Fear of losing muscle during vacation

How silly would it be to wash and polish your Ferrari every morning but never drive it? Sounds ridiculous but many people do the equivent with their bodies! Many people go to the gym an hour a day, three to five days a week but are afraid to go play soccer, go for a nice long bike ride, or do a week of backpacking for fear of losing muscle – ask yourself, what are those muscles for if you never use them outside them gym? As I say on my philosophy page, I believe that bodybuilding is an important part of a healthy lifestyle but its not an end in itself!

I have said this many times but I will say it again, cardio does not burn muscle, bad nutrition does! Unless you are a serious marathon runner your cardio will not burn muscle – our bodies were designed to handle massive abounts of exercise. Reducing your caloric intake more than 20% in an effort to cut fat quickly is the usual culprit in muscle loss.

As far as losing muscle while on vacation, nope. A week off one or twice a year will only help you by letting your body recover. This is even more important with powerlifting type workouts than it is with bodybuilding type workouts. As far as extended trips of more than a week in length, its easy to incorporate in maintenance workouts! For example, I often do cycling trips of two weeks or more – legs are not an issue as they get pounded every day. On a trip like this, all that is required to maintain upper body strength is two or three pushup/pullup workouts a week – thats it, just 1.5 to 3.0 hours a week to maintain strength and mass in the upper body.

So please dont let your fear of losing muscle keep you from enjoying a vacation or keep you from enjoying a favorite sport! Use them muscles!!!

Im doing a pushup/pullup workout right now!


15 thoughts on “Fear of losing muscle during vacation”

  1. Me too Niklas, in fact I think I feel a break from the gym coming in the next few months.

    I’m starting to stay sore longer than I usually do and my joints are feeling inflamed, which is usually a sign that I need to start considering a rest week.

  2. Jean-François Gillet

    I usually do a training cycle of 10 weeks, then 7 to 10 days off.
    The last weeks of this training are quite intense with heavy weight.
    The week off is great for recovered but also for “Strategic Deconditioning”.
    Training after “Strategic Deconditioning” hits my muscles really hard even with light weight ,at the end of this cycle I can lift more weight than the previous one.
    I really think rest is a part of a good training program.

  3. Niklas,

    Maybe you are overtrained.

    Try for a weeks training as if you are on vacation, that is once an week.

    I do not recuperate when training the same muscle groups twice a week. Heck, i even train less : every muscle group once every 2 weeks.

    Read the books by Mike Mentzer on this subject.

    Cheers, Matty

  4. Scooby,
    some time ago you mentioned you had a sore back. A book probably worth reading is “8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back, Neck, Shoulder, Hip, Knee, and Foot” by Esther Gokhale and Susan Adams (Apr 1, 2008)

    Just a thought and stay safe in the Andes …

  5. If you are on holiday within the country that you live in, you can pack a set of dumbbells with you, obviously not with the heaviest weight that you lift but with moderate weight plates, and pack them overall among your bags.

  6. Recently, I just felt “tired” and didn’t feel like doing an exercise routine. Now, after a little rest I feel strong and look fit. I guess I needed a break.
    When on vacations I challenge myself to find ways to exercise and keep fit. Find a picnic table to do push-ups or a low tree branch to do pull-ups , those are the obvious one.

  7. even if you drink everyday alcohol when you go off one week your muscle/strength/endurance loss is not that hard. I did and after some weeks I even got better. But I was really affraid of it before I went to vacations.

  8. Niklas Ala-Mäkelä

    I take breaks of 3-7 days quite often, maybe 5-10 times a year and I don’t lose any muscle during it even if I don’t do any workout. When I get back to the gym I’m just stronger than before because my body has recovered properly.

  9. I didn’t have a choice but to experience this myself. I frequently travel on business and I don’t always have outstanding gym’s at the hotel’s I stay at. As long as I get a good workout the day before I leave, I’m usually in good shape. Pun intended.

  10. yes! i was on vacation last week and impressed that my body gained muscle and i was looking better after the week without any workout than before. i guess all few weeks 3 to 4 days of recovery and fun is healthy and i do it more often now

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