Fitness professionals face the same problems we all face during the holidays. You know the problem during the holidays and other busy times when following your routine is almost impossible. That's why we reached out to these seven fitness experts to get them to share their favorite holiday fitness tips to help combat the big holiday problem when it comes to our fitness goals: time and temptation. Time as in all those things that require your time and attention that distract you from what you want to do such as Leg training. Temptation, especially around the holidays, with all the excellent food and drink at your fingertips.
Denying the problem doesn't make it go away, but finding solutions to your problem is where it is. Coaches are great at giving you direction and accountability and are underrated problem solvers. Here, the top seven coaches share their client strategies to help you stay on track during the holiday madness.
Mike T Nelson, Ph.D.
Fitness tips for the holidays: find the time to exercise, eat beforehand
Training: Finding time to stay on track with your regular fitness routine around the holidays can be a challenge. My best advice is to not worry about the perfect or the mythical optimum and work on finding a way to train something that relates to your regular schedule. For example, if you usually do an hour of upper body training at the gym on Mondays but find you only have 20 minutes, instead of skipping it entirely, do a few push-ups, table rows, and bodyweight squats.
Nutrition: The holidays bring many nutritional challenges. You can expect me to say things like "just buckle up and stick to your macros no matter what" or similar nonsense. The truth is, no matter how you cut the cake, food is part of the holidays. My advice is to fill up on protein first before any big meal. Eat 20-40 grams of protein before the main course and then relax and eat until you are full.
Mike T Nelson, Ph.D. is a metabolic fitness expert, strength coach and educator specializing in tailoring nutrition to the needs of each individual.
Andrew Heming, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT
Fitness tips for the holidays: Sporty snacks, eat protein first
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Training: Exercise snacks are a recent idea in research. The idea is to exercise throughout the day rather than taking time out for a full workout. For example, you could take a 10-minute walk after breakfast, do a set of one-leg squats in the morning, walk another 10 minutes after lunch, do a set of push-ups in the afternoon, and do a set of TRX rows in the evening.
Nutrition: When you eat protein first, it's very difficult to get fat from protein. It also helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. By stocking up on protein first, it's easier to enjoy those Christmas treats in moderation.
Andrew Heming, MS, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, Former University Strength Coach, Professor and Coach
Chris Cooper, strength and nutrition coach at Nerd Fitness
Holiday Fitness Tips: Do what you can, don't back down for seconds
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Training: Adjust your expectations. A workout doesn't necessarily have to last an hour and a half, especially when time and stress run high during the holiday season. Do what you can based on the resources you have available and move on.
Nutrition: Never two in a row. If you have a meal that is off plan or sub-optimal for our goals, the plan is not to support it with another non-optimal meal. Get back on the road at the next meal or the next day so we don't leave streaks.
Chris Cooper, strength and nutrition coach at Nerd Fitness
Detric Smith, trainer and owner of Results Performance Training
Fitness Tips for the Holidays: HIIT, don't party
Training: hit it! If you're stressed out after the Christmas time slam, try short, high-intensity workouts. Even 20 minutes is enough to burn fat and maintain stamina. The key here is maintenance. Prioritize compound moves and combos that hit multiple areas at once. Supersets and circuits help you save rest time and intensify your training.
Nutrition: Don't fast before a festival. You are more likely to starve and overeat! Get the party started with a small snack that includes some protein, good fats, and fiber to help curb your appetite.
Allan Bacon, Ph.D., is an online personal trainer specializing in training powerlifters and body composition clients
Vacation Fitness Tips: Focus on the sets, prioritize important events
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Fitness: I encourage you to make the most of your time in the gym through advanced training techniques. The following two methods aren't superior to straight sets for muscle growth, but have often been shown in research to be equivalent and can help maintain strength during your busy working hours until you can return to your normal schedule.
- dropsets: So dropsets are about completing a first sentence conventionally right away Lower the load (weight lifted) 25-50% and complete a second set to instant failure, then lower the load a third time 25-50% of the second set and complete a final set to instant failure. This way you have a traditional set of two "drops" that count as a single drop set altogether. After each dropset, rest for as long as you normally would between conventional sets.
- cluster sets: Cluster sets involve heavy weight lifted in triplet fashion, with very little rest between triplets (usually 15-20 seconds). Each triplet ultimately counts as a single set in your programming. There are a variety of schemes used in cluster sets, so I'll give you an example that I use often: 4 sets of 2-2-1. Choose a weight that challenges you for two reps. Begin the trio with two reps, rest 15 seconds, perform two more reps of the same weight, rest 15 seconds, then perform one final rep to complete the first cluster set of the four programmed total to complete. After each cluster set, rest for as long as you normally would between conventional sets.
Nutrition: Create a priority list at the beginning of each month. This is good practice every month, but especially helpful during months when you're particularly busy with commitments. At the beginning of each month, list the important events that are coming up and rank them from least to most important. Once you have an order of importance, you can decide how much, if any, you want to moderate on those occasions. When you know you have an important holiday coming up, that office party the week before might not seem so important to you...which can give you the confidence to moderate more on the days you didn't prioritize.
dr Bo Babenko, physical therapist and strength trainer
Holiday Fitness Tips: Focus on Smaller Bodyweight Movements, Protein Protein Protein!
Training: Get your exercise snacks — like 10 push-ups and an hour or 20 squats between Zoom calls. All movements are good, and instead of worrying about doing a full workout under time stress, pick a movement and do a certain number of reps per hour.
Nutrition: PROTEIN!! Focus on protein to fill you up and avoid less-than-ideal stuff. I get most of my clients to reach 0.7 grams per pound of ideal body weight. And that becomes especially important when you're being pulled in all directions over the holiday season.
Raphael Konforti MS, Senior Director of Fitness at You Fit Gyms
Vacation fitness tips: 15-minute workouts and 5/2 calorie split
Training: Have a 15-minute bodyweight workout ready. The biggest challenge is staying consistent. Having a workout you can do anytime, anywhere keeps you consistent. Even as simple as going back and forth between push-ups, lunges, and planks. Regular exercise will lead you to make better fitness decisions related to diet and sleep for the rest of the day.
Nutrition: Follow a 5/2 calorie split. You can try to resist temptation, or you can counterbalance temptation. The 5/2 diet consists of 5 days of moderate to high calories and 2 days of low calories, typically low carb and moderate fat. This allows you to indulge and keep total calories in check. You can walk out of the holidays without gaining weight if you can find two days a week without a party or dinner. It's best to lift on the high-calorie days and rest or do cardio on the low-calorie days.
The common theme is that you should definitely try to maintain your fitness and diet routine as much as possible. And when that doesn't work and something has to give way, use these methods and techniques to stay on track as best you can. The goal during holidays and other busy periods is maintenance.
Happy Holidays and see you the other side.