Hands up if you over indulged this Christmas. Was it just 1 day? 3 days? More???
And with the main indulgences on the holiday period behind you, did you spring out of bed this morning, eager to smash out a post-Christmas chest workout (because let’s face it everyone is going to be doing chest the first day back)?
Did you wake up and leap out from under the covers with the breathless anticipation of the day ahead?
Did the thought and excitement of getting back to your regular gym and eating regime just become all too much and have you almost at bursting point?
I can imagine it was like that Christmas Day feeling when you were 10 years old. Never really going to sleep properly on Christmas Eve and waking up a 4am, rushing into your parents’ room and proceeding to jump on their bed until they caved in an begrudgingly trudge downstairs with you.
But instead of rushing downstairs to open presents, you’re making a beeline for your gym bag. You throw on your brand new threads that Santa brought you, mix up a bit of pre-workout, grab a protein shake for after your workout and off you go.
Or is that all just wishful thinking?
After a few days of over indulgence with the family, do you really feel like getting back to the old routine? Doesn’t a another lie in and a day of eating some more good food sound like a much better deal?
Exercising your way out of a food coma isn’t the most appealing of propositions. After all, the new diet starts in the New Year right? So you’ve got at least another 5 days or so to work on that food baby that’s growing inside of you.
Visualising yourself as a slightly fatter, slightly hungover version of yourself sweating out that turkey dinner and copious amounts of mince pies is the last straw. You turn over, curl up under your nice warm duvet, like a hibernating bear and steal a few more hours of shut eye before you have to face the world again.
So how do you get back on track after all that over indulgence of the last week?
How do you motivate yourself to get back into the routine?
How do you avoid the temptations that are still littered throughout the house?
How do you start making good food choices again when the fridge is seemingly bursting with treats?
Whether you’ve been enjoying those Christmas delights for one day or you’ve gone off track for the entire month, I’m going to give you 5 simple tips for getting things back on track and moving forward again.
By the end of this article I’m sure you’ll have that eager feeling once more and be like that kid on Christmas morning, when your alarm chimes in a few hours time.
Getting Back On Track
However long your period of well-earned gluttony was, the good news is that it’s not the end of the world. There’s no need to feel like you’ve got to wait 9 months for your food baby to exit your body and get back to where you were.
The reality is that it’s going to take less effort than you think to get back on the gain train.
Here are my 5 top tips you can start implementing today.
1. Don’t Panic
First things first. A few days off the diet plan and away from the gym doesn’t mean you have to immediately hit the panic button and abandon all sense of reason. In the grand scheme of things it’s a minor blip in your fitness journey. A couple of weeks on consistency in your training and diet will have you wondering what all the fuss was about.
So there’s no need to go on some form of crash diet, or some sort of beetroot and cabbage detox (I don’t know if that’s a thing, i just made it up). Go back to the nutrition and training plan that served you well enough before Christmas came along. There’s a reason why it was working. No need to change your approach now.
Also, don’t feel like you now have to do 40 hours of cardio a week to burn through that tub of Quality Street you thought was a good idea to much through while watching re-runs of Die Hard.
The best thing you can do is DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT. Your routine and consistent application of good diet and nutrition is still your key to success.
2. Get the day off to a good start.
The old adage of breakfast being the most important meal of the day isn’t something I prescribe to, but in this situation it does have some merit. Starting the day with a clean and healthy breakfast can really set you up for the rest of the day. This is more a mental thing than anything to do with the old wives tale of yesteryear.
After all of those calorie dense, micro-nutrient absent foods, your body is going to thank you for filling it with some tasty and nutritious foods first thing in the morning. You’ll also feel better about yourself and be less worried about having another day off the rails.
I like to kick start things with a breakfast that is high in protein and has a bit of carbs and fat. This will have you feeling fuller for longer, which means your more likely to avoid the bowls of chocolate that are still scattered throughout every room in the house.
An egg white omelette is a great choice and one that is a personal favourite of mine. This is a great recipe that includes some spinach and tomato for extra taste and some bonus micro nutrients. You can play around with different ingredients to suit your own taste and add some toast or some thick cut bread to provide some additional carbs.
3. Hydrate yourself
Undoubtedly you’ve enjoyed a drink or two, or three (or so many you didn’t even bother to count) in the last few days. Whether it was the office party, catching up with friends, or copious amounts of wine, beer, and sherry on Christmas Day your body could probably do with a little bit of a break from the sauce.
Good ol’ H2O probably wasn’t the first drink that was thrust into your hand on Christmas morning. And more than likely your water intake has been much lower in recent days than it normally would be. Consequently, you’re probably suffering from some mild levels of dehydration.
You can get that back on track pretty quickly by sinking a few glasses throughout the day. I like to start every morning with a glass of water. It helps get the body functioning properly and is especially important if you’re planning on hitting the gym today.
