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Your Turkey Day Workout

It’s man vs. feast in the war for your waistline.

If there’s one holiday that seems to celebrate being fat, it’s Thanksgiving. First, you probably have to travel for it, and that means stress, missed workouts or, at best, squeezing in sessions on the fly (and usually without the best equipment). Then you eat like a pig during the meal, which incapacitates you for days afterward. What you need—beyond a little self-control—is a workout you can do anywhere and that helps to reverse the effects of all the “fun” you’re having. We prescribe the following routine, which combines cardio and lifting for a lasting metabolic boost.

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According to Harvard Medical School, a 185-pound man who performs 30 minutes of circuit weight training can burn 355 calories. That’s equivalent to a cup and a half of mashed potatoes made with butter and whole milk. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. An intense circuit session raises your metabolism for days afterward, increasing the rate at which you burn calories even when you’re eating leftovers and watching football. The following circuit is designed to be customizable to your surroundings. So, even if your gym is Aunt Tillie’s garage—equipped with only a pair of five pound dumbbells left to collect dust behind the paint cans—you can still get impressive results if you put the work in. Perform the workout before your big meal so more of the calories you eat will be used for muscle recovery, then do it again the next day to keep your metabolic fire burning. 

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Perform the workout up to five times per week, but no more than three days in a row. Complete one set of 8–15 reps for each exercise, resting as needed between exercises— that’s one circuit. Repeat for three to five total circuits. If the weights you have are light and the exercises feel easy, reduce your rest time and/ or try to perform each rep more slowly and with more control. If you don’t have weights, try to improvise with objects like milk or water jugs, or a backpack.


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