The Weekend Warrior Syndrome: Avoid Losing Your Fitness Progress
You’ve done your meal prep, you’ve hit the gym Monday through Friday, and you’re getting plenty of sleep during the workweek. Then Friday comes and you let loose, Saturday you have a BBQ with your boys and Sunday brings football, beers, and brats. Still wondering why you aren’t losing that weight or gaining that muscle?
SATURDAYS ARE FOR BOYS!
You’ve put in work at your job and the gym all week, so why not go crazy all weekend? Because it’s getting in the way of your fitness progress. If you’re trying to lose weight, going hard with your boys on the weekend is probably your biggest obstacle in achieving that goal. If you’re trying to build muscle, letting your nutrition plan and workout regimen fall off once Friday night hits is why there is a lack of bulge in your biceps.
Weekends are meant to be enjoyed, but some of us take it way too far. If your health and fitness mean something to you (and since you’re diving into this article it seems that it does), you need to take a serious look at how your weekend rituals are wreaking havoc on your body.
LET’S LOOK AT THE NUMBERS
If your goal is to either lose weight or gain muscle, there are some statistics that you should consider as you address your ways of the weekend warrior.
If you’re looking to trim off that stubborn 5 or 10 pounds, the numbers game comes down to your calorie intake. If you’d like to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. Without a caloric intake below your basal metabolic rate (BMR)ーthe amount of calories you would burn during the day, even if you did nothingーyour body won’t have the opportunity to create calorie or fat loss.
“Yeah, man. I get that! That’s why I diet all week long.”
But even if you diet during the workweek, a weekend filled with drinks and tasty, high calorie food will overflow your calorie intake for the week, causing your progress to stagnate. Let’s create a little thought experiment to make sense of this.
Let’s say that your BMR is 2000 calories per day. As stated above, in order to lose weight, you need to consume and/or exercise so that your caloric balance for the day is under that marker. With this in mind, you decide to keep your caloric intake from Monday to Friday at 1800. So, every day that you keep your calories at or below 1800, you’re creating a 200 calorie deficit. If done consistently, this will lead to some quality weight loss. With a 200 calorie deficit every day, and 5 days in the workweek, you’re saving yourself 1000 calories each week. Nice!
But then the weekend comes back like a hurricane and wipes all of that hard work out. But, how? Drinks on Friday, BBQ on Saturday, and football food on Sunday make for a generous spike in your calories. Let’s just say you end up consuming 3000 calories on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you’re still with me, that’s 1000 calories over your BMR each day, making it a 3000 calorie surplus for the weekend. So when all’s said and done, you cut yourself 1000 calories during your workweek, then added in 3000 calories in just 3 days. That’s an overall surplus of 2000 calories! No wonder you can’t seem to shake that gut you’ve been working hard to get rid of.
From a muscle building standpoint, a calorie surplus shouldn’t scare you off. When building muscle, you’ll need to build mass, so more calories isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But in building muscle that’s strong and lean, you’re going to want to dial in your macronutrient balances so that your body can build muscle as easily as possible.
From Monday to Friday, you’re keeping things in tip top shape, but then letting it all go as soon as you punch out at the end of the week. With weekend indulgences come fatty, carb-filled food that probably lacks in the protein department. Without that protein, you’re going to find it hard to build any muscles that you can count on sticking around.
CHANGE IT UP
Hopefully, by now you understand the importance of keeping your diet and fitness as respectable as possible as the weekend comes your way. We’re not suggesting that you become a hermit, never see your friends, and only eat food that you’ve weighed on a scale or cooked for yourself. That’s no way to live. Instead, give these hacks a shot to get through the weekend with your goals still within reach.
Start your day with protein: If there’s one thing that you can count on, it’s that most foods that you enjoy the taste of are pumped with fats and carbohydrates. Be proactive in finding balance in your weekend diet by eating some chicken, eggs, or lean beef in the morning. Protein is necessary for muscle growth and it also makes you feel more full. By showing some love to that protein as your day begins, you’ll do your muscles a favor and avoid overeating for the rest of the day.
Give yourself a cheat meal: Reward yourself with a night of drinks and greasy food as long as you stick to your health plan for the rest of the weekend. This will give you some motivation to keep things in check, but still allows you to indulge.
Find some new friends: Alright, you don’t have to ostracize yourself from your crew, but find some people that still get to the gym on the weekend and don’t spend every free night they have at the bar. Your proximity to them will give you more power as you progress.
Stop beating yourself up: There’s going to be weekends (and weekdays) that are worse than others. Maybe it’s your best friends wedding weekend. Maybe it’s a high school reunion. Don’t spend the weekend feeling bad about flushing your progress down the drain. Know that it won’t be like that every single weekend and that you’re committed to making the changes necessary to take your body to a new level.
Weekends are meant to be enjoyed, but not so much that you lose precious progress in your fitness. Hopefully, this information will make you more aware, at the very least. Once you’re more aware of how much you can alter the balance of your diet by bingeing your weekend away, you’ll think twice about going all out each and every Saturday night. Enjoy yourself, but practice moderation. Hitting the reset button every Monday just isn’t a productive way to get in shape.