How to Maximize Gainz In The Gym This Holiday Season

‘Tis the season for eating, drinking, and then eating and drinking some more. I’m talking of course about the holidays.

Every year, from now until January 1st we gather together to enjoy lavish meals with our families, drinks with friends and coworkers, and all the other goodness the holidays have to offer.

But if you’re someone who is trying to lose weight, the holidays can be a nightmare. Those cookies look good? Sorry, I’m cutting. Want an extra helping of stuffing? No thanks, it’s a low-carb day.

The holidays are a time of extra yummy goodness. It’s unavoidable. But it doesn’t need to be a time of extra fat gain too. By following the workouts below, you can make sure all those extra calories go towards maintaining and building muscle, and are not stored as fat.

Extra Calories = Gainzzz

There are a few key factors when it comes to building muscle: an energy surplus, adequate protein, training volume, and time under tension (TUT).

We already have the energy surplus covered. All the extra holiday food is going to give us plenty of energy to draw from.

Next is protein. Protein contains amino acids, the building blocks of muscle. If you’re not consuming adequate protein, it’s going to be almost impossible to make gainz. Aim for 1.0-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day. Help yourself to extra holiday turkey, ham, or slam protein shakes because you will need protein to grow, bro.

Now that we have the diet covered, we have to worry about training, specifically volume and time under tension. Volume can be defined as weight x sets x reps. So for instance, if you were doing a bench press at 225 pounds for 5 sets of 5 reps, your volume for that workout would be 5,625 pounds (225 x 5 x 5).

With the workouts I am recommending, we are going to be increasing your total workout volume by adding sets to the end of each workout, thus increasing your total volume.

Lastly, we need to worry about time under tension. TUT is defined as the amount of time you spend lifting a weight.

Let’s use the bench press as an example again. Say it takes you one second to lower the weight, and one second to raise the weight, with a zero second pause at the top and bottom. The total TUT for one rep would be two seconds. Over the course of 5 reps, your TUT would be 10 seconds. Over those 5 sets, your TUT would be 50 seconds.

In order to utilize the extra energy to build and repair the muscle, we need to increase the TUT. We do this by assigning a tempo to each rep, which may look something like ‘3-1-2-0’. The first number indicates how long it should take to lower the weight, while the third number indicates how long it should take you to lift the weight. The second and fourth numbers tell you how long to pause between each movement.

So, taking the bench press example again, with a 3-1-2-0 tempo, each rep would take you 6 seconds to complete. This translates to 30 seconds across the entire set and two and a half minutes of TUT across the entire workout.

Holiday Gainz Workouts

Like I mentioned, these workouts are meant to be added to your existing training plan. Throw them in after a training session or on a separate off day. Perform each workout once per week.

Chest Workout

A. Flat Dumbbell Bench Press 3×12 (3-1-2-0). Rest 60 seconds between sets.

B. Bent-Arm Dumbbell Pullover 4×10 (3-0-1-0). Rest 75 seconds between sets.

C. Decline Push-Up 3×10 (3 seconds down, explode up). Rest 60 seconds between sets.

Back Workout

A. Incline Dumbbell Row 4×12 (2-1-1-0). Rest 60 seconds between sets.

B. Bodyweight Inverted Row 3×15 (2-0-1-0). Rest 90 seconds between sets.

C. Lat Pulldown 3×12 (3-0-2-0). Rest 60 seconds between sets.


Shoulder Workout

A. Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press 3×10 (3-0-1-0). Rest 60 seconds between sets.

B. One-Arm Dumbbell Upright Row 5×8 per arm (3-1-1-0). No rest between arms, 60 seconds rest between sets.

C. Face Pulls 3×15 (2-1-1-0). Rest 60 seconds between sets.


Arm Workout

A1. Barbell Curls 4×8 (3-0-1-0). Rest 30 seconds and proceed to A2.

A2. Dumbbell Overhead Tricep Extension 4×8 (2-0-1-0). Rest 60 seconds and repeat the circuit.

B1. 90/90 Bicep Curls 3×30. Grab a pair of dumbbells and perform 10 reps of bicep curls with one arm while holding the other arm at 90 degree angle at the elbow (basically the halfway point of a curl). Alternate between arms performing 10 reps at a time until you have completed 30 reps per arm. Go light here because this will become pretty difficult towards the end. Rest 60 seconds and proceed to B2.

B2. Diamond Push-Ups 2xAMRAP (2 seconds down, explode up). Rest 60 seconds and repeat the circuit.

Utilize these workouts over the next few weeks to maximize your holiday gainz. Happy lifting bros!