Image via CrossFit38655
Image via CrossFit38655

It's like clockwork: as soon as you get back into your routine after the holidays, all of the joy and cheer melts away. Before you know it, all of that goodwill towards man is as distant a memory as paid time off and eggnog. Everything is suddenly dark and bleak and tinsel-less. Even that one place you go to seek solace, the gym, is nothing like it was before the holidays.

After January 1st, the gym is overrun by well-meaning but extremely annoying New Years resolvers who hog the equipment, clog the lines for the treadmills, and generally turn the gym from a place of calm release into a teeming, sweaty, stressful mass of humanity.

Sadly, these people are probably going to make it at least three weeks before they trade in their New Years Resolutions for happy hours and Big Macs. In the mean time, you might have to adjust your workout routine if you want to have any hope of saving your sanity. Here's how to endure the sweatpanted hordes this January.

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Image via NY Daily News
Image via NY Daily News

Work In

You need this if: The benches are more crowded than in Central Park.

Quick fix: You don't have to be as intense as this guy, but there is a better way to get on to a bench than throwing out a badgering "Hey bro, how many sets you got left?" Rather than hounding people about just how long they plan on working out, considering asking to work in. Many guys who are new to the gym won't have anyone with them to give them a spot and you could do them a favor while getting your workout in.

Of course, this depends on the person actually wanting you to work in. Many gym newbies would rather be awkwardly alone than have their poor form corrected. So, if they say "no," kindly wait your turn.

Image via Wikipedia Commons
Image via Wikipedia Commons

Same Workout, Different Equipment

You need this if: You normally live on the cables.

Quick fix: There is definitely a hierarchy of sexiness when it comes to workout equipment. Everybody wants to look like a superhero in training on the cable machine. The squat racks are perpetually full. The bench is the place to camp out, a base of gym operations. Meanwhile, the poor dumbbells stay neglected, gathering dust in the corner. Instead of waiting an hour to do your best movie training montage impression on the cables, don't be afraid to substitute available equipment that allows for the same range of motion.

Everybody loves getting their bench press on, but if using dumbbells means getting home a half-hour earlier, or if using plates means skipping a seven man line, give up your pet equipment for the day.

Image via Men's Fitness
Image via Men's Fitness

Group Your Workouts By Equipment

You need this if: You finally get your hands on a bench.

Quick fix: Okay, this is kind of a dick move, but in the cold, hard days of early January, it's every man for himself in that gym jungle. If you are doing several barbell workouts on a heavy chest day, you don't have to give up the bar between workouts. If you dig around online long enough, there is a way to use pretty much any piece of workout equipment for any body part you might be working. Don't be afraid to use that barbell for arm, shoulder, and back workouts while you're giving your chest a rest. You'll give yourself a different kind of burn and keep that barbell for the duration of the workout. If you aren't familiar with barbell workouts outside of the bench, here is a good starting point.

Yes, you might get some shade-filled glances from your fellow gym goers, but you'll also get back to your crib before dinner with your workout completed.

Image via BreakingMuscle
Image via BreakingMuscle

Bodyweight is Your Friend

You need this if: You're waiting for a machine to open up.

Quick fix: Body weight workouts might not give you the mass building of low rep, high weight workouts, but they will effectively tone and sculpt your body. But, you already knew that. That's why you make sure to do a few sets of push-ups and pull-ups before you hit the club. There is more to that bodyweight life than the push-up. Planks, dips, squats, and burpees will all really tone you up and even help you build muscle. If the guy hogging the bench really only has two sets left, why not get some planks in while you wait your turn to get swole?

Also bear in mind that there are many variations on even the most basic workouts. This group of bodyweight workouts alone features about a half-dozen different types of push-up.

Image via gymworkouts.co
Image via gymworkouts.co

Think Outside the Squat Rack

You need this if: You were just starting to like leg day.

