This Thursday officially kicks off the holiday season here in the U.S.
To muscle heads, that also signifies the beginning of the unofficial mass building season. Starting three days from today and continuing all the way up until January 1st, you will eat more calories than you do during any other time of year.
You can try to fight it, but it’s inevitable.
Unless you have a competition in a week or two , to make a weight class. Then stay on course.
But if not? Why not embrace it?
There’s two ways you can handle this: Take the day off, eat, rest and recover, or there’s another way too approach it, (which I’ve used to myself) that is pretty DAMN AWESOME.
This is not the time to be trying to get lean. On the contrary, my friends, it’s time to get huge! You will spend a large majority of the next six weeks in a caloric surplus, which means you had better be training accordingly and asking for some bigger clothes for Christmas.
While you want to take advantage of all the extra calories and use them to build some new muscle you also don’t want to end up a fat slob come New Years Day. You can avoid this by planning your workouts accordingly and using strategically planned cardio workouts to keep your waistline in control.
If you can do it, I always recommend planning your workouts so that they fall on the days when you are going to be eating the most.
It’s always a good idea to follow up the weight training workout with cardio that day as well. This will help ensure that a large portion of the calories are sucked up by the muscles and stored as glycogen and will be used to build muscle instead of stored as body fat.
Another way to counteract all of the over eating that could lead to body fat accumulation is to try to never consume massive amounts of calories more than two days in a row. You can get away with two days of chowing down like a ravenous animal but anymore than that will definitely lead to fat gain. I’d love to pull out peer-reviewed studies on that but that’s just coming from years of experience.
Now remember what we’re talking about here; optimizing a caloric surplus for lifters & active people that train consistently. This ideally would be not the setup for someone who doesn’t do much on a regular basis.
If you plan accordingly and eat a lower calorie, lower carb diet for a few days before a big feast like Thanksgiving day, (basically depleting your glycogen stores) you will be even less likely to get fat from all of the excess calories.
This is similar to carb depleting and loading that bodybuilders do before a big show (although less extreme and nowhere near as scientific). When you are in a depleted state like that you will be even more likely to use the excess calories to build muscle and less likely to store body fat.
My advice would be to lift weights on Thanksgiving morning followed by 30 minutes of cardio before the big feast.
If your gym is closed and you have no other options, I would definitely recommend going out and doing some sprints, sled drags, car pushes or even a bodyweight circuit.
Just as long as you do something to prepare your body to use the excess calories more effectively that day.
Remember, the next six weeks could be the time when you build more muscle than you will at any other time this year. Make sure you are well prepared and have it all planned out so that you enter the New Year bigger and better than ever before.
Nothing pisses me off more than skinny guys (aka so called hard gainers) who complain about their inability to gain weight.
Just like every other hard gainer who uses their genetics as an excuse, you are not truly steadily eating, as you should.
You need a caloric surplus, no way around it. More calories in than you burn- it’s really that simple.
Now I’m assuming that you actually TRAIN AND HARD.
So here’s a tip to maximize your Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza and any other holiday I missed. (Sorry can’t keep up with all of them)
This is for that feast not to turn into a fat, bloated, worth less sack of doo doo.
Starting ASAP (I started Sunday Afternoon) start only having your carbohydrates around your “workout window” and that’s it.
Just get enough to fuel you going in and a bit to replenish. Mostly all protein and fats for a couple days.
“How much is that?” is a topic for another day.
But quickly, what I do for my nutritional clients right off the bat is 15% pre workout and 30% for post workout meal number 1 of their total daily allowance.
Stay with this until the big day with the exception of MAYBE some of you truly are affected by this and feel lethargic, light headed, mental fatigue, etc. If that’s the case add in some carbs within reason.
Monday and Tuesday train hard and heavy, with strength base-focused workouts. Think big lifts here, more joints that move, more muscle being used, more energy being expended.
With a few minutes of glycogen depleting metabolic conditioning at the end of each session. Get some conditioning in, ramp up the ol’ heart rate and keep there for a duration of time.
Wednesday hit up some mobility and a light recovery session, body weight only at home if you prefer.
Thursday morning get a good strength workout in and follow it up with a Turkey Bowl Football game with friends and family.
If you have no time for the gym, then smash those handstand pushups, pull ups, dips, planche and lever practice.
(You ARE doing planche and lever practice, aren’t you?)
Then crush everything in sight!
Leave no pie behind! Enjoy the muscle swelling benefits of every tender morsel you devour. Nom Nom Nom….
What you’ll have before eating are muscle that are possibly “flat” and running low on their immediate fuel source.
Once you dump all those calories in, they’ll soak them up like a sponge.
You either set yourself up for success before hand and have every bite go directly to your starving muscles, or be lazy and inactive now and have that feast sit on your gut and ass afterwards.
It’s really that simple, deplete your muscles of their immediate fuel source for a 2-3 days, train hard and heavy 2 of those 3 days, add some high octane conditioning to further deplete that glycogen and POW come that Holiday day train regularly and enjoy.
Hard workers eat BIG and don’t get fat. The beauty of mixing science and hard work is a deadly combo.
In July 2013, Lou became the owner/head coach of Triumph Strength & Athletics. Having worked for various clubs, performance centers around the area, competing in the sports of powerlifting & strongman it was time to go down his own path. In the trenches type work along with studies in exercise physiology set him apart, aligning science and real proven methods to get results.
Lou Torres is a perfect example of an athlete who wanted to stay connected to his roots. Now turned strength coach to share his passion for strength and athletics with athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
Lou has written for several magazines including STACK, The Performance Menu, My Mad Methods Magazine, and guest blogged for colleagues along the way.
Lou’s gym, Triumph Strength & Athletics, was featured in The Performance Menu as a top performance gym to look out for along with other renowned coaches like, Eric Cressey, Mike Boyle, and Josh Henkin. Lou is a USA Weightlifting Coach, RKC Kettle Bell, Underground Strength Coach, CrossFit Level I certified coach, NASM CPT,PES,CES and above all else an advocate of all things badass.