The gym is shut, the weather is cold, and your family is lounging about the house watching their favourite Christmas films and TV box sets.
It is very easy to skip the gym and see this as a recovery period. However, we need to keep working towards our goals in the new year, so training is still important.
In this article, Strength and Conditioning coach Danny Wilson offers advice on how to keep fit over Christmas.
Up the volume!
During the festive period, athletes could become under active – either sitting at home or not hitting the gym as frequently. This can cause an athlete to lose muscle mass and strength.
To maintain or increase muscle mass, many coaches implement high volume working sets to create mechanical tension, muscle damage and metabolic stress. This is an ideal time to put in high volumes as the boxers will need to work harder in each session, plus they can afford to be sore the next day.
However, this means that the intensity (weight load) will decrease, which may result in decreased strength. We want to give our boxers the best possible chance to be hitting the big numbers when they return to the gym in January – this means increased volume, with high intensity…. A great method for Boxers could be…
Cluster training is where a set is broken up into multiple blocks, allowing the athlete to have recovery periods in between reps.
Example: 4 reps, rest 20 seconds, 4 reps = 1 set
Traditional Back Squat Set @ 8RM = 90kg x 8 reps = 720 kg
Cluster Set Back Squat @ 6RM = 100kg x 4 reps (pause 20s) x 4 reps = 800 kg
Resistance x Reps = Volume Load
Traditional Back Squat Set @ 8RM = 720 x 4 sets = 2880kg
Cluster Set Back Squat @ 6RM = 800 x 4 sets = 3200 kg
In the example shown above, it is clear that the inter-set rest periods during cluster training can help raise the volume load and intensity of the exercise, making this method an excellent way to maintain muscle mass over Christmas.
Cluster training can be a good way to shock the body under increased loads to develop muscular hypertrophy whilst maintaining strength.
The gym might be shut this Christmas…. what should I do?
If your gym is shut during the holidays, it might be quite hard for you to achieve the appropriate volume and intensity required to maintain muscle mass and strength.
Not to fear, we have an alternative. If you are working out at home, you should perform bodyweight exercises at a slower tempo. This is called Tempo Training.
Tempo training can increase the time under tension, this increases the signalling pathways for muscle protein synthesis. The function of these pathways are vital for muscular hypertrophy, helping you maintain muscle mass without shifting the big weights.
Give it a go: Perform bodyweight squats, split squats and press ups at a tempo of 4 seconds down, 4 seconds up.
Keep your hips and shoulders loose
If you’re anything like me, you will be planning to kick back and relax over the next two weeks. This is fine, but this might have an affect on your mobility.
Due to the extended time sitting down, your shoulders and hips may become a little tighter than usual. When you return to training, you want to be sharp, loose and injury free, so be sure to factor in mobility sessions every day. They are easy to do, take 10 minutes to complete and are important for you to start the year right!
Target the Core
In many of our articles, we explain the importance of core mass to developing a forceful punch. It’s role in trunk rotation and tension upon impact is integral for fast hands and a thudding blow.
Over Christmas, the reduced exposure to high loads during strength training sessions may result in reduced mass of the core. This is not ideal if we want an explosive start to the year.
A good idea may be to factor in a quick core workout to complete 4-5 times per week. Like the mobility drills, this is a quick and easy way to maintain performance.
Try out this core workout.
We would love to come up with some fancy, new ground breaking method to for Christmas conditioning.
However, our advice is pretty basic. Which is great, as it is very often that it is these methods that are the most effective.
Basically, the type of conditioning you do is dependent on your portion sizes and how much weight you need to lose.
Eating a lot + Heavy = Longer running intervals
High intensity intervals of 4-8 minutes will help increase running volume to burn off the extra calories. Furthermore, a decrease in intensity will help reduce the risk of overuse injuries.
The impact on the joints during high intensity runs can be troublesome at times, especially if you are completing the runs at a much higher body mass.
With this in mind, it might be a good idea to take the load of your joints and perform the high intensity intervals in the swimming pool or using a stationery bike in the gym.
SESSION: 4-8 minute intervals x 3-6 reps
Controlled portion sizes + The weight is OK = Normal training resumes.
There is no need to change your training plan if you haven’t gone on an eating binge and you have kept a low body weight. Professional and amateur boxers should be using a running program training towards a particular goal, so Christmas should not get in the way of that.
Try Hill Sprints
We understand that gyms are shut and maybe you want to stay close to home. Hill sprints may be a good training alternative for the Christmas period.
Yes running up hills are hard, but we always look for a purpose.
Hill sprints are a great way to develop acceleration technique as it promotes high knee drive, stride frequency and force production.
The hill also forces you to be in more of a forward lean, this is a difficult position to get in on a flat track as you need to be strong. A greater forward lean leads to a greater leg extension, therefore more force is produced.
This reduces the amount of impact on the joints whilst creating a higher demand on the lower body muscles – resulting in an increased cardio-respiratory response.
Try these hill sprint workouts…