If you missed part I of this article where we discussed why more muscle is a good thing, check it out HERE before continuing on.

Since you read part I, you now know that building muscle is almost always a good thing. The only exception can occur when someone needs to stay within a certain weight class for competition, and the extra muscle makes it impossible to stay within that limit.

Other than that, gaining more lean, functional muscle will help with pretty much every fitness, performance and aesthetic goal. 

And now, we answer the big question…

What is the best way to gain muscle?

You could easily follow a progressive training program (adding weight and/or volume over time) and eat a metric s@*t ton of calories from sources such as pizzas, burgers, creamy pastas, etc.  and you will gain muscle mass. The problem is you will also likely gain an excessive amount of fat mass. 

 

               A lot of muscle, but a lot of jiggle too!

 

Since I will assume that most of us want to gain as much muscle as possible without accruing significant amounts of body fat, we must approach training for muscle gain (hypertrophy) intelligently.

There are a few main components to hypertrophy that you will want to consider in order to optimally increase muscle mass, while limiting fat accumulation.

 

NUTRITIONAL POINTS

 

  1. Overall calorie is king, quality of food is queen

When it comes to gaining muscle mass, the easiest way is to be in a caloric surplus. But this doesn’t mean going way overboard. 

You will want to be roughly 200-500 calories over maintenance level (the amount of calories it would take to maintain your current weight). 

For many of us, calculating our maintenance caloric level is as easy as taking our bodyweight and multiplying that number by 14-16.

For example, for a 185 pound male, a good ESTIMATION of the calories necessary to maintain weight would be 2,590 to 2,960 per day.

For someone looking to gain quality weight, I would recommend adding 200-500 calories past your maintenance level. 

Again, these are estimated numbers so if you notice that you are not gaining muscle, or if you are gaining muscle but also too much fat, you can add or subtract 100 calories accordingly. 

And although the common understanding is that you must have a caloric surplus to gain muscle (or weight in general), if you take in close your maintenance calories, or just below,  and train correctly, you can lose fat while gaining muscle. 

The key with this is that the quality of your food needs to stay high. 

No matter if you are going into a caloric surplus, or you are trying to stay at or just below maintenance levels of caloric intake to lose more fat, different foods will have a different impact on your body.

250 calories of lean meat will not have the same effect on your body as 250 calories of Boston Cream Donuts…sorry.

 

 

So calories are king, but you need to make sure your intake is made up primarily of whole food sources (not processed sources) such as meat, eggs, fish, veggies, fruits, low processed grains (quinoa, oatmeal, etc.), potatoes, rice, etc.

 

2) Focus on protein

Piggy backing on the first point, you want to make sure that you are taking in an adequate amount of protein.

Recent research has found that the recommended RDA amount for protein is likely too low for those of us who are putting our bodies through stressful training.

For this reason I recommend that you take in a minimum of 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. 

Taking this into your caloric consumption, lets use the 185 pound male athlete example. 

Being 185 pounds this athlete would want to shoot for a minimum of 185 grams of protein per day. 

Protein has 4 calories per gram, so this athlete would be consuming 740 calories worth of protein per day. 
If we take the numbers mentioned from point one for maintenance, let’s put a nice even number of 2700 calories for maintenance. That would leave this athlete with just under 2000 calories from other sources such as carbs and fat to make up the rest of his calories. 

For this reason, I would say you can bump up your intake of protein to 1.2-1.5g per pound of bodyweight.

Having a significant amount of protein in your diet will help you build muscle as protein, more specifically amino acids, are responsible for many critical components of bodily processes such as repair and maintenance (this is where hypertrophy fits in), energy, hormones, enzymes, transport, etc.

 

 

So if protein levels are not sufficient, not only will building muscle be extremely difficult but  sufficient energy levels to train, and hormones to signal anabolism (growth) will be in short supply.  

For this reason, I recommend focusing on consuming enough protein. Take a look at your current diet and determine whether or not your are taking in enough protein (at least 1g per pound of bodyweight).

