The holidays are one big fat trap. First, you probably have to travel to see family, which means stress and missed workouts (or, at best, squeezed-in half-assed sessions). Then you eat like a pig, so you’re lethargic for days. What you need—beyond some smart brain strategies—is a workout you can do anywhere to counter-act binges and inactivity. We prescribe this cardio and weights combo for a big metabolic boost.

How it works

An intense circuit session raises your metabolism for hours after, increasing the rate at which you burn calories even when you’re eating leftovers and watching football. In fact, according to Harvard Medical School, a 185-pound man who performs 30 minutes of circuit weight training can burn 355 calories. That’s got to be at least good enough for a “healthy” serving of the second and third best dishes on the table—potatoes and cranberry sauce.

The following circuit is designed to be customizable to your surroundings. So even if your gym is Mom and Dad’s garage—equipped with only a pair of 10-pound dumbbells—you can still get impressive results if you put the work in.

Perform this workout before your big meal so more of the calories you eat will be used for recovery, then do it again the next day to keep your metabolic fire burning. Remember, what you put in is what you’ll need to work out.


Use this 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 perform each rep slowly with more control.