3 Great Deload Strategies to Use When Traveling This Holiday Season

Traveling this holiday season? Don't stress!

Well, it’s that time of year again: with the winter weather comes the winter holidays, and for many people, winter holidays mean a lot of travel. Travel is great: you get to take a break from the monotony of “regular” life, maybe reconnect with family, and hopefully relax a bit. But travel can also make it incredibly difficult to get in your planned training.

Now, if you’re prepping for a powerlifting meet, you don’t have many options here: you pretty much have to figure out how to get in your training regardless of how often you’re on the road. But for everyone else, my strong suggestion is to make the travel work for you rather than against you. Instead of stressing about when, where, and how you’re going to train, take the opportunity to deload, give your body and mind a rest, and plan to get back at it strong when you return home. 

Ben Pollack In-Depth Training Questions

Many people – myself included – really struggle with deloading, because it often feels that if you’re not training hard, you’re regressing. That’s not true! In fact, it’s the exact opposite: taking it a bit easier on occasion will help you to make huge progress when you return to pushing all-out. That said, I totally understand the need to stay active just to feel good in day-to-day life. Don’t underestimate the importance of feeling good: that’s necessary if you want to maintain the sort of long-term motivation you need to achieve your goals.

So, here are three ways you can easily train during your travels, without worrying about whether you’ll have all the equipment or time you need to squeeze in a good workout:

3 Ways to Deload for the Holidays

1. Get Outside

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking the opportunity to visit a new gym when you travel. In fact, sometimes a change of scenery alone can be extremely refreshing. But doing so often requires a pretty significant time commitment, and many would prefer to spend that time elsewhere during the holidays — whether it’s sightseeing, being with family, or whatever floats your boat.

Popular Holiday Deload Options
Photo By Paul Biryukov / Shutterstock


There’s good news for y’all: you don’t need a gym to train! In fact, sometimes a brisk walk around the neighborhood is the perfect method of sneaking in some active recovery (and maybe retaining your sanity, if you’re staying with the in-laws). You can also use resistance bands to incorporate some strength work. For example, try:

  • Resisted push-ups with the band around your back
  • Assisted chin-ups, standing on one end of the band so you can crank out more reps in good form
  • Banded hammer curls (a favorite of mine – the resistance curve allows you to train the brachialis with relatively little stress on the elbow joint)
  • Banded pushdowns

Add in some ab work, and you’ve got a great deload session using only equipment you could bring in a carry-on!

2. Make it a Family Affair

One of the biggest obstacles to training during the holiday might come from an unexpected source: guilt. Sadly, at least in my experience, many of those who don’t train feel a bit insecure around a person who’s clearly putting in a lot of time and effort in the gym. If you have friends or family that fit that mold, you might find that balk when you attempt to take some time for yourself to hit the gym.

My suggestion: turn that peer pressure on its head by inviting your family to go train with you. If they decline, gently remind them how a little movement can help to burn off all that turkey and sweet potato casserole! 

Shoot, if you’re really serious about it, ask for a family gym session in lieu of a holiday gift. That’s a tough one to turn down.

Deload Workout
Photo By Syda Productions / Shutterstock

3. Just Rest!

This is probably the most difficult suggestion for many BarBend readers, but the value of complete rest shouldn’t be underestimated. First, remember that you will almost certainly not lose any progress by taking a few days or even a week off

If that doesn’t work, consider planning your training schedule around your holidays so that a period of zero training becomes vital to your success. There are two ways of doing this:

  • You can complete a longer (12-16 week) training cycle immediately prior to whatever travel you have coming up. After that length of time, a complete break will be necessary for nearly everyone, even those genetic freaks with the absolute best recovery you could imagine. You can even enter a powerlifting meet the week before you leave to reap the benefits of that hard training on the platform!
  • Alternatively, you can plan a “fresh start” upon your return. While there’s nothing magic about it, mentally framing your break in this way can help you focus on getting excited about what’s to come, rather than regretting what you might be missing out on by skipping the gym.

What are your best tips for managing holiday travel?  Share them in the comments below!

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.