Holiday Gains: How To “Cheat” Smart

Have you ever denied yourself the gluttonous pleasures of Thanksgiving feasts because you were afraid that slice of pie would set you off track? Then this article is for you. By the time you finish reading, you will know how to use those holiday-treat-feasts to your advantage. 

Aside from the meatheads who still (erroneously) believe that a “dirty bulk” is an effective way to build muscle, we all want to get through the holiday season without coming into the new year wearing nothing but sweatpants. The problem is that many people approach the holidays without the tools necessary to succeed.


The moment you commit to a healthy lifestyle your life changes. Most of that is for the better, but it can come at a cost. 

  • Sacrificing time with loved ones for that extra hour of cardio
  • Denying a piece of the pie because it would ruin your abs forever
  • Body dysmorphia — the idea that you’re never lean enough, big enough, strong enough, aesthetic enough, etc.

I can’t give anyone flack for body dysmorphia (if you want advice for that, there are thousands of IG models saying the exact same thing about it already). What I want to focus on is the idea that to achieve our goals we must abstain from all delicious holiday pleasures with as much zealotry as a person who just read an article on gluten intolerance and is now an expert on the matter. 

At one point in my life, I prided myself on my rigidity with diet. I said no to pumpkin pie even though I bucking love pumpkin pie, refused to have even a sip of alcohol for fear it’d eternally damage my metabolism, and I treated any food-related pleasures like some presidents treat any families from countries outside the US. Now though? I embrace pleasure. Especially holiday treats. (Yay pumpkin pie!) But I do it intelligently. 

When I say intelligently, I don’t mean I restrict calories or eat some food but not any other food. I eat whatever the hell I want on holidays, but I prime my body for the dietary massacre that’s set to take place, and already know how I’ll utilize that wheelbarrow of carbs for the day after. 

So, first thing’s first; unless you are a competitor three weeks out from a show, ditch the mindset that you need to exist in a constant state of denial to reach your dream physique. Not only will you be happier, but you will also make more gains…more importantly, you can eat pumpkin pie again. 

Or don’t listen to me and end up as sad as this little guy.

Turkey Day Nutrition

As far as how to hack your nutrition for the hours leading up to the feast, here are some methods you can utilize to help:

  • Fast up until dinner: This is what I would do. Here’s why:
    • Burn fat throughout the day. 
    • Experience all the regular benefits of autophagy. 
    • Burn even more fat throughout your lift. 
    • Your body is practically begging for any food especially after you lift
    • Bonus: breaking your fast post-workout has some pretty insane hormonal benefits. 
  • Cut the carbs, and stick to your typical protein and veggies meals: This is important for both complex reasons and simple reasons. 
    • The complex has to do with how you handle the carbs later and how you’re more likely to burn fat up until the point of the food party. 
    • The simple: You’re (likely) going to take in massive amounts of carbs later so why intake more? Sure, you already have your brown rice prepped, but really…do you even like brown rice? I didn’t think so. Just cut it out for today. It’s not like you need them for energy. That’s what pre-workouts are for. 
  • Cut the fats down, too: Yup. I said it. I do a modified keto, and I’m recommending cutting your fats down. I’m sure there are gurus out there who will disagree with me on this but…oh well. There’s plenty of fat to be had with dinner, leave it out for now. 
    • I’m not saying eat chicken breast cooked with that reprehensible zero-calorie artificial palm oil cooking spray all day, but maybe cut the bacon from your regular breakfast of bacon and eggs.
  • Eat small throughout the day: Let’s say you don’t really follow any particular diet and don’t meal prep — I salute you, I ain’t about that Tupperware life — you can still optimize nutrition. For this day I suggest hitting up the ‘by pound’ section in your local grocer — Whole Foods works but Sprouts is the GOAT — and putting together your own sort of trail mix, then snack on it only as needed throughout the day. This is a hunter-gatherer type way of eating; eat only what you can forage up until you make your kill and feast up. Foods I recommend:
    • Walnuts
    • Raw Almonds
    • Salted Peanuts (not ideal, but they’re just so delicious)
    • Dried blueberries
    • Raisins 
    • M&M’s. I’m kidding. Save those for later. 
  • The opposite of the others: eat a large “healthy” meal about an hour prior to dinner, consisting of veggies, greens, and healthy protein sources like grass-fed steak, boneless chicken thighs, etc. 
    • By doing this, you’ll go into the dinner with way less of an appetite so you won’t binge as much, but you can still enjoy the treats.

