I am going travelling for 9 weeks to South-East Asia with my long-suffering girlfriend. I’m excited to see the World (and find myself! #NotSrs), but am obviously concerned about losing my hard-earned gains. I never envisioned myself travelling, but I’m planning some precautions to keep me from being arrested, kidnapped, eaten by a Tiger, catching every stomach bug known to man and ultimately regressing physically.
This may sound embarrassing to some, but I haven’t trained with weights almost every day for the last 5-6 years and eaten as much as a small family in order to simply forget about it for 3 months. And I actually enjoy training (and eating lots!). We all know natural progress is slow progress- not like that you will see in the magazines and Hollywood where people change at about five times the normal rate- so I will be detailing how to go about preparing for and ensuring I don’t lose too much mass whilst trekking through caves, rainforests, remote areas and all that jazz!
Duration: 9 weeks
Destinations: Vietnam (1 month), Cambodia (2 weeks), Singapore (0.5 weeks), Sumatra (1 week), Bali & the Gilis (1.5 weeks).
Have fun, relax and enjoy ourselves!
Prevent undue physical regression.
Don’t get seriously ill or robbed (stay safe!).
For a great website to use in order to give a general overview of what immunisations, medication and whatnot you will need prior to seeing your nurse/GP click here. http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/home.aspx
For the areas I am travelling in I needed the below from my local doctors:
- Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B injections.
- Rabies injections (£165 over the course of 4-6 weeks, I can’t quite remember).
- Several boosters,
- Malaria tablets.
For malaria there were 3 options, but I was quite bluntly warned off the two cheaper options- given the side effects and scare stories! Malarone is the one I chose, which you can be prescribed by your doctor’s for £15, or avoid a higher cost and pick up from the Asda pharmacy. They offer the best price without a prescription, and seem more reputable and easy to complain to than a faceless online company if by chance you did suffer bad side effects or contract malaria! The staff member notified me it was their own brand of malarone- equivalent to supermarket ibruprofen- and it cost £1 a tablet (I got 64 tablets).
Also ensure you use a decent insect repellent as no anti-malarial regime is 100% effective, and cover up in particularly mosquito infested areas- especially if you’re prone to getting bitten.
I considered the Japanese Encephalitis vaccination, but after a lot of reading and quizzing of people who had travelled to South East Asia I thought against it, given the very low risk and high cost. However you can read about it here and make your own informed decision: http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/disease-prevention-advice/japanese-encephalitis.aspx
Please seek medical advice on all the above before travelling by booking in with your ‘Travel Nurse’ or GP. This is just listing what I did, not telling you what you should do!
This is simply a list of some essentials I’m taking. To avoid getting pickpocketed, dehydrated, sunburnt, ill, etc:
- Door stop alarm (if staying in hostels/budget accommodation),
- Small high-powered (waterproof) torch,
- Small high factor sun cream (so you know you have a legitimate sun cream for the initial week or so),
- Money belt (to keep money and important papers on you when necessary),
- Insect repellent (so you know you have a legitimate product for the initial week or so),
- Travel backpack & a day bag/rucksack,
- Padlock for hostels & mini-padlocks for bags (coded padlocks are best given you may lose they keys otherwise).
I was also told to pack:
- Anti-constipation tablets,
- Heartburn chews,
- Rehydration sachets,
- Antiseptic spray,
- Plasters and sealed bandages/dressings,
- Multi-tool (scissors, can opener, etc- for if you need to go Bear Grylls real quick).
Monetary planning isn’t my strong point- but from ‘our’ reading this is what we’ve gone for. The idea is to budget enough so I can eat 3-4 times daily (hopefully!), do a whole bunch of fun things, and stay in some nice places. Here’s what we’re each taking:
- Pre-paid currency card (Caxton FX),
- Halifax Clarity Credit Card,
- Nationwide Select Credit Card,
- Cold hard cash: £200 GBP in Dong, and £100 in Dollars (for Vietnam only- for the other countries we will withdraw or use the credit cards. This will save walking around with a whole bunch of cash!),
Some other expenses to remember include:
- Applying for a Visa before going to Vietnam (30, or 90 days, and prices differ on how quickly you need it but it cost us around £55 each for 30 days from the Vietnamese Embassy in London).
