Keeping Your Gym Gains in Festival Season

You have been working hard to get into shape once and for all. Your making progress. But you know you have a busy social schedule ahead between weddings, festivals, and gigs you want to attend. You know the basics of what you should be eating, and you are on a roll with your training, and you want to enjoy your social life over the summer as well as keep the gains going. With festival season, usually comes consumption of more fast-food, and more high-sugar, or alcoholic drinks.

Getting into shape can be hard work, and real progress is always hard fought for between your strength training, preparing and eating the right foods, and changing sedentary lifestyle habits into regular daily activity. Seeing the payoff from all your effort is a great feeling, but knowing that they can disappear much faster than they came can be disheartening, especially if you have a few party weekends planned. Here are a few tips that you can employ over the coming festival season to limit the damage to your progress in the gym and in the mirror.


1. Go low-carb

In the lead up to the event, focus on eating protein sources (meats, fish, eggs), vegetables, salads, and some nuts. Pull back on the sauces, chocolate, confectionary, rice, bread, pasta, potatoes. Generally speaking between alcoholic beverages and the foods available at social events, you will get a big carb re-feed at the event, so save the carbs for the big day. You can employ this strategy for a day before, or a week before.

2. Eat nutrient dense foods

Before you head off for a night out, eat plenty of nutrient dense foods such as leafy salads. This is in line with the first point above, and will also fill you up a bit, off-setting a major hunger pang that requires a double cheese burger or kebab to resolve it. You don’t have to abstain from all food at your social event of course, but going in to it with good food in the system already might reduce your overall intake of rubbish food by 10-30% or more, which is high quality damage limitation.

3. Go into the event hydrated (with water)

A good strategy is to make sure your urine is clear (and not golden/ yellow) before you head off to your event. Being hydrated will likely reduce the speed of your drinking, and also help flush the bad-stuff through the system a bit better. It will also serve to reduce your sore-head the next day.

4. Train hard the day (s) before

A very simple form of damage limitation when it comes to your festival weekend, is to train harder in the lead up to it. Focus on getting your strength work in, and add 5-15 minutes of high intensity intervals at the end of each session. A great way to boost your metabolism, and pre-compensate for the lack of training and good food, and overconsumptionthat you will likely have on your break. Aim for 5 minutes of high intensity exercise such as fast sled pushes, or skiping for 20 seconds on and 20 seconds off for 5 minutes. Rest, and repeat up to 3 times.


1. Get your dance on

You can pretend that you are dancing to keep your fitness up, but really by the time the festivities kick off, its time to let thoughts of training and diets slip to the back of your mind and enjoy yourself. Plenty of dancing should do the trick.

2. Drink some water

Do try and take water on board throughout the night/ weeekend. It will make you want to drink a bit less, and will ease the aftre effects of a big night out.


1. Make rehydration the next day a priority

Alcholol dehydrates the body, and the day after a late night the body can often crave high fat or high sugar foods and drinks. The longer the dehydration and consumption of rubbish foods last in teh aftermath of a night out, the more damage you are doing to your progress. Put rehydration with water at the absolute top of your list. Aim to drink 3 litres of water at least to help get the body back in order and flush out the excesses of the night before.

2. Train easy until you have recovered

It might seem to make sense to go and train like a lunatic the day after a night on teh town, but I actually reccommend to train at a lower intensity until you feel like you have recovered somewhat. After a night out between dehydration and tiredness, training at top intensity can make you even more tired and more dehydrated. Cath up on sleep, drink plenty of water, do some gentle form of movement, and up the intensity as you feel the recovery process kicking in.

This article is by Ainle Ó Cairealláin MSc CSCS.

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