Quick Workouts During the Holidays

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By Stephanie Dane

Shopping. Traveling. Baking and cooking. Decorating. Attending parties. Hosting parties. Writing out and mailing holiday cards. Entertaining guests or out of town relatives. Shopping for gifts. Spending time with family. Taking time away from work, simply to play catch up with everything once upon returning.

I can’t imagine squeezing anything else into my schedule during the holiday season.

Oh wait…

Let’s not forget our commitment to a healthy lifestyle and our workout routine that needs to fit somewhere in the chaos.

Women can lose up to 20 % of their cardiovascular fitness if they quit exercising cold-turkey between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

All the more reason not to abandon your fitness routine.

Good News: You don’t need to schedule an hour of exercise every day to make it worth your while. Incorporate supersets - back-to-back exercises that work opposing muscle groups - into your strength training routine in order to save time. Adding in short bursts of intense effort can fire up your metabolism, burn calories, and keep those muscles engaged and strong. So, in addition to adding super-sets for your weight training… incorporate interval training into your cardio sessions.

Schedule Yourself In: Just as you must schedule everything else to manage your time and fit it all in… do the same for your exercise to ensure you make time for it consistently.

Here are some quick workouts that can be done at home, in the gym or even on the go, if traveling this holiday season:

Given the specific amount of time you have available, you can designate one workout to upper OR lower body exercises. If you’re looking for a full body workout, superset one lower body with one upper body exercise (Example: 20 reps of squats,  followed by 10 push-ups. Repeat for 3-4 sets.

LOWER BODY

You don’t need a heavy barbell or pair of dumbbells make your leg workouts count (if you have access to these, then great! Feel free to incorporate them in.) Using your own body weight and good effort will offer up a killer leg workout.

Perform each exercise with 10-20 reps. Repeat 3-4 sets.
If working lower body only, choose 3 exercises.
If working full body, choose 2 exercises and superset with 2 upper body exercises. Finish with core exercises.

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  • Squats – This exercise targets quads, hamstrings, glutes and calves. When performed properly squats actually improve knee stability, strengthen connective tissue and maintain mobility/balance.
    Want to make this more challenging? Perform this exercise as a single leg squat. Lowering on one leg requires serious control and stability, so you’ll build lower body strength. It fires up smaller muscles to balance your body, which can help avoid injury.

  • Lunge Jumps - When performed correctly, this exercise targets the glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves. You will also engage muscles that stabilize the core and hips even improve ankle stability.
    Want to make this more challenging? Increase the jumps from small to more explosive, powerful movements… or hold light-weight dumbbells in each hand.

  • Alternating Side Lunges – A great exercise for activating the glutes, hamstrings, quads and hip muscles.
    Want to make this more challenging? Perform as a side lunge with toe touch or a curtsey lunge

  • Single Leg Hip Raise – no doubt, you’ll feel the burn in your glutes and hamstrings after this exercise.
    Want to make this more challenging? Prop your foot (on a medicine ball or dumbbell if at gym) or (Box or short stool at home) to further engage your glutes and focus on maintaining stability.

UPPER BODY

Perform each exercise to fail. Repeat 3-4 sets.
If working upper body only, work through all 3 exercises.
If working full body, choose 2 exercises and superset with 2 lower body exercises. Finish with core exercises.

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  • Pushups – This is a great upper body exercise which activates the chest, shoulders, arms and core.
    Want to make this more challenging? Place your feet on a bench, chair, box or stability ball for a decline push.

  • Dips – Engage your shoulders as well as triceps in this exercise. They can be done off a chair, bench, step, box, etc.
    Want to make this more challenging? Add something weighted to your lap, such as a plate if at the gym or a stack of children’s books if at home.

  • Superman’s – Engage your back muscles as well as your shoulders and core.
    Want to make this more challenging? Perform with alternate arm and leg raises or increase the duration you hold your limbs above the ground.

CORE

Perform each exercise for 30-60 seconds each. Repeat 3-4 sets.

  • Planks – maintaining proper form and keeping the abs engaged is critical to reap the benefits of this exercise.
    Want to make this more challenging? Raise one leg for 30 seconds each, then switch. Or place feet on a stability ball.

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  • Side planks – this activity alone is great for engaging your oblique muscles.
    Want to make it more challenging? Incorporate a leg raise in to engage the glutes and hip muscles.

  • Reverse Crunches – in addition to working your lower abs, and – unlike regular crunches- will improve your posture.
    Want to make it more challenging? Increase the number of reps in a given set. You should feel the burn.

Set goals to help keep yourself accountable, motivated and committed. Maybe that’s a goal to make it to the gym 3 days a week. Maybe it’s to workout 30 minutes every day. Choose a goal that is realistic for your lifestyle and schedule, yet also challenges you. Your body will thank you for every effort, great or small, that is made this holiday season.

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  • EXERCISE (specific to your unique life!), 

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  • An approach that takes your long term health and lifestyle into account

  • Peer support from other like-minded women?

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