If not try adding in more meats, eggs, fish, milk, cheese, nuts, and protein powders for convenience. 

Just remember to keep overall calories at a good level. 

 

3) Don’t forget about carbs and fats.

Although we just spent time discussing how important protein is, we can’t forget about quality carbs and fats.

Carbs will help provide the energy necessary to continue to put in a consistently high effort with your training, and fats are key to many bodily functions that are critical for health, performance and growth.

Good sources of carbs include veggies and fruits, potatoes, rice, quinoa, low processed grains such as Ezekiel bread and pastas.

Good sources of fats include fish, nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc.

Once you make sure you are taking in enough protein, fill in the rest of your diet with quality carbs and fats. 

 

TRAINING POINTS

 

4) Spend the majority of your time between 6 and 12 reps.

It has been hypothesized that hypertrophy has three main drivers. Those being mechanical tension (lifting heavy stuff), muscular damage and metabolic stress (the “pump”). 

While completing exercises through various rep ranges is recommended for optimal growth, performance and health, placing a heavy emphasis (pun intended) on reps between 6 and 12 will spur the anabolic responses within the body to a greater degree. 

The key is to make sure that you are approaching technical failure during your sets. You will want to finish your last rep in the set knowing that you could complete one more perfect rep.

If you can complete more than one rep you are likely not going to obtain the stimulus needed to maximize anabolic responses, as well as other wanted adaptations (strength gain, fat utilization, etc.).

So focus on placing 70-80% of your program within the 6-12 rep range to entice greater hypertrophy, and going to near technical failure with your sets.

 

5) Don’t forget to get strong and feel the burn.

Although the rep range of 6-12 has beens shown to be the sweet spot for the 3 components of muscle hypertrophy (discussed in last point), there are other rep ranges you will want to hit.

Just like carbs and fats are to your diet, working within strength and “pump” rep ranges is to your training.

Since you will be placing 70-80% of your training within the 6-12 rep range, you have 20-30% to allocate to lower and higher reps.

Start your training session off with a few (2-4) sets of strength/power work that takes place in the rep ranges between 1 and 5 reps.

Finish off your program with a few sets (2-4) of higher “pump” work to engorge your muscles with blood and nutrients. 

This will allow you to better emphasize the mechanical tension and metabolic stress part of they hypertrophy equation. 

Here is a quick full body example:

1a) Deadlift 3×4

1b) Bench Press 3×4

2a) Reverse lunge 3×6/side

2b) Chin Up 3×6

3a) Goblet Lateral Lunge 3×8/side

3b) Single Arm DB Row 3×10/side

4a) Single Leg Squat 1-2 x 12-15/side

4b) Push Up 1-2 x 12-15

 

6) You must progressively overload the system.

In order to progress training, and your results, you need to progressively overload your body. 

Really what this means is that in order to spur further adaptations (growth, strength, fat loss, etc.) you need to continually challenge the body past the point it is currents threshold. 

 

 

The most basic way to do this is to add intensity (resistance via weight to the bar, etc.) and/or volume (more reps and/or sets).

Make it a point to not continuously use the same weight or sets/reps week after week, as without more of a challenge the body will not adapt any further.

There is no set amount you should try to increase every week (such as 5 lbs each week). The bigger consideration is overall workload, which can be calculated by taking your resistance x reps x sets.

For example, if you are deadlifting with 100 pounds (easy number to use) and you complete 3 sets of 6 reps, that would be a total workload of 100 x 6 x 3 = 1800 pounds. Trying to progressively increase that total workload over time is the key, so you can manipulate weight used, reps or sets to do so.

While increasing weight/reps/sets is the easiest way to overlaod, there are other ways to challenge the body such as tempo (the speed of movements), different exercises, different grips, manipulation of rest periods, etc. 

These come into play when increasing resistance or volume is no longer possible (or recommended) and will be covered further in a future article. 

 

7) Condition high or low…not in the middle.

When it comes to maximizing muscle gain, and losing body fat, conditioning at either a high or low intensity is key.

