Keeping Fit Over Christmas

The Christmas holidays are a great opportunity for you to really push on with your training. They are, however also an opportunity for you to undo all the hard work you put in during the first Semester. To help ensure that you get the most out of your holidays, this blog will break down what you can do to help yourself into 2 areas:

  1. Activity
  2. Recovery

Activity

If you have access to a gym, use it. Not going to the gym and lifting weights for a month during the holidays will set you back a long way when you return to University for the second Semester. You don’t have to follow a strict programme as just getting something done is better than nothing. If you do the following at least once per week this will put you in a good place training wise:

Squat

Deadlift

Upper body push (eg. bench press)

Upper body pull (eg. pullups)

As it’s the holidays, you probably want to spend most of your time outside the gym rather than in it. Why not get outside? Running outside rather than inside on a treadmill is not only great for your body, but refreshes your mind. Long walks through the countryside at this time of year will be full of fantastic scenery, as well as being a sociable activity (as long as you are with other people), and also handy for getting your 10,000 steps in!

Now is also a great time to try new things. Not been cycling before? Why not get outside and go for a ride? Play squash or badminton inside with friends, with the added bonus of staying warm when it’s snowing. Playing a new sport or activity will keep you fit and refresh your mind if you’ve been concentrating on one sport during the semester.

Whether you have access to a gym or not, there is plenty you can do in the comfort of your own home. Just doing a body weight circuit every day will help to keep you fit with minimal investment of time, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy your holidays. There are many ways to do circuits. One way is outlined below:

Pick 6-8 exercises. Perform each for 30 seconds, not resting until all the exercises are done. Then rest for 2 minutes and do the whole thing 3-4 times.

Example circuit:

  • Lunges
  • Burpees
  • Pressups
  • Plank
  • Crunches
  • Squats
  • Leg Lowers

Recovery

One benefit of being at home during the holidays is the home-cooked food. This will aid your recovery, meaning that you will be able to train every day. However, there are lots of other things you can do to help your body recover and be in better physical shape. This includes stretching, mobility work, sleep and active recovery.

Stretching and mobility work go hand in hand. You can do normal stretching, holding positions where you feel a light stretch for 30-60 seconds. You can use a foam roller or hockey/lacrosse/golf balls to roll lightly on tight areas until they release their tension.

Sleep and naps are always important, and now is a good time to get into good habits for when you return to University. Try to get approximately 8 hours of sleep in a night. Ideally your room is as dark as possible, and cool. You want to be without bright lights or electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before you go to sleep.

Active recovery can take a few forms. If your legs are tired and stiff for training, for example, going on a long walk can help to loosen them off. Additionally, doing a body weight circuit, slowly going through as large a range of motion in each movement as possible, can help the whole body feel better after a tough training session the previous day.

 

Final thoughts

Use your holidays wisely. Even a little bit of activity performed every day in the holidays will help you hugely by the time you return to University. Having a healthy, fit body will not only help you enjoy those extra mince pies, but will mean that you hit the ground running in your chosen sport when you get back to University. Additionally, the old adage rings true: ‘Healthy body, healthy mind’. With exams approaching, if you take care of your body now it will help you concentrate and study for them.

Max