I'm a really big fan of Christmas. I'm the kind of guy that would put Christmas music on November 1st in the gym if not for the better counsel of my fiancé and partner. Recognizing that this time of year is the busiest for most of us and not so good for our commitment to fitness, I wanted to give my gift of the 12 Days of Christmas Workouts.
If you are like me and are pressed for time during the two busy weeks of the holidays, try to follow this short duration, high intensity workout regimen. It will help you stay on track and not get wrecked by all those extra meals and days of cutting your workouts.
Days 1, 2 and 3: December 12-14
These 12 days are a stressful crunch time. Yoga is a great way to overcome this--the stretching and breathing are not only great for your muscular health but also your mental focus.
Try performing the following modified yoga fitness routine for the first three days to break-in the 12 days workouts.
Start with the regular plank position, followed by the hip bridge. Next, perform a pike position. Finish this mini circuit with side planks on each side.
Hold these poses for as long as you can, focusing on breathing and good form. You should try to work on holding them for up to 60 seconds each. Repeat each pose 2 more times.
Days 4, 5 and 6: December 15-17
Do yourself a solid and buy a pedometer. Over these three days, count all of your mall walking, treadmill running, stair climbing and dog walking to rack up a grand total of 26.2 miles. It's about a hair over 9 miles a day. You can also ride stationary or spinning bikes to burn through those miles.
Days 7, 8 and 9: December 18-20
Do this core routine each day for these three days: 3 sets of 10-12 V sit-ups. Follow with a sustained plank. Try to hold for a minute each. Lastly, perform 3 sets of 20 bicycle crunches where you bring your elbow to your knees. If you have back problems you can also do these standing up.
Days 10, 11 and 12: December 21-23
In the last three days up to the climax of the holiday season, get your workout in with the Upper Body Blast, consisting of four push-up variations. It's a short upper body circuit that focuses on push-up variations. Perform one set of 20 reps then move to the next exercise.
First are wide grip push-ups: place your hands wider than shoulder width (like a wide grip position on your bench).
Second set are close grip push-ups, with your forefingers and thumbs touching each other to create a diamond of space. These focus on the triceps.
Third are feet-elevated push-ups, with your feet raised up on a chair or bench.
The last set requires you to use dumbbells. Perform dumbbell rows with alternating arms from the push-up position, followed by a push-up.
After you go through one full circuit, rest two minutes then complete two more circuits.
Day 13: Christmas Eve
Do nothing but enjoy the holidays. You've earned it.
Ryan Barnhart, MS, PES, is a certified Performance Enhancement
and Injury Prevention Specialist through the National Academy of Sports
Medicine (NASM). He also holds a master's degree in exercise science, as
well as a bachelor of sport management, both from California University
of Pennsylvania. Ryan has worked with numerous collegiate and amateur
athletes across many different fields. Ryan also has had the opportunity
to work with several professional athletes. Recently he has worked with
amateur and professional athletes within the emerging sport of Mixed
Ryan is currently the director of fitness at a 700+ member gym near Pittsburgh, PA. He enjoys working with weekend warriors, athletes, and everyone in between. You can contact Ryan at email@example.com.