Training For The Christmas Holiday

Training For The Christmas Holiday

Training For The Christmas Holiday


Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat...

As Christmas approaches, thoughts naturally spring to easing back on our training and diet, and enjoying the fun and food. Unfortunately, once the holiday season is over many people's bodies come back looking as if they have lost a fight with the buffet. At the same time the gym is usually forgotten about leading to a loss in size and strength. Coming back from holiday many people are often lacking in motivation therefore and it is not unusual for even dedicated trainees to struggle to attain their pre-holiday condition.

It does not have to be this way. With a little planning ahead of time, plus some basic nutritional and training strategies whilst on holiday, we can look to maintain our training plan in some kind of shape so that we can both enjoy our holiday whilst also not wasting months worth of training and careful attention to diet in a two week binge-fest. What we need then, is to do something which will make a week's holiday and a break from training, not just something to be endured through gritted teeth but a sensible strategy which takes into account the fact that our minds and bodies need a break from the stress of our training program. To achieve this we are going to have to think outside the box by looking to overload our body’s recuperative reserves such that the body will need a week off to recover from the effects of an intense training protocol.

One week before the Christmas holidays

Most people will follow a training program which allows for 3-4 days of training per week. During the week before, we want to keep the weight training program as it is but at the end of your final workout of the week we can add some extra sets in the form of plyometrics and eccentrics. Let's say that Friday is a day where we train our chest and backs for instance. On that day perform your regular training but at the end of the session you would add some extra work. Here is an example for chest:

Plyometric Push Ups 2 x 5 reps

Clap your hands together in mid-air as you perform a push up which means pushing up explosively off the ground.

Eccentric Drop Set Bench Press 1 drop set

You will need a partner to perform this exercise. Load a barbell with a weight you can perform for a 5 rep max. The catch is that you will not lift this weight at all. Instead, once your partner hands off the bar lower the weight under control (for those who like to count aim for a 4 sec lowering phase). At the bottom hold the bar in the stretched position for a couple of seconds and then get your training partner to do as much of the work as possible in lifting the bar back to the starting position. That is one rep. Commence a second rep lowering the bar under control. Do as many reps as possible and stop the set once you can no longer lower the bar under control. At that point get your training partner to strip approximately 25% of the weight off the bar immediately allowing you to prolong the set for a few more reps. Once you approach failure (where you can no longer lower the bar under control again), strip some more weight off and continue onwards until fatigue makes lowering the bar under control impossible. You would then repeat this type of plyometric followed by eccentric drop set protocol for other major body parts.

Good choices for different muscle groups would be:

Back  - Plyometric movement - use a light weight on seated rows or pulldowns and do try to "catch" the eccentric part of the lift at the bottom of the rep and immediately explode into the concentric part of the exercise. Eccentric drop set - Any back exercise with a machine where the pin can be dropped as you approach eccentric failure is a good way to perform drop sets and allows you to do this without a partner.

Legs - Plyometric movement - Depth Jumps. Eccentric drop set - Leg Press (needs partners to help on the concentric phase so you can focus purely on lowering the weight).

Shoulders - Eccentric drop set - Smith machine military press.

Biceps - Plyometric movement- Light weight dumbbell curls. Eccentric drop set - Dumbbell Curls where you switch down the weight rack to select a lighter weight every time eccentric failure is reached.

Triceps - Eccentric drop set - Tricep Pushdowns.

Hamstrings - Eccentric drop set - Leg Curls.

Calves - Eccentric drop set - Standing Calf Raise. Abs Do not do this for your abs. Trust us!

Why am I doing all this?

That is a good question. The reason for performing plyometrics and eccentrics is because both are associated with a very high degree of muscle breakdown, soreness and require a much longer time for the body to recover from than regular training. In particular, plyometrics are shown to lead to more eccentric force production than any other type of training while the choice of performing eccentric sets causes significant time under tension which will lead to massive muscle damage especially as all of that time will be spent on eccentric work which causes more muscle damage than regular training.

The end result of this is that during a week off training while enjoying the holidays, your body will still be recovering from the preceding week's training meaning that far from worrying about becoming detrained with a week off, you can focus on resting and recovering during your holiday without the stress of thinking you should be in the gym. Having covered the period leading up to a holiday we will cover next nutritional strategies we can employ while on holiday to prevent fat storage while still enjoying ourselves. Better still, it even allows for alcohol consumption.

Like our article? Let us know on our forum and on Facebook or Twitter, and be sure to check out our other articles for more great reads!