top of page
  • Writer's pictureEmmelia Potts

Holiday weight gain...inevitable or preventable?

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

beach hammock

To an extent, weight gain during a holiday is inevitable. We are generally more sedate (unless you are hiking the Inca trail), we drink more alcohol and we eat more often and foods that we probably would not normally eat at home. So how do we help ourselves out a bit whilst still enjoying a bit of time out from the stress of usual life?

1 - Local Activities

If you are near a city, drive in and sight see for the day. Just being active and walking around will help keep you ticking over. Go jet skiing, go snorkelling, go for a wander around the local shops. Anything that is not laying on a sun lounger all day will help.

2- Swim

Most hotels have a pool if you have booked a sedate beach holiday. Jump in and do a few lengths every so often. I do not mean put on your swim cap and do 2 miles hard front crawl. More like a quick 10 lengths of gentle breaststroke whilst people-watching.

3- Stop eating when full.

It is easy when all-you-can-eat buffets are the main source of breakfast, lunch and dinner to eat too much. We see a number of options that all look so good and we want to sample them all. Have a browse of the options, pick up a smaller plate and do not pile your plate high. Instead, take your smaller portion, eat it and if you are still hungry go back up. This will also prevent waste.

4 - Dance

I mean really dance. Do not hold back, let yourself go. Too many people dance all seriously and worry about what people think, just go for it! It will tire you out and you will have more fun. A few hours of proper dancing when at a local bar or club is a fun way of exercising that does not feel like exercise at all!

5 - Walking

If you are lucky enough to be in a hotel near the beach, go for a romantic walk, go beach combing or learn a new skill. Beaches are a great place to learn to handstand and cartwheel!

6- Sex

If you are away with another make the most of not having anything to do and get physical who knows you may go home a dress size smaller!

7 -Pop into the gym occasionally for half an hour:

If you are not going on an active holiday and your hotel has the facilities then pop into the gym briefly a few times. It will only take half an hour a day and will help with damage control. NOTE the gym may not be what you are used to, nor have the equipment you "need"...

I have been going to Bob Prowse gym now for just over 4 years. It is not flashy, it is a small gym mainly consisting of free weights, cross-fit gear and basic equipment to get results. There is a bar rather than a health suite serving porridge, climbing ropes rather than treadmills and a great outdoor area for flipping tyres, dragging kegs and doing pull-ups in the rain.

So when you are used to a cross fit, weight lifting gym what do you do when you are thrown back into a polished gym which has treadmills over free weights on holiday? What do you do when you want to exercise but do not want to spend 30 mins running on a treadmill? You sit and panic briefly, as I do, and then you make a list of all exercises you can do that spring to mind and put them together however you like each day.

Whilst on the cruise in December there was hardly anything in the gym bar cardio machines, weighted air machines and kettlebells. All very nice and clean do not get me wrong but not up my street. However, In the spirit of not being a reverse snob I sat in the middle of the stretch area (a little bit lost) wracked my brain for all exercises not involving cross-fit equipment and wrote down all exercises that came to mind I then wrote down what types of circuits I could do with each of them. Then each day I would pick three circuits and exercises to go with them and bosh them out. No, it was not my usual clean and snatch, pull up, tyre flipping, ski erg type of workout but they were effective for the period I was on holiday for.


Jumping jacks

Ski jumps


High knees

Bum kicks

Star jumps

Mountain climbers

Air squats

Wall squats

Split squats

Jump squat

Squat thrust

Squat press

Glute bridge

Leg raises

Jump lunge

Box jump

High tuck jump


Froggies on a yoga ball

Calf raises

Squat calf raises


Triceps dips

Pike push up

Single arm snatch

Triceps over-head curl

Hammer curls

Upright rows


Bench with any free weights


Dragon flags

Leg raise on back


Bicycle crunches

Ultra weighted crunches

V sit

Russian twists

Yoga ball rollouts, legs, arms of glute raise roll


Side plank

Side plank off bench

Sit up



Side crunch

Circuits and workouts:

10-1 2 exercises

20-1 2 exercises

Superset 2 exercises

5 exercises circuit x 3: 30 seconds, 45 seconds, 1 min on each and back down

Black betty squats with overhead dumbbell squats

Bring sally up press ups


Rower 100m hard and 3 exercises x 12 (for time)

EMON 10-15 mins, every half a minute reps. Reps depend on the exercise carried out.

20, 20, 20 (of chosen exercises) then 400m on treadmill hard. x5

Heavyweights on machines 12x3

Treadmill sprints 1 min rest. (800m x 1, 400m x2, 200m x 4, 100m x8)

Push up ladder 1-10 no rest

I am sure there are plenty of alternatives and I have a few earmarked on Pinterest, which is FULL of ideas if for ideas if find yourself stuck. I suppose they may not be what we are used to but some form of exercise is better than none! However, the moral of this point is there are always alternative exercises, no they are not what you are "used" to and might not feel like you are going to keep fit. However, if you go all out you might be surprised, those mountain climbers might be more tiring than your deadlift supersets.

simple exercise routine

Lessons Learnt:

- You are bound to put on a little weight during the holiday if you sit by the pool drinking cocktails, but know when to damage control and not go too far!

- if you are worried about gaining weight or losing fitness on holiday plan active holidays or make a point of going for a holiday swim once a day.

- Not all gyms are like your one at home

- There are a lot of exercises which do not need an Olympic bar and free weights

- Do not panic if you are stuck for ideas for a workout if you can not do your usual ones, log onto the internet, there are millions of decent workouts to try!

- An ill-equipped gym is not a reason to not exercise whilst on holiday.


bottom of page