There's nothing quite like enjoying a great meal with friends and family. Good food and good conversation are part of what makes the holidays so special, and why we look forward to them each year. Because family and food go so well together, it can be devastating to miss out and exchange stuffing and pumpkin pie for a plate of broccoli and chicken breast.
That's why the pros at MET-Rx go into the holidays with a plan. They use those extra calories to make huge gains and come into the New Year even better. Here's how IFBB Figure champ Nicole Wilkins, men's physique pro Jason Poston, and NPC bikini starlet Justine Moore work out to make those extra calories count!
Follow their hardcore workouts so you can enjoy the holidays with the satisfaction of knowing that you're making progress toward your goals!
Nicole Wilkins: IFBB Figure competitor, four-time Figure Olympia champion
Favorite Indulgences: Cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.
Nicole Wilkins loves to relax during the holidays and spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family, but she doesn't rest long. "I take those days off to spend with family and friends," she says, "but the next day I do my best to get to the gym because I feel I get the most benefits from those cheat calories that day. I use that extra energy to fuel my training and build my body!"
To get the most from those extra calories, Nicole chooses a body part she wants to improve, and then she hits it hard. "I like to train in the morning," she adds, "so I can get it done and have the rest of the day to enjoy myself. I'll also do some HIIT cardio after my strength training, but I really want those calories to go into building my muscles."
Nicole's "Make Your Cheat-Meal Matter" Workouts
Jason Poston: IFBB Physique competitor, winner of the 2014 Europa Phoenix, 2014 New York Pro, and 2014 Europa Dallas
Favorite Indulgences: Pancakes, turkey with stuffing and gravy, and grandma's cranberry salad.
"During the holidays I do enjoy myself, but I consequently work even harder in the gym to use all that food," says Poston. "Every morning I get up and do at least 30-45 minutes of cardio on an empty stomach. I like to take a long walk or run outside with my grandparents' dogs."
Because he's constantly eating, Jason likes to hit the gym two or even three times each day to burn off what he eats. "Don't get me wrong," he says, "I love the extra work! I'll take any chance to get more fuel in the off-season, then put it toward building size."
Because Poston is diabetic and insulin-dependent, his constant gym visits are necessary to burn calories and keep his blood sugar under control.
"For each workout, I train a different body part to isolate, so I don't overtrain anything. After five minutes of mobility and flexibility work, I train a single part with super-intense, heavy, explosive movements. My workouts are 100 percent velocity weightlifting," says Poston.
"At the end of each session, I do 10-15 minutes of HIIT. I like to punch a heavy bag as hard and fast as I can for 15 seconds, then walk and rest for 45 seconds. I always follow up my intense workouts with lots of stretching and mobility."
Jason's "Turn Evil Into Good" Workouts
Justine Moore: NPC Bikini competitor
Favorite Indulgences: Hot cocoa, Christmas cookies, eggnog, and all kinds of carbs!
"Holidays are a vacation," says Justine Moore. "You're supposed to enjoy life. Food is a big part of that. I like to have holiday treats and cocktails, but there is a way to do it so I don't totally wreak havoc on the work I've put in all year. So if I know I'm going to indulge, I have to earn it in the gym beforehand."
Moore is a big fan of combining strength moves and cardio to fire up her metabolism and burn a ton of calories. "I'll choose a cardio interval, a lower-body move, an upper-body move, and a core move, and then arrange them in a circuit. I do all four exercises back-to-back and then rest one minute. I repeat that circuit three or four times," says Justine.
"If you do three or four circuits like that, you've done a 45-minute, total-body [workout] and cardio workout in one! You're in and out of the gym in an hour and you can enjoy the rest of your day with family and friends."