Holiday Survival Guide

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At RVA Performance Training, we take pride in the fact that we don’t give in to many of the holiday gym stereotypes. We have higher and more consistent attendance throughout the year, don’t see the typical slump during the holidays, and we don’t have the crazy New Year’s resolution gym rush quite like the other gyms.

The fact is, joining us is a commitment. There’s no option to “join for $1” and sign up for a month to month membership. We expect our members to dedicate themselves to their fitness and well-being for the long term, and we will do whatever we need to on our end to see that through.

Despite the above, it doesn’t mean that the holidays aren’t a challenge – it’s just that our community has self-selected an incredible group of people. But we’d like to make things a little easier for our members, friends, and anyone who looks to us as a resource.

The guide below includes some ways to tackle holiday eating, workouts while you’re on the road or entertaining in-laws, and whatever else may come your way.

Read through and consider some ways to come out of the holidays a step ahead, rather than falling behind.

Jake Rowell


Adapted from “The Biz” Holiday Resource Guide




It’s that time of year again, the 6 week period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day during which your time and focus are split so many different ways that it’s difficult to maintain focus in your training and eating.


How can you get through the holidays without just writing it off and waiting until next year? It starts with a balanced approach to your training during this time.

  1. Give yourself a break. Literally. Identify a period between Thanksgiving and New Years that you are going to take a break from training and nutrition. This could be a few days, but it could also be a couple weeks. It depends on what YOU need as an athlete (and human being). Now to make this effective, it means that during the rest of the holiday season you need to be as committed as ever to your diet and training.
  2. Consistency. Come up with a workout or activity that you can do on those days when normal training just isn’t going to happen. Something you like doing that takes minimal effort to follow through on. Use this to maintain your activity even when it would otherwise be challenging. Here are some ideas: run, stretch, mobilize, burpees, push-ups/sit-ups/squats. Once you’ve got the movement(s), pick a time domain and/or a rep scheme. Write it down. Here are the steps to take to do this:
    1. Choose 1, 2 or 3 movements (ex. Run, push-ups)
    1. Decide how much time you have (10, 15, 20 min)
    1. Pick either “for time” or “as many rounds in x min” format
    1. Decide a distance or reps for each movement
    1. 3, 2, 1… GO!
    1. Use the workout suggestions in the 2nd half of this to make it a “no-brainer” for yourself. All are designed to be fast and effective, take no time to get started because they don’t require driving anywhere. You could even do with another person to make it a bit more challenging.
  3. Get family and friends involved. Go on a long walk, hike, or any other outdoor activity. Get someone to complete an at-home workout with you. I know, it’s hard to consider “fun” activities like these actual workouts but they are!!  Relax. Enjoy. Have fun!


The other half (or more) of the equation is the food choices you make over the holidays. This is a notoriously difficult time to eat in a balanced way. There’s so much awesome food around, in huge quantities. And of course, there’s alcohol and other drinks: beer, wine, drinks, eggnog, holiday coffee drinks, etc. Here are some suggestions for dealing with food over the holidays:

  1. Again, give yourself a break. Identify one event every week over this period that you’ll let yourself go to and enjoy… Put NO limits on yourself for this event. The goal is not to see how much you can eat or get blackout drunk in front of your SO’s parents but to give yourself a time-out from your normal disciplined eating. Remember that for this to work effectively, you’ve got to keep yourself on track during all the other meals and events you’re attending that week.
  2. Pick ONE vice that you’re going to allow yourself to have over the holidays. Set your weekly limit and then decide how you’re going to allocate it over the course of the week. It should feel slightly challenging. For instance, one glass of wine every day would NOT be much of a limit (unless you regularly have 2 glasses per day), however, 3 glasses per week might work.
  3. Big dinners – while I wouldn’t say you have to RSVP ‘no’ just to maintain your diet, it is a very good idea to go in with a plan. Don’t attend a holiday dinner hungry. Eat normally all day prior to dinner, and then eat a healthy snack just before you go. It won’t guarantee that you won’t overeat, but at least it will reduce your chances of stuffing yourself.
  4. Focus on what you WILL have, more than what you WON’T. Set some basics for what you’ll consume each day. Simple (but not always easy) things like:
    • Eat a lean protein source at every meal
    • Consume a full serving of vegetables at 2 meals per day
    • Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day


Here’s the deal. The ideas above are just that, ideas. You could make a case for them ALL ‘sounding good’, especially when just sitting here reading them. Turning any of them into action is quite another story and it’s the other piece of the puzzle. That said, prior to the start of this holiday period, read through these ideas and choose 1 from each category (Training / Nutrition) that you’re willing to be committed to.




All of these workouts will be able to be accomplished in about 20 minutes (no time excuses) and require no equipment.

The way it’s broken down is the workout is named, the standards are explained, and, if you need to modify or scale, there are suggestions for that as well.

