Can you possibly lose fat or even gain muscle while on vacation? Absolutely. It’s not easy of course. You are on vacation after all, so you probably want to indulge and eat and relax. Here are some tips to actually lose fat and/or gain muscle and STILL have a fun indulgent vacation.
Let’s say you are taking a one week or two week holiday. You can do a lot of damage to your body in 14 days of eating junk, drinking, and laying around the beach. Don’t let that be you! You can be the person who comes back from vacation not just well rested and rejuvenated but also in better shape! An important step is to plan ahead – waiting until you are on vacation is too late. So good for you for reading this article now.
These are notes partially to myself (I’m on vacation as I write this). And as with many of the approaches I take, I need to thank Tom Venuto and his Burn The Fat ebook.
1. Find A Gym – Chances are, there is a gym near your vacation spot. Search before you leave, find out if they have a power rack or squat rack. (Yes, you’ll still do the Big Seven as your primary lifts). Find one with day passes.
2. Time Your Workouts around the “indulgent” meal. You’ve heard me (and countless others) talk about how important it is to feed your muscle within that 1 to 2 hour block around your workout. You need protein and carbs to start the repair process. Many people advocate eating most of your calories for the day around this window (shake before, shake during, big meal afterwards). Well, if you are on vacation and you love big, crazy breakfasts, then workout in the morning before you indulge. If instead you are going to go hog-wild over dinner, then workout beforehand.
3. Count Calories – Calories do still count. There’s no magic here – if you eat more than your body uses then you will gain fat. I believe it’s more complicated than just counting calories (hormones play a huge role) but for some people, the logical process of counting calories let’s them eat crazy for a meal, then dial it back the rest of the day. Which brings me to… (more…)
We’ve been talking recently about how periodicity in your lifting program – systematic alternations in the intensity and volume over time – can improve your results. And we honed in on undulating periodicity as an advanced technique.
But what about runners?
Periodicity Is Not The Same As Progression
I previously wrote about how to incorporate progression into your cardio. But progression and periodicity are not synonyms. You can progress each week (for example, adding a 1/4 mile to each run, each week or improving your time a little bit each week) but that’s not periodized running.
A fake example “linear periodization” of running would be doing 4 weeks at a 12 min pace, then 4 weeks at a 10 minute pace, then 4 weeks at an 8 minute pace.
But runners know that linear periodization just doesn’t work. (So don’t follow the silly example of linear periodization!)
I realize that most of the people reading this site are much more focused on lifting than on running, as am I, but running still makes up a good part of conditioning and fat loss training for many of you. So let me explain.
Runners Use Undulating Periodicity
Well, truth be told, runners figured out the value of undulating periodicity long before lifters/strength coaches. But runners don’t call it “undulating periodicity”.
Take a look over at runnersworld.com and you’ll see countless training plans (in prep for 10k, half marathons, etc.) all of which vary the intensity throughout the week but showing progression over time.
Here’s an example week (more…)
Those of you who have been reading for the past couple of months have heard about the Spartan. Cameron did his Super Spartan in Carolina in early summer and I did the 12-miler Beast with some friends in Vermont last weekend.
This article will have 3 sections:
- Lessons Learned
- Details of the Experience, with Photos
This was a 12-mile race, but like nothing I’ve ever done. It was almost entirely hills (and I don’t mean normal hills, I mean straight up Killington ski mountain not using a trail but using a narrow woods path). And it had 26 obstacles, described below.
I did this with 3 friends, and about 1/4 of the way in we split into twos. We later found out that the leading two stayed just barely ahead right up until the 3rd to final obstacle, so we all finished in a little over 5 hours.
That’s right. Over five hours.
The elite men winners did it in about 3 hours. I think, in retrospect, if we trained a little more appropriate for the terrain, and pushed ourselves, we could have done it in 4 hours. But 3 hours seems insanely fast.
The 26 obstacles involved variations of the following:
- fire jumps
- barbed wire crawls
- wall climbs
- mud pits
- balance walks
- horizontal rope lines
- sandbag carries
- sled pulls
- oh, and did I mention hills, some of which were so steep that we were on all fours, grabbing roots and branches to keep from falling backwards?
If you failed any of the obstacles, you had to do 30 burpees. I’m proud to say that I was successful on all obstacles except one: the spear throw. I was SO frustrated when I missed that (you only get one chance).
Some people were clearly not ready for this, as evidenced by (more…)
There’s a good reason rock climbers use chalk: improved grip.
