In spite of our best intentions, a vacation often sees us stray from the fitness and training regime we follow at home. Relaxing on the beach, savouring indulgent dinners and drinks and enjoying the local nightlife are the pleasures that make a break so joyful. However, after taking a break from working out, how do we return to our training schedule and regain fitness after an indulgent fortnight?
I spoke with the experts at London's BodyWorksWest gym for a little advice for getting back on track following a break. With the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays coming up, a reminder of how to resume a fitness or training regime after an indulgent break is timely. Personal trainer Simon Darius gives his tips for getting back on your A-game after a duration of slacking.
Q: Do you have any tips on how to ease back into regular training after a few weeks of neglecting a plan?
A: Do just that; ease back into it. If you've been a lot less active than usual during your holiday - i.e lying on a beach doing nothing - your fitness will have declined slightly. Whatever you were doing before your vacation in terms of time and intensity will need to be reduced a little. So, for example, if you were doing 45 minutes on the treadmill at the gym at 10km hour, perhaps drop it to 25 minutes at 9 km hour. Then over subsequent visits gradually bring it back up to what you were doing before.
As a general rule of thumb, for each week you are away on holiday give yourself roughly the same time to get your fitness back.
Q: What's the best approach to nutrition following indulgent food and drink choices? Would you advise a detox?
A: Your liver will do the detoxing for you that's what it's designed for. But if you give it and the body the best environment to work in, your recovery will be a whole lot faster. Before you go to bed after an indulgent night, drink plenty of water and have a bottle next to your bed to sip on if you wake up. If you are very organised you might even want to consider a sports drink - the electrolyte content rehydrates more effectively than water.
In the morning if you fancy a big breakfast, make your own with good quality eggs and lean meat. Alternatively go for fruit, wholegrain cereal or yogurt. Whatever you choose, a good breakfast is important.
Q: What types of exercise are most recommended to regain fitness levels after a lapse?
A: The forms of exercise that are best for regaining your fitness after a lapse are the same ones as you were doing before the lapse. Familiarity with the exercise you do help the body return to fitness faster as it isn't being asked to learn or adapt to anything new.
Your muscle memory will allow you to train at full intensity after a week or two. The most important thing is not the type of exercise so much but the quality of your sessions and the frequency at which you do them. The best way to get back in shape after a lapse (and I'm bound to say this aren't I?) is to get yourself a good personal trainer.
Q: Any particularly good training tips for regaining muscle and ab definition after the excesses/general laziness of a break?
A: There a number of things both men and women can do. Regular exercise and a good diet will help trim things up a little after a period of slacking. Another is to do a wide variety of abdominal exercises, so not just your bog standard crunches and the like. Remember your abdominals do a lot more than just flex your spine. They move your torso from side to side, rotate your torso and everything in between. They also help stabilise your pelvis and lumbar spine. So you abs are working pretty much all the time when you are moving. All this means exercises that involve flexion, extension, rotation, and stabilisation of the torso are all important in the quest for the perfect abs. Again, a good trainer will advise on what would be best for you.