The holidays are approaching with Christmas leading the way followed by New Years not too far behind. During this time of joy and happiness unfortunately most people, including some of us bodybuilders, tend to forget about their bodybuilding workouts and nutrition plans. If thoughts of dumping your fitness and bodybuilding program have crossed your mind, allow me to remind you that this road only leads to a physique that could be used as a ‘Before’ picture on the latest fat burner ads.

However, what if I told you that with some planning ahead you can have your cake and eat it too? I promise you that if you practice self discipline and follow all of the tactics discussed below, your fat gain during the Holidays will be minimized, and provided that you train hard, even if you use my bodybuilding holiday routine described below, you will come out with new muscle that you did not have before.

Bodybuilding Tips & Advice For Staying Fit During The Holidays

There are some key steps that need to be followed in order to stay fit during the Holidays. Follow the steps below and I guarantee you that come New Year, losing weight will not be on your list of resolutions:

1. Plan Ahead, Be Organized.

Plan your bodybuilding workout days one full week ahead. Because of the amounts of get-togethers and days that the gym may be closed, it is best if you decide a week ahead which days you will be attending the gym. Simply take out your calendar and schedule your workouts and even write down at what times these will be performed. In this manner, your chances of missing a workout due to parties or gym closures are eliminated.

2. Get Your Workouts In Early:

Workout as early as possible, preferably first thing in the morning. If your schedule is really hectic, I would advise waking up early and getting the training done, if possible, right before you go to work.

If this is not possible, then try doing it at lunch time or right after work so that nothing else interferes with your workout. On days off from work, definitely get the training done as early as possible.

3. Hugo’s Holiday Abbreviated Bodybuilding Routine ( See Below For Full Routine)

If you feel that you really cannot dedicate more than 3 days a week to your training, then just try out my Abbreviated Bodybuilding Holiday Routine shown below. The routine is designed for a serious natural bodybuilder that wants maximum muscle along with definition and is willing to train 3 days a week for 75 minutes. Not everybody is trying to look like a bodybuilder , if your just looking to tone up , then just cut 1 set for all the exercises listed and this will bring down your gym time by around 15-20 minutes so each workout will be around 55 minutes long or so. So less than 3 hours in total out of your entire week.

4. Planning Your Diet Cheat Days:

Plan Your Cheat Days Wisely. I have to say that I am an expert at this one. Reason for this is because Thanksgiving is on the 24th, my birthday is on December 5th, Christmas on the 25th and New Year’s on the 31.

So those are my cheat days. My advice is to attempt to space cheat days with at least 5-6 days in between, 6 being the better choice.

5. Eating Cheat Meals Wisely:

Eat your cheat meals wisely. When you have a cheat meal, start eating the protein portion first as this will get you to start getting full. Leave the carbs for the end of the meal.

Also, try to not stuff yourself. Instead allocate six hours of cheating per cheat day and instead of having just one huge binge meal that prevents you from even being able to walk after you are done, have 3 smaller meals instead; one every 90 minutes. Take around 30 minutes to savor and make sure that after you are done with each meal you feel like you have a bit of room left. The best strategy is to eat until you are comfortably full.

After your cheat period, go back on your regular diet.

6. Workout Before Cheating:

Before a cheat period it is great to have a tough workout first in order to minimize fat gain and maximize muscle gain. Reason for this is because after a workout the body is primed to absorb nutrients in the form of proteins and carbohydrates. Thus, having a cheat meal afterwards will ensure that most nutrients are used for recovery and muscle production.

7. Supplementing Before Cheating:

Take some 200mcg of Chromium Picolinate and 300 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid at the beginning of your cheat period. These supplements help increase your cell’s ability to accept insulin and thus assimilate the extra carbohydrates better. As a matter of fact, increasing insulin sensitivity is one of the reasons why I like to have a big workout prior to the cheat period.

In addition, you can also take some Nitric Oxide Boosters and creatine as well 30 minutes prior to the first cheat meal in order to take advantage of the extra carbohydrates and insulin spike.

Finally, a good thermogenic supplement like Labrada’s Charge ASF is a good idea as well since this will ensure that your appetite is kept under control.

8. Have Essential Fatty Acids:

Have some EFA’s with your cheat meal. Research indicates that some essential fats like the ones found in flaxseed oil or fish oils have anti-lipolitic properties. In other words, they inhibit some of the enzymes responsible for fat storage. Because of this, by taking these fats with your first cheat meal of your cheat period, you can minimize some of the damage. They also serve as a good natural appetite suppressant.

