CrossFit & the Holiday Season: How to Stay in the Game

Written by:

Damect Dominguez

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Christmas and New Year’s are nearly upon us, and many athletes will be traveling home to be with friends and family. But there is something that we all need to be wary of this December: the trap of the holiday season.

“What the heck is that?” I hear you ask. Well, I think you know what it is. Think back to previous years and how you felt when you came back to the box on January 2nd. I’m sure you were carrying a few extra pounds and that first workout hit you like a train wreck. It’s amazing how much damage a couple of weeks can do to your levels of fitness.  I’m sure I’m not alone in hoping that this year, things will be different. While you should permit yourself (some of) the drinks, turkey and cake at this time of year, doing so will naturally have an impact on your fitness, but it’s the price we pay for festivities and celebrations. What we do have control over, however, is how big a price we need to pay. Shocking as this sounds, you can take control of your fitness this month and ensure that when you do return to the box, you don’t have to fight tooth and nail to return to the levels you know you’re capable of. Here’s how.

Try to watch what you eat

This is most people’s undoing during the holiday period. It can be all too easy to let yourself relax TOO much and indulge a little too excessively. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink now and again and eating some non-paleo food, but you must be aware of how often you’re eating/drinking badly. You might feel pressure from friends and family to “enjoy yourself” and have another drink, but you have to keep the bigger picture in mind as well. You can still have a good time while keeping an eye on what you consume—isn’t that what you’ve been doing for a while anyway? I’m not going to sit here and tell you what to eat and drink and what to avoid, as I’m sure you already know what helps your fitness and what’s detrimental to it. It’s up to YOU to keep a lid on things, and the weeks over Christmas and New Year’s are certainly going to test your willpower. But if you can picture how brutal it’s going to be to try and return to the level of fitness you once held if you keep indulging, I’m sure that mental cue will force you to be a little more strict with yourself than you’ve been in past years.

Drop in at a local box (if there’s one close by)

I can’t stress how important it is to drop in at new boxes whenever you get the opportunity—not just during the holiday season. It’s good to see how other affiliates operate. You can learn new methods of doing things from different coaches, you may get to play around with equipment you don’t have at your home box, and you’ll get a better appreciation and understanding for the CrossFit community by meeting new athletes that also share a passion for the sport. Oh yeah, and you’ll get to do CrossFit over the holidays, which is worth its weight in gold! The last thing you want over the course of a couple weeks is to be a complete stranger to the ways of WOD. Dropping in at a box is the best way to ensure that your muscle memory stays fresh and you don’t become a stranger to the game. Fortunately, with the rate of growth that the affiliate community is currently experiencing, you should be able to find a box that’s relatively close to you—depending on where you live and/or how far you’re willing to drive to get there.

Go to a globo gym

If you can’t get to an affiliate: have no fear, the globo gym is here! In all honesty, you shouldn’t have any qualms about walking into a ‘traditional gym’ to do your own thing—which is quite an ironic thing to write, seeing as so many of us were regulars at globo gyms before we transitioned into CrossFit. While we may do things a little differently inside the walls of an affiliate, you can accomplish plenty of work inside a globo gym too. Sam Dancer, 2nd place finisher at the 2014 CrossFit Games with Team Conjugate Black and NPGL competitor, typically does his first workout of the day at a globo gym. Depending on the day, Dancer will perform eight to ten accessory exercises that he splits between the upper and lower body. Accessory exercises are movements, lifts and drills that are designed to support your primary lifts in a given sport. For example, box squats are a strength training accessory exercise to assist your squat.

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There are three glaring problems with trying to attempt to perform a typical CrossFit workout at a globo gym. First, such gyms typically don’t condone the practice of dropping heavy barbells (in fact, any barbell or dumbbell or anything!) on the floor from overhead. Second, the design of a globo gym isn’t conducive to performing a WOD. You likely won’t have the space to bring a barbell and place it next to a rower if you’re trying to perform Jackie, for example. And if you are lucky enough to find that the rower, barbells and pull-up bar are pretty close together, you’ll probably have to fight through a throng of other people to go from station to station. Lastly, unless you’re working out with a buddy, you won’t have anyone to spot you—which is a problem that any athlete will face, not just CrossFitters.

With all that being said, we are still CrossFitters, and we adapt to our environments, damn it! Ok, so you might have to make a couple of modifications to your typical workout—that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. Go up to 85% of your one rep max, go heavy on volume and hone in on refining your technique. Grab a set of dumbbells and do a modified Fran. And if all else fails—squat. Always squat.

Do home workouts

If the gods are really against you and dropping in at a box or going to a globo gym is out of the question, you’re still in good shape (pun intended). There are a TON of bodyweight workouts (and workouts that require minimal equipment) that you can do in your back yard, in your neighborhood, or in the convenience of your home (for those of you with a home gym, I salute you). So if you just can’t control yourself on Christmas day afternoon and need to get your fix, here are a few workouts to get you started:


50-40-30-20 and 10 rep rounds of: Double-unders and sit-ups
Angie: Complete in order: 100 pull-ups, 100 push-ups, 100 sit-ups, 100 squats
Murph*: Run 1 mile, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, run 1 mile (Partition the pull-ups, push-ups and squats as needed.)
Cindy: 20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats
Surfer on Acid: 3 rounds for time, 400m run, 21 burpees
Tabata Sprints: Sprint 20 seconds, rest 10 seconds (8 rounds)
Susan – 5 rounds for time:  Run 200m, then 10 squats, 10 push ups

Focus on different areas of fitness

Time away from the world of CrossFit and the box can remind you of the sports and activities you love, and how beneficial they can be for developing your fitness. Moreover, if you haven’t jumped on the court/field/pool for a while, it could be cool to see how much faster, stronger and more agile you feel following your training in CrossFit. As I wrote in an earlier article, working out away from the box can be good to help you avoid the CrossFit burnout, and it’s also an excellent opportunity to work on different areas of your fitness. You could really focus on your mobility this winter and spend several hours a day with a yoga matt, lacrosse ball, foam roller and resistance band to find new levels of flexibility that you never thought you’d achieve. Go for a long run, become more proficient on the rower (see globo gym), get some cones or other obstacles and work on your agility and speed or jump in the pool and swim a shit ton of laps! The point is you shouldn’t solely be focused on grabbing the nearest barbell and doing X metcons to stay in shape over Christmas. Fitness—as defined by Greg Glassman (CEO and founder of CrossFit)—is how competent you are in the 10 General Physical Skills: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. There’s a whole lot of room to operate in there that doesn’t require a barbell, rig, or even a CrossFit affiliate. Get out there and try something new this holiday season, and I’m sure you’ll see the benefits when you return to the box in the new year.

Photo courtesy of misteral/CC BY-NC 2.0

About Damect Dominguez

Co-founder of BoxLife Magazine. Author: Training Day: 400+ Workouts to Incorporate in Your Training.

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