The Christmas holiday period is typically extremely busy and can also be extremely indulgent with everyone gorging themselves on a sumptuous Christmas dinner and enjoying plenty of holiday hospitality with family and friends. In short, health and fitness is not generally found at the top of Santa’s naughty or nice list. Yes, Christmas is a time of celebration, and often excess, frequently resulting in firm New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight, so it’s not surprising that many people struggle to maintain a healthy focus in December. If your fitness takes a back seat at this time of year, you will probably identify with some of the following problems:

  • I’m too busy with Christmas preparations to fit exercise into my day.
  • I get invited to loads of indulgent Christmas parties.
  • I love Christmas but I know I overdo the eating and drinking.
  • In January, I always have to try and make amends for the effects of the festivities.

If any of those phrases ring a few bells, these tips can help you. To enjoy the Christmas celebrations and maintain a healthy focus, simply follow this festive fitness guide so that when the holiday season draws to a close, you won’t have a mountain to climb to get back in shape.

KEEP YOUR FITNESS ROUTINE GOING – One of the hardest things to do when your time is in short supply is to maintain an exercise routine. If you usually exercise a few times a week, the extra demands on your time can mean that something has got to give. However, reduced training doesn’t mean that your fitness levels have to plummet. Research has shown that a couple of weeks of maintenance training can result in minimal or even no fitness losses. In certain cases performance can actually improve after a short period of reduced training because the body has the opportunity to recharge and rebuild. Hence on returning to full training, you can find that you have renewed vigor and enthusiasm for your sessions.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY – If your typical training week includes some more challenging sessions, it is important to maintain them. Instead of interspersing them with recovery workouts where you exercise lightly, focus on every session being high quality. You can then omit the easier sessions, which will save time. A recovery session now becomes a rest day. The key to success with this strategy is to make sure you don’t let up on the quality of each workout. That way you are keeping your results that you’ve worked hard to achieve.

RESISTANCE TRAINING WORKOUTS – A typical session with weights in the gym involves completing two or more sets of a range of exercises, with a recovery period of between 30 seconds and several minutes between each set. This recovery period is an essential component of your training, but it is time during the festive season that you can not afford to spare. Instead of relaxing and recovering between sets, for a change, try carrying out complementary exercises during the recoveries. For example, alternating between chest and upper back, biceps and triceps, abdominals and lower back, or quadriceps and hamstrings.

CARDIOVASCULAR WORKOUTS – There is an opportunity to reduce the duration of your cardio workouts but still get calorie burning and quality training benefits. Try adding an incline to your treadmill sweat session or alternate faster and more intense efforts with equal time recoveries. It’s tough, but great training and a shorter session brings as many benefits as your usual longer workout.