In the midst of the holiday parade filled with treats, alcohol, and desserts, your fitness goals can be as easy to shelve as your aunt's leftover fruitcake.
To me, that's a missed opportunity to get an early start on 2015 gains.
I believe in building momentum to bring about fruitful efforts. That's why the "black hole" week between Christmas and New Year's is the perfect time to generate mad speed and come into the new year like a wrecking ball. (God bless you, Miley).
With that in mind, prepare yourself for my seven-day program to enter 2015 with a sharpened body and mind. Ready yourself and hit the ground running come this New Year!
Get With The Program
During this short-but-sweet program, you'll find a motivational exercise for each day that will help you focus your intentions and empower you to tackle your resolutions. Do this workout for this one week only, since it's very intense.
Each day, the first exercise is a diagnostic workout that lets you assess your 2014 strength gains. For each benchmark move, you'll do 3 warm-up sets to build up to a weight at which you can do exactly 7 reps—no more, no less. (For the record, I am not a believer in the 1-rep max concept; 7 reps is a more realistic goal when done with a heavy weight that can be moved safely and effectively.)
Perform your diagnostic fourth set with gusto and write down your results. Do this for each test and you'll have your benchmarks to measure against in 6 months and again at the end of the year!
Tip of the day: Focus on perfecting your form. Training books and Bodybuilding.com's Exercise Database are great resources for helping you hone your form. One helpful thing to do is to take video of yourself performing certain exercises. You'd be surprised by what you'll catch on video.
The key is to be objective and open to suggestions from friends and coaches. They will only make you a better athlete.
Tip of the day: Find a mentor. Whether that mentor is an online coach or someone who knows his stuff on YouTube, you need a mentor who can constantly kick your butt, motivation-wise. If you're having trouble finding someone, think about who you think has the best chest (or whatever) around.
Once you've identified that person, sign up for their newsletter, find out how they developed their chest, and emulate their programming. Check in with that person regularly to see where you can make changes or improvements to your own training. No one knows everything, and there is always room to learn something new!
Tip of the day: Identify the obstacles that stand in the way of you and your goals. This will be different for everyone. It could be as simple as getting up a half hour earlier to do your cardio, or as complicated as getting rid of negative people in your life. So look in the mirror, call yourself out on what is holding you back, and take control of it.
Tip of the day: Make SMART goals.
Goals are tricky because they require some reflection and editing. Do it the SMART way:
Specific Measurable Attainable Relative Time-bound
For instance, saying, "I will lose weight" is too broad and vague to be attainable. Instead saying, "In 2015, I will add 50 pounds to my squat in 6 months" follows the SMART criteria and is much more attainable. You're more likely to hit those goals when they are well-defined.
Tip of the day: Make a budget for your fitness goals. Gym memberships, workout clothing, food, and supplements—the expenses associated with fitness can be substantial. Making the time to budget will help you succeed in 2015. Take into account your other expenses, as well as your income, and then calculate all of your fitness-related expenses.
This way, you can see how you can budget those items each month without "overtraining" your credit card. You may find that things such as new shoes can wait until later, while items such as supplements and food are necessary immediately.
Tip of the day: Take the budget you created yesterday and go grocery shopping! Make a list and purchase your groceries, supplements, and any other equipment for the coming week. A slow cooker is on my own list, as well as a good spatula, and of course, plenty of my favorite MET-Rx supplements. Other things to consider buying: Tupperware, chalk, socks, and new tunes for motivation.
Tip of the day: Learn to cook one thing. No one is Betty Crocker right out of the gate, but you'll definitely need to cook a lot more at home if you are serious about your 2015 goals (and I know you are).
Today let's spend the day cooking and preparing all your food for the coming week. Look up recipes that you can portion separately, and use only whole foods to fuel your body and your workouts.
I like to make large batches of chicken, steak, and rice, and parcel them out into individual packages for the week. That way, when it's time to eat, there is no guesswork or hunting around.
During this workout, you'll test your two energy systems: aerobic and anaerobic systems.
Burpees: Do as many full burpees as you can in 77 seconds. This means the crouch, drop, push-up, a hop onto your feet and the final leap in one fluid movement. No cheating or half-assing it. Then, write down your results.
Running: Run as far as you can in 7 minutes, but pace yourself and be smart. You want to go as far as you can without tripping and falling off the treadmill. Then, write down your results.
And you're done with this program! Use this to generate momentum and propel you into 2015 with a bang, then resume your regularly scheduled programming after January 1.
See how far you've come again by the end of 2015 and thank me later.
"That's What She Said!"
We caught up with fellow MET-Rx athlete Justine Moore to find out what's in store for her in 2015!
Q. What is your resolution this year?
I spent the past seven months recovering from adrenal fatigue, so I am thankful to be able to train again! My resolution is to get back into a routine, to increase my strength, and lose 3-4 percent body fat.
Any motivational tips to get people into the gym during the week between Christmas and New Year's?
I used to be very all-or-nothing when it came to fitness. I thought if I was going to allow myself a few cheat meals, they might as well be cheat days, and that'd I'd get back to the gym later.
Now I strive for balance and consistency, even if it's on a holiday or a vacation. I always keep my fitness goals in mind and make the most of each day because it all adds up. Several small steps in the right direction make for a lot less work in the long run.
What kind of workouts do you do during this time to kick-start the coming year?
Around the holidays, my goal is to burn as many calories and boost my metabolism as much as possible through intense, efficient workouts. I maximize my gym time with circuit training or supersets, or by doing cardio intervals between my strength moves.
I wear a heart rate monitor and aim for 65-85 percent of my max HR for the duration of my session. I also like to lift heavier than usual with lots of compound moves to rev my metabolism and put those extra holiday carbs to work!
What kind of supplements do you recommend for 2015?
My year-round supplement staples include multivitamins, whey protein, BCAAs, L-glutamine powder, fish oil, and vitamin D. In 2015, I will be adding CLA and L-carnitine to my stack to help me lose body fat and regain my strength.