Water’s not commonly thought of as a vital part of building muscle and achieving those gains in the gym, but it very much is. Whilst it might not be as cool to talk about compared to bright green and blue BCAA drinks, it’s no doubt far more beneficial. You just have to look at the facts behind the impact of poor hydration:
- At 1% dehydration you will feel thirsty.
- At 5% dehydration your muscular strength and performance is negatively effected.
- At 10% you will start to experience delusion.
- At 20% you will run the risk of death.
I’m not suggesting you will be anywhere near the last two categories, but you may well be dehydrated enough to feel the effects in the gym when you go for some of those heavy lifts. If you haven’t already, make sure you download my FREE eBook here where I talk at greater length about the importance of water in your diet as well as a number of other aspects of your nutrition.
Hydrate well throughout the day and you’ll start to get back in the land of the living and look less like an extra from The Walking Dead in no time.
4. Track your food
It’s quite likely for a lot of people that the holiday season is not quite over. With businesses still closed until the New Year there are still plenty of family get-togethers and parties to navigate your way through. By now I’m sure you’re probably sick of the sight of turkey leftovers and rich desserts.
You want to get back to some sense of normality but there’s a high degree of social pressure on you. Everyone wants to go out for a drink or have that nice meal while you’re still in town. And you don’t want to be the killjoy of the group.
In that case now’s the time to start tracking and planning ahead with your meals for the day. Think ahead to the days where you might be called on to over indulge once again and adjust your calorie intake before and after the meal. Use MyFitness Pal to log your meals so that you can give yourself a bit of a calorie buffer to play with. You could also read the tips in my blog from last week ’10 Ways to Stay Lean Over Xmas’. Most of those tips will still fully apply here. Click here to read it…
5. Do something
Simple as that. Just do something!…
And by that I mean, get moving and do some form of exercise during the day. If you’re not struggling with motivation, then hit the gym. Pound those weights and slot yourself right back into the groove. Awesome.
If however, you’re struggling for the motivation to go and lift heavy or drag your ass to the gym to slave away on the treadmill, there’s still things you can do at home to start easing yourself back into your programme. Here are a few of my suggestions:
- Go for a walk – Walking is great exercise. If you’ve still got the family with you, get them to come with you. The time will fly by as you walk and talk. It’s also a great time of year to get some great winter pics of the scenery around you. 30 mins to an hour really won’t feel like exercise. It’s not like you’re on the hamster wheel of a treadmill staring at the same dozen or so bricks on the wall. This is fun and gets you some wonderful fresh air. And that’s great for working through that hangover.
- Go for a run – If you’re feeling a little more active, but aren’t anywhere near your local gym, strap on your running shoes, jam the headphones into your ears and get running. It won’t take long for you to work up a sweat and you’ll definitely start to get the appetite back for training as the over indulgence seeps out of your pores.
- Do a bodyweight workout at home – Running isn’t everyone’s thing, so a good alternative would be a bodyweight workout within the comfort of your own home. I’ve created an awesome bodyweight workout below that requires no equipment. There’s quite a few exercises here. You don’t have to do them all. Be selective about the ones you like and match your skill / fitness level. The goal here is to keep things short, sharp and to the point, keep rest periods short and don’t drag it out for a two hour marathon. If you do, it’ll probably put you off coming back and repeating it tomorrow. And if you’re spending that amount of time doing this, you might as well have gone to the gym!
The Ultimate Bodyweight Workout – No Equipment Required
This is probably most people’s first thought when they think of doing some bodyweight exercises. And for good reason. The press up is a classic exercise that is great for working the chest, shoulders and triceps. You can also go beyond the standard press up if you want to add some more variety and challenge yourself a bit more. You could also put some variations back to back so you’re really intensifying the workout and getting a great pump.
Here’s how to do a standard press up correctly…
You can vary this further by bringing your hands closer together. This will work the triceps more in a similar way to how a close-grip bench press would do in the gym. And if you’re looking for even more variety try the Dive Bomber push up. This one’s great for emphasising those shoulders a bit more. If you’re not feeling the burn after these then you’re pretty much inhuman in my book!.
For the super advanced people out there this video has some REALLY challenging exercises (and some that I definitely can’t do). The aim is to select the right exercises for your current fitness level. Don’t jump straight to handstand press ups as you’re likely to do yourself an injury. As a general rule, if you can do 20 reps comfortably then look to the next progression of the exercise. Likewise if you can’t do a regular press up with good form, then regress the exercise by putting you knees on the floor, so that you are in effect lifting less weight.
Choose 2 of these press up exercises and do 2 sets in total. Do this and you really will get your workout off to a great start.