This means that prioritizing high intensity intervals (sprints, bike sprints, row sprints, etc.) in conjunction with longer slower conditioning (easy 20-60 minute jog, bike ride, etc.) is the best approach to lose body fat while sparing muscle mass.

When you spend too much time in the “middle zone,” such as consistently trying to beat a 1+ mile time, you are more likely to start degrading your muscle mass for energy. 

 

 

 

When you are training at a higher intensity you are more likely to prioritize muscle glycogen, and when you are at a lower intensity you are more likely to prioritize fat. Both will help you spare muscle mass while you work on burning through non functional energy storage (fat tissue). 

Try completing intervals (sprints) 1-2 times per week and a longer slower session 1 time per week.

 

BONUS POINT

 

8) Sleep!

This may in fact be the most important point of this article, although it is the last.

The fact is that many of us do not sleep!

Well, we do, but we don’t sleep long enough, or well enough.

Making sure to get at least 7 hours of high quality sleep each night is key to maintaining optimal hormonal levels that will help you recover.

When you recover well, you can train harder, you spur greater adaptation and experience greater results.

It would take another article alone to cover all of the benefits of sleep and how to entice a better night’s sleep. 

 

 

But here are a few quick tips…

  1. Avoid too much caffeine throughout the day, and stop drinking caffeine around 3pm. Any later and  you are flirting with caffeines effects when trying to shut it down at night. 
  2. Go to bed early(ier)…get to bed well before midnight whenever possible!
  3. Stay away from the light…turn off the lights and electronics including your phone at least an hour before bed. 
  4. Black out…your room! Making your room as dark as possible will help stimulate a deeper sleep. This includes getting rid of your clock, or at least covering it.
  5. Block out the noise. Try using a white noise app / machine, or if you can get through a couple weird nights, try using ear plugs. Less noise will also stimulate deeper sleep. 

 

Questions, comments or random thoughts? Leave them below. And if you found this information useful, be a boss and send it along to your friends and family.

 

To your health and performance,

KA

 

 

No matter what your main fitness goals are, whether that be getting more athletic, losing some fat, gaining good weight or preparing for the 1st annual Pokemon Go national championship (because you will need some crazy stamina for that), accruing more muscle mass will almost always help.

 

 

Not only will it help, but no matter your main goal, gaining some muscle should be a priority.

The only time I would suggest that gaining muscle would not be appropriate is if an athlete is already lean and is on the brink of pushing the limit on their weight class…if their sport requires they stay within that weight class.

Besides that, gaining muscle should be a must!

This doesn’t mean have to shoot for wearing a thong and stand on stage (but if you want to by all means go ahead) .

 

 

What it does mean is you should absolutely not be afraid of gaining some lean tissue (muscle), and should in fact try to do so…no matter your goals!

Let’s go over how gaining muscle will undoubtedly help you achieve your health and performance goals.

 

1)“I want to look beastly in my extra small t-shirt” (for the Bros) 

Ok, hopefully you don’t rep the extra small t-shirt, but in any case if you want to fill your t-shirt and make it look good, gaining some muscle will help.

And while this point is directed more towards our brosephs, for the ladies who want to look a little more “toned” (<— I hate that word by the way), some muscle will help with the defined look you are going for…look to the next point for more on this.

I hope that is obvious and why I won’t spend anymore time on this point.

 

2) “I want to tone up, not get man arms.”

It is funny because for those of us that have been in the fitness field for some time now, we are sick and tired of reading articles about how strength training, even hypertrophy training (training for muscle gain), will not result in females becoming overly muscular and manly looking. For us this is old news.

But…

Just yesterday I had one of my female athletes tell me, “I don’t want man arms” so this is still obviously a common misconception for some of the ladies.

So to clear this up, it is very difficult for females to gain massive amounts of muscle as they don’t have enough of the hormones to support it…mainly testosterone.

