Holiday workout schedule

By Lindsey Woodkey, CPT

The day before Thanksgiving is the time to get in an aerobic workout. This “steady state” cardio (as I call it) should last around 45 minutes and be performed at a moderate intensity (7 on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “I’m lying in bed” and 10 being “I’m being chased through the forest by a man with a knife”). You should be able to recite the Pledge of Allegiance with a few breaths. Any mode of cardio will do (elliptical, treadmill, cycle, hiking).

Curious about where your heart rate should be? Calculate your target heart rate here.

I get asked all the time, what is the best workout to do before a “cheat” meal. My answer? A full body weights circuit. Trying not to get too scientific—weight training depletes your muscle glycogen (stored carbohydrates) more so than cardio. When our muscles are “empty” they are more likely to grab onto and use the carbohydrates we give it. This means that by doing a full body workout the morning before your holiday meal, you will ensure that all those carbs you are about to consume go into your muscles, not your fat stores. Weight training also elevates your metabolism long after you put down the dumbbells. For this circuit shoot for at least 2 sets of 15-20 reps per muscle group, working almost to failure. Do not rest between exercises. Complete one time through your full body circuit, rest 1-2 minutes, then repeat 2-3 times (if time allows). Use bands, dumbbells, machines, body weight,  or anything that adds resistance (see sample workout below). Your heart rate should remain elevated for the entire workout and you should leave a sweat pile on the gym floor.

The day AFTER Thanksgiving, you will want to do some cardio, but not just any cardio. Since your muscles are primed and ready to go after your feast the day before, we want to work them intensely. This is why I recommend you perform interval cardio the next day. These intervals consist of a work and a rest phase with the work phase lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute and the rest phase anywhere from 45 seconds to 2 minutes.  These can be performed on any cardio machine or outdoors but are easiest on the treadmill. Your intervals should last between 20 and 40 minutes depending on your intensity. Remember not to lift weights that next day as your body is still recovering from your Thanksgiving Day beat down!

 

Exercise

Reps

Weight

Squats

15-20

 
Toe Rises

15-20

 
Lat Pull downs

15-20

 
Chest Press

15-20

 
Russian Deadlifts

15-20

 
Lunges

15-20

 
Shoulder Presses

15-20

 
Biceps Curls

15-20

 
Triceps Press downs

15-20

 
Decline Crunches

15-20

 
Low Back Extensions

15-20

 
Russian Twists

15-20

 

Perform the entire circuit one time through, rest 1-2 minutes, then repeat 2-3 times. You should be able to get between 15-20 reps with good form, but no more (work almost to muscular failure). 

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