Turkey Day Workout

Obviously, you need to train on Thanksgiving. That should be a no-brainer. But where most people go wrong is they do an hour of cardio in the morning with the idea that if they burn calories they’ll be fine. News Flash: relying solely on calories is a lazy way to look at nutrition. 

I’m not saying you can’t do cardio — I love jumping in a Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving morning, just as much as the next guy — but it’s important to understand that if you want to do cardio, it should be in addition to a killer workout, not as a replacement. 

What you need to keep in mind is how your body will be able to utilize the excess nutrients (or lack thereof) that you eat. There are several factors that play into this such as muscle glycogen uptake, hormones, and thermogenesis, so we want to do a workout that helps in those areas. 

So, what is that workout? 

Not to be assumptive but…the girls will love this, and most of you guys will hate it. The ideal muscle group to lift on Thanksgiving is the lower body. Hands down.

When you tear muscle fibers they require nutrients to repair and rebuild. Since a general legs day targets the largest muscles in the body, by tearing those fibers, your body will probably love you for feeding it a surplus of food…well, at least for the sake of maintaining a level of leanness. Also, lifts like squats and deadlifts have been shown to deliver a sweet hormonal response, which is pretty cool too.

Legs Day Workout 

You need to kill this workout. What better way to do that than using the perfect supplement stack for killer supplements:




Intensity Technique

Leg Extensions

Lying Leg Curls





Back Squats

Note: if you don’t know the proper form, do hack squats instead



Just go heavy and hard with strict form.

Hip Thrusts



Hold the contraction for 2 seconds each rep

Leg Press



Pause at the bottom every 10 reps for 5 seconds

Stiff leg deads

Walking Lunges






Seated Calf Raise


10-15 + 2 Drops

Drop Set: lift until failure, drop weight by a percentage and keep going. Do this two times


Evening Nutrition and Supplementation

You’ve finished your legs day, and you’re probably exhausted. So, what do you do for post-workout? Well, you might’ve noticed I didn’t recommend any whey protein in the above section. The reason that I suggest holding off on taking in anything that could spike insulin or cause much of a metabolic response until you’re about ready to chow down. 

Once you’re about 30-60 minutes away from the meals, here are the best things to utilize to prime your system for pleasure:

  • Bucked Up Digestive Enzymes: This is for obvious reasons
  • 1 scoop of BUCK FEED: not only will this boost protein synthesis so you get more out of your turkey, but it can also help mitigate the negative effects of the incoming insulin spike.*
  • 50-100mg of caffeine (can be from a pre-workout or coffee too): you’ve already increased your muscle glycogen uptake from the lift, but caffeine has been shown to increase it even more.* Might as well help your body transport the nutrients to where you want them — muscles — and away from where you don’t.


Before you go to sleep for the night, you might want to consider drinking another protein shake with some MCT Oil Powder. This will help offset tomorrow’s carb hangover

Black Friday Workout

Let me be clear; getting in a fight at Macy’s does not count as a workout. Glad we got that out of the way. 

No way you’re lifting legs after yesterday. If you hit them as hard as you were supposed to, they’re toast. Instead, I recommend doing a full upper body lift. This will pull more nutrients into the body, do greater muscle damage, and deplete whatever liver glycogen you stored from yesterday. 

Oh. And if that wasn’t enough. Get ready for drop sets and some super high rep sets. With all those carbs, you know we gotta chase at least a little pump

Pre-workouts of choice: 

  • The BLACK SERIES: this one wins my vote for today because of the humic and fulvic acid. You ate, drank, and got all merry yesterday. Now it’s time to detox,* which is where those two ingredients shine. 
  • PUMP-OCALYPSE: You might as well make the most of yesterday’s food overload.


Sets & Reps

Flat Press (drop set)

2-3 x 6-8 + 2 Drops

Cable Crossovers

2-3 x 20-30

Lat Pulldown

2-3 x 6-8 + 2 Drops

Cable Row

2-3 x 20-30

Machine Military

2-3 x 6-8 + 2 Drops

Dumbbell Lateral Raise

2-3 x 20-30

Cable Barbell Curl

2-3 x 6-8 + 2 Drops

Cable Triceps Pressdown

2-3 x 6-8 + 2 Drops

Dumbbell Hammer Curl (superset) 

 Overhead Triceps Extension

2-3 x 20-30

2-3 x 20-30

Barbell wrist curls (superset) 

Barbell reverse wrist curls

2-3 x 20-30

2-3 x 20-30

Now get out there and enjoy your holidays. But first, you might want to go stock up on those items we mentioned earlier using this nifty little link right HERE. Can you take pre workout while intermittent fasting?



fit body author
Author: Logan IG: Logan_fictionandfitness