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) or 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 – WEDNESDAY
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.
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.
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!!
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: 1) train your weakest body part, but double your regular volume or 2) (highly recommended) try the workout below.
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.