Taking a training break over Christmas?

The news of the relaxation of restrictions on Christmas Day has meant that many of us are preparing to spend at least a short spell with friends and family this festive period. For some this’ll be a welcome break from an intense training regime and a chance to kick back and recharge. But for others, this kind of down time might feel like an endurance workout in itself - suppose it depends how you feel about the in-laws.

Either way, if you’re preparing to enjoy all the Christmas trimmings, you might be concerned about coming out the other end, shall-we-say, less trim? Most of us know that the first session back into exercise (even after only a few days’ away from the gym, or straying from healthy eating) can be a real shock to the system - it might actually leave you feeling like you need another couple of days off!

Maybe you’re planning on avoiding the calories, and preparing yourself...

If you’d rather not avoid the calories and risk being labelled a Grinch by your nearest and dearest, you absolutely should cut yourself a bit of slack and join in with the treats. 

But if you’re worried about how those leftover turkey sandwiches might impact your fitness, just know that you can preserve your hard-earned gains, so when you return to training, you don’t feel like you’re starting from scratch.

Be mindful of your plateful

There is nothing wrong with a bit of indulgence every now and again, but Christmas can be the ultimate undoing of good nutrition. Relaxing any “rules” you might have is great, but keep in mind the reason you’ve dialled in on what you eat in the first place. You know you can join in the festivities without going to excess. Watch how you load your plate, think twice about that second helping, and be wise about accepting another drink. You don’t need a Christmas meal plan, you just need to make wise choices. You know what foods help in your training, and you know what foods are detrimental.

There’s no doubt your willpower will be tested, but remember how hard you’ve worked to get to your level of fitness. Use that to find the balance and be mindful of immoderation.

Get on the guestlist

If you're fortunate enough to be in a lower tier, although restrictions have changed a lot of the rules in gyms, many will still accommodate drop ins and issue guest passes. CrossFit Affiliates love to have visitors, and it’s a great opportunity to hop on a class and potentially be exposed to a different method of coaching; novel cues, different workout structure, maybe even access to new equipment. Not to mention the buzz that comes from being around new people who share the same passion for the same type of training. For non-CrossFit training, a “traditional” gym provides opportunity for accessory work targeting the upper and lower body, which will transfer over into any of the primary lifts. As long as you’re willing to accept that things aren’t going to be “just so” if you drop into a gym, and that you’ll have to switch up your programming, there’s no reason you can’t squeeze in a bit of Exercise. Modified workouts are still working out, and at the very least, you can always ALWAYS squat.

Back on the home workouts

I know, I know. You’ve probably had it up to your eyeballs with home workouts, but the truth is, they are an option and for many having been moved into tier 4 last minute, they're the only option. And if you’ve no other alternative, grabbing a dumbbell, or an “odd object”, or going wild with the bodyweight exercises can still be seriously beneficial if you push hard.

The Athlete Program released some fantastic home workouts for those with no- or minimal-equipment when the UK went into lockdown over the summer. They can be performed in the front room, the back garden, or maybe at the local park. Sit ups, push ups, air squats, and burpees don’t require kit, a full bottle of water can become a dumbbell, and even if all you have is a skipping rope, you can be working on your double-unders, or ticking that cardio box by using them in a workout.

Double-down on the 10 General Physical Skills

Working out in a different environment or in a different discipline can be a good way of highlighting how much faster, stronger, or more proficient you’ve become. It can also be a way of revealing any weaknesses you may have been neglecting (unconsciously or otherwise!) in your training. 

The 10 General Physical Skills, according to CrossFit, are:
  • Cardiovascular/respiratory endurance
  • Stamina
  • Strength
  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Coordination
  • Agility
  • Balance
  • Accuracy

… there are plenty of areas to be doubling-down on that don’t require multiple trips to the gym or a CrossFit affiliate. Maybe it’s been a while since you went on a long distance run, or went off the beaten path for some cross country. You could use the extra time as an excuse to work on your mobility. Roll out the yoga mat, dig out the lacrosse ball, or lay out the foam roller in front of your favourite Christmas movie.

Think of this as a de-load period, or a way to avoid burnout, but don’t consider it as detrimental to your training, or an attack on your fitness.

Time off at Christmas

If you’re really worried, it’s a good idea to make time for a bit of physical activity this Christmas. After all, it might mean you won’t find yourself having to be too strict when it comes to eating and drinking. Keep your fitness goals in mind to prevent being pressured into piggishness, but having a day or so off, especially after the last few months, is ABSOLUTELY FINE. Don’t go mad and you don’t have to bury yourself at the box when you return after the festivities are over, … unless you really want to.

A competitive CrossFitter and coach at CrossFit DireWolf, Libby Bearman, provides Elite Box customers with experienced insight and helpful tips for functional fitness and training. Qualified, knowledgable, and curious, she offers her views on the health and fitness industry as a whole.

Follow her on Instagram: @LiftLikeLibby 

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