How To Stay In Shape On Holiday

Screenshot 2021-07-06 at 07.16.24
Sean Wilson

Sean Wilson

Many people reach their fitness goals but struggle to maintain them when on holiday. So, what are the areas you need to focus on to stay in shape?

For many people, travelling and holidays are an essential part of life. They provide you with plenty of benefits, such as rest, happiness, stress relief, mental clarity and quality time with friends and family. It is a vital part of having the energy and motivation to keep working towards your goals in life.

Yet a common worry for many is how to maintain your physique that they worked so hard to build, without their local gym and regular routine. It can therefore be very easy to take time off from training throughout the holiday and fall into bad habits. It does not have to be this way – staying in shape on holiday but also enjoying your time off can be pretty straightforward with the right methods in place.

So, here are five ways to help you do just that.

Keep Training

The most important thing you can do to stay in shape during a holiday is to keep training. Your sessions vital to maintaining the muscle mass that you worked hard to gain, and they also add structure and productivity to your day. When training discipline decreases, other bad habits can creep in, such as overeating and a more sedentary lifestyle. This will lead to potential muscle loss (dependent on how long you are away for), and an increase in body fat, as you will be consistently consuming more calories than you are burning.

A great thing to do is to book your accommodation close to a gym with plenty of resistance training equipment. That way, you do not have to travel far to train but also you will not have an excuse to drop your training during holiday time. You do not have to do same number of sessions as you do at home, but getting in two to three per week is enough to make sure that your physique can be maintained. Make sure your sessions are effective, challenging and enjoyable – keep pushing yourself as you do at home.

Prioritise Compound Lifts

When you train on holiday, one of the best things you can do is prioritise compound lifts. This is because they work your body hard, provide an excellent stimulus for muscle growth, work a number of muscle groups at once, burn the most calories and help increase strength further. However, it is important to recognise that you should only move onto these exercises once you have laid the foundations and built strength, balance and stability in your lower body first. Once you do so, compound movements will then take your lower body training up a level.

Firstly, you want your sessions to be as effective as possible, particularly when you have limited time during your sessions and you can only train one to three times per week, and compound lifts give you the best value due to the fact that they are the heaviest, toughest movements. This is also important because, as well as retaining muscle, you want to burn as many calories as possible during your workout, as opposed to just doing less intense, isolation exercises.

Stay Active

Training is very important but another factor that must not be overlooked is your activity outside of the gym. Believe it or not, when it comes to burning calories, gym sessions may not be enough to stay in shape if you want to enjoy your food. An hour of walking can burn up to 300 calories and can make the difference between you gaining unnecessary body fat if you are planning to eat at around maintenance calories. Therefore, it is important to combine your training sessions with activities such as walking and swimming (if you can) so that you are active and burn a sufficient number of calories during the day.

Being active is also a great way to explore destinations you are in and make the most of your time away. Make sure your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) calories are at good level too – these are the calories you burn outside of exercise, such as the everyday tasks of cooking, making your bed, walking up flights of stairs etc. Playing some sport can also be a good option, both from a calorie-burning and enjoyment perspective.

Manage Your Calories

One of the most challenging things for people when it comes to staying in shape on holiday is their nutrition. After weeks or even months of dieting, a holiday represents a chance to enjoy the local food, relax and not worry about tracking your calories. To some extent, this is the right thing to do – you want to enjoy yourself on holiday and eat out in nice places. However, when eating out especially, it is easy for your calorie intake to drastically increase.

Lots of restaurants like to cook and serve their meals with oils, which are very calorie-dense and can increase your calorie intake without feeling very full. Therefore, if you can, aim to go for something quite lean and tasty but without those unnecessary calories. In addition, if you like to drink on holiday, beverages such as beer and wine will also increase your calorie intake with what is called ‘empty calories’ (calories with limited or no macronutrients). So, if you can avoid drinking, that would be the best solution but if you want to enjoy yourself then do so – just be careful and not go too heavy. Alcohol can not only pile the calories but also, for males, affect testosterone levels.

Keep Protein Intake High

Another key part of staying in shape on holiday is keeping your protein high. Protein is an important macronutrient that plays a crucial role in the process of muscle recovery and repair when you are looking to build more muscle or tone your body. It has ‘building blocks’ called amino acids that the body uses to build and repair muscles and bones, in addition to making hormones and enzymes. It is also essential for retaining the muscle you have already gained and can be used as an energy source. 

Strategies to maintain your protein intake include having it with each meal, supplementing with protein shakes or bars and diving your food up throughout the day so that you don’t feel too full or bloated. Even though you are on holiday, you should still have structure with your nutrition and decide what foods are going to be a primary protein source within your meals. Make sure you have variety with your nutrition and enjoy trying new foods that you may not have had the chance to consume back home.


So, if you are going on holiday and want to stay in shape, make sure that you keep training well, prioritise heavier compound lifts if possible, you are active throughout the day, you manage your calories well and you keep your protein intake high. This way, you will have able to enjoy your time away and not have to worry about ruining all the hard work you put in to get in shape in the first place.

Photo Credit: Envato Elements

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