One tablespoon of Carlson Fish Oils or Spectrum Flaxseed Oil should do the trick. Capsules can be used but you would need 10-14 of them to equal a tablespoon of the liquid version.

9. Have Digestive Enzymes Prior To Your Cheat Meal:

Take some digestive enzymes prior to each one of your cheat meals. This will ensure maximum nutrient assimilation and will also help you avoid feelings of excessive fullness and indigestion. The best formula is a comprehensive enzyme formula with enzymes for proper digestion of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.

10. Have A Walk After The Cheat Period:

Three to five hours after the cheat period has ended, have a 30-45 minute walk. I’m not talking about anything strenuous; around 3 miles per hour is a good pace. Doing some cardiovascular activity after the cheat period has ended will start burning some of the carbohydrates that may still be lingering around. The more of these you burn, the less likelihood of storing body fat. If you cannot do this walk on the same day of the cheat period then try it on the morning after on an empty stomach.

Hugo’s Abbreviated 3 Days Per Week Routine

For the purpose of continued muscle growth and fat loss over the holidays, I have used the principles of cycling (the three training phases, loading, growth and active recovery) that I always preach about in order to create a routine that will keep the muscle growth/fat loss process going during the next few months with minimum visits to the gym.

This is a 3 day a week routine but don’t let that fool you, it’s a tough routine and will do more than just maintain you. The longest routine is the one from week three. It lasts around 75 minutes.

Loading Phase


Mon (13-15 reps), Wed (10-12 reps), Fri (8-10 reps)

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 3 sets (No Rest)
Wide Grip Pull-Ups To Front 3 sets (60 seconds)

Upright Rows 2 sets (No Rest)
Bent Over Laterals 2 sets (60 seconds)

Seated Incline Curls 2 sets (No Rest)
Triceps Dips 2 sets (60 seconds)

Leg Extensions 3 sets (No Rest)
Leg Curls 3 sets (No Rest)
Squats (Wide Stance) 3 sets (No Rest)
Calf Raises3 sets (60 seconds)


Mon (13-15 reps), Wed (10-12 reps), Fri (8-10 reps)

Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 4 sets (No Rest)
Wide Grip Pull-Ups To Front 4sets (60 seconds)

Upright Rows 2 sets (No Rest)
Bent Over Laterals 2 sets (60 seconds)

Seated Incline Curls 3sets (No Rest)
Triceps Dips 3 sets (60 seconds)

Leg Extensions 4 sets (No Rest)
Leg Curls 4 sets (No Rest)
Squats (Wide Stance) 4 sets (No Rest)
Calf Raises 4 sets (60 seconds)


Mon (13-15 reps), Wed (10-12 reps), Fri (8-10 reps)


Incline Dumbbell Bench Press 5sets (No Rest)
Wide Grip Pull-ups To Front 5sets (60 seconds)

Upright Rows 3 sets (No Rest)
Bent Over Laterals 3 sets (60 seconds)

Seated Incline Curls 3 sets (No Rest)
Triceps Dips 3 sets (60 seconds)

Lunges 5 sets (No Rest)
Leg Curls 5 sets (No Rest)
Squats (Wide Stance) 5 sets (No Rest)
Calf Raises 5 sets (60 seconds)

Growth Phase

Weeks 4-6:

Mon (10-12 reps), Wed (8-10 reps), Fri (6-8 reps)

Modified Superset:
Incline Bench Press 3 sets (Rest 90 seconds)
Chin-ups (Palms facing you) 3sets (Rest 90 seconds)

Modified Giant-set:
Rear Delt Rows (performed like a reverse bench press) 2 sets (Rest 45 seconds)
Dumbbell Shoulder Press 2 sets (Rest 45 seconds)
E-Z Curls 2 sets (Rest 45 seconds)
Close Grip Bench Press 2 sets (Rest 45 seconds)

Modified Giant-set:
Lunges (press with ball of foot) 3 sets (Rest 60 seconds)
Leg Curls (Toes Out) 3 sets (Rest 60 seconds)
Squats or Leg Press 3 sets (Rest 60 seconds)
Calf Raises 3 sets (Rest 60 seconds)

Active Recovery Phase

After Week 6:

Two full-body workouts a week; a routine similar to the Growth Phase (above) performed only on Mondays and Thursdays with two sets per exercise, each set consisting of 13-15 repetitions.

