If the pandemic did one good thing for Americans, it’s getting them to start exercising. Believe it or not, exercise went up by 88% during quarantine, and hopefully, many of us are planning to keep it that way!
However, as we approach the holiday season, it’s important to prevent our motivation from lagging. Now is the best time to get outside and start enjoying our workout routines. Here are some of the best holiday workouts to try this season!
Why Holiday Workouts Are Important
Briefly, before we get into the workouts, let’s discuss why you need to work out for the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and the New Year, most Americans will struggle to keep up with their diet and exercise routines, which go hand in hand.
When we eat poorly, we often lose the necessary motivation to keep up with our workout routines. Well, we need to fight this as best as we can. The holiday season is more than 10% of our entire year, so choosing to be unhealthy during that time is substantial.
As winter approaches, seasonal depression or the “winter blues” will be kicking in for many people. Well, proper diet and exercise is the best way to improve your mental health and prepare yourself to thrive over the next few months. Start out strong and set yourself up for success!
Which Workouts Are The Best?
This entirely depends on your own fitness goals, but there are some workouts that are particularly good for your health. However, it’s important to remember that the only “bad workout” is the one that never happened.
Although, incorporating a diverse style of training is excellent for overall health and fitness, so try not to limit yourself.
For example, you may love bodybuilding, but it wouldn’t hurt to try some calisthenics, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and some light cardio. This is especially true when you’re most likely to be overeating or underperforming.
Aim for short and effective workouts to help keep your motivation high throughout the season and avoid burnout. This will also help with fitting your routine into your busy holiday schedule.
What About Nutrition?
Again, we’ll go through this quickly and then jump into the workouts. Don’t let your nutrition slip too much. It’s not the end of the world if you eat some Christmas cookies this time of the year, but don’t forget about your goals.
Try to get a wide variety of quality macro and micronutrients in your daily diet. If all else fails and you’re worried about your nutritional intake, meal prep for days in advance and make yourself a daily salad that’s loaded with vegetables. It won’t erase the holiday treats, but it will still help you reach your goals.
HIIT workouts are so popular for a reason. In fact, they were deemed the number 1 fitness fad of 2014, although they have been used for decades.
Not only are they short and effective, but they are highly adaptable to your goals and abilities. Each HIIT workout will be different from the last.
There are major health benefits to HIIT workouts that you can’t get from other workouts. Unlike other cardio workouts like distance running, HIIT training can both strengthen and grow your muscles, while building up both muscular and cardiovascular endurance.
HIIT workouts typically last between 10 and 30 minutes, although there are few workouts with such an impressive portfolio of benefits. Here are a few sample workouts to try, but remember that you can incorporate anything you want into these workouts, or even join a class with more structure!
20 Minute Circuit
Adjust this workout to your own capabilities and perform it on a treadmill, outside, or on an indoor track. Complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes of:
- 90-second jog
- 30-second sprint
- 60-second walk
If you attempt a similar workout in the future and you want to make it more challenging, try upping the speed during the sprint or the jog. If you don’t feel beat after one round, you may not need to increase the speed just yet. These workouts sound fast, but that doesn’t mean they are easy!
For this workout, you will try to complete it for time. If you want to track your workouts to see how you progress throughout the season, write down the workout along with the time it took you to complete it.
- 10 Push-ups
- 20 Squats
- 30 Jumping jacks
Remember, this is a timed workout, so you want to push yourself as hard as you can. We chose movements that are easy to do at home, in the office, or in the gym. However, you can choose any movement you want if you have the right equipment and are able to perform the movement safely.
Adapt these workouts however you like. The only tip is to avoid using heavy weights for timed workouts, as this is a recipe for injury.
Most gyms offer full-body HIIT classes that will incorporate a wide variety of tools like agility ladders, bodyweight movements, running, weights, and more. If you enjoy variety and you want to boost your cardio and functional strength, then this is for you!
Cycling this time of year is the best to keep you cool and ride safely before the ice arrives. It’s also easily translatable as the weather gets colder, as you can join an indoor cycling class to help you get the quality cardiovascular workout that you need.
Whether it’s inside or out, working out in a class setting will help you perform better, make friends, and remain accountable to your workout schedule. Your gym should offer a variety of times for these classes, since they are so popular, so you won’t trouble working it into your schedule with ease.
Cycling classes last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and they will be intense cardiovascular workouts. If you have the right instructor, workouts will be very enjoyable!