Even some of the strongest strength training females, those who toss around sufficient amounts of weight on a regular basis, do not look overly muscular. In fact, the muscle that they carry looks very, for lack of a better term, “toned”…I just threw up a little typing that.

For example, take my wife and TOP Fitness athlete Jamie. She can deadlift twice her bodyweight, bang out 12+ chin ups and regularly pushes large amounts on the sled.

 

DR

 

This is a picture of her during our recent vacation to the Dominican Republic. And I’m not just saying this because she is my wife (although it will hopefully win me some brownie points), but she looks good!…Very athletic and lean, not manly and “too muscular.”

So please ladies, don’t be afraid of gaining too much muscle and looking “manly.”

 

3) “I want to be an absolute savage on the field, court, ice, etc.”

The main athletic quality that separates one athlete from another when skill is equal, is power.
Power is defined as strength x velocity, or how quickly you can express your strength.

For that reason, a stronger athlete has a greater potential to be more powerful (explosive). So gaining strength should be of high priority.

The thing about strength is that much of the strength gain we experience is a product of our central nervous system adapting and becoming more efficient. This is especially true for those of us that are new / relatively new to strength training (less than 2 years of consistent training).

But after one becomes a trained individual, a big player in our ability to gain more strength is the cross sectional area of our muscles…in other words, how big our muscles are.

This does not mean that a more muscular individual will always stronger, but it does mean that they have the greater potential to be stronger. A stronger individual then has more potential to increase power and explosiveness.

Bottom line is that more muscle may not directly result in being stronger and more explosive, but it will give you more to work with to get stronger and more explosive…a good thing if you are looking to be a beast of an athlete.

 

4) “I don’t want to get injured.”

You may have heard that muscle is “armor for the body,” and I would have to agree.

The more muscle you have the more soft tissue there is to absorb contact forces and prevent direct blows to the underlying skeletal and internal organ systems.

 

Kyle Skinny As Hell

IMG_2175

I think it is pretty clear from these pictures that when I was injured and roughly 140 pounds I would have been lucky not to break a rib if the wind blew too hard. Whereas now at 185 pounds it would take a little more to do the same damage…if you missed it click HERE to read about what happened to me. 

Along with having a more effective barrier from outside forces, more muscle means greater potential for strength, and when joints are placed in compromising positions, you will have a greater ability to get out of those positions, or at least avoid the extremes.

One thing I have to emphasize though is that even if you have a sufficient amount of muscle mass, if you are moving wrong to gain that muscle you will likely experience an overuse injury. So movement is still king!

Also, while more muscle will give you a better chance to avoid or reduce injury, please don’t be that dude that walks around like you have an S on your chest…someone may want to test that out.

With that said, more muscle will help you prevent or mitigate certain injuries…pretty important and helpful when it comes to being successful in sport, and being able to enjoy life!

 

5) “But I want to lose weight!”

While some of us do need to lose overall body mass, when many of us express that we want to lose weight, we are actually talking about reducing body fat.

Whether you have 30 plus pounds to lose, or you are just trying to get rid of some extra body fat that is providing a light cover over your six pack abs, gaining muscle WILL help.

The reason is, the more muscle you have, the more metabolic tissue you have to burn calories throughout the day.

This is why more muscular individuals can typically eat more without experiencing gains in body composition (body fat) when compared to a less muscular individual of the same weight. 

If you were to google “how many calories does one pound of muscle burn” you will typically find estimates from 30-50 kcal (calories) per day. This number is likely inflated, so lets just go much lower and say it is 10 calories per pound per day (which is too low but I’d rather give the worse case scenario). 

That means an individual that has 5 pounds more muscle will burn an extra 350 calories per week…even if they were to just sit down and do nothing but watch the “boob tube” all day (my what my parents used to call the TV).

Therefore, the goal should be to gain as much muscle as possible while burning body fat. This is better termed body recomposition (gaining muscle and losing fat).

This is not easy as muscle is best gained in a caloric surplus, while fat is best lost in a caloric deficit…but it can absolutely happen!

