Gentlemen, the holidays are over and now is the time to kick your New Year’s resolutions into high gear. After all, if you don’t start chasing your summer fitness goals while you still have time, you’re either going to slack off or abandon your fitness goals completely. It should go without saying that a gentleman should always stick to his word, and never waver.

This is not only important for building a strong and able body, but also for your long-term self-esteem and health, not to mention the social benefits of looking better than your peers. It all works synergistically together in creating a better you – however you are yet to make that grand first step. Here to help you get on the right track after winter break and achieve amazing results before summer are the five fitness tips you need to implement into your lifestyle right now.

Make a plan to start slowly

Before you load the squat bar with more than your lower body can handle at this moment, take a step back and reassess the feasibility of an “all out” approach. This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when they come back to the gym after a break, and it can very well ruin your entire fitness journey if you’re not careful.

Firstly, understand that there is no reason why you would start your fitness journey this way. Remember that your muscles have had plenty of time to recover since your last training session, which means that your body has re-sensitized to hypertrophy! This means that you can get better results with a lot less work.

If you are particularly busy, this is very good news because you can easily maintain your fitness routine without getting stressed, losing out on sleep and nutrition, or even thinking of quitting. It’s a great way to ease yourself into the fitness lifestyle once more – which is another downside of trying to accomplish too much too quickly. It’s just not sustainable. Don’t fool yourself that you can bang out five sets of everything every single day, every single week, because you will burn out at some point.

Take it slow, manage your fatigue, avoid getting super sore, and attack every workout with strength and zeal.

Now make a workout plan

workout plan - 5 Fitness and Diet Tips for Getting Back into Shape after the Winter Break

You’re probably wondering what the best workout routine is for getting back in shape quickly and making the most amount of gains in a small timeframe. The short answer is: it’s the workout routine that lets you progress gradually every week. The keyword you’re looking for here is progressive overload – the governing force of the fitness world.

Progressive overload means that you are constantly progressing week to week in small increments by increasing either volume, intensity, or frequency of training. Let’s break it down.

Volume is the number of sets and reps you do in a week. It’s the total workload combined from all of your weekly training sessions. Your short-term goal should be to increase the amount of work you do by upping the sets or the reps every week. Once you hit five sets per body part, consider taking a deload.

Intensity is the weight on the bar. While it’s not the main driver of muscle growth, it’s important for your workouts to get incrementally heavier. No big jumps in weight though, 2.5kg (5lbs) per week on main movements such as squats or the bench press is enough.

Lastly, frequency is the number of workouts you complete in a week. This is completely subjective to your time schedule and how many workouts you can realistically keep up with. Being a busy man, you may want to stick to three or four weekly sessions.

Keep your frequency the same while slowly moving up in weight and sets, and you will start seeing results in no-time. You can use this scheme for any fitness goal – whether you want to build muscle, tone down, or train for cardiovascular endurance.

Tidy up your nutrition

Now for the most important part – you can’t eat junk and expect to score a six-pack, it doesn’t work that way. As a gentleman, you should already be mindful of what you eat, but there is nothing wrong in indulging a bit during the holidays. That said, now is the time tidy up your nutrition once more, not only for the sake of your long-term health, but in order to reach your fitness goals faster.

Firstly, throw away all unhealthy food options you have laying around the house. Next, stick to homemade meals combined with healthy snack options such as weight loss shakes that have all the essential nutrients you need for body re-composition, sans the sugars and excess calories. Remember that your daily caloric intake will have the greatest impact on your physique, hence the need to calculate your calories and macros, and stick to healthy food sources.

Speaking of, the second step is to calculate the number of calories you need on a daily basis. If your goal is to grow muscle mass, you should be in a caloric surplus. If you want to lose weight, you should be in a caloric deficit. You can use any online calculator to get an approximate value.

Don’t forget to warm up and stretch properly

warm up and stretch - 5 Fitness and Diet Tips for Getting Back into Shape after the Winter Break

Many fitness enthusiasts make a big mistake when it comes to accessory work such as mobility and flexibility training. In a nutshell, warming up the right way before a workout will not only help you perform better, but also prevent injury. On the other hand, stretching after a workout will help you elongate the inflamed muscle tissue, and thus avoid nasty spasms, debilitating muscle soreness, and fatigue.

You should start every workout with ten minutes of dynamic stretching, making sure you mobilize every joint in your body and increase your heart rate – this will pump blood into the muscle tissue and prime your entire body for the workout ahead. Remember that the more you mobilize, the greater the range of motion you will have and thus achieve better results.

Once finished with your workout, you don’t want to just head straight for the shower. Instead, you want to take the time stretch and release tension throughout your body. Focus on elongating the muscle tissue. You can even do several minutes of myofascial release – pressing hard on the inflamed muscle tissue with a foam roller or a lacrosse ball in order to release the tension.

Get enough quality sleep

Last but not least, quality sleep is essential in helping you achieve your fitness goals, and for a myriad of reasons. Most importantly, getting enough quality shut-eye every night will allow you to retain a positive mindset and keep your eyes on the prize – i.e. your ideal summer body. Moreover, sleeping a solid eight-hour shift every night will allow your entire body to recover and the damaged muscle tissue to repair itself and grow.

In turn, this means that you will be able to come back to the gym (or the track) stronger than before, ready and willing to take your fitness game to the next level. It all works synergistically in building a positive mindset and an able body, so whatever you do, don’t cheat on your sleep schedule.

In conclusion

There is no denying that getting back into shape after a holiday hiatus is tough work, which is why most men abandon their fitness goals within the first two weeks. Let this simple fact serve as inspiration for you to achieve your fitness goals, show everyone what you’re made of, and better your life as a whole.