Getting Back Into Your Workouts after the Xmas Break

You’ve had an awesome year of exercise. Despite challenges and obstacles, you’ve managed to maintain your training consistency, get stronger and achieve your fitness goals. And now you’re enjoying a well-earned break away from your normal fitness routine.

Pretty soon, though, you’re going to start thinking about getting back to your workouts. That can be a challenge, especially if your holiday break has been a little longer and a little less active than you anticipated. In this article, we lay out six strategies to help you ease back into your workout routine once your Xmas vacation is over.

Take some time during the holidays to set your training goals for the next 12 months. You might set a target goal weight. This could involve losing fat, gaining muscle, or a combination of the two. Or your goal might revolve around an event, such as a wedding or a marathon.

Whatever goal you set, break it down into stepping-stone goals. I recommend setting four stepping-stone goals, spaced every three months apart. That gives you a 12-week focus to set your sights on. From there, break the stepping stone goal down into actionable steps that you need to take in order to achieve them.

For example, if your goal is to lose 8 lbs in 12 weeks, your actionable goals might be to:

  • Get in four strength workouts per week
  • Do 2 HIIT cardio workouts each week
  • Drink half a gallon of water per day
  • Only have dessert on Sunday
  • Use MyFitnessPal to count calories
  • Stay between 2250-2300 calories per day Monday through Friday

Regardless of how intense your prior workouts were, the body will naturally decondition itself during your holiday break.

When you do start exercising again, keep in mind that pushing yourself too hard can result in injury. Begin gradually and then increase the length and intensity of your workouts. During the first couple of weeks, use no more than 70% of your previous maximum weight on each exercise.

If you were training five or more days per week before the holidays, start back with three sessions per week for the first two weeks, building back up to your previous frequency after four weeks.

One of the great things about vacation time is that you can throw your schedule out the window. If you want to sleep in the morning, you can go right ahead. The reality, though, is that pretty soon you’ll be back to the reality of having to abide by the clock.

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When your vacation is over, there are some things that you will just have to do - like going to work. But other things, like going to the gym, are less black and white. No one is going to come down on you if you don’t show up. That’s why returning to the gym after a vacation can be such a challenge.

To make a success of your return to the gym you have got to make it just as non-negotiable as returning to work. The way to do that is to schedule your workouts in your weekly planner.

Schedule your workouts at a time of day that isn’t going to be complicated by distractions or obligations. I find early in the morning to be the ideal time for me. That’s when my loved ones are still in their beds, the workday hasn’t yet kicked in and the phone’s not ringing.

Find the time that works best for you and then block out those times on your planner as your non-negotiable workout time.

Here’s a workout plan that will help you get back on track:

Over the holidays, you’ve probably gotten out of your early morning routine. Getting back into it for your 6:30 am workouts can be a real challenge. That’s why you should do the prep before you go to bed to make it as easy as possible to get out of bed and out the door.

The night before, get your exercise bag ready and set it up next to your bed. Place your alarm on the opposite side of the room so that you will have to get out of bed to turn it off. I also recommend blending up your pre-workout the evening before your early morning workout. Do whatever it takes to make it as easy as possible to get out the door and on your way to the gym.

Realizing that many of their members struggle to get back into workout mode after the holidays, many gyms run 30-day challenges during January. They may be focused on a specific goal, like losing 10 lbs, or provide a general conditioning program. Either way, the commitment and camaraderie of being part of a group will help motivate you to get back into a regular fitness routine.

If you were training on your own before the holidays and are now struggling to resume your workout routine, Find a partner to team up with. Having another person rely on you to show up will get you extra motivation to get out of bed in the morning. A text from your partner when you’re wavering between pulling the sheets over your head and getting active will make all the difference.

Working out with a partner allows you to bounce off each other’s energy. When one’s motivation is flagging, the other can pull him up. You’re also able to benefit from the natural competition that takes place between friends as they work out together. This will push you both to give your best effort on the gym floor.

Make the most of your vacation time, knowing that you’ve not only had a successful year of working out, but that you’ve got a plan to make the new year’s training just as productive. By setting your new year’s goals, scheduling your workouts, easing back into it gently, and preparing the night before and teaming up with a workout buddy, you’ll be able to seamlessly cruise back into your workouts after the Xmas break.

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Steve Theunissen is a freelance writer living in Tauranga, New Zealand. He is a former gym owner and personal trainer and is the author of six hardcopy books and more than a hundred ebooks on the topics of bodybuilding, fitness and fat loss. Steve also writes history books with a focus on the history of warfare. He is married and has two daughters.
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