Working Off Holiday Indulgences

Posted on: December 29th, 2011 by paul

The holidays are here, and so are the bottomless jars of Christmas cookies, glasses of egg nog, and the endless supply of gravy soaked turkey leftovers. Like every year, there is no shortage of calorie consumption.

As we know, it is much easier to pack on the pounds than it is to shed them. This poses even more of a problem when you plan your family vacation down south during, or directly after, the holidays! Here are some ways to burn off some of those holiday calories:

High-Intensity Interval Training:
Interval training can be done while doing any form of cardiovascular exercise. It consists of bursts of higher intensity work, followed by short (lower intensity) rest periods. Doing this type of exercises cannot be done every day (due to its high demands on your heart, joints, and energy systems), but it is a great way to spike your heart rate and to keep your metabolism burning at a higher rate for a longer period after your workout.

An example of interval training would be to jog (either outside or on a treadmill) at a moderate pace for 2 minutes, then pick up your pace significantly for 1 minute. Continue this pattern for 20-30 minutes. This is a 1:2 (work:rest ratio) style interval. As you get in better shape, you can increase your work ratio and decrease your rest.

Beach Workouts:
When you are on your vacation and looking for a quick way to burn off some extra calories, try jogging on the beach. A beach jog burns 1.6 times more calories than running on a paved or hard surface. Due to the sand’s uneven surface, approximately 560 calories (for a 150lb person) are burned in 30 minutes and more energy is expended per stride (than on a flat surface).

Circuit Training:
Circuit training can be done at the gym, at home, in your hotel room or on the beach. The idea behind circuit training is to get your heart rate high and to keep it high throughout the duration of the workout and involves a mix of resistance and cardiovascular training. Circuit training is a combination of around 6-8 exercises all done back to back for a certain amount of time (example: 1 minute) or for a certain amount of repetitions (example: 20 repetitions). After all of the exercises are completed, you rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat the exercises again (usually 3-5 sets are performed).

*Remember, to always warm up first!

An example of circuit training is to do each exercise for 1 minute (the exercises are done in the hotel room and 3 sets, with a 45 second rest, are performed):

  • Body squats
    • Stand with feet shoulder width apart.
    • Squat down like sitting in a chair. Make sure your upper body stays tall and as close to perpendicular to the floor as possible. Keep knees tracking over toes and push your butt back as you squat down.


  • High knees
    • Jog on the spot, lifting your knees up to waist level with every stride. Pump your arms as if you are sprinting.


  • Shoulder tap pushups
    • After each pushup is completed, lift up one arm and tap your opposite shoulder (alternating right and left arm each time).


  • Ski-abs
    • Starting in a high plank position (or pushup position), in one motion, kick both legs up high and land them next to your left hand (using your left obliques and bending the knees as you crunch in your legs).
    • In one motion, return your legs back so you are in high plank position and repeat on your right side.


  • Dips
    • Using the side of your bed, sit at the end and place your hands (finger tips forward) on either side of your buttocks.
    • Pressing your hands into the bed, lift your buttocks off the bed and slide your feet forward so your legs are straight and so your buttocks is now off the side of bed.
    • Bending at the elbows, drop your buttocks until your elbows are at 90 degree angles. Then rise back up to a straight arm position.


  • Frog jumps
    • Starting in a low squat position and touching both hands on the floor between your feet, jump up and forward raising your arms up high.
    • When you land, sink immediately into the low squat position (touching the floor between your feet) and jump up again right away, this time propelling yourself backwards and then sinking into the low squat position. Repeat.


Gillian Johnson BA, CSCS


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