Quick Fix: If you're anything like me, getting yourself to embrace leg day can be a struggle. But, if you stick with squats long enough and get that form just right, you begin to love them. And now, after all that work, the post-holiday crowds have taken your beloved squat rack. Just remember that you have a lot of options for leg workouts, and you shouldn't limit yourself to squats and leg presses. Though it sucks to decrease your weight, you can always get a decent leg workout with dumbbells or E-Z bars if the squat rack is full up. You probably won't be putting up 200 pounds while you do it, but there is no workout that burns quite like a walking, weighted lunge. Though squats are the cornerstone of many workouts, there are other options when it comes to leg day.

Image via FramePool
Image via FramePool

Take the Weights Out of the Weight Room

You need this if: You've lost your zen.

Quick fix: For many people, the mental benefits of the gym are just as important as the physical. If you endure a manic work environment or a hectic household, the gym might be the only place where you can find peace of mind. For those of us who view the gym as a refuge, New Year's resolutions bring barbarians to our gates. Luckily, there may be a way for your to reclaim your fortress of solitude.

Most gyms feature at least one hardwood floored room where classes and training takes place. Few gyms can run classes around the clock. This means this room is often vacant, save a few yoga masters and D.I.Y. aerobicizers floating in and out. If you're working with free weights, don't be afraid to step away from the weight racks and into a room away from the shouting, bragging, and terrible music of the main area of the gym.

You may not find enlightenment, but at least you get away from the guy singing along with Beyonce on his headphones as he does his tenth set on the bench.

Image via T-Nation
Image via T-Nation

Get Your Drill On

You need this if: You can't tread near a treadmill

Quick fix: Without fail, the most crowded area of the gym in January is the treadmills. Some people hate weightlifting, others don't care for yoga, but everybody seems to find their way to the machine that let you run in place while watching reality television. Of course, you can look to other aerobic machines, but odds are that the ellipticals and bikes are equally crowded.

One option is to find an open space and channel your high school basketball coach. Sprints, suicides, stairs, and other aerobic drills can provide a nice, explosive workout. Really, it wouldn't be a bad idea to incorporate these short burst exercises into your routine year-round, but these workouts can be especially helpful when you don't want to wait in line just to run in place.

Image via WebMD
Image via WebMD

Crunch While You Wait

You need this if: You want to work out between workouts

Quick fix: One of the most annoying things about January is waiting for equipment to become available. As you wait in line for the bench or count the seconds until you can curl the right dumbbell, work on your six pack instead of watching the clock. Ab exercises are the easiest thing to work into the middle of a workout. Unlike arm and chest exercises, doing ab workouts today likely won't impact the quality your workout tomorrow. And until that newly acquired holiday spare tire is gone, there is no reason to stop doing crunches.

Image via VZIK
Image via VZIK

Put Complimentary Workouts Together

You need this if: you want to get out of the gym at a reasonable hour after a reasonable workout.

Quick fix: Circuit training is annoying to pretty much everyone else in a crowded gym. Claiming multiple pieces of equipment at once or surrounding yourself with a half-dozen different sets of dumbbells won't earn you many gym admirers. However, if you can build a mini-circuit without hogging equipment, you can a great quick workout without inconveniencing everyone else.

Think about putting push-pull exercises back to back, or combining workouts that you can do on the same piece of equipment. For example, tricep pulldowns and the rope cable curl can be done in tandem. Also, incline bench and reverse flyes can be done with a bench in roughly the same position. The most important thing when building a workout is thinking about what muscles you're working when. But, it doesn't hurt to build an efficient workout while building an effective one.

Image via YMCA
Image via YMCA

Join the Group

You need this: Because if you can't beat them, join them.

Quick fix: There is a silver lining to every cloud, even the one that hangs over gyms in January. More people in the gym means more classes, more pick-up games, and more opportunities to learn new workouts. It's going to be an annoying month, but rather than pouting as you wait in line at the water fountain, you could try to make the most of it. Your gym will likely offer more classes in hopes of keeping new members onboard. There will be more people to fill the basketball and racquetball courts. If the gym is crazy crowded when you get there, why not take in a Tae-Bo class as you wait for the crowd around the squat rack to thin out?

It's going to be hard, but you might as well try to enjoy the crowds any way you can.

Or you could just get up super early and beat them to the gym.

RELATED: 10 Reasons You Need A Gym Membership
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