Try this celebrity trainer-endorsed workout to turn festive flab into flex-worthy muscle

Let Steve Chambers walk you through a simple post-Xmas muscle-building regime

Shirtless men performing bench press in gym
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A little admission before we embark on this journey of bulging biceps and perky pecs: when it comes to turning flab into muscle, it's not about a magical transformation, and there’s no silver bullet solution.

“It’s all about a holistic approach,” says Ultimate Performance gym manager and personal trainer to various famous faces, including Brooke Vincent, Gemma Atkinson and Strictly’s Ellie Leach.

“Fat and muscle are different entities, each requiring a unique strategy. To achieve that lean and muscular physique, a combination of proper nutrition, calorie deficit, and targeted strength training is the key,” Chambers reveals.

The holiday season is notorious for testing our dedication to health and fitness with its tempting treats and disrupted routines.

But fear not, as we're here to help you turn that festive flab into New Year muscle with a full-body strength plan that's as effective as it is enjoyable. Just don’t expect it to work Christmas miracles unless you put in the work.

Steve Chambers expert thumbnail
Steve Chambers

Steve Chambers joined Ultimate Performance in 2015 and is one of U.P.'s longest-serving and most experienced personal trainers. He is now both a Certified Personal Trainer and Gym Manager at Ultimate Performance Manchester, where Steve is one of the most sought-after personal trainers in the region. In addition, Steve regularly writes for and contributes to fitness publications across the world.

Steve Chambers’ Festive Fitness Game Plan

Here's a basic but effective strength training plan that targets key muscle groups. It’s perfect for beginners.  This plan incorporates both bodyweight exercises and traditional weight training, catering to individuals with gym access and those working out at home.

Day 1: Full-Body Bodyweight Workout (At Home)

Do 5-10 minutes of dynamic stretching and light cardio to warm up the muscles. Then, perform the below bodyweight exercises for 3-4 sets each and rest 60 seconds between sets. Do 5-10 minutes of static stretching, focusing on major muscle groups, for cool down.

Squeeze Press-ups

Reps: 10-15 reps

A great option for developing the chest, this is ideally performed on a set of dumbbells, parallel bars or anything that allows you to be stable while holding it with a supinated grip. 

Assume a normal press-up position but with the hands close together under the chest, lower slowly and contract the pecs as you push up, squeezing at the top before repeating.

One-and-a-half Bulgarian Split Squat

Reps: 10-15 reps (each leg)

This great bodyweight exercise can be performed with or without additional weights. Adopt a normal split squat position, squat down and only return halfway before squatting down again and returning to the upright position. This extra move is a real burner on the quads.

YTWL (scapulae back and down throughout)

Reps: 10-15 reps each direction

This can be used as a warm-up exercise and a great workout for scapular depression, building the smaller stabilising muscles in the upper back that assist with great posture and so many pushing and pulling movements.

One-legged Hip Thrust

Reps: 10-15 reps

This one requires a little bit of mastering (and some decent balance), so watch the video before attempting. In short, it’s a great workout for the glutes, honing in on each individual muscle for a greater time under tension. 

Plank to Press-up

Reps: 5-10 reps

A neat compound movement that gets a bunch of massive muscle groups working at the same time. Keep this one slow and controlled, squeeze the abs and glutes, and don’t let your butt stick up in the air as you get tired.

Reverse Lunges

Reps: 10-15 reps (each leg)

A classic mainstay of any bodyweight exercise, this can be performed anywhere and without any equipment. Holding dumbbells, even if they are light, will add an extra element.

Mountain Climbers

Reps: 8-10 reps

If it’s good enough for the Marines (see video above) it’s good enough for you. Another tried-and-tested exercise that works multiple muscle groups when performed correctly. Particularly ace for developing a powerful set of abs. 

Super Slow Squats

Reps: 10 reps (5 seconds each way)

A super slow and controlled bodyweight squat is the perfect finisher for the lower body. Check out the video above, perfect your form and watch those leg muscles grow.

