The holiday season can be a very busy time for us. However, do not let yourself get caught in the trap of not working out to make more time for holiday errands and events. It is a big mistake to risk losing the lean muscle mass and strength that you have worked so hard to build and maintain.
Losses in lean muscle mass will lower your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which accounts for the vast majority (about 60 - 75%) of your total daily calorie burning.
This means that everyday you will be burning less and less calories which will put you at a much greater risk of putting on ugly, unwanted body fat during the holidays. Plus, losing strength will mean that the next time you start to work out your performance will be sub par and you'll get smacked in the face with that ugly word that no one ever wants to encounter when it comes to training: regression!
There are many clever ways to maintain or even increase the number of calories you burn per day, both from exercise and from your normal daily activities, to stay fat-free this holiday season. Use the strategies below to maintain and/or increase your current amount of lean muscle mass and maximize your daily calorie burn to best protect yourself against the deadly holiday bloat!
1. Perform at least one intense strength training session per week
Studies show that just one total body strength training workout per week during times when you cannot train as frequently as you normally do is an effective way to maintain your current levels of strength and lean muscle mass.
So, to best maintain your strength and lean muscle mass, shoot for at least one good strength training workout per week to stay buff during the holidays and to prevent unwanted regressions in fitness.
To best prevent weight gain, aim for three total body strength workouts per week.
To maximize fat burning, perform three total body strength workouts per week and also perform three cardio interval workouts per week on non strength training days.
Of course, another extremely effective training method is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This method not only produces excellent results, it also takes about half the time!
2. Hit Your Totals
When you honestly cannot even find a 20-minute time slot to complete and effective total body workout, look for hidden chunks of time during the day to get in a certain number of daily repetitions for a certain number of exercises that work the entire body.
Got a free moment between errands?
Then, bang out 20 squats, 10 push-ups, and 10 rows.
Using this method throughout the day will lead to big numbers by the end of the day that will burn the same amount of calories in addition to creating similar muscle building effects as if you did all the exercises at once during a single workout.
It is important to note that this "Hit Your Totals" routine is merely a back-up option to the ideal 20 - 60-minute training session.
Make sure to pick multi-joint, compound movements that hit as much of your body's major muscle groups in a the shortest amount of time possible (e.g. squats, deadlifts, lunges, push-ups, rows, etc.). Use the plan below as a guide to build your own "Hit Your Totals" workout.
Plan A Bodyweight Squats: 100 - 200 total reps Push-ups: 50 - 100 total reps Dumbbell or Band Rows: 50 - 100 total reps
Plan B Bodyweight Lunges: 50 - 100 total reps per leg Dumbbell or Band Overhead Press: 50 - 100 total reps Dumbbell or Band Deadlifts: 50 - 100 total reps
Adjust the repetitions accordingly based on your current fitness level. Perform this routine every other day, and alternate between Plan A and Plan B for variety. You can either hit your totals by completing all the reps for one exercise before moving on to the next, or you can rotate exercises throughout the day until you hit your total for each.
3. Rage Against the Machines
Machines have made us an incredibly out of shape and overweight society. This holiday season make it a point to not use them! Now I don't mean to say that you cannot drive to the mall during the holidays. However, when you get there, park as far away as possible so you can do more walking to get inside. Avoid using elevators and escalators. Instead, use the stairs; all those stairs truly add up. Stay on your feet as much as possible and resist the temptation to let a machine do the work for you.
4. Engage in more outdoor holiday activities
I have been in some pretty incredible snowball fights in my day. Though I was always having a blast while pelting my friends behind cleverly built igloos, I was never aware of how exhausting a good snowball fight can truly be until I came indoors afterwards. My snowsuit was soaked with sweat and I had spent the last 30 minutes or so in total fight or flight mode. Talk about an awesome way to burn calories without even thinking about it!
Get outdoors this holiday season and throw around the old pigskin or have your very own "Ice Bowl." Go sleigh riding with the family and friend. The march up that big hill all day will burn tons of calories, and the ride down is so worth it!
Once again, all these calories here and there truly do add up and could make a difference between you fitting in your pants or ripping your pants by the time the clock strikes midnight this New Year!
Have Faith & Take Action, Justin Yule