Muscles are the biggest asset of any fitness enthusiast, and most people are not willing to give up their hard-earned muscles at any cost.
Last year, I had a 6-week long vacation at Cyprus (an island country known for its beautiful beaches), but after a week without a gym, I lost a considerable amount of muscle definition and size.
Most of us want to look our best on vacation, its the best chance to meet and date new people. Losing some muscle size on holiday can surely affect the confidence level.
Not anymore, we are going to discuss some very practical tips that can help you retain your muscle size while on vacation.
Components of muscle building:
Before we start our discussion to maintain muscle on vacation its important to revise some basic components of muscle building.
Your muscles are what you feed to your body.
Most of the time, we badly neglect the macros on vacation which makes the situation worse.
I am not asking you to count your protein, carb and fat intake but there should be no issue in maintaining a healthy ratio.
Sleep plays a vital role in the muscle-building process and most of us underestimate its importance.
Because of late-night parties, sleep deprivation is quite common while holidays.
Sleep deprivation may increase your hunger hormone levels, ultimately leading to higher calorie intake.
Muscle does not understand “bodybuilding”, they are developed because of the resistance they go through at the gym. But the gym is not the only place to maintain healthy muscle mass and we are going to discuss the important tips to train your muscles on the vacation.
Something that we totally skip while on vacation.
Whether its multi-vitamins or protein supplements, these product plays a very important role in maintaining muscle mass.
Not feeding your body enough nutrients will definitly lead to muscle loss and hormonal imbalance.
Some whey protein supplements can prove handy to fulfill your body’s protein needs, carrying electrolyte salts can help in fighting dehydration, multi-vitamins can help in delivering all the required vitamins to the body. Carrying antioxidants can help in the elimination of toxins and the prevention of hangover (after alcohol).
Although vacations should be planned to relieve stress and give your body a break. Sometimes we forget to schedule some stress-relieving activities.
9 Tips to maintain muscle on vacation
Planning your vacation right can help in saving a few pounds of muscle mass and will also make the vacation more fun. Let’s have the worst-case scenario of vacation.
Duration of vacation: 2 months of vacation, across India and neighboring countries.
Goal: get a break from a sedentary lifestyle, maintain muscle mass and prevention of gaining fat while on vacation.
- No access to a gym or free weights.
- Non-availability of macro labels on food items.
- Parties and alcohol consumption to be done at least 3 days a week.
- No access to healthy meal providers.
Tips To maintain muscle while you travel
These 9 crucial tips will help you stay in shape while traveling across the southeastern Asian countries.
Remember, the goal is to maintain the current muscle mass not to build new muscles.
1. Fill Your Days with Activities
Just like you follow a training schedule at the gym, plan the activities about a week ahead.
Weekly planning plays a crucial role in maintaining lean muscle mass since you don’t have access to the gym equipment.
Create a list of activities you can do in locals, whether it’s kayaking, swimming, hiking or cycling. Southeast Asian countries have different terrains and offer a wide variety of activities.
Developing or trying new activities to stay active is the best way to train the body while you are on holiday.
Some days, if I have nothing to do, then I opt to go for a long walk and some bodyweight workout session in a hotel room.
Staying active while on holiday will also restrict the body from gaining any extra weight.
2. Hobby to stress relieve
Stress plays an important role in muscle development and preservation.
Sleep deprivation is quite common while traveling which might add up as a catalyst to gain weight and muscle loss.
Another study (1) conducted on the effects on sleep deprivation on testosterone levels. Researchers found, after a week of 5 hours of daily sleep, volunteers were found to have a drop in testosterone levels by 10-15%.
Plenty of methods can support in stress reduction. Some options include meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
3. Watch your calorie intake
Are you ignoring your body’s nutritional requirements while on vacation? Most of the people do that. Consuming too little or too many calories while traveling can have negative effects on your body composition.
Keeping track of calorie consumption and feeding your body with more protein-rich food can help you stay in shape.
If you are not sure about the nutritional values of a particular food item then have a habit of googling its nutritional values.
Protein acts as a catalyst for muscle building. Sometimes, it’s quite difficult to satisfy the protein requirements of the body through the whole food. Carrying some whey protein, peanut butter or protein bar is a great way to feed your body the right amount of protein.
Sometimes you burn more calories on vacation in comparison to a gym session. Walking across the city, hiking, swimming consumes a hell amount of calories which might lead to muscle loss.
Supplement with required aminos, electrolytes and multivitamins.
5. Carry a resistance band
Although bodyweight exercises are enough to maintain strength and muscle mass while you travel but resistance bands are a great substitute when you want to isolate some specific muscle tissues.
Underestimating resistance bands are one of the biggest mistakes people make.
These stretchable bands work best for warmup, muscle activation, superior muscle pump, and muscle toning.
Read more: resistance bands vs dumbells
6. Hydrate, Hydrate & Hydrate
60% of our body is made of water, I know you are tired of hearing that. But water plays a very important role in maintaining body composition while on vacation.
- Prevents hunger: Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst because thirst signals can be weak. In that case, staying well hydrated while traveling can eliminate the consumption of excess calories.
