On The Twelfth Week Before Christmas…

My True Love Said to Me: ‘you have to start training right now!

By Rick Ashworth

Christmas might still seem like a fair way off, what with the summer putting in a belated fight and many of us only just stepped back off the plane from somewhere with cold beer, constant blue skies and a world away from calorie-counting, pedometers and the like. However, as far away as it might still seem, Christmas is now only 12 weeks away and it is largely agreed throughout the sports and fitness industry that 12 weeks is a minimum length of time to reach your goals. It isn’t to say that if you have less time than this that you might as well give up before you start but that you will struggle to reach your final goal in less time than that.images

The reason for 12-weeks training isn’t that some maverick or celebrity trainer plucked the number out of the sky in order to give their business three months security, it is a period of time where a new exerciser will make clear progress but also one that allows the trainer to work through plateaus in performance, nutrition and the formation of new psychological habits that will help you embed these new habits and allow you continue either with or without a trainer in the future and also allows you to learn a variety of exercises and how to plan a program for yourself.

And you need to plan in stages. Your goal might be to put on muscle mass but to achieve that you might be better served focusing on dropping body fat and improving overall fitness first rather than attempting to lift the heaviest weight you possibly can from the onset. So, whilst the overall goal remains an increase in muscle mass, the initial goal addresses your current ability; you lift weights that gradually become heavier week-on-week, whilst slowly making your diet more nutritious and adopting a healthier lifestyle. Dropping body fat will push you in the appropriate direction for a leaner more muscular body shape and by making small and incremental changes to your diet you will understand how important the correct foods are to helping you in starting and continuing your progress to your goal.

As stated, this week (w/c 28th September) there are just a few days beyond the twelve weeks to Christmas, so if you are serious about getting in better shape for Christmas then it’s time to get serious right now!

You might look at the next three months and feel scared, after all, it’s a long way off and a long time to stay focused and not fall off the so-called bandwagon. However, the good news is that you don’t have to. Any good plan will have oases placed strategically for recovery and reward upon having put reached a particular goal.



There are a few simple rules that you should do your level best to follow at pretty much all times, which are:

  •  No simple sugars: no sugar in tea, no cakes, no biscuits and, definitely, no chocolate.
  • Lean meats and vegetables should make up a huge proportion of each meal (that could very well include breakfast as well, though porridge would be a good choice too).
  • Make non-processed nuts and things such as raw carrots your snacks of choice but by eating plenty of protein (at least 1g per kg bodyweight per day) at each meal you should feel like snacking less.
  • Find out your required calorie intake for each day and do not drop your intake below 500-700kCal each day as this will impact your ability to lose weight.


You have to stay motivated, the average gym member will make use of the gym for the first four weeks after signing-up and then pretty much just waste their cash thereafter.

There are a variety of ways to stay motivated, however, you might have to try a few of them out to see which ones work best for you. Here are a few to try:

  • Use a calendar to write-up a plan and pin it to the fridge or somewhere equally obvious and update it on each session. You could also objectively assess yourself on, say, a scale of 1-5 and then reassess each month to see if you’ve improved – such as time management to get to the gym, how well you’re managing your diet, are you getting fitter (assessed by doing a timed running circuit…?).
  • Train with like-minded friends or make use of outside resources like apps such as Strava, MyFitnessPal or GPS trackers and wristbands.
  • Book in with a personal trainer even just one session a week to give you a boost and keep an appointment in your diary to adhere to. They can teach you the basics about how to train most effectively and plan a diet more specific to your goals.

Sign-up to a race, much like booking in with a personal trainer, is something that is in the diary and provides you with a point to train towards and, who knows, you might even enjoy it!

For more details on how to flesh-out these ideas and get in great shape for Christmas, whether healthier, faster, bigger, stronger or many others give us a call at Cheshire fitness and we will whip you into shape!

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