It’s December, and that means that this month will probably be filled with family gatherings, work parties, and some extra days off. It also means that you will see articles all over the internet that tell you how to watch your waistline or how to cut down on calories over the holidays. Luckily for you, I won’t wasting your time with a topic like that. Instead I am going to discuss how you can use the holidays to help overcome a plateau or hit a new PR.
Especially for students, December is when you will have extra time to train, eat and rest. This would be an ideal time to get off of your 5-6x a week routine and get on to a 3-4x a week program. It is also an ideal time to eat more because there is usually more food around, especially at family gatherings (the best place to get a swole belly). Rather than hitting the gym every day at 6AM, take this month to get more rest, because it is the recovery that will help you hit that PR, not murdering yourself every morning. This is the month to train big and recover bigger.
I love being in the gym, and I don’t always like the idea of taking time off, even though it’s a necessity. However, every time I take a weekend off and spend that time eating big and recovering big, I always come back to the squat rack stronger and highly motivated for another week of training. If you are smart about your eating patterns, you can still eat a 2 or 3 thousand calorie meal every day and lose bodyfat (Jay Stadtfeld will be writing an article about this later). Along with all of the other Thanksgiving food I had over the weekend, I also ate this giant burger and still came home 2 pounds lighter:
By planning ahead, you can schedule your training days to be the day after you have eaten a copious amount of food, thus flooding your muscles with glycogen to help you break that plateau. I gave my 100 pound friend Dana Bowling this advice before she successfully attempted her 200lb squat, a 15lb increase from her last PR. I am always stronger the day after a big meal, my joints feel better, my DOMS has worn off, and I am ready to attempt new weight.
The mental aspect of training after a weekend of rest is also incredibly beneficial. The feeling of being burnt out can hold you back, especially if you feel like ass and every inch of you is sore. If you spend your holiday weekends working on SMR & mobility, stretching, getting enough sleep and eating big, you will have no problem hitting your new PR goals the following day.