It’s that time of year again: holiday season.
With all the traveling, shopping for gifts, spending time with family, taking time away from work, and then catching up with everything once you return to the office, it’s not really the best time to make progress in your training regimen. If you can great, more power to you; but for a lot of guys, falling off the wagon and maintaining pre-holiday form is a major challenge.
Here, we’ve put together some exercises, tips, and advice from well-known trainers throughout the country to make sure you’re not dreading the gym when you get around to that New Year’s Day hangover.
Holiday exercises for you
Whether you’re dealing with family at home, traveling somewhere else, or don’t have as much time as usual, here are some exercises you can do just about anywhere, with little to no equipment. As long as you push yourself and move quickly from exercise to exercise, you’ll be able to get through some productive workouts in a short period of time. Feel free to mix and match these exercises so your out-of-gym workouts don’t get stale, while addressing every part of the body.
Todd Durkin’s recommendations
Todd Durkin is a renowned trainer in the world of professional sports, having worked with athletes like Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson over their respective careers. These exercises he chose will help you get back to basics and engage every major muscle group in your body. Here they are, along with his reasons for selecting them:
“Great upper-body exercise activating the chest, shoulders, arms, and core.”
“Great exercise to strengthen the obliques.” This is the one where you lie down on your side and engage your obliques by raising your legs while lunging your free elbow toward them simultaneously.
“An awesome exercise to target the hips and glutes.” This can be done utilizing a few different variations. The easier one involves rotating one of your legs out while on your knees. A much more intense, engaging version requires you to get into a completed pushup position and rotate one of your legs away from your body and then across it, repeating until fatigue sets in on your core.
“Get in your running, as it’s a great way to blast off fat, burn some stress, and release some endorphins.”
Mike Duffy’s recommendations
Mike Duffy has run his own successful personal training business for many years, and has contributed to several Men’s Fitness articles in the past. Here are his exercise recommendations, which put a huge focus on legs strength, power, endurance, and cardio:
“Single-leg squats are a great exercise because they are challenging in two ways. First, you have to lift the whole weight of your body with only one leg; and second, this exercise requires an extreme amount of balance.”
“Lunge jumps work legs strength, power, and endurance. A couple sets of high-rep lunge jumps will make you feel like you sprinted a 5K!”
“Burpees are a great exercise because they work the whole body. It's a squat thrust combined with a pushup and a jump. You're working your lower body, your upper body, and your heart. Combine these three exercises in a tri-set fashion for 2-3 sets of 20 reps and you'll need a nap.”
Travis Steffen’s recommendations
Last but not least, Travis Steffen is a trainer and founder of WorkoutBox.com. Steffen brings his experience as a former D-I football player and MMA fighter to his training, which makes for some intense, creative workout regimens. Here are a few exercises that might introduce new variations into exercises that you’re used to:
“The eccentric pushup is a great way to isolate the pectorals and increase time under tension. As a beginner, each rep should only take 3-5 seconds. However, the advanced exerciser should draw out reps as long as possible. At the bottom, fire the pecs hard and explode up. Perform 3 sets of 5-7 reps.”
“A side-plank itself is an effective exercise for developing the obliques, but adding a legs raise in can make this a formidable exercise. Not only will you see benefits throughout the entire core, but you'll also get considerable glute and abductor benefits. Perform 3 sets of 30-45 seconds each (per side), including as many controlled legs raises as possible during that time period.”
“The iron cross is great for developing the rectus abdominus, and is also helpful in strengthening and defining the hip flexors. It is performed by extending the arms and legs, then crunching one elbow to the opposite knee while each other limb remains elevated. Perform 2-3 sets of 12-15 reps per side.”
These are exercises you can do pretty much anywhere, but how much time should you be ready to put in to maintain the fitness level you’ve attained and grown used to? Of course, it depends upon where that level is. According to Duffy, this can range from as little as 20 minutes once a week for beginners to 45 minutes three times a week for high-level athletes. Durkin recommends shooting for three 20-minute workouts per week while ramping up the tempo throughout.
There are several variables though. Steffen points out that a week off training could be just what you need to recover if you’ve just finished a tough 8- to 10-week training cycle. On the other end of the spectrum, Duffy says he’s always felt energized by checking out local gyms and what they have to offer while traveling. Regardless, most of you will probably fall somewhere in the middle, which Durkin addresses: “Do something,” he says. “Prioritize your workouts. Do them early in the morning, and don’t settle for taking two weeks completely away from working out. You may not go to the gym as frequently during [the holidays], but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work out.”