- Travel insurance.
Having this sorted is important to avoid wasting money with expensive withdrawals and commissions, last-minute hiked prices and so forth. This leaves more funds for food and activities, and creates less stress which is important for preserving both your physical and mental well-being.
Again please consult your bank, parents, partner or travel partners. I am no expert, and another avenue could better suit you, the duration and the destination of your trip!
Bodybuilding Specific Purchases:
This is the only supplement we would advise while travelling light.
Leucine is an essential amino acid (amino acids are the monomers, or ‘building blocks,’ of proteins) meaning the body cannot synthesise it, and thus it must be directly ingested from food. Leucine concentrations are shown to control protein synthesis (http://jn.nutrition.org/content/131/3/856S.short http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/282/5/E1092.short http://jn.nutrition.org/content/134/4/996S.long), which has led to it commonly being referred to as the ‘anabolic trigger’ within the fitness community.
Leucine is only found in proteins, so a diet deficient in protein will not allow for any increases in protein synthesis above baseline, which is important for decreasing net protein oxidation and maintaining muscle mass. By supplementing with 1-3g of leucine at meals where you are not able to consume enough protein, you will be able to achieve sufficient plasma leucine levels to initiate maximum protein synthesis.
For instance, when I buy some street food in Vietnam that may not have enough protein in at a single sitting to trigger protein synthesis, I will supplement with 1-3g of Leucine tablets. The missing calories from protein I will try to make up with fats/carbs. This being said- I am going to endeavour to eat as much wholesome food as possible, given that I have an unstoppable appetite and tend to always double-up on portions in the UK. I know I will end up doubling up given the super-low prices of good quality street and restaurant food available. However, on jungle and cave expeditions where you are provided with food, I highly doubt these meals will be abundant in high quality protein or open to double servings.
If I have access to a gym and free time I will use it, otherwise I will perform body-weight workouts and body-suspension workouts. I’ll be budgeting space in my bag for the body-suspension gismo, occlusion straps and 2 x resistance bands.
I won’t be running a strict protocol training cycle, or expecting to be able to train properly or at all every single day- but if I know I will have access to a gym only once in a week I will do a full body workout consisting of strength/hypertrophy rep ranges with 40-50g intra workout simple carbs and 1-3g leucine. I will complete up to 90-120 minutes training, 1-2 exercises on each muscle group and aim to hit failure on the last set(s) of each exercise.
However, if the weights are too small for this I will perform pre-exhaust and volume work.
Also I’m riddled with injuries- so time off alongside stretching now is a good thing for me!
With regards to eating, I am going to relax my diet over the course of the holiday. I’m currently around the 4,000 calorie mark, and consuming 500g of carbohydrates daily- neither of which I expect to hit regularly whilst travelling.
I will aim to eat as much wholesome food and good quality protein as possible, supplementing with leucine if necessary, whilst it is available to me. Not because I think big gorges will prevent muscle catabolism- but so I don’t get ‘hangry’ (angry due to being hungry!) too often. We are going to pack an array of protein bars to eat during long periods between proper meals, and stock up on them at proper supermarkets along the way.
When training I will still aim to eat 90-120 minutes beforehand, 30-60 minutes afterwards, and consume intra-workout carbs and leucine as stated earlier.
I am going to complete 4 parts to this series:
- Part 1: Preparation
- Part 2: Weeks 1-3
- Part 3: Weeks 4-6
- Part 4: Weeks 7-9
In ‘Part 2’ I will list my starting weight, measurements and physique photos, whilst monitoring tips and logging a diary of sorts for each instalment. I’ll also log illness and any potential pitfalls I’ve suffered or dodged!
Please tweet at me @MB_LDNM and @LDN_Muscle to request any additional information you feel could be helpful for me to include in or throughout the Travelling and Training series. I am open to all (acceptable!) suggestions to assist other people who are keen to maintain their gains whilst travelling.