Written by Jamie Bantleman
How Do I Train Over The Holidays?
One question that is frequently asked during the holidays is, “is there any point in training over Christmas?” The answer is simple, it is always a categorical YES. While you may be indulging in foods and beverages that don’t usually fall into your nutrition plan throughout the rest of the year, your body is still needing to move and through movement in exercise you will gain much more than you think. When training, both our mind and body are being exercised, it can de-stress and help levitate cortisol in the body.
Cortisol is a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm yet when elevated can cause a catabolic reaction to a muscle leading to muscular atrophy (this causes muscular tissue breakdown and therefore can increase body fat). Over the Christmas period, stress, or cortisol, is often massively elevated due to the pressure of buying presents for people and going from pillar to post trying to please family and friends; not to mention the fact that the higher sugar loads through food and drink causes a greater stress on the body than all.
For these reasons we must make a conscious effort to train. This doesn’t always mean spending hours upon hours in the gym breaking yourself, in fact it means the exact opposite. My advise for training over the Christmas period is by creating 30 minute workouts that deplete glycogen and cause maximal damage in a short period of time thus allowing for you to spend more time recovering from the session. This will also eat up less time than you thought and enable to you fit in both working out and taking part in all festive activities.
When creating your training programme for this type of workout you can consider creating a ‘giant set’ in which you can incorporate 5 different movements alternating between upper and lower body followed by a sprint or interval type exercise. The 4 resistance training movements should be kept to being a compound exercise, for example a squat or a pull up. This will enable you to exert more energy and deplete glycogen even further to create the desired training effect.
The exercises will be timed rather than based on repetitions, due to when training at such a high intensity, the quality of reps can be compromised to ‘get them out of the way’. Therefore, you will be performing each movement for 30 seconds, with 10 seconds to get to the next part of the set. 40 seconds per movement (including transit time) will mean you will take 2 minutes to complete each set. You will then rest for 1 minute. This will ensure you achieve 10 sets of the giant set and achieve an incredibly effective workout, with little effort in terms of planning and easy to get through while in a busy gym.
A1. Barbell Back Squat – Placing the bar on across your back and repeating the squat for 30 seconds. This is a powerful lower body compound movement and can be massively effective for anyone looking to develop lower body strength and condition.
A2. Wide Grip Chin Ups – 30 seconds of chin ups will test every bit of grip strength you’ve got, this is one of the best exercises for upper body strength.
A3. Leg Press – Incredible movement for loading volume due to it taking less impact than movements such as a squat or a deadlift.
A4. Flat Barbell Bench Press – Once again a massively effective exercise for upper body strength and obviously another key compound movement.
A5. Wattbike Sprint – This is a sprint that takes 30 seconds, setting yourself at a high level of resistance going into a sprint.
60 seconds rest. Repeat for 10 sets.