After you’ve nailed those chest muscles, move on to some specific tricep work to really finish off the ‘push’ element of this workout. The press ups will have fatigued the triceps quite a bit, so it won’t take much to hammer those horse shoes into submission.
Try a couple of sets of bench dips (use a chair in the absence of a workout bench) as a quick and simple way to target the tri’s.
Next move on to working your back. You have to get a little bit creative here as it’s not necessarily obvious how to train your upper, mid, and lower back without the use of any equipment whatsoever. But it can be done!
I highly recommend these three exercises within this video from Athlean-X. Done slowly, controlled, and with good form they will certainly challenge you and tax those back muscles. Try them out for 2 sets per exercise and let me know what you think.
Biceps is another tricky muscle group to target with bodyweight exercises. If you have some resistance bands with you then great. Use these to do some curls, remembering to use a much slower and controlled movement than you might do in the gym. Hold the contraction at the top of each rep to maximise the effect of the exercise and make those guns work hard.
But, if you haven’t got access to resistance bands you can still get a complete arm workout in. Similarly to the back exercises, you have to think a bit more outside of the box and utilise things around the house or leverage your own body. Jeff Cavaliere over at Athlean-X again has some great ideas about working the biceps by using your own body and a door frame. Watch the video and incorporate a few of these exercises into your routine.
Personally, I get on best with the door frame exercise and would generally do a couple of sets of these when I hit this bodyweight session.
Ok. So that’s the upper body done.
If you’re planning on doing several days of bodyweight exercises then it would make sense to divide upper and lower body over two separate sessions. So, if that sounds like what you want to do you could end the session here and finish off with an ab routine (scroll down for that).
But, if you feel like getting a total body workout in then now time for those tree trunk legs to get a hammering.
Squats are the best exercises for legs, no question. And it’s no different when it comes to bodyweight exercises. Depending on your fitness level there are different squat progressions you can go through to really push yourself. Even if you’re a monster in the squat rack you will still find these exercises challenging.
If you feel that your skill level is on the low side, start off with the basic squat movement first.
Once you’ve mastered that you can move on to single leg movements that will test your leg strength. The Shrimp Squat may have a bit of a weird name, but it is effective and a good bridge between the standard squat and a more advanced Pistol Squat (which we’ll come on to in a bit). Besides, this video was made by Ido Portal, so if it’s good enough for him and the two weight world champ, Conor McGregor, who are you and I to argue?
And I’d like to take the chance to apologise…. to absolutely nobody for that shameless name drop 🙂
If that’s not enough for you then you can try a full-on Pistol Squat. I’d go as far as to recommend working on some of these exercises within your normal workouts as well. They are great for building a solid foundation of strength in your legs that will help no end with those heavy gym-based exercises like squats and leg press. And if you’re someone like me with a muscle imbalance in the lower body they’re great for focusing on individual legs to get your body back on parity with itself.
You can also incorporate some lunge movements of a Bulgarian split squat for further variety. Pick two quad dominant exercises from the ones I’ve listed above. After you’ve worked the quads, move on to some hamstring and glute work.
Hamstrings and Glutes
A fairly advanced hamstring exercise is the Russian Leg Curl. This requires you to find a solid (immovable) piece of furniture you can wedge your legs under. I need to stress that it HAS to be really firmly weighted to the ground, because there is a high risk of a faceplant if you get this wrong. If you’re videoing the workout it might make for a good comedy blooper, but if I were you I’d let someone else make that mistake.
When you do the exercise for the first time, you might not be able to go all the way to the floor. It’s likely that you won’t be able to hold that degree of tension in the legs as you move forwards and backwards. If that’s the case, then go as far as you can and make the movement slightly shorter. Just remember to have your hands ready to break your fall. Faceplants are bad!
All of those squats and leg exercises will have worked pretty much all of your leg muscles, but if you want to make sure that booty is as round and peachy as it can be then throw in a few glute bridges. You’ll be looking great in hot pants in no time!
I like to perform the glute bridge with my toes in the air so that I really drive through my heels. I find this is a great way to focus in on the glutes for maximum effect.
A couple of sets of leg curls and glute bridges will have you screaming for mercy. You’ll certainly be getting that gym feeling back by now…
Ok, so you’ve pretty much got enough exercises to create an awesome full body workout. All that’s left is to work on that core. Here are 3 exercises that you can group together as a ab-specific circuit you can do at the end of the workout. Do each of the exercises one after the other with no rest in between. Once you’ve completed each exercise once, take a minute’s rest before repeating. Do all three exercises a total of three times.
There you have it. All the exercises you’ll ever need to create a killer bodyweight workout that you can do with zero equipment and without even setting foot out of the front door. You could even roll out of bed and do the circuit in your brand new Superman pyjamas that your Mum bought you for Christmas.
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