Keeping gains while traveling is a common problem that weightlifters and gym goers are faced with. Often, the motivation to look lean and muscular on vacation is one of the motivating forces for lifting weights but, it can also work as the largest adversary to keeping that state.
There are several difficulties to keeping gains while traveling but there also ways to prevent this muscle loss. By keeping these solutions to maintaining your gains while traveling in mind, you can come out of a trip without all your muscle having evaporated in another area code.
Difficulties of Keeping Gains While Traveling
The difficulties of keeping gains while traveling mainly stem from inconsistencies in training and diet, lack of exercise equipment and gyms, and generally lower lifestyle habits in terms of health.
While traveling, a lot of time is spent checking into hotels, flying, driving around, hiking, going out, exploring, partying, and doing other activities which tend to get in the way of training. Life will usually get busier when in a foreign country than when you are at home and are able to work out and train at the same time every day without too much interference from other events and responsibilities.
With more time spent going out, drinking, waiting in airports, and exploring new cities and countries, the balance that you usually keep when not on vacation can easily become skewed. This also means that your typical lifestyle habits such as sleep and taking supplements can be affected leading to a higher difficulty in trying to keep muscle mass.
Traveling can also get in the way of diet since you won’t be familiar with the surrounding restaurants and grocery stores and there may not be the same food options you are used to having. While at home, it may have been easy for you to get protein in however, while away and traveling, finding protein sources can become much more difficult and you will likely not be used to the price and variety offered.
Also, hotel gyms are usually not of high quality and lack much of the equipment which your training is likely dependent on. This will require you to get creative with light dumbbells and a few odd machines instead of the standard 100+ machines that you would have usually had access to at a larger gym.
To overcome all these difficulties from travel, there are a few ways to keep your gains. These are to keep a routine, train as often as possible, increase volume per session, and eat a good macronutrient ratio.
Keep a Routine
The first important strategy to keeping gains while traveling is to keep a routine that stays as consistent as possible.
Even if you are not able to train as many days per week as you usually do, designing a split for yourself that is sustainable over the duration over your time while traveling is much better than randomly working out whenever you can.
If you can only workout twice a week, do two full-body sessions during those two times. If you can workout more often like 3-4 times a week, divide your sessions into upper body and lower body workouts then do those each twice a week. For more on optimal training check out this post.
By keeping to a consistent routine, you will be able to maximize your time put into each session and maintain an even amount of muscle mass on your body.
A Little Training Is Better Than No Training
The next part of a successful strategy to maintain your gains whilst away is to train as often as possible even if that means the sessions themselves are not as ideal as they would be when home.
If you only have half an hour here and there to train it is better to use those portions of time to get training in then it is to say “screw it” and not train at all.
Even a small amount of training will do a much better job at keeping muscle mass since it only takes 20-40% of the volume to maintain muscle as it does to build it. It is much easier to keep the muscle from training than it is to do over the training that went it to building the muscle so train when you can and don’t skip the entire session because the gym is small or there isn’t large amounts of available time.
Eat A Good Macro Ratio
The final step to keeping your gains while traveling is too consume a good macronutrient ratio. This means that your protein intake should be fairly high and your fats should be kept in check. By keeping your protein high, the rate of muscle loss will be lower and you will be able to repair the muscles more effectively from the training sessions you are putting in.
Especially if you are cutting while traveling, keeping a high amount of protein in your daily food consumption is going to be a major factor in how much muscle mass you come out of the trip still having. Carbohydrates should be kept fairly high as well since they are important for testosterone, glycogen, energy, and quality of training.
You should also make sure you are eating nutritious food and not letting your overall diet habits slip too much since you’re in a new place with different options of food.
Overall, there are many difficulties when trying to keep gains during traveling but all these difficulties can be effectively mitigated by sticking to a routine based on the available number of days you have to train, doing as much training as possible despite not entirely ideal circumstances, and eating a good macronutrient ratio that consists of high protein and low fat.
If you are able to do all these things, you can return from a trip with the near the same amount of muscle mass you came with, or possibly even more if there is a quality gym and you are on a bulk and training at a high enough volume.
For more on lifestyle such as how to increase testosterone by decreasing cortisol and the positive feedback loop of lifting and living, click here.