Summer is here and this year is the return of foreign holidays.
We Brits are flocking to beaches in our thousands, desperate for a little taste of sunshine, some good food and some much-needed R&R.
Whether you’ve booked yourself a few days or a full two weeks on holiday, there is often the niggling guilt about fitness and being ‘naughty’ on holiday.
You might find yourself asking – is there a gym at the hotel? Should you optimistically pack your trainers? Are you really going to get up at 6am for a run on the beach?
For people who love their fitness, or have a specific training goal they are working towards, the thought of time away from your workout routine can be daunting. You might worry that you’ll lose all your progress, or be back to square one when you get home.
But these fears shouldn’t stop you from enjoying yourself and doing exactly what you want on holiday. As much as you need a rest from work and chores, a rest from working out can also be really good for you – and it’s not going mess with your gains.
Bulk nutritionist Simon Jurkiw has revealed why letting loose on holiday is actually a good thing, and PT and Bulk ambassador Hayley Madigan has also shared her views on the benefits of taking a break from your exercise regime.
So, if you want to leave the sports bra at home and limit your cardio sessions to walking to the bar or a quick splash in the sea – this is why that’s completely OK.
Rest is essential for progress
Taking a break on holiday is not only a good idea, it’s essential. Simon says rest is where we grow.
‘We’re not robots, and we need time to recover from our training,’ he explains. ‘This benefits the body, and the mind.
‘The worry with taking some time out, is that you’ll lose all your gains. That isn’t the case at all. In fact, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be able to progress in a linear fashion. Professional sports people aren’t at the peak of their game for 12 months a year, and you shouldn’t expect to be either.’
So when you’re on holiday, Simon says the priority should be to enjoy yourself.
‘The idea that you “fell off” your diet during your week away, and gained a ton of weight is simply impossible,’ he adds. ‘Ultimately, a majority of any additional scale weight will be stored carbs and water.’
Try active rest if you can’t do nothing
Taking half a step back, can allow you to take two steps forward. But if doing absolutely nothing isn’t your vibe, there are other ways to rest.
‘If you’re a really restless person, there’s always the option of active rest while away,’ says Simon.
‘Rest days don’t necessarily mean you have to do nothing; active rest such as walking is a great way to keep the body moving, and can be relaxing for the mind.
‘Just remember, rest is where we grow, focus on getting good consistent sleep, and enjoying your life. You don’t need to follow a strict nutrition programme all year round. Go and enjoy your food and know the gym is always waiting for you when you return.’
Hayley adds: ‘If you’re like me and can’t keep still for more than 10 minutes or sunbathing just isn’t for you, then keeping yourself active through other means such as hiking up mountains and exploring the place you’re staying is a great alternative to training.
‘It means you’ll still reap all of the benefits from resting your muscles for a week, but also give your mind a renewed focus and appreciation during your holiday.’
Overcome muscle fatigue
It’s really important to remember that taking a break from your typical gym routine and allowing yourself some down time on holiday is not only important for your mind but can also benefit your body.
‘Muscles grow at rest and often we train hard for months on end without giving our body a much-needed break,’ says Simon.
‘Muscles tear during training and they only recover during rest days, whilst time off training allows our muscles to repair, grow and heal – which is essential for muscle gains, growth, overall strength and optimal health.
‘That said, if you’ve noticed a recent decrease in your performance in the gym or you’ve been plateauing for a while, it may be time to book that holiday and give yourself that well deserved break from training’
Muscle fatigue can occur when we over-train, or if we don’t allow ourselves the rest our body needs.
‘This means your maximal force or power produced by your muscles will decrease.,’ Simon adds.
‘You can help limit muscle fatigue by resting and topping up your glycogen stores. This refers to consuming an increase in carbohydrates in order to replenish the muscle and liver glycogen stores which can then be stored and used later as energy for exercise and training.’
Avoid fitness burnout
Training doesn’t just have its physical benefits, but it can also aid your mental health dramatically.
Hayley says you may feel nervous to take time out and the idea of resting may cause you stress, but over-training can lead to a lack of motivation, depression, and mental fatigue if we don’t give ourselves breaks.
‘Taking a week off training can prevent these factors from occurring and allow you to come back even stronger mentally as well as physically,’ she says.
‘You’ll notice a lift in your mood, a clearer mind and more motivation to get back to it once you’ve had your break. Plus, when taking a longer rest than usual from training, you may notice your sleep cycle improves.
‘You may sleep deeper and longer and this in turn will help your mind and body recover better from your training.’
Remember – fitness and working out should be something that adds to your life, and that is enjoyable – rather than an obligation.
Taking time off fitness for a holiday, or for any other reason is completely fine. You don’t have to have ‘earned’ a break, or justify your decision. Simply not wanting to work out is a valid choice.