The holidays are a busy time of year for almost everyone. Learn a practical approach to training through the holiday season via a healthy balance between time at the gym and time celebrating. 

(This article was originally published in November of 2021.)

If you’re like me, the holiday season can trigger a wide range of emotions—from stress to joy, and anxiety to gratitude. Exercise can help modulate these feelings, maintain a sense of centeredness, and avoid the “bah humbugs.” At the same time, the festive season can get incredibly busy. Keeping up with your typical training routine might add even more stress to your plate.

Here are four tips to help your holiday season training best serve you in the middle ground.

Escaping the chaos for a bit of climbing time can help ease stress levels during the holiday season—as long as you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to keep up with intense training.

1. Take a Break from Intense Training

Consider going to the gym and climbing for fun more than performance. Rather than obsessing over going as hard as possible, dial back the intensity and ramp up the volume a bit. This approach can be therapeutic and refreshing, leaving you ready to fire in the New Year.

2. Let Yourself Indulge

Don’t feel guilty about having a slice of your grandma’s famous apple pie or enjoying your favorite Christmas cookies or holiday drink! Guilt has no place in food, and the holidays are for enjoying. Stressing over the meals and treats will also add stress that isn’t helpful for training adaptations. Listen to your body to keep it feeling both happy and satisfied. It will guide you to the best balance.

3. Diversify Your Training

Add a few new exercises to your routine, like antagonist muscle training, rotator cuff exercises, yoga or flexibility training, and perhaps even running a few days per week. The variety offers you a mental break from your normal routine, helps build new motor skills, and improves muscle balance.

4. Create Some Consistency

Try to do something active every day throughout the holidays. That could even mean going for a short walk or doing some bodyweight exercises (push-ups, planking, etc) for 10 or 15 minutes. If possible, aim for two or three gym climbing sessions per week (with, as mentioned above, a focus on fun volume climbing rather than absolute difficulty).

Of course, we all have our own unique holiday obligations, travel requirements, and climbing training habits. The best holiday training approach is the one that you’re able to actually do…not just dream of doing. Some is always better than none. Consider your obligations, chat with your family members and climbing partners, and decide on your priorities.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season!

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