Christmas is upon us and if one thing is for certain, most of us Men will be faced with an excess of calories.
Why stress about putting on too much weight at this time of year? We are not cat walk models!
All that you need is a way of leveraging this season of feasting to slap on some serious muscle mass. To hypertrophy your physique so that come January it is your shirt sleeves that are tight, not your belt.
Lets face it, it would be a shame to waste hard earned grub. A terrible sacrilege to not do Christmas the gastronomic justice it deserves. In fact, it would be down right rude if you are visiting friends or relatives. So roll your sleeves up and get stuck in!
No, actually, hold on a second.
Read this first, implement some of the strategies I’ll detail, and then get stuck in!
The three simple factors we need to consider are 1. Training 2. Eating 3. Rest
We need some high volume, muscle pumping, soreness inducing, beast sessions here. This will encourage your muscles to suck up the nutrients you will be sending them, and the extra calories will help fuel the increase in volume.
Plus, lazy days snoozing in front of the fire boost your recovery potential compared to the usual daily grind.
Here are three of my favourites:
German Volume Training
Yeah, thanks Charles (Poliquin)…my legs are still aching writing this. But this is the program that has turned more ‘hard gainers’ into beasts than any other. Basically, you use a big compound exercise, pick a weight that is 60% of your 1RM (one rep max) and do ten sets of ten reps with it. The program runs over a 5 day cycle and looks something like this.
Mon: Chest and Back
Sat: Begin cycle again
For a detailed overview see here
Russian Bear Training
This has to be included, even if just to make you feel like a large angry bear whilst training! Seriously though, if it comes from Strength Coach Pavel Tsatsouline, I listen…
Basically, again using a big compound exercise, hit 5 reps with a weight you could probably do 7 reps for.
Wait a few minutes and do another set of 5 but with 80% of your original weight.
Then keep pushing out sets of 5 reps with 60 seconds rest between sets until you can no longer complete the 5 reps. If you have decent strength endurance, this could take several sets.
For a detailed overview click here
The Old School Way
After finally sitting down and watching ‘Pumping Iron’ I was intrigued with the training methods these guys used to achieve their results. Turns out, it was often an intuitive high volume program that they would cycle twice a week! They would use usually 3 exercises per body part aiming for 5 sets of 5-12 reps.
Mon: Chest and Back
Tues: Shoulders and Arms
Thurs: Chest and Back
Fri: Shoulders and Arms
Sun…And on the Sabbath day he rested!
For a more detailed overview see here
The trick with feasting, is to prime your body to grow muscle instead of just getting fat. Perhaps the easiest way to do this is through a period of fasting. Intermittent fasting is all the rage in fitness circles at the moment, and it won't go away, because it works. Simply put, it will make you more sensitive to insulin (the hormone that is released when you eat, especially sugary foods) and also increase your Growth Hormone levels exponentially. So when you turn the calorie tap back on, you’ll be extra-anabolic. Fasting immediately after a feast day also rinses body fat after you have primed your metabolism with all those extra calories. You'll find if you have really hit the calories the day before, fasting is actually easy the following day and your guts will really appreciate the break.
Another useful strategy bodybuilders often use is to cycle their carbohydrate intake. So after a few days of low carb eating, splurging on their carbs supercharges their muscles with energy and actually helps to make them leaner (again, a hormone manipulation involving leptin and grehlin).
The high volume training will further prime your body to shuttle nutrients into your muscles and the ease of eating plenty of quality protein at this time of year (think Turkey!) makes days when you are holding back a little on the carbs easy to do.
Its Christmas! Take a midday nap, sleep at least 8 hours a night and turn off your phone for a few days. The extra sleep and reduced stress will up-regulate your anabolic hormones.
I usually start thinking of trying to hypertrophy by the time the stores put out their Christmas decorations, and get started on some high volume work. But over the actual Christmas holidays, this is what your eating and training might look like if we blend in some of the components above.
23rd Dec: Low Carb, high Protein. High Volume training session.
24th Dec: Low Carb, high protein. High Volume training session.
25th Christmas Day. High Calorie (Feast) Rest day
26th Boxing Day. Fast until mid to late afternoon. High Volume training or Rest day depending on intuition.
27th Dec. Moderate Carb. High Volume Training session.
28th Dec. Low Carb High Protein. High Volume Training session.
29th Dec. Low Carb High Protein. Rest
30th Dec. Moderate Carb. High Protein. High Volume Training session
31st Dec. New Years Eve. High Calorie (Feast) Rest
1st Jan. New Years Day. Fast until mid/late afternoon. High Volume training or Rest day depending on intuition. (Or how much you drank on new years eve!)
Thats potentially 7 tough sessions in 10 days, cycling carb intake and calorie intake. If you properly feast when its time to go for it, get plenty of sleep and rest and more importantly, enjoy the festive period, you’ll have added several pounds to your frame. Imagine coming back from the break bigger and stronger, instead of feeling listless and flabby. Get on it!
Leave a comment and let me know how it works out for you.