The takeaway is that carrying more muscle will allow you to burn more calories throughout the day. That means you are burning more calories when you are not training…sounds pretty good especially when your goals include losing weight or getting leaner.

 

Stay tuned for part II

Now that you know gaining muscle is a good thing, and should be a focus no matter what your goal is, keep your eye out for part II where I will explain how to most efficiently gain muscle. We will talk about the factors that effect muscle gain and how to set up a program to maximize them.

I will also briefly touch upon how to integrate muscle gain within your program when your main focus is on other outcomes that were discussed above (performance gain, fat loss, injury prevention, etc.).

If you enjoyed this article and think others will benefit from it, please share it!

 

To your health and performance,

KA

For the majority of us, one of the things we look forward to the most every year is vacation, myself included.

In fact, as I write this I am sitting on the beach in the Dominican Republic soaking up the sun…well, more like hiding from the sun but you know what I mean.

 

 

We work hard and take care of business in order to pay the bills (or do well in school for our youth athletes) and live a life with less worry. This can be extremely draining, both physically and mentally.

I am fortunate as every day I go to work, I enjoy positively impacting the lives of those athletes who I interact with and coach…yes, that includes the adult athletes too! Some of us are not so lucky.

But nonetheless, I along with the other TOP Fitness coaches work long hours, and over weeks and months, a few days of vacation sounds pretty nice.

Although vacation is a time to relax, enjoy good food, great company and rejuvenate a bit, it can also be a stressful time for those of us who take pride in our nutrition and training.

The environment changes, the food options can easily be less than stellar, and a quality training facility is likely not available.

 

 

This sounds like the perfect recipe for gaining excess body composition (FAT), losing training momentum and taking a giant leap backwards with your health and performance.

But…

It doesn’t have to be that way!

You could pass on all of the wonderfully tasty food that is available to you.

If you are of age, you could refuse to attend social events and/or abstain from drinking any alcohol.

You could get up early to crush a 90 minute training session, and go to bed early in order to ensure adequate recovery so you could again repeat the process over the next few days.

You could do all of this, and in the process give up the chance to enjoy new foods, have some fun with friends over a couple of drinks and experience the night life in a different environment.

How does that sound?

If I’m guessing correctly, it sounds like you want to X out of this article immediately while you flip me the bird (or at least give the computer the finger).

 

 

And I don’t blame you, nor do I expect you to (or want you to) attack your vacation this way.

Instead, take a look at the following strategies in order to enjoy your vacation without falling completely off of the nutrition and training bandwagon.

Nutrition

  1. Make a plan.

Whether you are on vacation or not, the first principle to staying consistent with your nutritional efforts is to have a plan.

As the common saying goes, “Fail to plan and plan to fail.”

The biggest thing is that while on vacation, you may have to deviate from the plan a bit. But as long as you stick to your main principles (keep reading below) you should be just fine.

I am planning on having a good breakfast with a little something I want (likely a pancake with some real syrup), but for the most part it will be comprised of eggs, veggies and fruit.

For lunch I will have some meat, veggies and quality carbs such as rice, potatoes or beans…and the same for dinner.

And for each meal I am allowing myself a bite or two of a “treat” whether that is actually a sugar laden baked good or a handful of cereal…whatever I am in the mood for.

 

2) Protein and veggies are king!

As you noticed above, my meals will be focused around protein and veggies.

If you can make it a point to eat your protein (meat, eggs, fish, etc.) and veggies first (any veggie in any form except drowned in butter or other creamy sauce), you will not only signal your “full hormones” in order to prevent overeating of the “not so healthy stuff,” but you will ensure that you are prioritizing the nutrients necessary for continued muscle growth and health.

 

 

After your protein and veggies you can consume an appropriate amount of carbs, which all depends on your size, sex, activity level for that day and overall goals…(I have a complete guide for this if you want it, so just let me know).

 

3) Have a little something.

You are on vacation, so you should be able to enjoy your food, and as touched on above, you should be able to have a little something you want.

