Personal Trainer’s Christmas Holiday Fitness Tips from Personal Trainer’s Christmas Holiday Fitness Tips
Personal Trainer’s Christmas Holiday Fitness Tips
Personal Trainer’s Christmas Holiday Fitness Tips
The biggest challenge around the holidays is maintaining a healthy eating pattern. This is not just about binging out 2-3 times but using a privation strategy to try to compensate for the binges. “I see people fasting either the day of a binge or the day after to ‘make it okay, to binge, renowned bodybuilder and strength trainer Christian Thibaudeau says. “My problem is, if you use the holidays as an excuse to open the floodgates of poor eating for two weeks, then you risk developing a pattern where you feel like it is okay to make excuses for yourself, and very soon you will use the simplest things as a justification to get away from a healthy lifestyle,” he adds.
Accept “less than ideal” days
Try to keep up with a normal healthy eating pattern throughout the holidays, but accept that there might be some less than ideal days, Thibaudeau says. There is no reason to make the whole season unhealthy, he adds. “I can see two ‘large and not optimal’ meals between December 24th and January 1st, but there is no reason for more than that.”
Exercise, even if it’s not as often
Keep up with your normal training even if you miss one or two workouts, Thibaudeau says. But don’t use the whole period as an excuse to get completely off the wagon, he adds. “If you are training hard you are more likely to use the nutrients you ingest to recover from your workout and grow muscle which means that you will store less fat for an equal amount of food eaten.”
Start your healthy New Year resolution now
“I think that most people subconsciously see New Year’s resolutions as a transient, short-term thing,” Thibaudeau says. “Few people take them seriously. How many people do you know who stuck with their resolution?” Starting training as a resolution might actually put you in the wrong mindset, whereas starting before the holidays will make it more likely that you will stick with it, he adds.
See training as “problem solving”
Do not blindly follow a program, Thibaudeau says. “Use exercises and methods that address a weakness you have.” The best results in training come from correcting problem areas, he adds. “This is also what is the most rewarding for people and what makes them more likely to stick with it in the long run.” His recommendation is to find a type of training you enjoy and that fits your psychological profile. “You can always move on to something more effective once you’ve established the habit.”
Use a fitness app
Thibaudeau uses two fitness apps. The first one, Beast Sensor, is a wearable weightlifting tracker that calculates the speed at which you are lifting the barbell (or your body) and how much power you are producing. “This is invaluable when training athletes, especially if their goal is to become more explosive and faster,” he adds. The second app allows him to do online coaching effectively. “You (or the client) can post videos in the log and I can comment on them. [This] makes it very easy to do distance coaching,” he adds.
Find a real training partner
“I don’t want ‘workout buddies.’ I want training partners,” Thibaudeau says. “A buddy is someone you have fun with. This is likely the worst person to have as a training partner. It will turn into a social event and training focus will be taken down several notches,” he adds. A good training partner with similar goals and focus can enhance your training. They will also make it a lot less likely that you will skip workouts, he adds.
Alter your routine
How often you should do it varies with every one, depending on when your body plateaus. “You should only change a program when there is a need for it,” Thibaudeau says. “If after two weeks you discover a new problem (e.g. a muscle is not responding) then you might need to change some exercises after those two weeks, but not the whole program.” Also, changing things up will keep you motivated.
Forget the whole “bulking” concept
The whole “bulking” concept is one of the worst fitness recommendations Thibaudeau says he has ever heard. “Yes, if you want to build muscle at an optimal rate you need to consume a caloric surplus. […] But most people use the ‘bulking phase’ excuse to eat way too much and eat too much bad stuff,” he adds. “You don’t need a huge surplus to grow and if you are a natural trainee (not using drugs) your body has a limited capacity to use nutrients to build muscle.”
Don’t let “cheat meals” be rewards
“I do not believe in the reward system, especially if the reward comes in the form of cheat meals,” Thibaudeau says. “That is a very bad habit to form.” You should think about long-term mental programming, not only short-term impact. “What might sound like a good idea in the short-term could lead to destructive habits in the future as you give yourself more and more rewards.”
Don’t be too critical of yourself
“Sadly, this is hard to fix because the root issue is normally a lot deeper,” Thibaudeau says. “I think taking objective measures of your performance is a good start.” How much work you can do, and how hard you can beat yourself up doesn’t matter at all if you are not progressing, he adds. “If you take objective measures of what you do in the gym (how much weight, how many reps, what speed) then you can see your progress and it thus becomes easier to focus on results instead of on workload.”
Have healthy snacks on hand
Eating a healthy, satiating snack before going to parties will make it be less likely to eat mindlessly or overeat at meal time. Another option is to create healthy versions of your favorite treats to bring along and share with everyone. Water content, fiber and calcium are the three key “ingredients” you need to look for when choosing your snacks. They will keep you full for longer.
Have fun with active holiday traditions
Many holiday traditions double as exercise. Go power shopping in the mall, for example, and get some cardio in. Participate in a holiday fun run race or go on family walks after big holiday meals. Make a game out of the whole thing. Gamification is key.
Go to the gym during rush hour
Most people usually advice against going when everybody else is there – usually after work hours. But the energy in the gym when you see so many people working out can be very effective. You have a lot of fit people to look at and copy them if you are not sure what to do. Imagine everyone exercising and you being the only person looking at your phone. Wouldn’t you want to fit in?
Sometimes it’s OK to skip the gym
There are three instances when Thibaudeau says it’s better to skip the gym: A drastic drop in libido, which is an indication of constantly elevated cortisol levels that led to a decrease in testosterone and/or estrogen; increase in resting blood pressure; and increase in resting heart rate. Overtraining can lead to injures which will hold you back much longer than a day or two.