How many of you are scared of losing muscle mass during long periods of vacation time? I bet most of us would agree that we have some fear of losing muscle mass if we somehow can't make it to the gym. This is true, but only over long periods of doing absolutely nothing. The truth is, every once and awhile, it is important to take a well deserved break from lifting weights to avoid overtraining.
Overtraining is the term used to describe the physical degradation process over very long periods of intense training. It is pretty easy to overtrain if you are scared of missing a single day of working out. Like I said before, it is important to take a little break about 1 week every 8-10 weeks of training. You will come back stronger and more enthusiastic to train.
A little break every once in a while is not a couple months unless you have sustained a shoulder injury or something of that nature. If that happens to you, then well, you are going to have to find another way to stay in shape. Ironically, many shoulder injuries are caused by overtraining of the joint and it will force you to take a break, but a much longer than necessary one. So be kind to your body!
If that break happens to be a couple of months, then I would consider that a vacation. Usually during the first week of a vacation it is okay to lay back and relax, but as soon as the two week mark starts, you better find a way to train, otherwise your body will start to realize that it has no use for unnecessary muscle. Granted, with a proper diet, you can hold on to most of your muscle mass.
Before beginning your training, you are going to have to figure out the resources that are available. From there, you can formulate a great workout based on what you have. You can even take with you a couple of resistance bands while on vacation. Resistance bands, if providing enough resistance, can be great for getting a in a day's workout. You can workout almost every bodypart with these and I would highly recommend them. If you do not have these resistance bands, then that is perfectly fine.
The most common approach taken by people on vacation is calisthenics. These are exercises using the body's weight as resistance. This can include push ups, pull ups, dips, squats, lunges, and many other creative exercises you can think of on your own. I wouldn't advise anything too crazy though. Some of these exercises can be done with resistance using rocks or something of that nature. If you do not have anything to work with as far as added resistance goes, then you can do as many reps as possible until failure for a couple of sets on each exercise.
These exercises can be done everyday with a well balanced diet. Even protein is important during these kinds of exercises so as to promote muscle growth and maintenance. Muscle growth will usually only occur if you increase the intensity each day. This means maybe one or two more reps but that can mean a big difference by the time you get back home and hit the weights once again. There are many people who feel that after doing calisthenics on vacation, they come back much stronger. This is slightly true in that doing higher reps trains different muscle fibers than what you would have been training with lower reps and higher resistance. The best way to train is with a balance between the two, but in this case while on vacation you do not have much choice.
This is just fine though for muscle maintenance. If you do these workouts with enough intensity and do them everyday along with a well balanced diet, then you will be able to maintain all of your hard work in the gym. Have a great vacation!