Slacking off over the holidays can diminish all of your progress. Learn how to stay in shape while still enjoying the holiday season.
Jeremey DuVall, M.S., CPT 1 / 9
It's no coincidence gyms are packed after New Year's. The holidays are typically a time where guys fall short in the gym and slack off from their typical routines leading to muscle loss, weight gain, and a strong desire to get back on track in the weight room once January rolls around. And with family obligations, traveling, and delicious meals, it's no surprise that belt lines tend to expand.
The good news: You aren’t destined to gain the holiday pounds. In fact, with the right program in place and proper planning, you can maintain your fitness levels while still enjoying time with the family. Follow these steps to stay on track throughout the holiday season and avoid backtracking with your health and fitness.
You should always be planning out your training for at least a month in advance. This is even more important during the holiday season when vacations and family trips are especially frequent. Schedule out weeks of training surrounding travel plans. If you know you'll be out of the gym for a few days, plan on using those days as a recovery and amp up your training surrounding the trip. Rather than leaving your schedule up to chance, be proactive and set aside dedicated time to hit the gym.
While work commitments die down over the holidays, family commitments ramp up. Change up your schedule to hit the gym earlier to get a workout in before anyone gets out of bed. This way you get your workout in and have plenty of time for getting all the busy holiday stuff done during the day.
While it's hard to motivate yourself to get going on cold mornings, it's easier if you aren't doing it alone. Find a workout partner during the holiday season to stay motivated. Make a pact to hold each other accountable. You'll be less likely to skip with the guilt of leaving your partner hanging.
Even if you can't go to the gym during the holiday season, you can still get a great workout in using just your bodyweight. Bodyweight workouts can be done anywhere using little to no equipment and usually take 20 minutes or less.
For example, set a timer for 20 minutes and see how many times you can go through the following circuit:
Although you may not be able to squeeze in one single workout a day, you can use small, shorter workouts throughout the day to get a workout in. For instance, every hour starting at 8AM until 8PM, perform 20 push-ups and 20 bodyweight squats in as few sets as possible. By the end of the day, you'll have done 260 reps of each!
You should continually evaluate your progress to determine if your program is taking you closer or farther away from your goals. During the holiday season, this is especially crucial. You'll be more likely to push away from the table sooner if you see the results (or lack there of) on the scale and in the gym. Record your progress and track metrics every two weeks during the winter months to stay motivated.
The holiday season should be time shared with your loved ones. Involve everyone by playing games outside that involve activity or by signing everyone up for a local 5k. This way, you'll still be able to bond and connect while staying active. A daily walk can be another great way to get everyone moving while still sharing moments together.
With all of the tasty treats on the holiday table, it's hard not to give in and eat a week's worth of calories in one sitting. There's no sense in depriving yourself from enjoying your favorite foods. Pick the ones you want to indulge in, but limit yourself to one serving. Once you're done, put the rest in a container and slide it in the fridge. You'll be less likely to dig in for seconds when the food is already put away.