- Prevents muscle breakdown: muscle breakdown while on vacation is the biggest nightmare of every fitness enthusiast. Researchers have found that less muscle breakdown takes place in well-hydrated muscle cells.
- Cure hangovers: for most of us, vacations involve a lot of alcohol, but it might lead to dehydration and hangover. Drinking a lot of water will also help in the elimination of toxins from the body.
7. Carry some healthy snacks
Vacation is not the right time to starve yourself to stay in shape, instead, its time to eat healthy and nourishing food items.
Binge eating while traveling is very common, that’s the reason people gain a few extra pounds.
Packing some low calorie and high protein snacks are a great way to stay in calorie limitation without losing muscle tissues.
You can have protein bars, protein chips, meal replacements or whole-grain biscuits, etc. or you can carry a few packets of highly nutritious nuts like almonds, walnuts, peanuts, cashews, etc.
What I personally pack?
I love to carry my whey protein at every vacation so that I can prepare a natural smoothie with some milk, berries and whey protein in it.
I also carry some BCAA’s and protein bars, these are especially needed when I am involved in any kind of exhaustive activity and my body is begging for some extra amino power.
A healthy mix of different varieties of nuts is an absolute necessity, they also act as a survival snack (in case of any kind of crisis).
8. Subscribe to online yoga app
I love to practice yoga on the beaches or hilltop, it works as an incredible stress reliever.
Workout while on vacation can be exhausting and skipping some workout sessions on vacation can help in providing a break to the body.
Vacation is a time when you can dedicate yourself to find peace through yoga. Yoga is an easy and effective way to de-stress and get fit at the same time.
You can’t underestimate the effectiveness of yoga to stay lean and toned. Yoga can help you burn tons of calories.
Subscribing to a good yoga learning app can help you choose from the wide range of yoga styles and intensity. Pocket yoga, Yoga studio and Asana Rebel are my personal top choice.
9. It’s okay to have a cheat meal.
Enjoying a holiday can be quite difficult if you can’t let yourself free to have a periodical cheat meal.
It’s okay to have a cheat meal if you are willing to balance in other meals.
Suppose you came across the best restaurant in the city which is offering some mouthwatering food, what now? It’s okay to cheat meal.
I usually compensate for my cheat meal with a session of fasting, but you can do that by skipping the next meal or choosing a very low carb meal.
Walking across the city or renting a cycle to discover new city destinations is a great way to compensate for those extra calories.
10. Bodyweight workouts
Muscle grows when they experience added resistance. Resistance creates micro-tears within the muscle tissues which are later healed by amino acids resulting in muscle hypertrophy.
Underestimating bodyweight workouts is the dumbest thing people don.
Some of the best bodyweight workouts that can be followed while on vacations are:
|Push-ups variations||Chest, shoulders, core, triceps|
|Pull-ups variations||Lats, traps, core, arms|
|Squats||Quadriceps, glutes, and core|
|Planks||Primarily target core|
|Lunges||Quadriceps and glutes|
|Burpees||Fat burster that targets full body.|
Now sure how to implement bodyweight workouts to maintain muscle mass? Here is the list of top bodyweight circuit workouts.
=> Pyramid workout
It’s one of the best way to stay strong while vacationing. This workout won’t take more than 10 minutes. It’s called a Pyramid workout because of the number of repetitions changes with every set. Here is how to do it.
Round 1- 10 pull-up and 1 squat
Round 2- 9 pull-up and 2 squat
Round 3- 8 pull-up and 3 squat
Round 10- 1 pullup and 10 squat
You can choose the exercises according to your needs. You can choose the combine push-ups and burpees or any other combination.
=> Tabata workout
It’s a workout that feels easy in the beginning but proves to be really difficult after a few sets.
Tabata workout is mainly developed to shred down stubborn fat and you can do it with any HIIT workout.
Tabata workout is just a 4 mins long workout which contains 8 sets.
Every set lasts for 30 seconds- 20 seconds of workout and followed by 10 seconds of rest.
Pick your favourit exercise for Tabata workout – squatting, jump squats, skipping, planks, etc.
=> 5-10-15 (15-rounds)
It’s a real full-body strength builder. It’s a combination fo 3 most common compound movements.
- 5 pullups
- 10 pushups
- 15 Squats
Get the minimum rest between sets.
=> 30-second workout (15-minutes)
Its a 30 seconds of workout and 30 seconds of rest.
Whether you are a big fan of squats, pushups, planks or lunges, this workout will check the true capacity of your muscles.
You might want to start with just 10 minutes.
It’s basically a CrossFit WOD and will leave you in sweat. It’s my top choice to compensate for a cheat meal.
- 100 Pull-ups
- 100 Push-ups
- 100 Sit-ups
- 100 Air Squats
It’s not difficult to maintain your muscles or to have your progress of fat loss unaffected while traveling for a few weeks. The above steps are tested and tried methods that you can apply to preserve your gains and get your progress unaltered during the vacation.
Thanks for reading. Questions welcomed in the comments as always. This site contains affiliate links as well as general health and fitness information. Please read my Medical Disclaimer and Writing Disclaimer for more information.