Posted on 20 Jul 2015
7 min read
Festivals are now a staple of British summertime, up there with disposable barbecues, arguments about office air conditioning and wanting to chin every single Australian cricketer (or, at the very least, wishing that their dressing room celebrations would descend into a tumult of benzedrine and small arms fire).
However, the festival experience is not all roses and handjobs, especially for the discerning gym enthusiast.
Indeed, more than overflowing faeces, sexually incontinent teenagers and forking out a fiver for a bottle of Evian, the biggest dilemma facing festival goers in the twenty-first century is undoubtedly the challenge of maintaining muscle mass during this catastrophically catabolic weekend.
A cocktail of fast food, booze and lounging in the sun like a fat, flagging sealion can spell disaster for those hard earned gains.
But fear not – Gymtalk is here with a few suggestions to keep your festival experience as anabolic as possible!
With a bit of resourceful thinking, festivals offer countless opportunities for resistance training.
The following are some tried-and-tested exercises to surreptitiously build muscle while your peers waste away like corn in the wind.
One of the best ways to hit your legs during any festival is to locate a gaggle of drunk women during any popular band or act.
This shouldn’t be too hard – think finding a tree in a forest.
After all, come the first afternoon, even the Christian music festivals start to resemble CCTV footage from the tail-end of a hen party in Newcastle.
Whether you choose to engage the group or stand aloof, at one point during a popular song the likelihood is high that one of them will ask to go on your shoulders.
This is your chance for a furtive leg session – seize it!
While they straddle your shoulders, simply squat to below parallel and repeat.
If they question the bobbing motion, just inform them it’s a new dance craze.
Depending on your goal, make sure you choose the right act.
For example, the demographic at a Motörhead show will be better suited to heavy squats, while those attending the likes of George Ezra will complement high-rep squatting.
One of the most tedious tasks at any festival (aside from enduring Paloma Faith’s set just so the girl you met at the beer tent might consider putting your ballbag in her mouth later) is transporting all of your stuff – principally those four crates of Stella Artois – from the car to your camp site.
This mammoth trek will make Hannibal’s Alpine crossing seem like a jaunt to the corner shop for a pint of milk.
And, unless you are a Navajo Indian, this footslogging will be a far from enjoyable experience.
However, it can be made bearable if you consider it in the context of a Farmer’s Walk – that is, walking around with heavy weights in your hand.
Load up everything you can for a single trip and just fucking go for it.
Walk with short, quick steps, remember to breathe, and move in specific intervals.
For example, stop every 5 minutes, or every time you reached a certain landmark (a black man selling drugs or a teenager pretending to be wasted).
For increased difficulty, attend the festival with a female contingent.
After mustering a few hopeless attempts to carry their own belongings, you will inevitably become their mule, and, to compound matters, their cargo of frankly ridiculous paraphernalia will doubtlessly outweigh those four beer crates.
For the vast majority of festival goers, essential items will comprise sleeping bags, baby wipes, waterproofs, etc.
However, for the sagacious bodybuilder, these items can be sacrificed for something far more essential – a sledgehammer.
As Greg points out in our Guide to Xmas, the axe is a requisite for any self-respecting male, and the same goes for the sledgehammer.
Owning a proper collecting of felling equipment is a central tenet of manhood, up there with deadlifting over 200kg and owning at least one Sly Stallone boxset.
And while it’s not as convenient as a barbell or dumbbell, the sledgehammer can be an indispensable addition to your unconventional strength training arsenal.
Use it to hammer in tent pegs for your party, as well as those for neighbouring parties (regardless of whether or not they’ve asked for assistance – you’ve got a hammer, they won’t quibble), and you’ll benefit from a nice little conditioning workout.
While its primary function will be concerned with tent erection, the sledgehammer has many other uses, from basic sets of sledgehammer swings (halos, flips, chops) to dispensing with anyone overheard complaining that the some of the bands are “too loud” and have “too many guitars”.
As we all know, the best form of cardio to improve fitness and accelerate fat loss – while maintaining muscle mass – is interval training, as opposed to steady state cardio.
If we think outside the box a little, festivals present us with a number of opportunities for bursts of high intensity cardio.
(Well, one, actually, I couldn’t think of any more, apart from dancing like an epileptic stripper or doing some really vigorous shagging, but we’ll just take those as read.)
Now you might think that mosh pits are the reserve of complete cunts, and you’d be right, but they do provide an opportunity for some HIIT.
10 x 30-45 second bursts of carnage should suffice.
And, as an added bonus, you might accidentally knock out a few 7-stone vegans wearing novelty rucksaks and luminous rave paint.
Quite frankly, if your definition of ‘cool’ is looking like you’ve spent the weekend at a drug-fueled bukkake party in Teletubby Land, then you deserve everything you get.
If you’re planning on consuming a month’s worth of booze over 3-5 days, all while enjoying the good weather, then naturally you’ll need to be drinking as much water as you can (this is actually serious advice).
Food-wise, just ensure you’re keeping up the calorie/protein intake.
Yes, most of the food on offer will comprise cheeseburgers, kebabs and other meat of questionable origin, but provided your diet outside the festival is solid, a few days off the wagon isn’t going to matter much.
To keep your protein intake high, it’s also a good idea to take a range of convenient snacks with you – protein bars, beef jerky, etc.
I’d avoid protein powder – your tent is already going to smell like a hot turd in a charity shop, without the infernal stench from your protein shaker making matters worse.
Some of the more choice festivals will have areas/fields dedicated to wellness and relaxation, which you can take advantage of for some much needed muscle rehabilitation.
Glastonbury, for example, has ‘The Healing Fields’, where you can attend massage workshops, yoga classes, and seek out professional healers, chiropractors and osteopaths.
Yes, you may encounter some hippy discourse about “frequencies” and “vibrations” from a man with a magic wand and an enormous herbally-assisted erection, but it’s a small price to pay for some deep tissue relief.
I realise this may be the gayest thing I’ve ever written for Gymtalk, but show me someone who doesn’t enjoy a massage and I’ll show you someone who’s been sexually abused on an oil rig.
Yoga’s also great for stretching everything out – plus you have the added bonus of becoming more acquainted with ‘Carol’ as she bristles against you in the downward dog position.
Just open your mind and go with it, the importance of recovery is often overlooked when training for size and strength, and although the demographic in these places might look like Hogwarts after a heroin epidemic, very rarely do any of these scenarios escalate into something that will leave you with such severe psychosexual trauma that you’ll never want to be intimate with anyone ever again.
So, there we have it, some top tips to maintain muscle over the festival season.
Put them to good use and have fun!
After all, attending a festival is a much better way to spend your summer than staring into a pixelated screen like a lobotomised ogre.
If there are any more tips that you’d like to share with us, please do leave a comment below.
Or if you’d rather ingest a polonium-packed nappy than attend any music festival, hit us up too, I’d love to hear from you!