Vacation: Not Just A Time To Get Fat

July 15, 2016

Vacation is a great time to get away, get some rest and relaxation, and get your mind right. It’s also a great time for an athlete to give their joints and muscles a chance to recover, to eat too much, drink too much, and make some other poor lifestyle choices that we would not ordinarily make.


People engaged in serious training should take the opportunity to get away from the weights while on vacation. This is a great time to let the body recover from the difficult training that we have to engage in year round.


Having said all that, it’s good to remain active during a vacation. Think of vacation as an active recovery. I like to do beach vacations, so this article is going to be geared to things you can do in a beach environment to keep the body in shape without having to hit the weight room.


We’ll address a few areas with this article:

  • Speed/agility
  • Upper body work
  • Metabolic conditioning



Sand is a great medium for speed and agility work, but it takes some getting used to in order to prevent injuries. I generally alternate between two types of speed and agility workouts on the beach, an acceleration workout and a maximum velocity workout.



Because I’m on vacation, I eyeball spot my distances for this. So I set up a short course (somewhere between 10 and 20 meters). To begin the process of getting used to the sand, I’ll do the following warm-up:

Walking on toes

Walking on heels

Walking on toes (toes in, toes out)


Heel to hip

High knee walks and skips

A walks


Once those are done, I start transitioning into the acceleration workout. This will begin with fast leg drills. After that is a progression to get me ready for explosive starts. I’ll begin with a falling start, move to a standing one, and then go into the main workout which is crouching starts in the sand. I generally do 3-5 of these.

To reinforce starting explosively, I’ll finish the acceleration part of the workout with 3-5 standing broad jumps followed by a sprint (jump, start your sprint right after landing).


Agility starts out pretty simple while I’m getting used to the sand. Shuffle right/left then shuffle plus turn plus sprint, Finally, backpedal, then backpedal plus turn and sprint.


After all of that, I go into variations of ankle hops to help strengthen my ankles and shins and finish with the day’s core training.


Maximum velocity

For me, this workout is usually four days after the acceleration one. The warm-up is very similar, though there is greater emphasis and variety of marches and high knee drills and the course is much longer than during the acceleration workout (again, I’m eyeballing the distance – it’s vacation after all).


I don’t do crouching starts on this day instead I focus on standing ones. I’ll do 3-5 of these for the distance that I want to cover. After that, I’ll do bounds for that distance. After the bound I’ll launch into a sprint for 5-10 strides (so the drill is bound plus sprint).


Agility work focuses on longer drills. For example, the L drill or the T test would be great drills (with modified distances). In addition, I like the “two up, one back” drill. On a field, the athlete would run forward two cones, backpedal one, and continue this for the entire distance. This is a another great drill for the sand.


The beach workouts described are awesome lower body and core workouts. Not only are they developing those muscles, but you are able to maintain your speed, acceleration, mobility, and power with them. The challenge is that there isn’t much upper body work being done in these.


Upper Body Work

The pool is a great upper body workout. I’m not a terribly strong swimmer, though I can move though the water. So my focus is to swim until I’m tired. At that point I change the workout up some. I’ll alternate between the following:

  • Swim a lap, get out of the pool, do a set of push-ups until I’m really tired
  • Swim a lap, get out of the pool and do core work until really tired


Basically alternate between these until your done! This lets you burn a lot of calories and work most of the muscles of the upper body. It’s also a lot more interesting than just swimming laps or just doing push-ups.


Metabolic Conditioning

If you are on the beach, you might as well get some sightseeing done. My metabolic conditioning workout of choice is to go for a “long” run on the beach. I’m not a big runner the rest of the year, but that’s part of what makes this great variety during vacation. Plus, the sand provides a great surface for the run forcing you to work even harder!


If you want to turn this into interval training, or if you lack the endurance for a long run, stop every few minutes and do core work. That will break up the monotony of the run and give you a chance to catch your breath before the next round.


The speed and agility workouts do a great job working on your hip flexors and hip extensors, the “long” run hits your hamstrings and calves, and the pool gets just about everything else! Going into this last beach vacation, I had a lot of inflammation at one of my rotator cuffs from five months of throwing batting for two baseball teams (that’s about 400 pitches a week) and elbow inflammation from heavy Olympic lifts with the kettlebells. Neither of these injuries is made better by hitting the weights on a daily basis, so this kind of workout kept me in shape and was very therapeutic at the same time. Food for thought so that you do more than just get fat on vacation!