Nothing strikes fear into the hearts of the obsessive dieter more than the holiday season. It’s everything that’s wrong with healthy lifestyles and everything that’s right with culinary excellence.
From late November and into the New Year, food baby pregnancy rates explode. This leads to an abundance of guilty souls drowning in pools of sweat and shame come January 1st as they look to burn off that newfound holiday fat.
The calorie fest is real, my friends. Take a look at the damage you’ll do to yourself on Thanksgiving alone. The average plate of Turkey Day deliciousness will set you back almost 4,000 calories.
And we haven’t even cracked December yet.
If we aren’t careful, the season of indulgence will lead to a DadBod starter kit and the little excess holiday fat will end up becoming a permanent spare tire. Fellas, that shit ain’t sexy. Have some pride in your appearance and your health and beat this nonsense before it even becomes an issue.
So let’s figure out how to keep the good times rolling without packing on the rolls. I’m dusting off a post I originally wrote for my brotha from another mother, John Romaniello, to share some advanced strategies for minimizing the damage dealt by the holiday season. If you’re smart, you may even pack on a some well-earned muscle in the process and have a nice head start on the New Year.
Now, just to mess with our calorie-tracking friends (because we’re sick and twisted like that), let’s review how much exercise it’ll take to burn all those potatoes and gravy and stuffing off:
- Walking the entire Thanksgiving Day Parade through New York City. Like three or four times.
- Just over 17 hours of holding that Warrior-1 pose in a sweat session of yoga.
- For the cardio-compulsives out there, hop on your friendly neighborhood treadmill and precede to jog … for at least 5-6 hours straight.
- Nothing beats calorie annihilation like swimming. So, to eliminate the guilt from the holidays, why not just lap the English Channel?
Here’s the cold hard truth: Carbageddon is coming, so be prepared for it. Embrace it. Accept it. In fact, let’s just flip this bad boy on it’s head and use it to our advantage to make some real gainnnnzzz.
Bring on the mashed potatoes and stuffing and cornbread and casserole. Let’s shovel some more of that turkey on our plates. Screw it, enjoy some pie, too. With careful planning and a dedication to getting jacked, you’ll turn this month of gluttony into a season of serious pump.
Court, Crush, and Cultivate Swoleocity
What are some of the three core tenants of hypertrophy? Train big. Eat big. Sleep often. And that is precisely the name of the game of with this program, the Official Holiday Gainz plan.
Crank out your regular training protocols and routine. Which means picking up heavy things and putting them down on a consistent basis, three to four times per week … or by following our workout guide for fathers to avoid that stupid DadBod (download for FREE here). However, to truly capitalize on the excess calories, we’re going to add some extra credit.
Make this the day that you make a contract with yourself. For every meal that you overdo it, that’s one more ticket to the gym to work on a lagging body part. Add carbs to your belly and turn that into added weight on the bar.
Use this time wisely, my friends.
It really isn’t that difficult. Just accept that you’re going to eat a bit extra, and instead of driving yourself crazy, use it to your advantage.
And taking full advantage of some extra holiday calories is as simple as adding a few extra specialization sessions a week. Down too many cookies at the office holiday party? Awesome. Instead of feeling like shit, here’s the three step plan to make it work:
- Get your ass in the gym and apply some extra training to kill your arms.
- Head home slam a protein shake with no carbs or fat.
- Hit the sheets and sleep like you’re dead.
Sound too easy? Just think about what you’ve just accomplished by following those three simple steps:
- you’ve drastically increased volume, allowing you to capitalized on the excess carb and calorie load;
- you’ve fed the body with more protein to preserve muscle;
- and you’ve ensured the adequate rest necessary for recovery and rebuilding.
It’s like the holy trinity of muscle growth.
All of that said, this is a suited best for short term use. Allowing for super compensation is one thing, but it won’t work forever.
As a result, this is not a method that you should follow beyond the holiday season. The idea being that you’re going to be in a caloric surplus anyway, you might as well take advantage of that.
Once January 1st hits and that food coma has subsided, it’s back to your regularly-scheduled training and nutritional protocols. Friends don’t let friends over train. Period.
This isn’t a license to have a month-long period of cheat days, it is an extremely effective strategy that allows you to enjoy yourself a little without the guilt.
Starts with Protein
With all that covered, let’s talk diet. Like all good nutritional plans, we want to address the King of Macronutrients first.
