The holidays come with a few obstacles when it comes to your health and body composition goals.  First off there is heightened stress from shopping, travel, end of the year deadlines, and just overall more on the average persons plate. With a more hectic schedule, it’s easier to succumb to convenience foods and miss a few trips to the gym.   The week of the holiday is the hardest of all to maintain your routine, so what if we could have that week off and still get to make progress?

There are many names for the concept I’m about to get in to, but the basic principle is controlled overtraining.  The idea is that you push your body beyond it’s normal limits so that it will super compensate for the work you have put in if given proper rest and nutrition.

If you are on track you should already be hitting the gym 4 times per week.  For the week of Dec 10th and 17th, the 2 weeks prior to week of December 25th, we are going to be putting in double time.  This way that last week you don’t have to juggle gym sessions with last minute shopping or things at work.

Here’s the theory behind the madness.  Train to the point where your body is just becoming overtrained for 2 weeks.  Overtraining for long periods of time is bad. Planned overtraining is where you just push slightly into overtraining mode so that your body will rebound and create a hormonal environment that will promote lean muscle gains and an increased metabolic rate during.  In this case a 3rd rest week, in which your body will partition more nutrients to recovering from the intense 2 week period before.  This means that you will need to take in more calories during that 3rd week and allow for plenty of recovery.  Your body will be able to make better use of the higher amounts of carbohydrates and increased calories consumed over the holidays this way.  By training to an extreme the two weeks prior, we can accomplish a prolonged increased metabolic rate and improved nutrient partitioning (more nutrients being stored in the muscle and less in fat) without the need of workouts during week 3.  This way the only exercise you will have to do is load your plate and open presents, and if you are with my family, hold your tongue 😉

To train twice per day properly, it’s better to train the same body part(s) twice in the same day.  This allows for recovery of those muscle groups on the other days.  Below I have provided two possible workout splits.  Option 1 is more for the more advanced trainee that is already pretty strong and someone looking to build muscle mass during their holiday week.  If you are a beginner or a female not interested in building upper body muscle much, then option 2 is a better option for you.  Now both of these programs are designed to increase metabolic rate the following week, and how much muscle you put on vs how much body comp change will be not only determined by which option you choose but how you eat in the following week.  It is important to eat more, up to an extra 1000 calories from carbs for those doing option 1, and probably an extra 500 per day for those doing option 2.

If losing bodyfat is the most important thing for you, you still need to increase caloric intake, but you should avoid meals that are high in fat and carbs at the same time.  So if you are going to load up on potatoes at dinner, skip the gravy and butter and opt for lean meat and salad greens with it.  Have your fat at breakfast and avoid carbs until the later meals of the day.

The Split Option 1 Option 2
Monday 12/10 Arms Upper
Tuesday 12/11 Legs Lower
Wednesday 12/12 Off Off
Thursday 12/13 Legs Total Body
Friday 12/14 Off Off
Saturday 12/15 Arms Upper
Sunday 12/16 Legs Lower
Monday 12/17 Off Off
Tuesday 12/18 Legs Total Body
Wednesday 12/19 Off Off
Thursday 12/20 Arms Upper
Friday 12/21 Legs Lower
Saturday 12/22 Off Off
Sunday 12/23 Legs Total Body
Monday 12/24 REST AND EYBO REST AND EYBO

*EYBO = Eat Your Butt OFF!

Each day will consist of two workouts; an AM and a PM workout.  For option one I recommend Charles Poliquin’s Advanced German Volume Training Method for the AM workout.  

Day 1: Arms AM
A-1: Incline Offset Dumbbell Curls, 10 x 5, 30X0, rest 100 seconds
A-2: Close-Grip Bench Press, 10 x 5, 30X0, rest 100 seconds

B-1: Thick-Bar Reverse Curls, 3 x 6-8, 30X0, rest 90 seconds
B-2: Seated EZ Bar French Presses, 3 x 6-8, 30X0, rest 90 seconds

Day 2: Legs AM

A-1: Back Squats, 10 x 5, 40X0, rest 100 seconds
A-2: Lying Leg Curls, feet pointing away from the body, 10 x 5, 40X0, rest 100 seconds

B-1: Dumbbell Lunges, 3 x 6-8, 30X0, rest 90 seconds
B-2: Romanian Deadlifts, 3 x 6-8, 40X0, rest 90 seconds

Day 3: Off

Day 4: Chest and Back AM
A-1: Incline Barbell Press, 10 x 5, 40X0, rest 100 seconds
A-2: Lean-Away Chin-ups, 10 x 5, 40X0, rest 100 seconds

