Somehow the gym isn’t as appealing as usual right now.
It’s clear to me from the dwindling numbers I’m seeing working out in the lead-up to the Christmas/New Year’s break. Sure, some people are on holidays abroad and some are sick (’tis the season!), but most people are finding that they don’t have as much time as usual.
There’s a holiday event happening a few times a week, lots of shopping to be done, and everyone’s rushing to close out the year productively.
Working out seems to take a back seat right now.
If you’re serious about getting (and staying!) lean then now is the time to get the momentum going. It may not seem important, and you probably can think of a zillion things you need to do, but hitting the gym could be just what you need when things seems tough.
Get the most from your workouts during the holiday season by following these guidelines:
1) Keep It Short, If Necessary
Just because you don’t have an hour, doesn’t mean you should skip the gym. Hitting the gym for just 30 minutes will strengthen your gym habit and give you more energy to deal with the stressful season. Don’t feel like you have to do your usual full-length feature every time you’re in the gym.
Modify your workout so you do shorter full-body sessions that work more muscle groups at once. Compound exercises, like squats, deadlifts, chin-ups, dips, lunges, presses and rows should generally be your focus anyway. Pick 3 or 4 of these exercises and do 3-4 sets, for a decent weights session that stimulates your whole body.
2) Focus On Weights
Maintaining your muscle is important when your time is limited. A weight training workout will help stimulate your muscles to build and strengthen when time is at a premium.
Trying to burn off a few calories with a slow peddle on the stationary bike or cross-trainer isn’t going to be nearly as useful. You need
So push some moderately-heavy weight and get out of there!
3) Do HIIT
High Intensity Interval Training is a great choice when you’re willing to work hard, but you haven’t got the time for a long session. Just 20 minutes can be enough to up your fat-burn for hours afterwards.
HIIT is all about getting your heart rate up, so it really doesn’t matter what activity you do. I’ve always enjoyed skipping and heavy bag sessions (doing rounds of kicking and punching on the bag), but bodyweight exercises like jumping jacks, squat jumps, bodyweight squats, lunges, or burpees (if you’re fit and conditioned!) can be used in various intervals to get your heart rate up and then allow recovery between sets.
Do a 5-minute general warm-up, then do 6 sets of 45 secs of your chosen exercise, with 45 seconds of rest in between each set.
Cardio machines can be used for this purpose as well.
For example, warm up for 5 minutes by lightly jogging on the treadmill, push yourself into a fast-paced run for 45secs, and then walk slowly for 45secs.
Repeat the intervals 6 times for a complete HIIT session.
4) Work Out In The Morning
There are so many things that can take away your attention at this time of year. Hit the gym in the morning before work, if you can, and you’re less likely to find excuses later on.
5) Get Your Sleep
Running around town shopping or going to events can be exhausting. Late nights can suck up your energy for working out and preparing healthy meals.
Try to balance your celebration nights with relaxed early evenings when you allow your body to recover. Try to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep a night most of the time.
You’re Gonna Make It!
The important thing about this time of year is to remember that it’s not all-or-nothing.
Just because you can’t give training and eating well 100% commitment, doesn’t mean you should give up altogether.
Life’s always busy, so working out and eating never truly gets 100% anyway, right?
A healthy lifestyle is about balancing your priorities on a day-to-day basis.
Exercising and eating well need to fit into your life.
And that life probably includes a few cookies or chocolates at this time of year.
With the right workout strategy you’ll get through the holidays still feeling fit.