3 Quick Post-Holiday Workouts
One of the reasons gym memberships spike in January is because of all the damage we do to ourselves between Thanksgiving and New Year's. From over-indulging in that open bar at the company Christmas party to that extra helping of Grandma's stuffing, many of us go crazy on the food and drink. And then there's the sorry story of our physical activity. With such packed schedules, fitness often falls by the holiday wayside. Here are three quick workouts to get you back on the wagon in the New Year, no gym required. All you need is 15 minutes and a little will power.
1) Tabata Intervals
If you're searching for the most efficient session you can
do, look no further than Tabata intervals, which a Japanese physiologist found not only increase power output but also endurance in just four minutes. As the Tabata protocol is intense, we don't advise you go into it cold. Instead, spend at least five minutes warming up. To get your Tabata on:
> Find a rowing machine, treadmill or stationary bike or, if you don't live in a winter wonderland, run, cycle or paddle outside instead
> Go as hard as you can while maintaining proper form for 20 seconds
> Go slow for 10 seconds
> Repeat 8 times, trying not to pass out when your body realizes what you're subjecting it to
> Do a five minute cool-down to get your body to start recovering afterward
2) 100 Burpees
Another lung-busting workout that will tax most of the major muscle groups in your body is the burpee. Do a few and you can get the blood flowing, but bang out 100 and you'll feel like you've really got some work done in just a few minutes. If you need to reduce that total or take breaks when your form starts to break down, go ahead. To do the burpee:
> Place both hands on the floor in front of you
> Jump both feet backward as you drop into the bottom position of a pushup
> Explosively extend your arms, using the momentum to power up off the ground
> As your upper bodies travels upward, jump forward with both feet so they land where your hands just were
> Jump straight up
> That's one rep. Try to do 99 more.
Check out this video to make sure you're not going to burpee your back into oblivion.
3) Air Squats + Pushups
During the holidays it can be hard to get to the gym or find wherever your Dad stashed those rusty dumbbells in the garage which he claims he still uses three times a week. So here's another quick-hit session that doesn't require any equipment other than your own body. To mix things up, you could also combine two other upper and lower body exercises, like pull-ups and lunges, jumping in place and planks, or whatever your imagination can come up with. To do the squat + pushup combo:
> Stand with your feet straight and shoulder width apart
> Screw your feet into the ground (left foot counter-clockwise, right foot clockwise) to create a stable hip
> Squeeze your butt to align your pelvis and lower back
> Extend both arms out in front of you
> Lower yourself toward the floor until your upper legs are at least parallel to the ground (if you can go lower without rounding your back then all the better). As you do so, shove your knees out and keep your tummy tight.
> Extend your legs to return to the starting position. Do 10 squats and then pushups, which look like:
> Lie flat on your front
> Place your hands shoulder width apart and directly under your shoulders to make sure your wrist, elbow and shoulder stay aligned (this hand placement is much further towards your waist than most people use with incorrect form)
> Screw your hands into the ground (left hand counter-clockwise, right hand clockwise) to create a stable shoulder
> Keeping your elbows tucked into your ribs and your abs engaged, press yourself up until your arms are extended
> Maintaining a tight core, slowly lower yourself back down until your chest touches the floor. That's one rep, aim for 10, and then go back to the squats and repeat the cycle three more times.
> Need more of a challenge? Add more reps and/or speed, as long as your form stays solid.