The holiday season is great….. lots of love going around, friends and family in town, Christmas shopping, parties, and lots and lots of food.

TRAINER: Brandon Johnson, athlete. 

The holiday season is also kind of like going to war. Angry drivers that you have to dodge around, not knowing if they are going to explode in a fit of road rage.

Ambushes by relatives you haven’t seen since last year with questions like; why aren’t you married, when are you going to get a real job, is that really how you do your hair now, when are you going to shave that beard off. Then there is the strategic plan you need to come up with for the Christmas shopping.

You need to consider such things as; what targets are you going to hit first, how many hostiles you are likely to encounter, what’s your extraction plan, what will you do if your first location is a bust, and what the quickest route back to the safe zone is.

Ahh aren’t the holiday’s fun!


muscular man performing bicep curl with ez bar loaded with presents


Between the 8 holiday dinners, the shopping, the cutting and decorating of the Christmas tree, putting lights up on the house, wrapping presents, and all the other things Santa’s little helper has to take care of, it is easy to let our gym time and meal prepping go the way of last week’s leftovers; down the garbage.

Let’s face it, between Thanksgiving and new years we start to resemble the mashed potatoes more than the turkey. We get all soft and lumpy, and like the potatoes, we don’t really have much of a shape. We might as well pour some gravy on ourselves and invite the neighbors over to laugh at us.

So how do we survive the holiday battle of the bulge, keep our hard-earned gains, and not to mention our SANITY during the busiest and most stressful time of the year. If you’re like me your workouts are what keep you from drop kicking someone else’s kid into the Christmas tree display at your local department store.

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to make it through the most magical time of the year without packing on the equivalent of a Thanksgiving turkey to your mid-section.


Tip #1- Eat smart.

Look you don’t want to be the guy that avoids holiday parties or shows up with his own food in a Tupperware container – no one likes that guy at a party, trust me. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt to prove it.

Eat smart when you go out and go to parties. Usually there are plenty of protein sources on hand; turkey, ham, duck, game hen, etc. Load up your plate on protein, scrounge for some veggies, and skip the mashed potatoes and stuffing so you can indulge in a piece of pie.


Tip #2 – If you know you have a holiday party that day, plan your other meals accordingly.

If you are tracking your macros, do an estimation meal of what you think you are likely to eat at the party, and then subtract it from your daily macro amounts. This way you make sure you save enough throughout your day to be able to indulge a little.

If you don’t track macros, the same principle applies. Eat lighter that day so you have the calories you can still consume at your social event.


muscular man in santa suit performing standing shoulder press


Tip #3 – Keep up with your weekly meal prepping.

Just think of how many meals you can make with the leftover turkey that grandma sent you home with!


Tip #4- Maximize your time in the gym.

There is a good chance your 5 or 6 days per week gym routine is going to get cut down to 3 or 4 days per week. Don’t stress it; you’re already under enough stress.

As you know high stress leads to high cortisone levels which won’t help us when we are trying to avoid having to punch a new hole into our belts. Make the most out of the time you can get to the gym. Do supersets and circuit training as often as you can. Skip arm day, and opt for full body workouts.

Pick compound multi-joint movements over single joint isolation lifts. Throw in 10 minutes of HIIT at the end of your workout, and call it a win!


Tip #5- Drink plenty of water.

We tend to not drink enough water as we should during the winter months. Join the jug nation and carry the 1-gallon jug with you. Yes, you can be that guy.


Holiday ‘punish yourself for eating that second helping of pumpkin pie’ workout

Deadlifts: 5 x10
Superset with
Overhead presses: 5×10
Bench press: 5×10
Superset with
Bent over rows: 5×10
Dips: 5×10
Superset with
Pull-ups: 5×10
Finisher: no rest between movements.
24 squats
24 alternating lunges
24 squat jumps
24 alternating lunge jumps


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