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Festive Holiday Workout

Get fit this festive season

As a personal trainer working in a gym environment, and also just out and about, I consistently hear the same thing concerning health and fitness around the holidays/festive season:

I can’t get to the gym, I haven’t got time to train, I’m just so busy. I can’t help eating junk, I can’t help drinking alcohol, I have to go to a party.”

OK, I’m going to flip this on its head –

If you don’t CREATE TIME AND DISCIPLINES FOR FITNESS you will be forced to make time for illness.

I know what you’re thinking… the D word… Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your mind set, DISCIPLINE is the key component to every aspect in our lives.

As I have talked about in previous articles, exercise doesn’t have to be long and complicated; keep it simple. The same applies to diet; keep it simple.

Again, I am talking about general health and fitness here, not training for specific sports or bodybuilding competitions.

Your body is very malleable and will adjust when you focus on specific sports; however, such training may sacrifice other components of your physical health; for example, running miles on end will not improve your strength and building huge muscles will not develop your endurance – in fact, building huge muscles will even go as far as damaging your overall fitness by impairing certain movements!

To be “physically healthy” you must achieve and maintain, at least, a reasonable standard for each of the components of health listed below. This allows you to complete the multitude of tasks that life includes, from carrying your groceries to running for the bus. It is also why it is important to mix up your training.

1. Power and strength
2. Body composition
3. Flexibility
4. Agility
5. Speed
6. Muscular endurance

So, let’s get back to the “I’m just so busy” or “I have to party” excuses…

Just think for a second…

How long does it take to actually get well after feeling ill?

You linger around for a few days or weeks feeling sorry for yourself before thinking it is time to book an appointment with your doctor. You spend hours trying to get through to book an appointment only to find that your doctor is fully booked and can’t see you for weeks (if at all).

A few weeks go by and you finally reach the big day! Yes! You are going to get better!

Then you have to travel to your Doctors, wait for hours in the waiting room and see the doctor for 10 minutes. He prescribes you with drugs which you have to collect from the chemist, or refers you to a specialist because he is “not sure what’s the matter with you.”

You spend hours trying to get through to book an appointment with a specialist only to find that he/she is fully booked and can’t see you for weeks (if at all)…. You get my point…

Now I’m not saying that smart training and a good nutritional plan will lead to immortality but I am saying it will greatly reduce the likelihood of you having to see your doctor for any form of illness, physical or mental.

So what would you rather do, 10 minutes a day of Burpees or Kettlebell swings or hours on end sitting in waiting rooms with people coughing and spluttering, playing top trumps with their illnesses (oh, I have had a cough and cold for two weeks, really bad. Oh that’s nothing I have had the plague and now I’ve got leprosy… You get the picture).

What’s the solution?

Christmas and New Year are very hectic and stressful times for a number of reasons, mostly through self-induced social pressures to outperform others: presents, food, drink, people to visit, cards, the list goes on.

Have you noticed at this time of the year a lot of people get ill? What happens around this time of year? More stress, more commitments, more junk food, more alcohol, cold weather (which people are not conditioned for due to the luxury of central heating).

It’s no wonder we become physically and mentally ill, your body says “enough of this I’m shutting down for a while to recover.”

When the pressure of Christmas starts to bare its ugly head, why not stay ahead of the curve and have the discipline to regroup, stay active and come back fresh for the New Year.

Instead of getting caught up in social pressures, use this time to reassess your training, fitness and nutritional habits… Create a “Christmas survival guide.”

A selection of exercise programmes

The exercises I suggest below are not going to help you win the Crossfit Games!

They are going to help you maintain your current health and fitness over the festive season.

Mix and match exercises to avoid plateau and keep different parts of your body active.

Using the exercises I have recommended below, develop a Christmas workout that will keep you focused and get you prepared to smash those New Year fitness goals.

1. Kettlebell swings

50 x 3 per week. Start with a weight that allows you to do 20 perfect swings but no more than 30.

2. Body weight push, pull, sprint

  • Pull-ups 3 x 5-15 Reps
  • Press-ups 3 x 5-15 Reps
  • Sprints – 6 x 60 yard sprints. Sprint 60 yards, steady walk back with deep diaphragmatic breaths for recovery, then sprint again.

Twice per week over the two week holiday season. One minute rest between sets and two minutes rest between exercises.

3: Deadlifts

3 x 5 Reps. Once or twice per week depending on recovery, time and intensity. Never go to all out failure! On your last set of five you need to feel like you have got 1, maybe 2, reps in the tank. When you can do 3 sets of 5 this way then up your weight slightly.

4: Body Weight Tabata

Using a cycle of 20 seconds work and 10 second rest for 8 cycles, pick a mixture of body weight exercises and go all out for your 20 seconds. Recover with deep diaphragmatic breaths on your rest period.

Example exercises for your work period:

  • Cross body mountain climbers
  • Burpees
  • Body weight squat
  • Press-ups
  • Star Jumps
  • Body weight row
  • Leg raises
  • Thrusters

It takes 4 minutes for one Tabata, so depending on your schedule and recovery you could do one 4 minute per day, or 3 in a row, 2 – 3 times per week.

5: Hindu squats

100 every day. Do in segments to start with – try to build up to 100 in one go.

Again I repeat the above protocols are to keep your fitness levels stable over the usual two week festive break. Do not overload your nervous system too much!

Enjoy exercise

These exercises will also help you maintain the habit of daily movement and help you mentally.

So stay active, be disciplined and enjoy your training.

It’s not always about training hard, it’s about training smart.

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