Whether that is a pancake at breakfast, a cookie at lunch or a piece of cheesecake at dinner, you should be able to eat these guilt free. The key is to eat an appropriate amount.

 

                           Choose one!

 

One small pancake with a little maple syrup, one cookie and a couple bites of cheesecake thought the day will not destroy your physique or health…especially if the rest of your meal was quality protein and veggies.

Just don’t think you can crush a plate sized pancake that is submerged in syrup,  an entire sleeve of cookies or a pound of cheesecake and not experience any unwanted side effects (the walking jiggles for example).

Remember, a little something!

 

4) Be aware of your liquids.

Again, this is another principle that should be used all the time, not just on vacation, but is especially useful when you are allowing yourself a bit more leniency with your food.

Try to eliminate your intake of sugary and overall calorie laden beverages.

Unless a glass of wine or beer is your little something, you should focus on consuming only water, tea and coffee (free of cream and sugar) throughout the day.

Try to stay away from fruit juices, sodas, creamy/sugary coffee or tea.

This will help to keep your overall caloric intake, as well as the amount of sugar or other processed ingredients to a minimum, which again gives you a little more wiggle room for everything else.

 

5) Eat a protein rich snack before a meal.

By consuming a protein rich snack (protein powder in water/low fat milk, beef jerky or other jerky, nuts, etc.) you are providing your body with nutrients that will provide a sense of satiety for little calorie.

 

 

This is helpful before a meal as it will help signal fullness and help you prevent overeating.

Not only that, but it will again help you ensure that you are consuming the protein necessary to support your health, performance and physique goals.

 

6) Use protein powders.

 

Piggy backing the previous point, making good use of protein powders is a powerful way to keep nutrition consistent while on vacation.

I am not a huge advocate of replacing whole foods with protein powders, but if you are planning on consuming larger than normal meals later in the day (or have already consumed one or two), downing a protein shake with some veggies on the side is a good choice to replace a meal.

Just make sure that the rest of the meals during the day provide other quality nutrients you find in whole food options.

 

7) Bonus: Fast?!

This strategy is one that is of complete preference.

If you enjoy having larger meals less frequently, fasting (not eating for long periods of time but then consuming larger meals in a small window of time), may be of use.

Again, this is helpful if you plan on having a larger than normal breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Some example may be skipping breakfast in order to eat a larger lunch and dinner. Or the opposite, eating a larger breakfast and lunch and skipping dinner.

Personally I have tried both and do not enjoy either, but I know many individuals who have had success with this strategy.

Try it if you would like, and if not, no big deal…that is why it is a bonus point!

 

Training

 

1) Short burst sessions.

Hopefully when you are on vacation you have some fun activities planned that you want to complete each day. With this, time is likely to be limited to make it to the gym.

With a limited amount of time to dedicate to training, the best approach is to hit it quick and intense.

Full body sessions are best and you can focus on completing the session as quickly as possible, or give yourself a certain time (say 20 minutes) to complete as much work as possible.

 

 

If you are going for more of the metabolic hit, completing a few exercises in circuit format as quickly as possible is good.

If you are going for more of the strength component, completing exercises utilizing heavier weights for less than 6 reps is warranted. With this format simply do as many sets in a given period of time, resting long enough to keep the weight heavy.

Either way, make sure the session is less than 30 minutes total in order to have more time to enjoy your vacation but still crush a session.

 

2) Double Sessions.

You read that right, double sessions!

A little trick from the football world, modified slightly to get in a little more training while on vacation.

If you do not want to spend an hour plus in the weight room at any one time during the day, but have a few shorter blocks during the day to complete some quality work, double sessions may be the best approach.

I personally love this when I am on vacation. Not only because it allows me to keep my sessions shorter, but because it allows me to get my body into a state where I burn a little more calorie, stimulate my musculature and increase my insulin sensitivity a couple times throughout the day.

This is good as it allows me to better utilize the meals I am consuming to go towards growth and repair. Also, if you are of age and have the urge to start sipping on the adult beverages a little early, knowing you have one more short season helps you keep the alcohol consumption to a shorter period of time…usually a good thing when maintaining health, fitness and performance is a goal.