Please warm up as needed prior to all activities for at least 10 minutes. Some of these workouts may be too challenging to complete so listen to your body and stop where you need to.

Workout #1: Max Effort Push-ups.

Breakdown: Complete as many push-ups as possible in one unbroken set. The moment any part of your body other than your hands and feet rest on the ground the set is over. Record your “score” of push-ups competed.

Standards: Chest touches the ground (ideally) before stomach, arms locked out at the top. See the glossary for more details.

Scale: Perform push-ups with hands on a raised object (box or similar).

Make it more challenging: Pick a person to go head-to-head and see who lasts longer. Do three times, resting exactly 2 minutes between sets.

Workout #2: 400 walking lunges.

Breakdown: Use a stopwatch or some way to time yourself. Manage your work to finish as quickly, with good form, as possible. Remember to keep your shoulders above your hips when lunging. Keeping count may be difficult.

Standards: Back knee touches the ground every rep.

Scale: Do 300, 200, or 100.

Make it more challenging: Do as many lunges without a rest. If you get 400, give yourself a gold star.

Workout #3: Burpee Ladder.

Breakdown: Do 1 burpee the 1st minute, 2 the 2nd minute, 3 the third, until you can no longer perform that number in that minute. Your score is how far you get in minutes. For example, if you get to 13 minutes and can’t go any further, that’s your score.

Standards: Chest touches the floor, jump in place to finish.

Scale: Do every-other minute.

Make it more challenging: Jump over an object, after each rep, 12 inches in height or jump to have your hands touch something 1 foot above your standing reach with arms extended.

Workout #4: Run for 10 minutes then turn around and go home.

Breakdown: Try to go as far as possible in 10 minutes in one direction (a mile, mile and ½ or more) then go back.

Standards: One foot in front of the other.

Scale: Run/walk as needed.

Make it more friendly: Invite someone to run with you.

Workout #5: 10 rounds of a 30-second hold of handstands, V- up, squat.

Breakdown: Using continuously running clock, do 30 seconds in a handstand hold, then 30 seconds in a V-up, then 30 seconds in a squat. Attempt to do all 30 seconds unbroken and transition as quickly as possible from one movement to the next. Use something to keep track of where you are, like a piece of paper and a pen. This workout will take 15 minutes total to accomplish.

Standards: Handstands – inverted with feet against the wall, hands firmly planted on the ground just outside shoulder width. V-ups – sitting on the ground, balanced on your butt (legs extended and off the ground, the upper body is also off the ground) with your midsection tight. Squat – crease of hips must be below the level of knees.

Scale: Handstands – invert yourself as much as possible. This could be a yoga headstand hold or a steep incline push-up position. V-ups – engage your midsection, this could be done with legs extended and arms reaching up as far as possible forcing your shoulder blades off the ground. Squat – if you’re limited by flexibility squat to a chair with your butt barely touching.

Make it more challenging: Start and stop the clock at each movement to get a full: 30 seconds of work with the only “rest” is the time it takes to move to the next movement.

Workout #6: 200 tuck jumps     

Breakdown: Think about being springy like a pogo stick, bounding off the ball of the foot, then tucking your knees up at the top of the movement.

Standards: Feet leave the ground at the same time. When in the air, both knees must rise above the hips.

Scale: do 100 or 50 reps.

Make it more challenging: Have a friend keep count and use their extended arm as a height target above your sternum forcing you to touch his hand with your knees with each tuck jump to count.

Workout #7: PT Test – max push-up, max sit up, 1-mile run.

Breakdown: Recording each effort, one attempt with unbroken push-ups and sit-ups. Rest exactly 1 minute between movements. Time yourself on the run.

Standards: Same as above for push-ups. Sit-ups – see the glossary. Sit-ups are done when you stop the rhythm and rest on the ground between reps

Scale: Push-ups from knees, sit-ups could be 10-inch straight leg raises from the prone position and run ½ mile.

Make it more challenging: No rest between movements.

Workout #8: 200 squats for time.

Breakdown: Start the clock and knock out 200 squats. Rest as needed but the clock still runs.

Standards: The crease of your hip must go below parallel at the bottom of the squat and when standing the hips must be fully open.

Scale: 100 squats (or less as needed!).

Make it more challenging: Try not to stop until you get past 50 and take breaks only a total of 3 times before reaching 200.

Workout #9: Stretch.

Breakdown: Use YouTube to watch Yoga or stretching videos.

Standards: Stretch the entire body for a total of 20 minutes.

Scale: none.

Make it more flexible: Get a free trial from ROMWOD or The Ready State and follow along.

Workout #10: 1.5 mile run + burpees

Breakdown: With a continuously running clock, run ½ mile, stop and perform 20 burpees. Do these 3 times. Record for the total time.

Standards: 1.5 miles. See the glossary for burpees.

Scale: Just do the run. shorten the run as needed.

Make it more challenging: Double the burpees (40 total) to be done at each ½ mile.