My easy holiday training guide teaches you how to hang onto your results at Christmas, without missing out on family occasions and great food!

russ howe pti holiday training guide

Written by Russ Howe PTI, and most recently updated 1 day ago.

5 min read

The festive period can be tough for fitness folk.

We often get caught between wanting to enjoy the holidays, but not wanting to lose any of the results we’ve worked for all year long.

It took me a long time to break this cyle, and I’ve noticed that it’s gotten a lot worse in recent times because of the terrible advice which is being put out there by so-called “experts”.

Heck, I even saw one apocalyptic thundercunt telling people to “swap out their Christmas dinner for a low calorie option”, and listing “so you don’t have to skip cardio on Christmas day” as one of the main benefits of owning a home gym. How did we get here as a society?

Not to worry, Uncle Russ is here to rescue you from all the bullshit with my quick and easy holiday training guide. The tips you see below got me out of the festive panic, and they’ve also worked for every single one of my male and female clients over the last two decades. And the best part is you don’t need to work anywhere near as hard as some unqualified Instagram fucker is claiming!


You’ll Only Train 3 Days A Week

how to stay in shape over the holidays

There’s two types of Christmas people in most gyms.

There are those who ty to power through the holidays by training as much as possible, and there are those who quit until January.

I can understand the folks who try to train through the holidays, because I love the gym, but this approach usually just leads people to miss family occasions, and then they hit the New Year feeling tired, frustrated, and crappy, or they eventually crack and beat themselves up for falling off the wagon.

Meanwhile, quitting completely is equally flawed, because people tend to push the “fuck it button” until January. They’ll pile on the weight, and by the time January arrives they either return to the gym feeling bloated and out of shape, or they don’t return to the gym at all!

I was stuck in this cycle throughout my 20s, until I found a better way.

If you take a look at my Daily Trainer workouts you’ll notice that I reduce the workout schedule to three workouts per week during the festive season:

MondayFull-body
WedensdayBiceps & triceps
FridayFull-body

This strategy allows you to balance training time and family time with ease.

You’ll do a full-body workout on Monday, followed by an arm workout on Wednesday, and then another full-body workout on Friday to finish the week. Your two full-body workouts will be heavy, and will make damn sure that none of your major muscle groups are left lacking over the holidays, and they sandwich a high impact arm workout which is designed to give you a pump so big you’ll have a hard time wrapping presents!

This schedule provides you with four non-training days every week, which is plenty of time to enjoy the holidays and the festivities that come with it – plus it means that when you step up the volume in January you won’t feel like you’ve been run over by an eighteen-wheel truck.


Simplifying Your Nutrition Plan

flexible dieting over the holidays

The worst thing about trying to diet over Christmas is that you’re trying to diet over Christmas.

I tried it several times in my younger years, and I would feel a unique combination of angst (e.g. wanting to headbutt carol singers because I didn’t have any carbs in my system) and guilt (for saying no to treats during family occasions), until eventually I’d crack and have the mother of all blow-outs.

Nowadays, my clients structure their December downtime into their training calendar at the start of the year, because they know they’re going to take it a little easier over the holidays. That way, when the time arrives to do so, they don’t feel guilty about it because it’s actually part of their nutrition plan.

When it comes to tracking, I get them to look at just three things, and they’ll do this for the whole month of December:

  • Aim for your overall calorie target
  • Eat plenty of protein
  • Drink lots of water

No doubt there will still be days when you can’t really focus on anything (like big family get-togethers), so don’t sweat over those, but for the most part this is how you should structure your nutrition because it allows you to enjoy your food and family time over the holidays, and yes, controlling these three factors will also help you retain your hard-earned physique, even though your meals might not be as great as they usually are.


No Dieting Or Training On The Main Days

weight training over the holidays

The information above will be enough to put most people on the right track, but some of you are going to need an extra kick up the butt to resist the urge to train for the sake of training.

So I put a “no training” rule in place for the main days of the festive period (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day).

Trust me, you regret missing those days when you get older.

So if you catch yourself feeling the urge to train on one of the main festive days just because you’re physically incapable of having a rest day, I want you to take a moment and remember that this reduced workload is actually part of your training program, and then slap the pre-workout out of your mouth. Done.

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Get More From Russ!

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I’m Russ. I’ve been a personal trainer since 2002, and I own russhowepti.com.

My job is to simplify fitness for my readers.

I send out free fitness tips to over 100,000 men and women every week, all in the same no-nonsense style as the article you’ve just read, so if you enjoyed reading it be sure to jump on my email list below.

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