Also, do 20-30 minutes of cardio, first thing in the morning on the days off (Tuesdays/Thursdays/Saturdays). Sunday is the total day of rest.

Holiday Bodybuilding Supplements Recommendation Summary

Below is a summary of the bodybuilding supplements you should be taking throughout the Holiday season:

Good Supplements To Take Prior To A Cheat Meal Period

200 mcg Chromium Picolinate
300 mg Alpha Lipoic Acid
Nitric Oxide Booster/Creatine Product Such As Labrada’s Labrada ReCharge
Digestive Enzymes
Essential Fats such as Flax or Fish Oils
Thermogenic/Appetite Suppressing Supplement like Labrada Charge Ephedra Free

Additional Basic Supplements

Comprehensive Multiple Vitamins and Mineral Formula (should go without saying)
Meal Replacement Packets or Protein Supplements to be used whenever not able to consume a real meal.
1 gram of vitamin C at Meals 1, 3 and 5. Extra vitamin C not only may help lower cortisol levels but also keeps immunity high during this period where most people catch colds.

Holiday Bodybuilding Dieting For Non-Cheat Days

Please take a look at the diet below so that you have an idea of what your bodybuilding diet during your “non-cheat days” should consist of:

Sample Bodybuilding Diet For Men

Meal 1 (7 AM)
1 cup of dry oats mixed with water
1 cup of egg beaters

Meal 2 (9 AM)
Meal replacement packet like Labrada’s Lean Body mixed with water or a protein powder (with around 40 grams of protein) mixed with 40 grams of carbs from cream of rice, grits, or oatmeal.

1 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil (Spectrum brand is best) or Fish Oils (Carlson Brand is Best)

Meal 3 (12 Noon)
1 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato, or 1 cup of oatmeal
2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey, or lean fish

Meal 4 (3 PM)
Same as Meal 2 but without flaxseed oil.

Meal 5 (6 PM)
1 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato, or 1 cup of oatmeal
2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
6-8 ounces of chicken, turkey, or lean fish

Meal 6 (8 PM)
2 scoops of slow released proteins like Pro V60 and 1 tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oils

Sample Bodybuilding Diet For Women

Meal 1 (7 AM)
1/2 cup of dry oats mixed with water
1/2 cup of egg beaters

Meal 2 (9 AM)
Meal replacement packet like Labrada’s Lean Body for Her mixed with water or a protein powder (with around 25-30 grams of protein) mixed with 25-30 grams of carbs from cream of rice, grits, or oatmeal.
1/2 Tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil (Spectrum Brand is Best) or Fish Oils (Carlson Brand Is Best)

Meal 3 (12 Noon)
1/2 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato, or 1 cup of oatmeal
2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
6 ounces of chicken, turkey, or lean fish

Meal 4 (3 PM)
Same as Meal 2 but no flaxseed oil.

Meal 5 (6 PM)
1/2 cup of brown rice, or medium sized baked potato, or 1 cup of oatmeal
2 cups of green beans, broccoli or any other desired vegetable
6 ounces of chicken, turkey, or lean fish

Meal 6 (8 PM)
1 scoop of slow released proteins like Pro V60 and 1/2 tablespoon of Flaxseed Oil or Fish Oils


Try out the tips and workout above, and provided that you follow a good diet along with it just limiting yourself to cheat meals on Christmas day and New Years Eve, you should avoid the catastrophic effects that the holidays leave behind in moat people. As a matter of fact, you should look better!

Best of Health and Happy Holidays!

Take care and train hard!





About the Author

hugoHugo Rivera is an International best selling fitness author certified in personal training and nutrition with a computer engineering degree from the University of South Florida. Hugo is owner of, an informational, free fitness and nutrition website. He is author of over 10 fitness books (with over a million copies sold) including his best sellers: Body Re-Engineering, The Body Sculpting Bible for Men, The Body Sculpting Bible for Women, the Weight Training Diary, and the Hardgainers Handbook of Bodybuilding. Today via his website, numerous articles, book publications, TV and radio appearances Hugo continues to educate the public on how to achieve the body of their dreams via the use of weight training exercise, good nutrition and correct supplementation. You can follow Hugo via:

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Today I want to share with you a natural bodybuilding question that I have been getting lately. The question is: Do fish oils cause prostate cancer?

Do Fish Oils Cause Prostate Cancer?

Is there really a correlation between fish oils and prostate cancer? Some study claims so. However, the key thing to understand is that this is an epidimeological study. This is a correlational stufy…it looks at things that people eat and gathers a whole bunch of data and tries to make a correlation. So this is not a biological study that took a whole bunch of prostate cells and studied the effects of fish oil supplementation.

