January, you’re up. With the festive period over and the perceived Christmas ‘dent’ well and truly done, the temptation to head full throttle back to the gym, ramping up cardio and intensity, is often seen as the obvious solution.

You tear through the first three weeks of your fitness programme. You switch flat whites for black Americanos. Then, you join the #5amHustleClub in a race to see results.

How many times have you tried this? And how many times has it seen you experiencing complete burnout by the end of January?

What if, instead, you used January as a time to set goals, consider the longer journey for the year ahead and reaped the benefits of working consistently at a more sustainable 70-75%?

The foot-down ethos

We’ve all been there – industry professional or not. But it doesn’t matter how many years you’ve tried it; the outcome remains the same. New Year’s resolutions to get shredded in 30 days, undoing the Christmas binge as quickly as possible, binge exercising (yes, it is a thing) and extreme dieting are some of the most common mindsets heading into January. If this is you, take a few minutes to keep reading.

Why? We want to highlight the ‘fine print’ that nobody reads before heading into a complete change of training stimulus.

The intensity panic switch: Christmas vs January

Christmas indulgence or not, training hard every day is not optimal. ‘Aggressive overload’ will actually cause more harm than good to your central nervous system (your body’s chief regulator). Training hard too often will ramp up your levels of cortisol (stress and inflammation). This can cause an onset of fatigue, and even negatively impact your psychological wellbeing.

Training goes a lot deeper than just your time in the gym. The sooner you can become more in tune with your body, the higher your success rate (and longevity of success) will be.

How To Avoid A Guilt-Driven January Burnout | Men's Fitness UK

Harvey Lawton recommends a simple, sustainable programme of 3 strength sessions and 2 cardio workouts each week

The optimal training split to avoid January burnout

While many have their own opinions on what an optimal training split looks like over any given week, the following is one The Movement Blueprint recommend, and have programmed for hundreds of clients who have seen incredible lifestyle changes and long-term results.

  • 3 x strength sessions
  • 2 x cardio-based sessions

We recommend pushing the intensity dial one or two times per week. This could be through lifting weights or through cardiovascular training. If you want to see a greater training effect, spend 75% of your time working in a controlled and composed state: lifting, breathing and moving sub-maximally.

Keeping your foot flat on the gas every day will not bring the positive adaptations you are looking for. It will simply exhaust you. Obviously, there are variables to consider here. This includes training experience, lifestyle, personal goals and individual management of the below pillars of performance.

Achieving long-lasting results without January burnout

Fitness relies on three key pillars for adaptation and progression: at The Movement Blueprint we know these as training, recovery and nutrition. You cannot have one element without the others in equal part.

You can have as much training stimulus as you like – both quality and measured. But without adequate fuel (nutrition) and sleep (recovery), that stimulus will be about as useful as a square tyre.


The Movement Blueprint’s TRAIN and PERFORM programmes incorporate periodised strength cycles and progressive energy system development. Find out more at themovementblueprint.co