So easy even my mum can do it. 😊

Ah, it’s the time of year where all the media outlets are trotting out their experts on how to prevent holiday weight gain and stress. This advice doesn’t change from year to year. And it usually revolves around 5 central themes.

  1. Everything in moderation
  2. Choose healthier options
  3. Exercise before or after you eat
  4. Practice avoidance and willpower
  5. Bury your head in the sand, stress out and wait until it’s over

Okay, number 5, I made up. But I bet more than a few of us feel this way. With the holidays comes family, friends, stress, great food, parties and way too many stupid car ads on television.

Like this one.

Seriously, how many people buy each other new cars for Christmas? Because nothing says Christmas like a brand spanking new car. Jesus would be rolling in his grave.

If he had one.

Anyhow, let me get back on track.

Coping mechanisms for the holidays

With all the stress around the holidays and weight gain, why add to it by stressing about what you put in your mouth?

It truly takes away the enjoyment of food and company.

Instead, practice a little moderation and get more movement in before and afterwards to aid in digesting those holiday calories.

After all you’re an adult. You got this.

Here are more tips to stop you from overeating and stressing (too much) this holiday season
  • You don’t want the food that’s offered, say no thank you. Every time you let other people dictate your food decisions because you’re afraid of hurting their feelings, yours gets weaker. So, stop and just say NO THANK YOU.
  • When you want some cake, have it. As long as you’re not eating excess calories for the day or week, you will not gain fat.
  • If you don’t have control over the type of food that’s served but you do have control over the amount you eat. Cake doesn’t make you fat – excess calories makes you fat.
  • Develop stress coping mechanisms that doesn’t involve punching the wall or your family. Use relaxation methods – deep breathing works well. Also consider meditation, walking, massage, sauna, hot tub or whatever works best for you.

However, I’m no expert. I’ve used the above in the past to cope with holiday madness. Hopefully they work for you. And remember to keep things in perspective this holiday season because there are millions and millions of people who will go without .

And when time is of the essence and your stress bucket (and stomach) is full, these simple exercise routines will keep you and your health on track this holiday season.

Holiday exercise plan

Tri sets (3 exercises done back to back to back) are an efficient way to exercise when time is of the essence. And anything will work here, but it’s better for you to focus on the compound exercises which work multiple muscle groups.  

For example; squats, push-ups, bench presses, rows, lat pulldowns, hip extensions and lunges.

Here are some examples:

Resistance training

1A. Push-ups 10 reps

1B.  Single arm row 10 reps each side

1C. Kettle bell swings -20 reps

Rest one minute after each circuit, do five circuits and hit the showers

1A. Dumbbell shoulder press 10 reps

1B. Dumbbell bent over row 10 reps

1C. Sumo squats- 20 reps

Rest one minute after each circuit, do five circuits and hit the showers.

1A.  Lat pulldowns– 10 reps

1B.  Standing single arm chest press – 10 reps each side

1C.  Dumbbell front squats20 reps

Rest one minute after each circuit, do five circuits and hit the showers.

Or when you have a little more time, put 5 exercises into a circuit for maximum calorie burn

Density training

Density training is exercising in a time frame.  Do as many reps with as you can with good form, using an appropriate weight.

The work/ rest periods are as follows:

Beginner (you’re just starting out) 20 seconds work/40 seconds rest.

Intermediate (you’ve been exercising for 6 months) 30 seconds work/30 seconds rest.

Advanced (you’ve been getting after it for a year or more) 24 seconds work/16 seconds rest.

The exercises are –

1A. Squat variation – BW squatGoblet or Sumo 

1B. Push variation- Incline push upPush up or Dumbbell bench press.

1C. Single leg exercise- Reverse lungeForward lunge or Side lunge (Alternating sides).

1D. Pull variation-  Dumbbell bent over row, Standing cable row or Single arm row

1E. Core- Alternating side plankMountain climbers or Front plank.

You’ll complete 2-4 circuits (depending on how much time or energy you have) for a total training time of between 10-20 minutes.

Note- These exercises are example. You can use any exercise you please in each category. Even machines will work if they’re near to each other

Training tips

1. Have all the equipment you need close to you, so you don’t need to move much and to reduce transition time between exercises.

2. Keep track of your reps and weight to measure improvement.

3. Choose a different exercise variation from week to week to keep things fresh.

Training example

1A.  Sumo squat

1B.  Dumbbell bench press

1C.  Forward lunge

1D.  Single arm row (do both sides)

1E.  Alternating side plank  

Cardiovascular Training

Do a two-minute walk/warm up, then a 15 second sprint followed by 15 seconds of rest. Repeat this cycle for five work/rest intervals. Then cool down for two-three minutes.  

Any cardio machine will do. For example, a treadmill, bike, rowing machine or the elliptical.

Just be sure to wipe the sweat off the machine (and yourself) when you’re done.

Or use this.  

10/10/10 minutes

Spend 10 minutes on the bike.

10 minutes on the treadmill (use the incline function for intensity) and keep the speed around 3-3.5 mph.

10 minutes on the rowing machine.

Any cardio machine will do. Just choose three different modes and work at a pace where you’re not completely out of breath.

3-minute Aerobic intervals (any mode you like)

Warm up for 4 minutes at an easy pace.

Perform a 3-minute aerobic interval working at a pace where you’re slightly out of breath.

Follow this with active recovery for 3 minutes of low intensity. Repeat the above sequence 3 times and then cool down for 3 minutes. Try to add one interval every two weeks.

At home/no equipment trainings

These are perfect trainings when you haven’t got any time for but still want to raise a sweat or pre burn the large amount food you’re about to eat.

Resistance trainings

1A. Push ups – 10 reps

1B. Side planks- 15 seconds each side

1C. Bodyweight squats 20 reps

Rest one min after each circuit and do five circuits.

1A. Plank to push up- 10 reps

1B. Reverse fly’s – 20 reps

1C. Reverse lunges- 10 reps on each leg

Rest one minute after each circuit and do five circuits.

1A. Windmill side lunge– 10 reps each leg

1B. Bent over IYT – 15 reps (5 of each)

1C. Inchworm – 10 reps

Rest one minute after each circuit and do five circuits.

Cardiovascular training

When you’re not at the gym, use the perfect machine – your own body. Here are some examples.

Punisher squats – 20 seconds of body weight squats followed by a 10 second squat hold. Repeat this sequence eight times. Ouch.


Do two-minute walk/warm up, then 15 seconds of a bodyweight exercise (Jumping jacks, running in place or high knees) followed 15 seconds rest. Repeat this cycle for five work/rest intervals. Then cool down for 2-3 minutes. 

You can access all these trainings here.

Wrapping up

Exercise is a great method to avoid unnecessary weight gain and for dealing with holiday stress. And a little goes a long way.

This is a time to keep your head above water and these trainings will help. So, you can enjoy all the family and food without stressing about the scale.

Because it’s a lair anyway.

If you want advice or exercise programs to get you through the holiday period please contact me here.

One Comment

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