Of course, chalk isn’t just good for climbers. Lifting heavy requires substantial grip tenacity. Especially in the summer, with humidity high.
I’ve been working my my grip strength for many months now, usually once a week doing plate pinches, towel hangs, etc. at the end of a workout.
But I had never tried chalk.
(That is, aside from 20 yrs ago and a friend sneaked some chalk into the university gym. That was back when I thought a good routine had “arms days” and no, using chalk to better grip the handles on the leg extension machine is not what I am talking about today!)
Most commercial/franchised gyms don’t allow chalk, and even though I workout in my home gym, I never thought it was necessary. For deadlifts, the hardest grip lift that I regularly do, I simply moved the mixed grip (one hand pronated, the other supinated).
But I recently bought a chalk ball – it’s like a sock stuffed with chalk and that really reduces the mess.
Holy cow – what a major improvement.
Seriously, I am now deadlifting with a standard grip (both hands supinated) weights that I previously could only do with a mixed grip. Just by using chalk. (Of course, a max deadlift requires more than a strong grip, so it’s not like I added 100 pounds to the dead overnight.)
And for power-movements (e.g. cleans, high pulls, etc.) the chalk is like a miracle.
Then there are lifts where you grip the bar where there is no knurling – like a sumo-stance rack pull. These are nearly impossible without chalk. I did add about 50 pounds overnight to that lift just by using chalk.
I can say without hesitation, now that I’ve gotten more experience, that chalk is far superior to using wrist straps (see my cautious recommendations on straps here).
How To Add Chalk To Your Lifting
Here are 5 Guidelines for adding chalk: (more…)
It’s been a while since I’ve thrown open the floor and done a good Q&A session. Some of you long time subscribers might remember that we sometimes did these via podcast/mp3 but let’s keep this simple. In the comments section below, ask me ANY fitness related question. Completely open. I will then do two things:
a) I will answer every single one personally (or, if it is an area I don’t know about, I will get the answer from one of my expert colleagues)
b) For the 3 best questions (my opinion), I will give those people a FREE copy of one of my ebooks or lifting routines
So, ask away! I’m guessing I’ll post the answers in about a week or so, depending on volume. I want at least 25 questions ok? (more…)
Cameron’s Spartan Experience…
Cameron did the Spartan in The Carolina’s the weekend of June 25th. Here is his first-hand account…
The race was intended to be approx. 8 miles with 15 obstacles. The fastest times were intended to be around 80 minutes. It ended up being (after adding the turns) (more…)
I did a quick write-up for my team mates to jump-start our Spartan training. See previous post on the Spartan Race for context.
This is far from complete, and is just some basic principles. As I’ve mentioned, each of our 5-person team is coming with completely different strengths and weaknesses so this is just to get us all on the same baseline. What I personally am doing is slightly different. I’ll share that at the end.
- work up each week (longer or more intense, etc.); each week should be harder than the previous [we had 8 weeks at the time I wrote this]
- use varied training methods
- keep an eye on recovery: you don’t want to be so sore that you miss workouts but you don’t want to undertrain either
- deload (reduce training 4-5 days before the event)
- stretch daily; this is important for recovery; my advice is mostly active stretching, but static stretching is fine too as long as it is AFTER exercise; foam rolling is amazing
- eat smart (don’t try to diet during this, but don’t eat junk; eat lots of good, real food to help your body recover)
- sleep well for recovery
Types of Training We’ll Cover
- endurance running (long distance)
- core training (stability, strength, endurance)
- load training (carrying)
- strength training
My Recommendations For the First 2 Weeks
These are the things I think should be a minimum.
1) TRI once a week. [For you WFN readers, I don't have time to explain the game of TRI but think of it as Rugby with 3 teams.] If we miss a week, you need to spend at least 30 minutes doing similar training (sprinting with change of direction, add in throwing).
2) 2 runs a week. One shorter one longer. Goal will be to get your longer runs up to 8 to 10 miles by early July. Depending on your current capacity, this could be a big leap so let’s talk if you can’t already do at least 4 mile runs. Try to do a lot of your running on trails.
For your shorter run, I suggest the type of training you see in the spartanraceblog. Something like this: (more…)
UPDATE: Other articles in this series on this site are:
- The Vermont Spartan Beast – Summary and Lessons Learned
- Spartan Training Plan – Draft
- Vermont Spartan Beast – Photos and Details
Some of you may have seen some recent discussion over at the forum on The Spartan: