There’s always a little added stress this time of year sprinkled in among the bright lights and holiday joy. And if you’re into working out, finding time to squeeze in some holiday fitness can be a real struggle. Sticking to a holiday workout plan takes a little bit of planning and creativity. But with an open mind, you can make sure your fitness routine doesn’t miss a beat.
Coming up with a holiday workout routine is all about accepting the fact that there will be less time to work out. So, instead of focusing on the lack of exercise you might be getting, it’s best to focus on two main things:
- The health benefits of relaxing and enjoying the holidays
- Getting the absolute most out of the time you do have to exercise
Your holiday fitness program will require some thought, strategy, and most importantly, fun.
Make a Holiday Workout Plan
Because time is limited, it’s important to identify the time you can commit to workouts.
Let’s say you typically exercise five times per week—and you know that’s not happening over the holidays. Take a look at your calendar and pencil in times when you think you’ll be able to work out.
If you like hitting the gym, aim for two or three brief sessions that can get you in and out as quickly as possible. Do a couple of full-body workouts or circuits, and don’t worry about sticking to your regular routine.
Accepting that these holiday workouts are simply for maintenance is the first order of business, so adopting that mindset will definitely help.
Evenings during the holiday season can fill up like a stocking, and the chances of getting in your regular post-office gym session are likely tossed out the window.
If you can adjust your schedule to exercise in the morning or over lunch, you can save some time. Even if you can add a session or two at an alternative time, you’re in business. But the best way to fit in your holiday workout is to get creative.
If you’re heading out of town for a few days to stay with family, scout out the local fitness scene to see if there are any facilities you can take advantage of. You don’t want to plan your trip around workouts, of course, or cut out the time spent with loved ones, but if you can sneak out early one or two mornings, you’re golden.
Heading outdoors for a nice walk is a great way to spend time with family and take in the sights of the season. It’s also something you could do almost daily in your holiday workout routine.
Get the Most from the Least
If you’re used to four or five sessions in the gym per week and will only have time for two, you can make up for lost time by increasing the intensity of your workouts.
Challenge yourself to complete full-body workouts in each session, and to complete them in no more than an hour. Decrease your rest time between sets, add in super-sets, and increase the total work you’re doing with the abbreviated schedule.
To get the most from your holiday workout, focus on compound movements with moderate weight. Going too heavy won’t allow you to work fast enough, so keep your rep ranges around 10 to 15 per set, resting 30 seconds between sets.
If you can’t get to the gym, you can volunteer for everything at home. Heading up and down the stairs to fetch items, walking to the store to pick up odds and ends, and doing festive activities with the children are all ways to get up and moving.
Playing in the snow, shoveling the driveway, climbing hills for tobogganing, or pulling young ones in a sled are all ways to get the heart pumping and can even turn into brief, intense cardio sessions. The best holiday fitness is often the fun stuff!
Enjoy the Holiday Season
Over the course of the year, there are plenty of opportunities to work out. Whether you train in a gym, do CrossFit, run, swim, or bike, reducing your workload for a few days over the holidays won’t derail your goals.
Unless you’re training for a major competition, a few days of reduced activity in place of some good times with friends and family will likely be to your benefit and not set you back.
People who work out regularly can, at times, become obsessed with it. Taking some time to nurture and enjoy relationships and seasonal offerings can give your body a chance to rest but also give your mind what it needs.
The health benefits of social contact, relaxation, and enjoying the moment are just as important as the physical benefits of exercise. So, switching your focus for a few days may be even better for your overall health.
A Holiday Fitness Routine: 12 Days of Christmas Workout
Perhaps there are only 11 or 12 days of Christmas left and you’ve got plenty of commitments. Bank on scheduling five or six condensed workouts and finding more ways in daily life to increase activity.
Here is a sample two-day, full-body workout program that you can implement and can be completed in about an hour.
Simply rotate between day one and two for the perfect 12 days of Christmas workout:
Barbell squats: 3×10-15 (three sets of 10 to 15 reps)
Bench press: 3×10-15
Shoulder press: 3×10-15
Bicep curl: 3×10-15
Ab crunches: 3×25
Barbell row: 3×10-15
Lat pulldown/Pull-up: 3×10-15
Romanian deadlift: 3×10-15
Ab crunches: 3×25
This quick and effective holiday workout plan will keep you fit and allow you to spend quality time with your loved ones this season. Happy Holidays!