Christmas is a time for celebration, for people to enjoy spending quality time with their loved ones, whilst enjoying delicious festive food. However, for those who have worked tirelessly on their fitness regime throughout the year, it can also be a time of dread. Will there be healthy options at the Christmas party? Will people think you’re boring if you turn down an alcoholic beverage?
To help you overcome this struggle, Muscle and Health caught up with Head Trainer and Co-Owner of F45 Stratford, Sam Gregory, to offer his expert advice on how to ensure your fitness routine stays on track throughout the festive season.
You need to remember that during the Christmas period, you are going to drink and eat more than you usually would, and you’re probably not going to get the eight hours of sleep you would like either. This shouldn’t fill you with dread, as you’re going to be dancing and smiling more than you would if you were asleep and having the fun you deserve. It’s called the festive season for a reason, so give yourself a break and enjoy yourself!
TRY FASTED CARDIO
Although Christmas isn’t a time to worry about your exercise schedule, there are easy ways you can counteract the damage. I recommend you adapt your training regime by opting for a morning cardio session on an empty stomach, as depleted state interval training burns significantly more body fat than training after you’ve eaten. You could also try taking part in a HIIT class, that will help you burn around 800 calories in a short space of time, like at F45.
RAMP UP RESISTANCE TRAINING
With the inevitable increase in food, your body will constantly be in a positive calorie balance, i.e., more calories coming in than going out. These are the ideal conditions to help build muscle, which is why most summer bodies are made in the winter! Use this to your advantage and get down to the gym to lift some weights as and when you can.
INCORPORATE CERTAIN EXERCISES
During the festive period when you’re eating and drinking things you would not usually, it’s a good idea to incorporate large compound exercises into your resistance training. This includes squats, deadlifts, push-ups, chin-ups, lunges, and shoulder presses. These movements have a much greater ‘anabolic’ effect, meaning you’ll recruit more muscles and burn more calories, even during your rest period.
STICK TO SPIRITS
Everyone knows Yuletide is about eating, drinking, and being merry…and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t! However, to combat the effects, I advise sticking to spirits and low-calorie mixers. Though, this is obviously not as good as not drinking at all, it’s a better option than ten pints of beer.
You might think that a night out with your friends is doing nothing for your fitness regime, but you can burn anything from 350-600 calories an hour from dancing. So, make sure to hit the dance floor whenever you can during the party season.
EAT YOUR GREENS
Feast your eyes away from the roast potatoes and parsnips and load your plate up with all the vegetables that you can find. Vegetables are full of insoluble fiber, which not only fills you up but also helps to transport excess waste. There are also very strong links between good gut health and improving mental wellbeing, so you are doing yourself the world of good by incorporating plenty of vegetables into your festive diet.
For a delicious selection of recipes to help support your winter waistline goals, Muscle and Health’s FOOD section has your back for the festive period and beyond.