7. Physical Activity II: Training - in HOLIDAY MODE

During the week of the 31st March till the 7th April, I happened to be in the middle of preparations for some big martial arts competitions. However, it also happened to be a great week, for I was finally reunited with my two best friends. Both of which live overseas. The scope of this reunion was a 1 week celebration in the name of the Lord of Shenanigans due to it being a bachelor party - in Turkey!

Prior to the event, I spent much of my time focusing on sport-specific training and now, I was to be engaged in a situation where I was absent any gyms, any masters, any sparring partners, equipment or open areas which I could make use of for further training. All I had was my body. I was also conscious of the fact that I was to be faced with the temptations of enjoying myself a little too much after months of maintaining a pristine diet routine with zero alcohol, regular fasting and consistent high fat protocols (aside from the intense training). In all honesty, a good lay-off from training would not have killed me, for it is in times of rest that muscle repair and growth takes place. More training does not necessarily mean more growth, more power or more stamina, but my next competition was just a week away. Under different circumstances, a lay off from sport-specific training can sometimes be the key to reflect upon what one could improve upon in the future.

All things considered, the best solution was found within the basic principles of all martial arts. Balance. Yin and yang. Finding the time to adhere to my responsibilities without overindulgence in activities which may hinder the attainment of the final goal - COMPLETE PREPARATION. But at the same time - not being a kill-joy either. 

I arrived in Istanbul ahead of everyone, and scanned the area to see what tools I had at my disposal (it could have been the case that I had a gym). Then, I attempted to make realistic and attainable goals for the week:

  1. Maintenance of current dietary lifestyle plan (as much as possible) with consumption of natural, nutrient-dense foods

  2. 3 endurance-based workouts 

  3. 2 resistance-based workouts (one for lower body, one for upper body)

  4. Increase in daily walking threshold from 8, 000 steps to by 150 % (12, 000 steps)

  5. Accomplish the above without being a gigantic downer 

All I had at my disposal was a small hostel room which was shared with my friends. That and the great outdoors, and my body. No problem. 

Day 1 Workouts

Endurance training: Aerobic and Resistance training: Lower Body

WO 1: ATRs (Apple Watch: 368 kcal):

  1. 00:10:00 - warm up walk 

  2. 00:30:00 - aerobic threshold training 

  3. 00:05:00 - cool down walk 

WO 2: Glycolytic Conditioning Circuit consisting of 4 sets of 00:00:30 each exercise with no break and a recovery of 00:03:00 between each set (Apple Watch: 361 kcal)

  1. Lunge switching 

  2. Single-leg horizontal jump (L)

  3. Jump squats 

  4. Single-leg horizontal jump (R)

  5. Jumping jacks 

  6. Knee Raises 

  7. Heels back 

  8. Knees-to-chest Jumps 

  9. Horizontal jumps 

  10. Sideways leg hops

Total Steps: 16, 240

Day 2 workouts

Endurance training: Glycolytic and Resistance training: Upper body

WO 1: Sprints (Apple Watch: 388 kcal):

  1. 00:15:00 - ATR warmup  

  2. 00:20:00 - sprint interval training

  3. 00:15:00 - cool down walk 

WO 2: Power Training (Chest and Triceps Focus) consisting of 3 sets of 00:00:30 each exercise with 00:00:30 break and a recovery of 00:03:00 between each set focusing on maximal time under tension (Apple Watch: 80 kcal):

  1. Flat push ups 

  2. Tricep dips 

  3. Decline push ups 

  4. Incline tricep push ups

  5. Incline push ups 

Total Steps: 17, 616 steps 

Day 3 workouts

Endurance training: Glycolytic

WO1: Sprints (Apple Watch: 408 kcal):

  1. 00:15:00 - ATR warmup  

  2. 00:20:00 - sprint interval training

  3. 00:25:00 - cool down walk 

Total Steps: 21, 454 steps 

Day 4 workouts

Endurance Training: Aerobic

Part 1: Cross-country trekking for 04:00:00 across the hills of Cappadocia (Apple Watch: 708 kcal)

Total Steps: 21 300 steps 

Day 5 workouts

Endurance Training: Aerobic

Part 1: Cross-country trekking for 02:00:00 across the underground city of Cappadocia and the canyon of Al Hlilal (Apple Watch: 340 kcal).

Total Steps: 15, 989 steps 

Day 6 workouts 

Recovery day 1 (Active)

Using waking around the town to break from high-intensity activities.

Total Steps: 13, 348 steps

Day 7 workouts 

Recovery day 2 (active)

Using waking around the town to break from high-intensity activities. However, doubling up the dose of walking.

Total steps: 23, 485 steps

Conclusion

During the trip, I allowed myself 2 days of relative rest (or - active recovery). Where I took a break from training in the high-intensity sense and took part in activities that were of a lighter nature (mostly walking). I had planned to take part in these “rest days” when the trip generally coincided with lots of journeying (like airport transfers or night busses) so as to prevent ‘resting’ in the traditional sense (where I would just do as little activity as possible). On two occasions we took a night bus where we travelled over 650 km to the east (and then back) and the lack of rest therein impaired me from sustaining any great amounts of high intensity training. Ignoring this could have had detrimental effects (injury and/or underperformance). In essence, it didn’t matter much. I cherished the moments I had with my friends in times I would have, on regular days been asleep. We got to make jokes and tell stories and all of this mentally stabilized me. On other days, we went quad biking in the desert, explored mountain ranges, hiked, shopped at local bazaars and chilled at many a bar or diner. I limited my diet to 2-3 high fat meals per day and avoided snacking. Unfortunately, I did consume 3 things that weren’t on the approved foods list:

  • a baklava, circa 30 g (day 1)

  • an Apple tea, circa 100 ml (day 3)

  • a dried fig, circa 10 g (day 6)

In part - these were situational issues (waiter gives you a baklava on the house after dinner - what are you going to do right?) That being said, part of the plan was not being a gigantic downer so I just had to carry on. I had to be firm but realistic with the presented situations. One will not achieve a “free state of mind” without balancing the fun with the serious. So the occasional slip up shouldn’t compromise the grand plan so long as it doesn’t become the excuse to open the flood gates and become a beer-guzzling couch potato. Discipline Equals Freedom. That was the key, is the key and will always be the key.

I didn’t really take notice of how much I was walking until I checked my Apple Watch at the end of each day. Nor did I have a great focus on the food unless a debate opened up about it with my friends (of which included another nutritionist). However, maintenance of my nutritional principles (9/10 of the time) was a key component of reducing damage, from a fitness perspective. On my last day, I even took advantage of being one of the first persons to fly through the new ISTANBUL AIRPORT and killed time by walking through its long, long halls. This made waiting time more productive and provided aid in the achievement of my fitness goals. During my holiday, we got to hit the spa a couple of times (on my scheduled rest days) so... that was good. You know... for recovery and stuff.

I must admit, I had a great time. And to that, I acknowledge that once again, I learnt a lot about myself. I realize, time and time again how we are a society controlled by the foods we eat. How when we holiday, we tend to go all out and forget our health. The realty, however, is that food is not meant to be some kind of reward. Food is... well... food! It is simply a means for sustenance. Eating the right things (and when your hungry) will make you feel better - and will give you time to focus on what’s really important in life. Beautiful memories, beautiful company and beautiful experiences.

For the record, after a pre holiday weight of 71.6 kg, a post holiday weight of 72.5 kg. I still managed to weigh in for my competition in Serbia at 68.0 kg.