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Wednesday, 21 December 2011

How to Schedule Your Workout During Holidays

Every serious athlete, whether recreational or elite, knows that the key to conditioning is consistency. Skip just a few training sessions, and you first have to make up for any deterioration before you can once again start to make progress.

It's especially important to remember that during this time of year, when frenzied shopping and social occasions are a time-consuming distraction. Though you may love the parties and celebrations, how can you stick to your regular routine when often, you have to spend that exact same time getting ready for a big dinner or office party?

The simple answer? Rearrange your schedule.

The first thing to do, and this will have actual athletic benefits long after the holidays, is to assess your training program. Do you waste time in the gym? Do you sit at a machine or on a bench with a loaded bar, and do all your sets with a long rest period in between? That's a time waster. Instead, use the circuit method to exercise opposing muscles. Do a quad exercise, then immediately do a hamstring exercise. Or, do exercises that go well together — such as a set of squats, then a set of dead lifts.

A good upper body circuit would be biceps curls, lat pulls, triceps pull downs and shrugs. Go from one to the other with one minute rest between sets. Figure out how to cut time from your program without skipping the training of any body part. Practice this system a few times until you know exactly how long a workout will now take.

Next, write down a full schedule of all your plans and obligations, including the time you'll need to start getting ready for the occasion, shopping, decorating and gift wrapping. Put these statistics on one side of a piece of paper. Use the other side of the paper to write down the time you can handle these busy requirements, yet still fit in a workout without conflict. If you get home from work at 6 p.m., and have to be at a party that starts at 8, can you manage a half-hour at the gym or on your bike and still have time to shower and get ready for the party?

The time it takes to shop may not be within your control. There may be heavy crowds, you may have to search several shops to find what you're looking for and traffic may add time to the entire thing. If possible, wake up earlier and try to do your workout in the early morning. This may provide an unexpected benefit, especially if you're accustomed to doing your conditioning in the evening. The body benefits from training 'shock,' an unexpected change in routine that forces it to adapt to change. Working out before you begin your job may actually be beneficial, even if you'd rather stay snugly warm in bed.

The most important point is to concentrate on the necessity to do your conditioning program. It should take precedence over everything. The holidays will pass, the need to do your regular workouts won't. Yes, it may be unavoidable that you have to skip one or two sessions, but that should be on an emergency basis only. Put your workouts right up there with taking a shower or brushing your teeth — something you just don't skip.

Once the training of your body takes on that kind of sacred importance in your mind, you'll find ways to fit it in. It will soon become easy and natural. And keeping that attitude even after the holidays are long gone will stay with you; making you athletically better than ever.

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