While I am not stating that this study is invalid, I just want to make it clear that the results are based on statistical data gathering as opposed to a biological in vitro or in vivo study.

Based on the fact that there is a huge amount of evidence pointing to the safety and efficacy of fish oils, we have to be careful with making a decision to drop the fish oils out from our diet. Especially considering the fact that there is tons of scientific evidence pointing to the positive effects of fish oils in regards to insulin sensitivity, brain function, joint function, fat burning, hormonal production, etc.

Also keep in mind that every single food you consume (and supplement) probably has a study out there that may link it to some sort of disease. Heck, you can even link breathing air to cancer but I don’t think any of us will stop to breathe any time soon. Thus, always weigh out the various studies and the benefit that a food or supplement will offer you. If the positive outweighs the negatives keep it in your diet. When it comes to fish oils I certainly feel that the benefits completely outweigh the results of this one statistical correlational study.

Take care and train hard!

Been getting tons of questions regarding whether you need to use BCAAs for gaining muscle. Check out my answer in this video below:

Do You Need BCAAs for Gaining Muscle?

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are among the nine essential amino acids that the body needs to function. There are 3 BCAAs which are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids are processed in the muscle tissue and the most anti-catabolic one is Leucine.

In my opinion, BCAAs are GREAT if you are dieting down and looking to gain muscle as you lose fat. If you are in an exclusive muscle building diet which gives you sufficient calories to gain muscle, you can still use them to accelerate results if your finances allow for it. If you are on a budget, you can pass on this supplement to be honest.

Best Way To Consume Them

The best way to consume BCAAs is before, during and after the workout. I use the Labrada Power BCAA product (mixed with PowerCarb for better utilization) as it is better to mix up the BCAAs in a drink than to swallow multiple capsules of 1 gram each (since I take 20 grams when using it during the workout).

You can also use the BCAAs in between meals. This is a great strategy not only to preserve muscle tissue as you are dieting, but also to suppress your appetite. 5-10 grams between meals will do the trick.

Bottom Line

For muscle building: If you have the finances to add it and further accelerate your gains, then why not. IF you don’t have the finances, then just stick to the basic supplements stack (multiple vitamins, protein and essential fats).

For fat loss/dieting: Excellent supplement to use in order to keep your muscle as you lose fat. It is during a fat loss diet that BCAAs work their magic best!


Today I am interviewing one of my friends in the fitness industry: Mike Westerdal.

Mike Westerdal

Mike Westerdal is a certified personal trainer and amateur powerlifter residing in sunny Clearwater, Florida. He enjoys being a contributing writer for REPS!, Iron Man, Powerlifting USA, and dozens of other publications.

Westerdal is the founder of Critical bench located at Mike’s fitness publishing company boasts being one of the Internet’s first strength training and muscle building Web sites online.

His most popular workout is the best selling Critical Bench Program 2.0 that has successfully helped over 17,238 clients increase their bench press by an average of fifty pounds in ten weeks. With this unique power-building approach you’re guaranteed to build all around size and strength.

So since I get so many people asking me how to increase their bench, I decided to get all of the secrets from my friend Mike, who is an expert on the subject as you can see from his records below:

Mike’s Bench Press Personal Records:

630 lbs equipped bench press in competition
452 lbs raw bench press
405 lbs for 5-reps
315 lbs for 15-reps

So without further ado, I will get started with this revealing interview.

[Read more…]

Achieving bodybuilding success has a different meaning for every person. For some bodybuilders success is measured by their ability to win bodybuilding competitions, while for others, bodybuilding success is simply losing a couple of inches off the waist, firming up the muscles and feeling more energetic and positive about life. My personal definition of bodybuilding success, for instance, is to achieve the most symmetrical, defined and balanced physique that I can while building and maintaining a high degree of muscle mass that looks good (which is a matter of personal opinion) on my 5’4″ frame.

The Magic Pill or Supplement Stack

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In this natural bodybuilding video blog I talk about what is creatine and how it works. [Read more…]

Just a few days ago, you bought your new pre-workout supplement, and already you can’t believe your results! Your strength has gone through the roof and your previous bests now seem laughable. When you step into the gym you feel like a machine. Your energy kicks into overdrive, your muscles pump to new levels, and you become completely focused on the task at hand. Finally, you think to yourself. A product that actually works as well as it claims to!

[Read more…]

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