How to Stay on Track with Workouts During the Holidays
Staying fit during the holidays can be more challenging to navigate than other times of the year. Holidays often mean increased travel, busy days, and a disruption to your regular workout routine. The key to sticking to a workout plan during the holidays is establishing realistic goals, creating a routine, and sticking to it, along with daily doses of movement. With a small assortment of versatile equipment, the options for practical exercises are nearly limitless.
POWER OF ROUTINE
We get 25,000 mornings as an adult. Pretty crazy to think about it that way, right? Quantifying our existence is a powerful strategy to opening our eyes and facing the tasks we need to get done. Long-term fitness is built around understanding yourself, your good and bad habits, and developing a good relationship with the idea of sacrifice.
When you're new to fitness, exercise can seem like an inconvenience, a source of self-inflicted discomfort, and unsavory. But as with any worthwhile habit, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Daily exercise becomes more palatable and fun.
Getting into a disciplined routine will require a quick audit of your habits, the time you generally have in a day, and sacrifice. With fitness, you have to make time. The busyness of career, family, and social activities will take up most of your waking hours and always create roadblocks regarding finding time to workout.
A perfect 60-90 minutes to workout will not magically appear each day. Making time might equate to waking up earlier to exercise in the morning, hustling to squeeze in a lunch hour workout, or fitting a training session in at night. Many people scoff at the idea of setting the alarm earlier to exercise in the morning, but front-loading the day with exercise is one of the most consistent strategies for ensuring workouts aren't skipped.
Plus, exercise is better than coffee in the morning, although you'd ideally have a coffee before starting the workout!
If you finish your workout before the craziness of the day ensues, you’ve already accomplished one difficult task. That’s powerful stuff. In this scenario, you’re sacrificing your warm and cozy bed for achieving your fitness goals. Developing a relationship and understanding with the sacrifice needed to achieve goals and attacking complex tasks will spill over into other areas of your life. It's a character builder.
Daily movement is a critical part of every day, not just during the holidays. But during the holidays, a little bit of daily movement can give you energy, burn valuable calories and move you closer to fitness goals. Even if you’re not able to engage in a perfect workout due to time limitations or environmental circumstances, remember, doing something is always better than doing nothing at all!
James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits”, shares this tip for continuous improvement: “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you’re done."
So the question is, where should you start with daily movement?
The foundation of a physical activity regimen should be walking. Accumulating adequate walking steps each day should always be on your mind. Walking is underestimated for improving mental health, influencing body transformation, and impacting general health. Aim for 10,000 steps per day.
Once you've filled walking requirements, aim at putting pressure on your fitness goals with higher intensity exertion. Workouts that incorporate multi-planar movements for resistance training and cardio are potent for building athleticism and accelerating body transformation.
The design of a workout depends on a few factors:
- Current fitness level
- Training space
- Past injuries or any contra-indications
Bodyweight-based exercises are a great option no matter where you go. The appeal of bodyweight training is that it requires no equipment, and the movement options are plentiful.
Beyond bodyweight, the best fitness equipment is versatile with use, packable, and travels well. Resistance bands and medicine balls are two excellent options that open many doors for exercise variations and dynamic movement training.
Resistance bands like the below Pull Up Power Bands are cost-effective, versatile, and travel extremely well due to their packability and lightweight. You can use bands to assist or challenge exercises. Tough exercises like pull-ups/chin-ups and single leg squats can be made easier with bands. Beginners who can't perform a full bodyweight chin-up can tie a resistance band to an overhead bar, then loop it around their knee to decrease the weight of the pull and make the exercise easier. Bands can also increase the intensity of exercises by adding load or creating forces to combat with.
A different more polished type of resistance band variation exists that offers handles and different loading options. These bands can be anchored to a closed-door, squat rack, or any sturdy/immovable object and allows for a wide variety of pressing, pulling, lower body, and core movements. Suppose you wish to perform exercises on a functional trainer but don't like the price tag of such a machine. In that case, resistance bands are an incredible option that offers a similar training experience.
Medicine balls have a multitude of uses in workouts. They're great for training explosive movements such as slams, throws, tosses, scoops, and pressing, adding load to core exercises for an increased challenge or conditioning via wall balls (squat to explosive press).
MEDICINE BALL MEDLEY
- Flexion Slams
- Rotational Throws
- Diagonal Chops/Lifts
- Core Training
- Hand-to-foot Ball Pass
- Russian Twists
- Serratus Sit Ups
- Rocking Drills
PULL UP BANDS
- Assisted Chin-ups
- X-band walks
- Bent over rows
- Loaded Push-Ups
- Overhead Squats
- Front Foot Loaded Split Squats
DOOR-MOUNTED RESISTANCE BANDS
- Pallof Press
- Overhead Press
- Rotational Press
- Plank Rows
- Bicep Curls
WORKOUT IDEA GENERATOR
A good workout can be designed in an infinite number of ways. One effective way is to take four movement patterns and a core drill, and organize all exercises into a continuous timed effort.
Here’s a great example:
|Band-Loaded Split Squat
|8 each leg
|Squat to Row
|8 each arm
|8 each arm
|Medicine Ball Flexion Slams
|Banded Anti-Rotation Press
|8 each side
Cycle through each exercise, starting with push-ups and ending with the banded anti-rotation press. After the final anti-rotation rep, return to push-ups. Keep moving for the full 20 minutes, with little to no rest between each exercise.
Using this exercise structure, you’re able to perform a lot of work in a short amount of time. The exercises are non-competing (using different muscles for each), and the training effect is designed to work the whole body. Workouts like this combine resistance and cardio to create a really potent training stimulus.
Visualizing what you want to happen long term is a compelling way to stay on track and achieve fitness goals, even during the holidays. The key is to create a routine and stick to it. Get adequate walking steps most days and enhance the whole thing with well-structured workouts using versatile training equipment.
The holidays don't always have to be a time to fall off the wagon. Making sure you get a little bit of movement here, and there can go a long way.
And if you do fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up over it! Relax and enjoy those sweet treats. Just remember to realign yourself with routine and get after the next workout!
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