The lead up to Christmas often plays host to a lot of scaremongering about how to burn off the calories you are about to consume..
Most of us are going to overindulge over Christmas. The reality is that between big celebratory meals, poor weather and light forcing us indoors, foods we eat at this time of year being quite rich and calorie dense and the general relaxing vibe around christmas it's a trend that's bound to happen.
Every year we see members of the fitness community offering solutions on 'how to cancel out the excess calories' or 'how to avoid some foods that are generally higher in calorific content.' Now I'm not saying that nobody should do that. If that's what you want to do then that's your prerogative. A friend of mine (The man, the myth... John Vale) recently put a post on his socials talking about the opposite of this. How it's okay to not overindulge during Christmas if you don't want to and I agree. There can be a pressure to just lose control in December too which can be equally damaging if it's not what you really want and only end up doing it to conform to how you feel you should approach the Christmas period. But enough waffle. Lets break it down... You know I love a bullet point!
- Periodising the Christmas period.
Any training program should have a Periodised structure. We can't train the same way all the time as our body will get used to it and progress will lag. We need to change the way we train from time to time in order to stress our bodies in different ways to force adaptation. Even in a calorie deficit, our body will adapt to the deficit by loosing body fat in order for the calories we are consuming to become maintenance calories.
So what do I mean by periodising the christmas period? Very simply; plan to train in a way that this time of year will benefit. For example, Lot's of extra carbs, multiple sources of protein and plenty of rest time.... To me, this screams one of two things. Strength Development and/or Muscular Hypertrophy Development. These are two training types of training that require exactly what December offers. Yes you might put on a little bit of winter fat. But at least you wont have spent a month in a horrible cycle of :
Ive eaten too much - Work hard to burn it off - Repeat....
inevitably ending up back where you started. We know, you can not out train a bad diet (or at least now you know). So you're setting yourself up to fail. Not a good plan. Well then lets talk about how to plan this practically without avoiding the elements of Christmas we all love.
Disclaimer : This is not a free pass to murder a tin of Roses by yourself.
Plan your food types wisely.
Morning - (At this stage I'm assuming I've done enough to convince you that training for strength/hypertrophy is the way to go). A protein source, some slow release carbs, water and some fruit (Maybe even some creatine if your that way inclined). Set yourself up for a good day with a well fuelled breakfast. Obviously this comes down to when you train too.
Sweet snacks - My advice would be to try and get a couple in before a workout. Refined sugars are never really a good idea but let's be honest, it's going to happen so let's just ty and get something positive out of all those roses!
Midday - I usually train early or late morning, but if you can train pre-lunch then your lunch can offer a pretty decent recovery aid to a big gym session. Plenty of protein, lots of colourful veg and a good source of carbs... Prefect!
Afternoon - This is usually the time that the snacking on everything and anything happens. Obviously try to keep some sort of self control but to be honest I'm more of a replace kinda guy than a reduce one. So maybe try and fit in an activity here. Mobility work, a walk with the dog, yoga or whatever. It's good to keep moving (remember recovery takes effort. It isnt just about lying on the couch).
Evening - Y'know what, If you have managed to smash a big gym session, keep relatively active and not go crazy then enjoy it! Get your food groups in, have a glass of vino and smash a couple of mince pies.
Lastly, session content.
As far as periodising goes, this is a relitively short period of time so you could go pretty hard. Just make sure that the intensity of your training is matched by the amount of recovery you're doing. I would say to stick to big lifts to form the bulk of your sessions. When I talk About big lifts I am talking about :
- Deadlifts (Sumo/Trap bar/Conventional)
- Squats (Front/Back)
- Shoulder Press (Bar/Dumbbells/Kettlebells)
- Weightlifting movements (Snatch/Clean/Variations of)
- Lunges (Bulgarians/Walking/Overhead)
- Bent Over Row (Barbell/Dumbbells)
- Bench Press
- Leg Press
I think we should all have a bit of conditioning thrown into our sessions but I'll choose my battles.
Add in an extra rep or two, reduce the rest time a bit and maybe even chuck in an extra set. you could go fully bonkers and chuck in the odd GVT training session. But at the end of the day just go hard and get on that train to Gainesville for a little bit.
We all have out opinions on how to train over Christmas and this is just that. This is just my opinion on a sensible way to tackle a time that a lot of people dread about putting on weight during. Hopefully this blog helps and thank you for giving it a read.