Workouts To Try
If you’re in a class setting, you’ll have your workouts prepared for you. However, a typical cycling workout will usually involve intervals of intensity and speed throughout the duration of the workout, based on your abilities.
If you’re cycling on the road, try to use hills and different gears on your bike to make it more challenging, and track your progress as you go. If you use a regular route, track your time. Regular time? Track your distance.
Running on a treadmill is the go-to option in the winter, but some people prefer to get outside. While the holiday season is cold, there isn’t usually ice on the ground quite yet.
Unless there’s a storm, it isn’t a bad idea to put on an extra layer and go for a run! If you prefer getting outside, do it while you still can. There’s a reason that “turkey trots” exist, and that’s because the season is meant for running!
You will only need to add a thin layer, in most cases. Even if you start out a little cold, you will warm up quickly in your run and be ready to start shedding your layers.
If you’ve never run in the cold, try it! There are plenty of reasons to take a fitness class outdoors, especially this time of year for both your mental and physical health!
Workouts To Try
Give yourself a challenge based on your own needs. If you’re aiming for ~30-minute workouts, try to get a 5K in under that time! That’s a good goal for most fitness levels, but you can also work on your mile time, 100m sprints, 5 miles, or whatever your goals are!
4. Strength Training
There are many different forms of strength training, and feel free to incorporate as many as you’d like into your routine. Trying different routines is always a great idea, as long as you are exercising (pardon the pun) proper form.
If you are trying to use the winter to build strength or muscle mass, try adding anything from this list and incorporate it into your weekly routine. However, if you want the best results, try to share the load throughout your body and not stick to particular muscle groups.
Calisthenics is strength training that only uses only bodyweight. It’s you vs gravity.
Push-ups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, and sit-ups are some of the most common examples. Here are some other popular calisthenics exercises with varying levels of difficulty:
- Leg lifts
The list goes on. There are thousands of different exercises you can perform with just your body weight and the floor. If you add a pull-up bar or set of gymnastics rings, the possibilities become endless!
Many gyms offer calisthenics classes in some form. Outdoor boot camps, HIIT training, and other common classes will involve a lot of calisthenics movements.
The goal of calisthenics is to achieve full-body control and grace of movement with your various exercises. Incorporating some calisthenics exercises into any routine is a good idea, as it’s one of the best sports when it comes to pound-for-pound strength.
You can break these workouts up into muscle groups or try for full-body workouts each time. For example, a workout could involve pull-ups, chin-ups, and bodyweight rows to work your back, or it could involve push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and plank for a full-body workout.
Powerlifting and Weightlifting
Now, these are only possible to perform outside if you bring a barbell with you. However, if you have the facilities indoors, use them as a supplement. Some gyms will have outdoor classes that involve weight training, but you should do what works for you.
Powerlifting focuses primarily on 3 lifts but will incorporate several others to assist. The 3 movements are the bench press, back squat, and deadlift.
Powerlifting is all about raw strength, and the barbell is the primary mode of achieving that. During training, powerlifters are likely to incorporate the following exercises (along with others):
- Front squats
- Barbell rows
- Weighted “good mornings”
- Overhead press
- Weighted lunges
The list goes on. Different powerlifters will use different movements within their routines, but it’s all in order to support their 3 primary lifts and develop their overall strength.
However, weightlifting focuses on the 2 Olympic lifts; the clean & jerk and the snatch. Both of these movements bring a barbell from the ground to locked out over your head. The clean & jerk does this in two movements while the snatch does it in one.
This style of training develops your explosive power along with raw strength, and it will incorporate plenty of powerlifting movements and training styles with a primary focus on those two Olympic lifts.
Although, this style is very dangerous for beginners and should only be used with the assistance and direction of a personal trainer or coach.
5. Online Classes
Whether you want to do a yoga class, outdoor BootCamp, or anything else, if you can connect your phone or laptop to the internet, you can get an outdoor workout into your routine.
All you have to do is find the right fitness class for your needs and preferences and register. You’ll still be able to benefit from having a dedicated instructor and other participants, but you’ll be able to do it on your own time and in the outdoor space of your choice!
Now that you know some of the best holiday workouts to try out this season, remember how important it is to keep your spirits and motivations up this time of year! Keep yourself happy and safe this winter and build that dream body for the spring! Stay up to date with our latest health and fitness news and feel free to register for a class today!