Day 2: Active Recovery or Rest.

 Consider light activities such as walking, yoga, or stretching.

Day 3: Gym-Based Strength Training (With Weights)

just like on day 1, do 5-10 minutes of light cardio and dynamic stretches to warm up the muscles. Perform 3-4 sets of each exercise below. Rest 60-90 seconds between sets. Then, do 5-10 minutes of static stretching, focusing on the muscles worked during the weight training session, to cool down.

Barbell Back Squats

Reps: 8-12 reps

We are kicking things off with a lower-body legend. A well-performed barbell back squat has the ability to add some serious muscle to the legs, while strengthening the core. 

Bench Press

Reps: 8-12 reps

More complicated than you think, the humble bench press has the ability to transform the upper body. The video above is one of the most comprehensive guides on how to nail form. Just start off light, keep things slow and gradually progress the weight.


Reps: 8-12 reps

Again, it pays to start off light here and work on perfecting form before adding lots of weight. But the deadlift is an excellent builder of strong leg muscles, while transferring into a brilliant back exercise during the top of the movement. 

Bent Over Rows

Reps: 8-12 reps

The back should be nice and warm following a bout of deadlines, so use the time to perform some perfectly executed bent-over rows. These can be done with a barbell or a pair of dumbbells if that’s more comfortable. The guys from RP (in the video above) go into masses of detail about how to streamline these for massive back growth. 

Overhead Shoulder Press

Reps: 8-12 reps

Body builder and general perpetual fitness student Jeff Nippard loves the overhead shoulder press for big shoulders. The video above is a great way of studying the best form, but this is a guaranteed workout for bigger deltoids and arguably the only exercise you’ll ever need for that body part. 

Bicep Curls

Reps: 8-12 reps

There’s a lot of argument surrounding the absolute perfect bicep curl, but anyone new to building muscle will likely see some serious gains without the Holy Grail of exercise form. Check out the video above for some handy pointers.

Tricep Dips

Reps: 8-12 reps

The final exercise of the workout aims to toast those triceps, leading to a well-formed and impressive pair of arms. Again, check out the video for handy form pointers before even thinking of adding any weight.

Day 4: Repeat Workout 1

It's another day in the home gym! Focus on slow reps and pay attention to your body. If you're sore all over, take the day off and focus on recovery instead of pushing yourself too hard. This is especailly true to people who aren't used to exercising.

Day 5: Active Recovery or Rest

Go for a walk, a jog, light cycling or do some yoga or stretching at home. Get the Theragun Pro (5th Gen) out of the cupboard and slip into those Therabody RecoveryAir JetBoots to ready your body for the workout to come tomorrow.

Day 6: Repeat Workout 2

On day 6, repeat the gym-based strength training workout. By now, your body should be under some stress, so please don't push the envelope too hard. Completing all reps and sets with lighter weights is worth more than pushing heavier weights with terrible form. 

Day 7: Rest

Rest properly, take the day off and get ready to go again the following week.

“Remember, individual results may vary, and it's essential to listen to your body and adjust based on your fitness level and goals. Consult with a fitness professional or healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions or concerns,” Steve explains.

Get Fit 2024

This feature is part of T3's Get Fit 2024 campaign. We’ll be bringing you a wealth of guides, features, deals and news to help you get healthy, fit and ready for anything the new year can throw at you. Whether you’re a newcomer to fitness or someone with a passion for it, we’ll bring you all the best workouts, diet advice and gear to set you on the right track.

Leon Poultney

Leon has been writing about automotive and consumer tech for longer than he cares to divulge. When he’s not testing the latest fitness wearable and action camera, he’s out in a shed fawning over his motorcycles or trying not to kill himself on a mountain bike/surfboard/other extreme thing. He's also a man who knows his tools, and he's provided much of T3's drills coverage over the years, all without injuring himself.