My favorite way to approach this is to resistance training in the morning and condition at night.

 

3) Use your body.

The majority of the time, the hotel weight room / gym is less than optimal. If you are lucky you will have a DB rack that goes up to 50 lbs and maybe a cable column. If you are not so lucky you will likely find a treadmill and stationary bike…and maybe a pair of 10 lb pink DBs or Shake Weight .

 

 

In either case, you have a great tool you can utilize to get in a quality session…your bodyweight.

Completing a session that consists of bodyweight squats, lunges (forward, reverse, lateral, walking), step ups, push ups, pull ups, inverted rows, jumps, bounds, sprints, etc. is a good alternative when you can’t  throw around some iron…or at least the degree to which you are accustomed to.

Also, by using your bodyweight to complete a session, the area needed is minimal. You can find yourself in a small room, or anywhere outside…it doesn’t have to be anything fancy which is perfect when you are on vacation and a quality facility is not available.

 

4) Vary your tempo for a greater training effect.

When there is not a significant amount of resistance available, sometimes it is difficult to achieve the training effect desired. For example, if you have great lower body strength, regular bodyweight squats will seem like child’s play. And the same goes for regular push ups when your upper body strength is significant.

Instead of scratching those exercises from your routine, try manipulating the tempo (the speed of the movement). Using slower tempos and pauses will increase the time the musculature is under tension and therefore increase the difficulty of the exercise. This may be something like 5 seconds down on the squat or push up, a 2-3 second pause at the bottom and 1 second on the way up.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can utilize explosive tempos / power movements to also increase the difficulty of the exercise. For example, you can do squat jumps instead of squats or power/plyo push ups where you are pushing yourself off the ground in place or regular push ups.

Slow down or speed up the movement to make it more challenging…a very efficient way to train when the resistance available is minimal.

 

5) Swim!

Swimming has been talked about as a great training method for those who have joint issues or are rehabbing from an injury and higher impact forces do not go over so well.

But, swimming can also be an extremely taxing and efficient way to condition when running, biking, rowing, etc. may not be available…or you just need to switch things up a bit.

And if you are someone like me, swimming is more like trying not to drown so the amount of energy expended is extremely high.

 

 

Many hotels will have a pool available, or if you are in a tropical area the ocean is a fun choice.

And a great way to attack swimming is intervals.

For example, you can swim as fast as you possible can the length of the pool, rest for 30s and repeat for 10-20 sprints (or however many you can handle).

And if you are looking for more of your cardiac output work (longer, lower intensity) you can simply swim laps in the pool for 15-30 minutes. Either way swimming is a great option for conditioning while on vacation, or really any time.

 

6) Choose active, well, activities.

This is not so much a training tip as it is a physical activity tip.

Again, on vacation we will likely consume a few more calories than normal. The nice thing is that while on vacation we should be able to choose our activities.

Try having fun with activities such as hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling, playing basketball/tennis/golf/etc. or trying to crush everyone in a super intense game of darts…that was happening on my most recent vacation.

 

***Bonus tip (6.5): Have your wife, husband, kids, boyfriend, girlfriend, friend, etc. hold you accountable. 

The reason it has been easy for me over the past two years to stay consistent with my training, nutrition and physical activity efforts while on vacation is because my wife is extremely dedicated to her health, fitness and performance.

We help each other get up early if need be, train consistently and make sure that our little something at our meals doesn’t turn into a lot of something.

If you can find someone to help you with this it is a huge advantage!

 

Wrap Up

There you have it. 13.5 strategies to help you when you are on vacation.

Just remember that it really comes down to moderation with everything. You should be able to enjoy yourself without throwing all of your hard work out the window while on vacation.

And if you haven’t picked up on it yet, these principles and tips are very similar to the principles and tips that you can use during your everyday life.

Let me know if you have any questions and please pass this information along if you found it useful.

To your health, fitness and performance.

KA