It’s been estimated that the average American male between the ages of 25 and 55 puts on nearly five to ten pounds every year during the holiday season. While this sobering statistic may seem extreme, it is hardly an exaggeration when you think of the extra parties, drinking, and eating that goes on at yuletide. Sure, it’s great to make merry, but don’t let the extra commitments and excitement rob you of those very important workouts. 

Here are some practical pointers to help you stick to your fitness goals and stay in the gym despite the daunting temptations ahead.

Schedule your workouts and settle for no compromises!  Worried that you won’t have time to hit the gym? Consider shifting your training.  Try weights and cardio first thing in the morning. You may have to get up earlier, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve jumpstarted your metabolism and burned off some serious calories.

Speed up your workouts and challenge yourself.  Train two body parts with a continuous superset technique. For example, train chest and back with alternating sets. Pair dumbbell flat bench presses with dumbbell bent-over rows for three to four sets. Work at one station with the same weight if you can, so as not to waste time changing weights. 

Pump up the intensity. You may not have a full hour to train, but you can have a dynamite workout in 20-30 minutes. The key here is to use a challenging weight and perform more reps and sets in rapid succession. Take less rest between sets. Move from station to station quickly and avoid distractions.  

If you can’t beat them, join them.  Take the holiday season off to rest and regroup. Many body builders and professional athletes follow a tough five months-on, one month-off routine. One of the best ways to build muscles is to give them a chance to recover and grow, but remember, stay active and eat wisely. 

Training on the road is not a problem.  A major difficulty during the holidays and even at other times of the year, when you’re on the road, is a lack of access to a gym. Most hotels have at least some semblance of a fitness center. Many gym chains allow you to take a travel pass and train for free while you’re out of town. If not, you can often purchase a day pass for $20-$30. 

Be creative and spontaneous. If you’re on the road and you can’t get to the gym, you can still do crunches, lunges and leg lifts for the abs and butt. Try using your own body weight to do push ups and chair dips for chest and tri’s. Front and lateral raises for shoulders can be done with objects in your hotel room. Use the stairs when traveling and sightseeing. The holidays are not just about food and drinking, they’re also about staying active and having fun!