Mon | Mar 27, 2023

Fit 4 Life | Healthy for the holiday: Christmas training tips

Published:Wednesday | December 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
Christmas does not have to mean the death of your training programme. With planning and a few changes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Full gyms and crowded running trails are the New Year norms. The Christmas season, on the other hand, is the opposite. Training is absent from most persons' holiday plans and only after the parties and Christmas dinners do we start to think about fitness.

It is understandable.

It's a busy period, yet it is also a time for relaxation; A time for fun, food, frolic, and family, not fitness.

Of course, if you have been working hard at your fitness and health all year, it can be depressing seeing your progress halt or even reverse. 

Christmas, however, does not have to mean the death of your training programme. With planning and a few changes, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Here are a few training tips to help you maintain your fitness while enjoying the holiday season.


Planning is key. Take a careful look at all your holiday activities and estimate not just the time but also the resource you will have left to spend on training.

Will you be able to go to the gym?

At what time of the day can you train?

Will you be overly tired?

How much rest and recovery time will you have?

You don't want to spend a day walking in search of gifts after heavy leg training. Consider all the variables before deciding on the amount and type of training you can afford.


There is no need to face the traffic and stress of trying to make it to the gym on a regular basis. Use bodyweight exercises or improvise equipment to get your training at home.

Tip: a gallon of water is about eight pounds. 


That half-an-hour you spend sitting in traffic followed by 20 minutes trying to find a parking spot in a crowded plaza could be used more wisely. Parking far away and walking to do your Christmas shopping is a good way to maximise on exercise. Just ask your arms if they feel well-worked after you walk back with those heavy bags.  


How we use our time is key to getting the most out of holiday training. Take steps to reduce time wasted. For example, combine gym and shopping trips, or use gym or work bathrooms instead of braving the holiday traffic to head home after every workout.


Training during the busy holiday season requires efficiency. The key is to get the best workout in the shortest time possible. That means less time wasted on gym selfies and long rest periods. Boost intensity and aim for 15-second to one-minute rest periods in order to reduce the amount of time as well as the amount of work you need in the gym. 


Use supersets to reduce rest times and increase intensity. With supersets, you alternate between working (usually) opposing muscles without rest. For example, a set of bicep curl can be alternated with a set of overhead tricep presses until fatigue sets in.


When it comes to more work and more benefits in less time, HIIT is king. With HIIT, we do short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by short rest periods. Work and rest periods can be 10 seconds to two minutes.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;