Jump to the routine

The Ultimate Workout to Stay Lean While Pigging Out this Thanksgiving

Follow this workout routine to stay in shape this holiday season.

Jump to the Routine
  • 4 days

  • 27

  • Yes

Man-Pulling-Roasted-Tukey-Covered-in-Bacon-In-Oven
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock
Man-Pulling-Roasted-Tukey-Covered-in-Bacon-In-Oven
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Thanksgiving can be a particularly challenging time of the year for your typical gym rat; not only do you have to listen to your uncle’s high school football stories for the umpteenth time, but there is also the issue of the over-abundance of delicious food everywhere. Combined with shorter gym hours and colder temperatures (at least for us unlucky souls living in such areas), you have a recipe for disaster—aka weight gain. What is to be done?

Traditionally, the fitness community has handled Thanksgiving one of two ways: 

  1. you can be the guy sitting at the table eating out of Tupperware, being proud for being so hardcore (when in reality it’s just plain awkward
  2. you overeat dramatically on Thursday, feel bad on Friday, starve yourself and perform two straight hours of fasted cardio.

Not only does option two sound horrible, it will invariably make you fatter, as it throws your body into binge eating/starvation mode. But what if I told you that there was a third way where you could eat reasonably well while getting leaner and bigger? Sounds good? Read on.

The program I laid out is a straightforward carb depletion/loading scheme with an anabolic peak on Friday to regain any muscle volume lost during the cutting days. 

  • You’ll deplete your body of all glycogen by training it twice over the course of four days, then start refilling on Wednesday. Given that your body will be thoroughly depleted, the extra calories will not get stored as fat (please note: you’ll need to return to regular eating by Friday!)
  • On Friday, once you wake up from your food coma, you should have plenty of energy to get in a monster workout and reap the anabolic benefits of the carb load.

Sunday – Tuesday

Keep your diet as clean as can be by basically eating only veggies and lean proteins. Ideally, you’ll want to go for a large deficit here. Think about consuming only 50% of your maintenance calories. Yes, it’ll be tough but since it is only for 3 days, deal with it.

Wednesday

Keep the same diet until the workout, and then eat 30g of carbs along with 20-30g of protein about 30 minutes before your workout.

The workout itself can be split up with a.m. and p.m. sessions or done as one block. If you split the workout into two sessions, the low-carb/low-calorie phase will continue until the p.m. workout.

Immediately following the workout, you’ll start the carb load. In terms of total amounts, think along the lines of 5g of carbs per pound of bodyweight. If you are using any type of fat burner, stop using it until Friday, as it will interfere with the carb load.

Thursday

Enjoy your family as much as they’ll let you, and eat to your little heart’s content.  Be nice to your uncle, nothing happened in his life since he won the Tumbleweed Cup in 1985!!

Friday

Go back to your regular diet, but make sure to eat 2 meals before you hit the gym. If you want to add 200-400mg of caffeine to boost performance, that would be fine as well. As for the workout itself, you have two choices:

  • Train your weakest body part, but double your regular volume
  • Try the workout below. (highly recommended)

I broke down this workout into one metabolic drop-set per muscle. The concept is as follows: you start with the hardest exercise and drop down in difficulty as you fatigue.

You want to make sure that you get a good warm-up; spend at least 10 minutes warming up to get your head into the game. Leave the cell phone in the locker room.

Thanksgiving Turkey

5 Ways to Lose Weight After the Holidays

Try these tips to stay lean throughout the holiday season.

Read article

 

Routine

Want a copy on the go?
Print

Sunday

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 1 of 27

Leg Press

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
20
Rest
--
Exercise 2 of 27

Machine Leg Curl

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
--
Spend 6 sec on the negative phase.
Exercise 3 of 27

Sumo Squat

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
5
Reps
5
Rest
--
Exercise 5 of 27

General Pullup

Equipment
Pullup Bar
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
--
Exercise 6 of 27

Barbell Biceps Curl

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 7 of 27

Bodyweight Dip

Equipment
Dip Station
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
--
Exercise 8 of 27

Triceps Pressdown

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, V-Handle Attachment
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--

Monday

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 9 of 27

General Pushup

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 10 of 27

Single-Arm Cable Row

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, D-Handle Attachment
Sets
4
Reps
8*
Rest
--
*Per arm
Exercise 11 of 27

Dumbbell Row

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 12 of 27

Dumbbell Flye

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Keep a deep bend in your elbows for maximal stretch in your chest.
Exercise 13 of 27

Lat Pulldown

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
--
Exercise 14 of 27

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
4
Reps
25
Rest
--
Perform as partial deadlifts. Stop just under the knee and come back up.

Wednesday

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 16 of 27

Bodyweight Jump Squat

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
6
Reps
3
Rest
--
Perform during AM session.
Exercise 17 of 27

Barbell Bent-Over Row

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
5
Reps
3
Rest
--
Perform with speed, perform during AM session.
Exercise 18 of 27

Barbell Deadlift

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
5
Reps
5
Rest
--
Perform during PM session.
Exercise 19 of 27

Sissy Squat

Equipment
Sets
4
Reps
10
Rest
--
Perform during PM session. Add weight if needed.
Equipment
Bench, Smith Machine
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
--
Perform during PM session.
Exercise 22 of 27

Rope Pressdown

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Rope Attachment
Sets
4
Reps
8
Rest
--
Perform kneeling, and during PM session.
Exercise 23 of 27

Bodyweight Dip

Equipment
Dip Station
Sets
3
Reps
12
Rest
--
Perform during PM session.

Friday

Exercise
Equipment
Sets
Reps
Rest
Exercise 24 of 27

Leg Press

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Perform 1 set with a narrow stance, 1 with a medium stance and 1 with a wide stance.
Exercise 25 of 27

Stiff Lunge

Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 26 of 27

Dumbbell Lunge

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 27 of 27

Lat Pulldown

Equipment
Adjustable Cable Machine, Lat Pulldown Bar
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Perform 1 set with a wide grip, 1 with a narrow over-handed grip and 1 with an underhanded grip.
Exercise 28 of 27

Arnold Press

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 30 of 27

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 31 of 27

Dumbbell Flye

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 33 of 27

Triceps Press

Equipment
No Equipment
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 35 of 27

Dumbbell Kickback

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 36 of 27

Dumbbell Press

Equipment
Bench, Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Perform with a close-grip
Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 38 of 27

Barbell Biceps Curl

Equipment
Barbell
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
Exercise 39 of 27

Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Equipment
Dumbbells
Sets
3
Reps
10
Rest
--
See all of our tutorials