Pre-Christmas Periodisation

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We’ve all been there before: it’s the lead up to Christmas and with your thoughts pre-occupied with parties and presents, it’s easy for your training goals to take a backseat. However, if you’re serious about your training, the pre-Christmas period can be a great opportunity to make some gains.

For most people, all they want to do over the Christmas period is to relax and spend some quality time with their families – and quite rightly so. This may result in minimal training being performed over this time. With this in mind, lots of people will take their ‘eyes off the prize’ prematurely and will coast into Christmas without training too hard. Actually, you should be doing the complete opposite! December should be a time of increased focus, rather than using an upcoming change in routine as an excuse for laziness! We’re creatures of habit and a change in routine can play havoc with training schedules, but we can avoid this with some planning and pre-Christmas periodisation.

One difference in training between elite athletes and gym goers is periodisation of training – this means planning your training in advance. Olympic athletes will generally have four years of training mapped out in advance! Periods of high intensity training will be scheduled alongside periods of active recovery and rest. Most gym goers will just try to get stronger each and every session with little thought given to planning.

Normally, periodisation is planned in advance in accordance with your training goals. However, it’s not too late for some pre-Christmas Periodisation – now is a great time to plan a short term (micro) training cycle. Here are some advantages of pushing yourself now:

Increased calories: For most, December will be a high calorie month. You can either take advantage of the additional calories by following an intense training plan…or store the extra calories as fat, which you’ll then try and lose in January.

Four weeks off: If you reduce your intensity now, thinking ‘what’s the point, Christmas is coming’, that could be over four weeks of poor training. Would you randomly take March off and not train? No – so don’t take December off either. It’ll just leave you lagging behind. Consistency is vital.

Forced recovery: With important family commitments and some gyms being closed/limited opening hours over Christmas, it’s likely to be a period of enforced rest. As such, it’s a great opportunity to train harder in the lead up to Christmas so you can use the enforced rest as a recovery period.

Over-reaching: Within sport, it is fairly common practise to train almost to the point of over-training, then allowing a period of recovery. The Christmas period is ready made for exactly that. You may feel tired come Christmas week, but come January you’ll be backer bigger and stronger than you were.

From date of publication, there is four weeks until Christmas. Try to plan your training for the next four weeks, making the fifth week (Christmas) a period of recovery/active recovery. Try to push yourself harder than usual for the next four weeks, so you can enjoy Christmas guilt-free. If you put the effort in now, your body will be recovering, repairing and growing while you’re relaxing. This will set you up nicely for January – you’ll be ready to push on, rather than playing catch up like everyone else.

A friend once said to me “put the hard work in now and the results will speak for themselves.” Employ some pre-Christmas periodisation and come January, your results will speak volumes.

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