For the fitness-focused, the holidays can be a figurative minefield of dietary and training missteps. Between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years’, there are ample opportunities to overindulge and skip training sessions. It’s a lot, and considering that there are only 3,500 calories in a pound of fat — it doesn’t take much to undo the results you spent all year working towards.
That said, the holidays don’t have to be a festive free-for-all that results in a budding beer belly and weeks of missed training sessions. For one, you should keep your macros in check for the days that you aren’t indulging. A few days of off-plan eating won’t hurt your progress. On the list below, we also go over six training methods that you can utilize to ensure you’re still getting some training in. After all, something is always better than nothing.
Holiday Season Traning Tips
- Push a Car
- Deload Your Training
- Lift, Carry, and Throw Anything
- Do 20/20 Workouts
- Try EMOM Training
- Ditch the Weights
No, this isn’t a joke. Pushing a car is a great way to increase the difficulty of your cardio. Move your car on an empty street, place it in neutral, place your hands on the bumper with elbows slightly bent, and push. Make sure you have a partner in the driver’s seat, though, to keep the car straight. Break this up into 10 sets of 50-foot pushes, resting as needed between each set. If you’re with a buddy, rest while he or she completes their turn. Also, be safe and aware when doing this. Make sure there’s no one else around, and wear supportive and heavily treaded shoes.
One strategy is to take it easy (well, easier). A deload is a planned decrease in training volume and frequency that gives your muscles and nervous system a break from more intense training. Typically, a deload will last a week. Follow your typical workout split but reduce the weight you’re lifting to about 50 up to 60 percent of your one-rep max. Implementing a deload is one way to make the holidays work for you regarding your training program. Not only will you still be getting your workouts in, but it’ll be an actual part of the plan. So, you won’t have to feel any lifters guilt for easing up on your program.
You don’t need a knurled barbell to get an effective lift in. There are plenty of primitive solutions. Want to work on your conditioning? Go in the back yard, pick up a rock, and walk around for as long as possible. Drop the stone, then repeat. Or, load up a wheelbarrow with sandbags, weight plates, dirt, or rocks, and push that around. You can also throw rocks to build power and grit. Is this a calculated approach to training? No. Is it a fun, effective, and worthwhile way to work up a sweat? You bet.
If you’ve never heard of the 20/20 workout method, it’s a simple yet brutal way to accumulate lots of heavy volume. You’ll want to choose an exercise that allows you to go a bit heavier. This would work well with deadlifts, back or front squats, or the bench press. Here’s how it works: You’ll warm-up and then load the bar with 70 percent of your one-rep max. Every minute on the minute, you’ll do one repetition. After the first five minutes, you’ll add five kilograms (11 pounds) to the bar. After another five minutes, you’ll add an additional two and a half kilograms (five pounds) to the bar. For the final five minutes, choose a weight that you deem to be a “heavy single.” Then, you’re done. With a warm-up, this should take you about half an hour.
This is in line with the 20/20 workout method above, but EMOM (short for every minute on the minute) training can be done with any exercise — weighted or unweighted — and scaled to be long or short. Pick an exercise (or more than one), select the number of reps you’ll perform, and set a timer for 20 minutes. You’ll do your assigned reps at the top of each minute and then rest for the remainder of the minute. At the start of the next minute, you’ll either do another set of the same movement or, if you’re doing more than one movement, you’ll move on to the next exercise.
EMOMS are a great way to pack a lot of work into a narrow time frame. Also, these can be done in your home gym or even a living room. This method is effective because it forces you to work by controlling your rest periods.
There’s a lot of possibilities when it comes to EMOM training. Here are a few variations we like:
- For strength: Choose either one movement or two antagonist exercises (like goblet squats and the bench press) and do five moderate to heavy reps each for a 20-minute EMOM.
- For more muscle: Chose one exercise per muscle group you want to train and do 12 reps per exercise. As for time, do eight minutes per muscle group you want to train. If you’re training biceps and triceps, set a timer for 16 minutes. If you’re working out your chest, shoulders, and back, set the timer for 24 minutes.
- To burn more calories: Choose three to five dynamic exercises — such as kettlebell swings and burpees — and aim to do 10 intense reps. For this circuit, crank the timer up to 30 minutes and get ready to sweat it out.
You can get a great workout with just your bodyweight. You can also utilize everyday items — like tables, chairs, and backpacks — to tax your muscles and break a sweat. Don’t feel like you need to craft the perfect bodyweight training plan, either. You don’t. On the days you’re very busy, pick a few bodyweight moves and do a five-set circuit. Look, a 20-minute bodyweight workout isn’t going to turn you into a ripped Adonis, but it’ll burn some calories. And sometimes, that’s enough.
A Word on Eating
There’s a lot of tasty food at holiday parties. And even though the COVID-19 pandemic has limited everyone’s ability to gather doesn’t mean that temptation still won’t be there. It’s on you to not let one bad meal turn into one bad day, and one bad day turn into one bad week. If you know you’re going to a party, maybe sip on a protein shake to keep you full. Another tip is to track your calories so you can save more room for more indulgent meals. That’s not to say you can’t or shouldn’t indulge, but calories add up — fast. Be mindful about your eating, get workouts in when you can, and have some fun. It is, after all, the holidays.
More Training Tips
The above methods are great for when your training time is limited. Here are some other articles you can read for more training-in-a-pinch advice.
- 4 Single-Kettlebell Circuits You Can Do at Home
- Best At-Home Bodyweight Workouts
- 4 Road Warrior Workouts to Keep You Fit While You’re Traveling
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