Tom from Portland, USA wants to know whether you should continue training during a two week vacation or just take the week off. Quote…
I am in week 4 of StrongLifts 5×5. I am going on a two-week vacation next month, where I will have access to a limited gym with some machines and dumbbells, but no barbells.
Should I do my best to simulate the StrongLifts 5×5 with dumbbells (or if there aren’t even dumbbells there, machines), or would it be better to just take the two weeks off of training?
You should just take the 2 weeks off. Take it from a guy who trained on holidays twice – first during a 2 week vacation in Morocco with my parents and brothers in June 2000, then during a 10 day holiday in Turkey (Aug 2003) with 2 friends from the gym. Because I, ignorantly, believed that you lose muscle and turn into a fatto if you don’t train for 2 weeks, my dad found me a local gym in Morocco where I could train, and my friends and I booked a hotel in Turkey with a gym.
Both times it RUINED my holidays.
That’s why I no longer train on holidays- last year’s skitrip to France as well as the year before in Bulgaria or the 7 day holiday to Croatia last July, not a single day during these vacations did I touch a weight. No, you don’t lose strength, quite the opposite, I almost always hit PRs the first week back in the Rack. Here’s a quote from StrongLifts Member Simon G. (32y, London UK, who did StrongLifts 5×5 ) that proves you don’t lose strength quickly…
Four months into Stronglifts I had an accident and broke my right hand. This was a severe blow to my training. I went 6 weeks without training and 14 weeks without Deadlifting. At the time of injury my stats were: Squat 170kg, Bench 117.5kg, Deadlift 190kg 1×5. Despite the long break, my training had given me a strong foundation and I was able to Squat 150kg on my first night back in the gym. Within 6 weeks I hit a PR of 182.5kg for a single. In my opinion I feel you hold on to your gains for longer with 5×5 training.
Muscle loss? Forget about it. Fat gains are possible, but not because of that broscience nonsense of “muscles turn into fat” – muscle can’t turn into fat any more than mud can turn into gold because they’re 2 different tissues. In reality, if you gain fat, it’s simply because you ate more (junk food, mojito’s) and burned less (no training, lying at the beach all day) ==> caloric excess == fat gains.
So if you want to worry about something, worry about the food not training. I almost always use a warrior diet approach on holidays where I eat only 1 huge meal in the evening – local foods por favor – no breakfast but nuts and fruits the rest of the day. Your muscles will have a hard time “turning into fat” if you do this, you might actually come back leaner (NOTE: I do NOT recommend the warrior diet at all when training, you can’t lift heavy on 20h fasts).
And in case not training on holidays sounds contradictory to my previous advice of never skipping workouts – there is a Grand Canyon sized difference between having a PLANNED break off the gym and SKIPPING your planned workout. The former 3-4x/year: meaningless. The latter: a slippery slope.