Tis the season. Again.
You’re about to begin the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving and Christmas — often finding yourself without the equipment you are comfortable with and pressed for time to make a difference.
So what to do?
I’ve already written an article to help with a number of nutrition and lifestyle factors. In this article, I mention body weight, or calisthenic, exercise as an answer to common holiday exercise woes: No time, no gym, no equipment and no motivation.
Let’s highlight the body weight moves that will get you the best results in the shortest amount of time. While the days shorten and the world seems to go to sleep, you don’t have to give up on your fitness goals. In as little as 20 minutes, 4 days per week, I promise you that your travel and food game will have minimal negative effect on your health and fitness before the days again become longer and the world comes back to life.
Utilizing peripheral arterial training and proper warm-up protocol, I have just the moves for this challenging time.
I will highlight the move, walk you through the benefits and give you an advanced and beginner version. No matter your shape or injury status, you should be able to get these done with little discomfort and great results!
Complete the following as a circuit (60 seconds of each exercise) x 2 if you’re short on time or up to 5 times if you have the minutes to work off that extra stuffing. Modify as prescribed when necessary for a challenge or regression.
It’s the beginning of the circuit, let’s get your biggest, strongest muscle active and ready.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and heels a foot away from your rump. Pushing your weight into your heels, lift your hips toward the ceiling while squeezing your glutes behind you. Put your hands on your glutes to encourage the body to use those muscles more than your lower back.
Challenge: Single leg hip bridges or jumping version
Regression: Pelvic rotation while keeping lower back pressed against the floor
Now onto a core activation exercise.
Rest on your elbows and toes while keeping the rest of the body rigid and flat. Only your core keeps you floating above the ground. Keep the shoulders out of your ears and breathe deeply while focusing on your core.
Challenge: Lift one arm and opposite leg for 30-seconds each or explosive transition to extended plank then back down for 60 seconds.
Regression: Drop to your knees to take the weight down and ease pressure on the back
Next, it’s time to drop it like it’s hot.
With your feet shoulder-width apart, lower your booty back like you’re sitting in an invisible chair, then press through your heels and midfoot (not your toes!) to return to the straight-legged starting position. Let your arms do what they need to. Complete the movement slow if you need to baby your joints, quickly if your joints can handle the faster tempo!
Challenge: Single leg squat (30-seconds each) or frog jump
Regression: Actually put a chair or couch behind you. Sit down, then stand up!
Now it’s the upper body’s turn.
Assume the front leaning rest (hands flat, shoulder-width, on your toes). Lower yourself as deeply as possible while keeping your hips in line with your body (no sagging or booties in the air) and your shoulders out of your ears. Repeat as you are able!
Challenge: Single arm push-ups or plyometric
Regression: Drop to your knees and go all the way to the floor for a hand release push-up. Less weight, less core strength required.
Back to the lower body!
Step BACK with one leg, balance your weight on the ball of your back foot and the middle of your front one, dip down as far as you’re able without your knee touching the floor, and press through both legs to bring you back to your starting position. Alternate your legs each time.
Challenge: Alternating jump lunges
Regression: Step onto a platform or step around the house balancing slowly on the way up and on the way down. Alternate legs.
Let’s not neglect those back muscles! We all usually sit so much, it’s super-important to keep good posture while sitting!
Lay flat on your stomach with arms at your sides. Raise your upper and lower body as high as you are able, reaching your hands back as if you were attempting to grab your feet while lifting your thighs as high off of the floor as they will rise. Squeeze your back muscles for 5 seconds at a time. Release and repeat.
Challenge – Dead fish. Sounds fun, right? Roll from stomach to back while keeping hands overhead using only your back and core to move you. Do not let feet or hands touch the floor.
Regression – Bird dog. On hands and knees, raise one arm and opposite leg. Hold for 30-seconds. Switch sides.
Now to pull out all the stops and get that heart rate up!
Place hands flat on the floor, jump feet back, perform a push up, jump feet back under you and jump up with hands overhead.
Challenge: None. If burpees aren’t enough of a challenge for 60-seconds, you are not jumping high enough and could go faster.
Regression: Nix the push up and the jump. Walk yourself down (instead of jump) and walk yourself up. Hands overhead. Repeat!
Now that you’re out of breath, onto your abs!
Lay on your back and bend and lift your knees so that your hips and knees are bent at 90-degrees. Keeping your back pressed into the floor, lower your feet to touch the floor and use your lower abdominals to rotate your knees back into you. Place a hand on your lower abdominals to increase their activity! You want to use primarily your core, not hip flexors!
Challenge: Lying leg raise (straighten your legs).
Regression: Lower one leg to the floor at a time keeping the other knee and hip in the 90-degree position. Alternate for 60-seconds.
Last but not least, let’s hit those obliques!
Lay on your side on the floor with only your elbow and the side of one foot touching the ground. Keep your body rigid and elevated, using your obliques to keep your hips high!
Challenge: Side plank rotations. Come up on your hand (instead of your elbow) and alternate the other outstretched arm reaching for the ceiling, then your wallet. 30-seconds each side.
Regression: Bend your knees so that the side of one knee is touching the floor rather than the foot. Place your other hand on the floor in front of your stomach for support if needed.
Like the back of the shampoo bottle, these instructions work best if repeated. The more you repeat the circuit, the more you can rest assured that you’re washing your metabolic and musculoskeletal system of the stress, postural issues and less-than-nutritious strains you’re mucking it up with.
Now find a space
All that’s left is to find that little corner of the house, playground or back yard that can act as your body weight arena.
This workout’s got all you need to crush the next 2 months and end up in better shape than you started.
I can’t wait to see what you do with your new year.