So, protein: we need it. And this time of year the star of just about any holiday meal is a huge dead animal just waiting to be devoured. Turkey is jacked with protein and the breast is totally lean and approved. Load up on this stuff.
Continue to get your daily recommended protein dosage (usually about 1.0 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight). If your protein source of choice carries a little more fat – like ham, pot roast, meatloaf, or sausage – just limit your fat intake from other areas throughout the day to make up for it.
When it comes to carb loading, this is truly the most wonderful time of the year no matter what culture you bring to the holiday table, from yams to pasta to challah bread. Screw the carb guilt. You have the plan in place to make that plate of lasagna your muscle-pumping bitch now.
Word to the wise: make sure you continue to get the healthier carb and vegetable sources into your body, too. Your digestive system will thank you later. But the nature of this beast is still to feed the beast. Eat hardy.
Even when that family get-together is over, there are still the temptations for indulgence. View them as opportunities for excellence.
Can you think of a better pre-workout meal than a huge turkey sandwich on whole wheat toast? Of course not.
Still have some pumpkin pie calling your name? Hit up that second session of specialization work and then head home to slug some protein powder along with that slice of pie. The fast-acting carbs will allow the body to maximize glycogen stores and make muscle happen even faster.
Sleepy on a Saturday afternoon while the wifey is out shopping? Nap time. Muscles don’t grow in the gym; they get bigger and better from rest and recovery.
Look, ideally you’d eat clean and choose good quality, whole, and natural foods not just during the holiday season, but all the seasons. But we know the truth. You’re going to try that gingerbread cookie that your coworker brought to the office. You’re going to top some whipped cream on top of that slice of pie. You’re going to grab another plate full of those potatoes, because they’re awesome.
So, you may as well get something out of your indulgences and build some mass. And I’ve got just the workouts to help you do it.
Introducing the Holiday Gainz Plan
Below are three workouts guaranteed to add size, strength and sexiness to your shoulders, arms and chest. Toss in these extra sessions no more than two or three times per week, in addition to your normal training routine. The added volume will provide a boost in hypertrophy and lower that feeling of guilt after a gluttonous feast.
Notice the four-digit code following each rep count. That’s the tempo of each lift, or how many seconds it should take to lower the weight (eccentric), stretch or pause and then raise or contract with the weight.
For example, a 2-0-1-0 tempo looks like this:
- Eccentric: 2 seconds
- Stretch/Pause: 0 seconds
- Concentric: 1 second
- Contraction/pause: 0 seconds
Got it? Good. With that said, let’s move on to the workouts.
Holiday GAINZ Shoulder Workout
A) DB Seated Press – 3 x 8 (4-0-2-0)
Rest 1 minute
B) DB Upright Row – 3x 12 (4-0-2-0)
Rest 1 minute
C) DB Lying Rear Lateral Raise – 2 x 50 repetitions (2-0-1-0)
Rest 2-3 minutes between sets
Holiday GAINZ Chest Workout
A) DB Alternating Flat Bench Press – 4 x 10 (4-0-2-0)
Rest 1 minute between sets
B) DB Incline Fly – 6 x 8 (4-0-2-0)
Rest 90 seconds between sets
C) Decline Pushup – 2 x AMRAP
Rest 1-2 minutes between sets
Holiday GAINZ Arms Workout
A) Barbell Curls – 3 x 10 (2-0-1-0)
Rest 30 seconds
A2) Close-grip Pushup – 3 x 10-15 (2-0-1-0)
Rest 60 seconds
Perform A1 & A2 alternately, resting as noted between for a total of 3 rounds.
B1) Lying Tricep Extension – 4 x 10 repetitions (2-0-1-0)
B2) DB Incline Curl – 4 x 10 repetitions (2-0-1-0)
Rest 60 seconds
Perform B1 & B2 alternately, resting as noted between for a total of 4 rounds.
Enjoy the holiday season and use it to add some serious size and muscle to your frame. Look, either way, you’re going to be adding, “drop some pounds” to your New Year’s resolution list anyway, right? Might as well approach January 1st with a head start on some extra muscle.
Take your fitness to the next level and download our FREE Guide to Fatherhood includes 30 days of workouts you can perform ANYWHERE … all you need is a little room to move and your own bodyweight to stop holiday fat before it even gets started.