessions a day, the body will react to protect itself. There may be short term progress but the long term damage on metabolism and hormonal imbalance can take months/years to detect and the same time to fix.

Some warning signs are:

  • Mood swings
  • Chronic tiredness on waking
  • Falling asleep in the daytime
  • Unusual sugar cravings
  • Disrupted sleep patterns
  • Zero morning erections per week (MALES).

how do I fit in rest and recovery when i prefer to train?

If you feel like your current weekly routine is not getting you closer to your goals (fat loss, muscle gain, improved energy/mood) then I would suggest:

  • Recovery sessions (yoga, stretching, swimming, massage) need to become part of the training cycle
  • Time can be saved within sessions by slightly reducing the time you work and increasing recovery slightly.
  • Implementing a de-load week every six weeks can be massively beneficial to the overall annual training load.
  • A typical de-load week could be to reduce volume and/or intensity by up to 50% or even switch for the whole week to more outdoor fun activities to keep things fresh - the options are endless, with the fundamental goal of the week being a weekly reduction of stress to allow longer training cycles to not lose intensity.
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How can I rest when i'm race training? 

It's always better to have someone with race training expertise design a training program with recovery pre-planned in. The same rules would apply with recovery and rest for racing as they would with a normal training program - the program will only be as good as the recovery between sessions.

That would be for each individual and their coach to work out based on all the factors discussed above (nutrition, sleep, work schedules, travel, etc). 

HOW TO REST AND RECOVER WITH UFIT

 

About the author

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Read Nathan's article on Sleeping Well right here.

Nathan Williams specialises in strength training, Kettlebells and corrective strategies and mobility work for everyday workers, ex-athletes and sports people looking to continue their physical training whilst staying pain-free for the rest of their lives.

He graduated from UWIC, Cardiff with a 2:1 in Sport development and management. Nathan's worked with elite RFU female rugby players and notably coached Danielle Waterman before she went on to be women’s Rugby World Cup top try scorer (2006) and has gone on to win over 60 international caps and become an Olympian with Team GB in 2016.

Nathan focuses on helping his clients become fitter, stronger and healthier by eliminating pain and weakness in the body through improving strength and quality of fundamental human movements. A system he successfully learned and adapted from an internship at world renowned high performance center ‘Cressey Performance’, Boston, MA, United States.

YOUR HOLIDAY WORKOUT

Everyone needs a holiday, so how do you keep your fitness levels up whilst on holiday and not die at Bootcamp or your Personal Training when you come back?

Two of our coaches give their top five must-do, all-time classic exercises and Physiotherapy stretches for whether you are outdoors, in the gym or in your hotel room. 

OUTDOOR AND BODY WEIGHT EXERCISES

Marcus Fam, Head of UFIT Bootcamps

1. Lunges

Not only does working the legs expend more calories due to recruiting a higher amount of motor units, who doesn't want to have nice legs?

 Try incorporating lunges in sprint intervals as part of your active recovery. Always keep your chest and shoulders upright, and your spine in neutral while lunging. As with all resistance exercises, the focus should be on the muscles, not the joints. Perform to a full range of motion and avoid bouncing or jerking. If your legs are burning, congratulations, keep going!

 2. Sprints

Lots of bootcampers are ace runners, but for those who aren't keen to clock in 10km runs or more, give a go at sprinting. So we're not talking about aerobic running. Full on anaerobic sprints that leave you gasping for air and leave your legs jelly. Try 60m - 200m sprints. 8 sets, with no more than 3 minute rest periods. If you have a hill, spectacular, knock yourself out!

With the added benefit of building muscle along with speed, sprinting helps you build and define your glutes, hamstrings and quads, while at the same time burning off the fat layers that hide under the muscles. Sprint training is the most explosive training you can do.

 3. Burpees

There's a reason why bootcampers groan when they hear the sheer mention of the word. It's perhaps the most compound of exercises and combines a squat, push up, squat thrust & plyometric jump all in one. It’s great for cardiovascular fitness and strength training. Try doing 100 a day, throughout the day.  Nothing like having burpees for breakfast!

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 4. Push ups

This gets on the list not just because of its simplicity, but also because of the fact that it allows various degrees of intensity.

Always maintain a strong core and neutral lower back. Bring your chest to the ground and use your chest and triceps to push yourself off the ground. If you're strong enough, push the earth away from you. Also if you're upto it be brave and try some variations!

5. Mountain climbers

Another top exercise which hits various body parts, including the core. Try hitting a set of 20 reps immediately after push ups. Always maintain a neutral spine, and tight core throughout the exercise (hips should not be moving up and down).

A variation of this would be to draw the knee to the opposite elbow (left knee to right elbow, vice versa) for greater recruitment of the obliques.

If performed correctly, mountain climbers will not just get your core firing - but triceps, hip flexors and shoulder stabilisers smashed as well.

 

STRETCHES TO GET YOUR BODY MOVING

Maire, UFIT Clinic Physiotherapist

1. Hip rotations and lower back stretch

Lay on your back, put your arms out in a “T” position and bend both knees bent to 90’. Keeping knees and ankles together, gently rotate knees to one side and turn head to loot to the opposite side. Slowly de-rotate and repeat same stretch to the other side. Move slowly and with an exhale breath. Hold the stretch for 3-5 breaths and do 3 repetitions on each side.

2. Lower back stretch

This is a little more intense that the above stretch. Lay in the same position as above. But instead take one knee into your chest and then slowly rotate that knee across your body and over to the other side. Try to keep the opposite shoulder down. Hold this position for 3-5 breaths and repeat on the other side. Do 3 times on each side.

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3. Thoracic (mid-back) extensions

This stretch can be done over a foam roller if you’re flexible and over a rolled up towel if you’re a little stiffer.

  • Lay down on your back and palce the foam roller or rolled up towel behind you, around your mid-back (bra line for women and nipple line for men).

  • Place hands behind your head to support your head and gently tuck your chin.

  • Inhale to prepare and exhale to extend your mid-back over the foam roller or towel whilst maintaining your chin tuck.

  • If using the foam roller, then stay in this position for an inhale, then on your exhale gently curl back up using your abdominals into your starting position. And repeat this exercise 3 times at this spinal level.

  • But if using the rolled up towel, then stay in this extended position for at least 1 minute with arms rested on the floor and take nice big deep breaths. Then place hands behind head again and curl back up into a seated position.

4. Hip flexor stretch

  • Kneel on one knee on an exercise mat, or cushion if you’ve any knee problems.

  • Tuck your tailbone under as if tightening your butt.

  • Stretch up the same sided arm up to the sky and feel a stretch down through the front of the thigh and hip.

  • Hold for 3-5 deep breaths and repeat on the other side.  

5. Glute stretch – seated

  • Sitting upright on your chair, cross your ankle over your opposite knee and pull close to your hip.

  • Straighten your back again and then lean forward into the stretch.

  • Hold for 3-5 breaths keeping back straight. Repeat on the other side.

And then of course, you can discover a new city by running around in it or pack your skipping rope and stretch band to get you moving even more.

Have a good one!