Training during the holidays | Maintaining your gains without being a wet blanket
Updated: Mar 5
Depending on what got you into Powerlifting, you might find the thought of the Holiday Season nerve-wracking. It’s a time of year where routine is typically put to the side, you’re some times traveling and nutrition will likely consist of Beer, Turkey, and Ibuprofen.
There are typically two paths athletes go down at this time of year, typically starting a few days before Christmas day and lasting a week into the new year:
Disregard all training and nutrition routines
Maintain routine and generally be no fun to be around
Neither of these approaches are great if you generally take a long term approach to training. You’ll either end up having to claw back weeks of training if you completely disregard every facet of your training & nutrition routine but similarly, if you’re too uptight through a time that’s usually a long way out from the next competition, you’re risking burnout.
So that brings us to “How do we maximally enjoy the holidays without pissing away months of hard work?”.
We’ve put together our top 5 recommendations, to help.
1) Consume adequate protein
If you’re reading this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that consuming protein is anabolic and interestingly enough, consuming protein around the same time as you’re consuming alcohol can help stave off the inevitable drop in Muscle Protein Synthesis that your body will experience. By saying this, we don’t mean you should down 8 scoops of Whey protein while you’re drinking, rather ensure you’re consuming enough through the day from whatever source, i.e Chicken, cheeseburgers.
2) Train & move when you can
The likelihood that you’ll lose all your muscle mass in a 2-week period, through lack of weight training is pretty slim however, complete lack of training/moving in a semi-athletic way can make getting back into proper training a lot harder. We’ve all experienced it, skip a “leg day” and experience terrible muscle soreness the day after your first session back. This at times can be so bad that it affects subsequent training sessions and pushes you back further.
3) Hydrate after drinking
Have you ever woken up the day after drinking, looking lean & vascular + often 1-2% lighter than your average weight? That’s because you’re probably dehydrated, not unlike a 1990s bodybuilder. Unfortunately, stage-ready bodybuilders aren’t known for their performance ability.
Hydrating both directly after drinking, or the morning after can help you get back to feeling 100% faster (Have you ever wondered why a cold Blue Powerade is considered the Holy Grail of Hangover cures?).
Feeling better leads to making better nutritional decisions and allows you to get back to training at a reasonable capacity sooner.
4) Don’t train the day after getting wasted
Leading on from our third point, training hungover is generally not a great idea. Time to fatigue is faster, recovery & preparedness is often compromised and you’ll likely be dangerously close to vomiting during your squats, like this guy.
Note: When we say wasted, we mean the kind of drunk where you go to bed throwing up.
5) Keep an eye on your weight
Being conscious of your weight is useful at the best of times but particularly good to be aware of when your normal diet has been thrown out the window. Alcohol, in particular, can creep up on you when it comes to calories consumed, so weighing yourself each day and making sure your weight isn’t fluctuating up or down roughly 1% is a good idea. If it’s up, eat less, if it’s down EAT MORE. Nothing is more painful than coming back to training over competition weight, necessitating and un-productive mini-diet.
The holidays are inevitable and unless you’re being paid to lift (Which is probably unlikely) your routine is going to be somewhat disrupted. Relax, have fun with your friends and remember that no matter how crap you feel upon your return to training and real-life, normality will resume pretty fast.
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