It's easy to derail your training over the holidays. Here's how to stay on track.
Somewhere between the parties, holiday shopping excursions, tree trimming, feast feasting, family hosting, New Year's parties—oh, and that thing called work, you may find yourself glancing longingly at your bike, wondering if you’ll ever find a moment during the holiday season to steal away for a ride. You may fret that all the fitness gains you made and body fat you shed this season will go the way of leftover eggnog: down the drain.
Easy. Everyone gets a little nuts during the holidays. You may not be able to get on your bike as much as you’d like between now and 2016, but with a little creative planning, you can maintain a consistent riding schedule that will keep you cheerfully rolling right through the holidays and ready for the riding season ahead. Here’s how.
Set up your indoor salvation station. Find a corner of the house where you can have your rollers or bike trainer set up and ready to rock, complete with iPod, TV, entertainment of choice, fan, heart rate monitor, towel and anything else you like to have on hand for an indoor training session. Lay out a pair of bibs and your shoes and slip into them Superman-style when you have 30 to 60 minutes to spare (early morning rides before the troops rally work best). Within an hour, you can be on and off your bike with a great workout in between.
Make it a HIIT sesson. Whether you’re inside or out, when time is short, make every second count with some intervals. After a warm up, try Tabatas (20 seconds full gas, 10 seconds rest, 8 times; 2 to 3 sets) or 2 to 3 sets of 40/20s (40 seconds on, followed by 20 seconds rest). Once or twice a week is all you need (and no more).
Do the Core Four. No time for even a short ride? You absolutely have 10 to 15 minutes for these full-body strength-training moves. Do squats, bird dogs, side crank planks, and push ups (one minute each), one after another with no rest. Repeat the circuit two to three times.
Squat: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and toes pointed forward. Push your butt and hips back as if you were sitting in a chair and lower down as far as possible while keeping your weight on your heels and extending your arms overhead. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Bird Dog: Kneel on your hands and knees. Keep your back straight and your head and neck in line with your back. Extend your right arm and left leg, bringing them up and in line with your back, or slightly higher than your trunk, if possible. Your fingers and toes should both be pointed. Pause, squeezing your glutes and back muscles to maintain balance. Return to the starting position, and repeat to the opposite side. Alternate for a full set on each side.
Side Crank Planks: Lie on your left side with your legs extended and feet stacked. Prop your upper body up on your left elbow and forearm. Raise your hips until your body forms a straight line from your ankles to your shoulders. Bend your top (non-supporting) arm and put that hand behind your head, elbow pointed toward the ceiling. Keeping hips stacked, slowly rotate your torso, bringing your elbow toward the floor. Rotate to start. Repeat for 30 seconds. Then switch sides.
Push Ups: Assume a classic push-up position, legs and arms extended and hands beneath your shoulders. Bend arms and lower chest until upper arms are parallel to the floor. Push up back to start. Repeat.
Meet them there. Is your family heading to a holiday gathering somewhere relatively close-by? Toss a change of clothes in the car, kit up, and ride over while they drive. You’ll squeeze in a nice ride and feel better about sampling the cookies and finger foods when you get there.
Embrace creative cross-training. Yes you’re a cyclist. No there’s nothing quite like your bike. But there are many ways to get a little exercise and maintain fitness. Skip the mall and go shopping in the big city for a day (sans subway, cabs, and uber). Build a giant snowman with your kids. Go sledding, ice skating, or for a nice snowy hike.
Keep it moving. You’re bound to find yourself captive at the in-laws', in the airport, or entertaining at your own house at some point. That doesn’t mean you have to put yourself in a holding pattern of drinking beer and eating chips all day. Volunteer to help with chopping and peeling in the kitchen; take on a few household duties like dishes and laundry; putter around. Every bit of activity counts and keeps you from slipping into too much sedentary slothdom—but allow yourself a little bit of that, too. After all, it is the holidays. A little indulgence is a-okay, especially when you’re otherwise on track.
Thanks to Rodale for the content.