B-1: Parallel Bar Dips, 3 x 6-8, 40X0, rest 90 seconds
B-2: One-Arm Arc Dumbbell Rows, 3 x 6-8, 40X0, rest 90 seconds

Day 5: Off

Day 6: Arms AM
A-1: Seated Zottmann Curls, 10 x 5, 30X0, rest 100 seconds
A-2: Low Decline Close-Grip Bench Presses, 10 x 5, 30X0, rest 100 seconds

B-1: Scott Bench Close-Grip Reverse Curls, 3 x 6-8, 30X0, rest 90 seconds
B-2: Low-Pulley French Presses, 3 x 6-8, 30X0, rest 90 seconds

Day 7: Legs AM
A-1: Heels-Elevated Front Squats, 10 x 5,, 40X0, rest 100 seconds
A-2: Lying Leg Curls, feet inward, 10 x 5,, 30X0, rest 100 seconds

B-1: Farmer’s Walks, 3 x 50 yards, rest 90 seconds
B-2: Glute-Ham Raises, 3 x 6-8, 40X0, rest 90 seconds

Day 8: Off

Day 9: Chest and Back AM

A-1: 30-Degree Incline Barbell Press, 10 x 5, 40X0, rest 100 seconds
A-2: Close Parallel-Grip Chin-Up, 10 x 5, 40X0, rest 100 seconds

B-1: Flat Dumbbell Presses, 3 x 6-8, 40X0, rest 90 seconds
B-2: One-Arm Elbowing Rows (the elbow comes out to the side, as if you were elbowing someone in the chops), 3 x 6-8, 30X0, rest 90 seconds

Day 10: Off

Day 11: Do the Day 1 routine using the Workout 2 pattern.

For the Evening Workout for Option 1 I recommend doing a tri-set method where you pick 3 exercises for the same body part and do 8-12 reps of each with little to no rest between.  An example arm workout would look like:

Day 1: Arms PM
A-1: EZ Bar Scott Curls Mid Grip, 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

A-2: 45 Deg Incline Curl Supinating, 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

A-3: Barbell Spider Curl, 4 x 8-12, 3010 Rest 90-120 seconds
B-1: 15 Deg dumbbell tricep ext 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

B-2: Low Pulley Rope French Presses, 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

B-3: Supinated EZ bar pushdown high pulley, 4 x 8-12, 3010 Rest 90-120 seconds

 

For those opting for an Option 2 program I recommend the following type of program.  

Upper and Lower Body AM training should consist of a moderate 6-8 rep range and the PM a triset style program like that outlined in Option 1.

Example AM Lower Body workout

A1: Barbell Deadlift 5x 6-8 40X0, 60 second Rest

A2: Lying Leg Curl Toes Inward 5x 6-8 40X0, 60 second rest

B1: Leg Press Feet Low 5x 6-8 40X0, 60 second Rest

B2 : Standing Barbell Goodmorning 40X0, 60 second Rest

 

Example PM Lower Body Routine

A-1: DB split squat, 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

A-2: Walking Lunges, 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

A-3: Power Squat Machine, 4 x 8-12, 3010 Rest 90-120 seconds

B-1: Seated Leg Curl x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

B-2: Barbell Romanian Deadlift, 4 x 8-12, 3010, rest 10 seconds

B-3: 45 degree Back Hyper Ext, 4 x 8-12, 3010 Rest 90-120 seconds

 

Total Body Giant Set Style Training in the AM using 6-8 reps

The format should be as follows:

A1 Deadlift or Squat movement 4-5x 6-8 reps, 4010 60 seconds rest

A2: Pressing movement 4-5x 6-8 reps, 4010 60 seconds rest

A3: Leg curl or Posterior chain movement 4-5x 6-8 reps, 4010 60 seconds rest

A4: Pulling movement 4-5x 6-8 reps, 4010 120 seconds rest

For the afternoon workout Modified strongman, or HIIT training using Bodyweight movements and sprints would be ideal.  If you don’t have access to strongman equipment you could do a circuit similar to the following:

A1: Renegade Rows 4 sets 60 seconds AMARP, 60 seconds rest

B1: Burpees 4 sets AMRAP in 30 seconds, 90 seconds walking rest

C1: Sprints 6x 10-15 seconds or 100M, 60 seconds walking rest

D1: 4 minute run or 2 minute leg press drill for a cherry on top

 

Now that you have an idea of what the workouts look like, the only thing to do is get to the gym and grind it out.  Don’t let your ego get in the way of your PM workouts, or the second week in general.  It’s ok to start to feel a bit fatigued or see some poundages go down on your weights as you start to break into that overtraining realm.  As soon as you come back in 2013, you should find you strength has gone up considerably and your body has improved.