What happens to your training while on holiday?



My friend is going on holiday to Italy for 3 weeks, so she was wondering how will she cope without her regular training 3 times a week? Holidays can be difficult when it comes to training.  So off the top of my head, here are some of the main problems and how we might get over them…

  • Lack of equipment – You are somewhere new and you don’t have access to your usual shiny gym machines, CV toys and weights.  What are you to do?
  • Lack of motivation/training partners – This is often the biggest problem.  We seem to be almost hardwired to equate holiday with “eating, drinking and doing sod-all else”.  Without the structure and responsibility that comes with a usual working week and the people we meet, it is very easy to miss the hard work “just this once” and go sit by the pool instead.
  • Lack of knowledge – This tends to tie in with the “Lack of Equipment” problem.  Most of us learn the specific machines/exercises of our usual routine.  We know what level/speed/setting/reps etc we normally do, but have no idea what they are doing, or what effect it is having on our body.  Because of this, we are totally reliant on the equipment and have no idea how to replicate the effect in any other way.

So these are the main problems I can think of.  So how do we get over them?


The Planche

Lack of equipment is quite an easy one to get over.  All it takes is a bit of imagination and a willingness to give it a go. Bodyweight Exercises – This is how people have kept fit and strong for thousands of years.  These exercises can range from the easy (star jumps, walking/jogging, pressups, bodyweight squats, bodyweight split squats etc) to bloody challenging (burpees, pistols, pullups, hill sprints, handstands etc).  I have made a list of several of my favorite exercises, and many of them are bodyweight ones.  Click here to see them all.  If you have a favorite exercise, tell us about it in the comments below.

Iron Cross - Using portable equipment.

Iron Cross – Using portable equipment.

Portable Equipment – The next answer is to simply take your training equipment with you.  Portable equipment such as this can come in many forms, such as:

    • Skipping Rope.
    • Resistance Bands.
    • Balls (footballs, tennis balls etc).
    • Gymnastic rings.
    • Punching pads/focus mitts.
    • Your full suitcase.

Kit like these are small, light and you can get them out/put them away at a moments notice.  Of course, as with any new bit of kit, make sure you know how to use them properly before you go at them full tilt!  And you can get kit such as this from most good sports shops. But because this is “portable” equipment, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can’t use it when you are not on holiday.  They can be part of anyones regular training.

Parkour - using the environment

Parkour – using the environment

Use the environment – Again, the way people have kept fit and strong for thousands of years.  Is there a pavement or path?  Go for a jog.  Is there a nice bit of sloping ground?  Try some hill sprints.  Is there a good strong tree?  How about climbing it or improving your pullups.  Is there a park with a climbing frame?  Then climb it!  The only thing that is stopping you is your imagination and that silly nagging voice in your head saying you are too old, or it will be embarrassing.  Sod it!  You’re on holiday!

Lack of motivation.

This is a tougher one to crack.  But most of us get over a lack of motivation everyday using 2 things…routine and accountability.  Millions of us grind our way through a horrible daily commute to/from work because it is now “part of the routine”.  And we actually go to a shitty job because of our accountability to our boss/co-wokers/family/bank manager.  So why don’t we use these to help us exercise on holiday? Routine. Make exercise part of the routine of holiday.  Something that is automatically done.  Maybe you could go for a walk/jog/swim/ride before breakfast?  Or you could book “activities” on every other day.  These activities can be almost anything:

  • Go rock climbing.
  • Learn to surf.
  • Go kayaking.
  • Join that group of people who are going to climb that mountain over there.
  • Etc.

It doesn’t matter so much what the activity is (just make sure you enjoy it), just make sure it is routinly booked in to the day and you actually do it. Accountability. It is a well known fact that most people do better when someone is checking up on them.  This could be a training partner or coach.  But if you have “announced” you are going to do something, and someone is there expecting it to happen, it is much harder for us to back out and make excuses for ourselves.



That is how a training partner/coach keeps us accountable.  But if they are not with you in person (who takes their coach on holiday?) it is quite easy to use your phone, email or social network of your choice to keep in touch. Arrange your routine with them before you go and keep them updated as to how you get along.  Tell them when you are starting, when you are finishing, how you did, could you have done better.  If you slip up, they are only a button away to get you back on track. But the important thing is to announce what you are doing before you do it.  Once the announcement is out there, it is much harder to back out of it!

Lack of knowledge.

I think this one is the root behind the above 2 problems.  Essentially, a lack of knowledge is when people don’t know what their options are, or how to get the most out of them. e.g.  portable equipment, bodyweight exercises and the environment are no good if you don’t know how to use them.  And routine and accountability are all fine and dandy, but if you don’t know they can be useful, you probably won’t ever bother using them. Each week I speak to people who have come to believe it is simply not possible to get fitter unless you are on the newest, shiniest CV machine in town.  Or they cannot possibly be improving their strength or muscle tone unless they are strapped into the resistance machine with the most flashing lights.  These people don’t know how to use their bodies, but they do know how to use specific machines. And hopefully this is where I and coaches like me come in.  I can help you work independently of fancy equipment and make the most of the best bit of kit you will ever possess…your body. But before I finish up, I just want to throw this question out there for you to think about…if you are training regularly, consistantly and properly, what is wrong with taking a week or 2 off? Contact me or leave a comment below if you feel like it.