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The pre-holiday season all-body workout

The magical time of endless feasts and constant dinners is coming! Here’s our plan: Get in shape before the holiday season strikes, and minimize the damage.

woman lifting dumbells

If your stretchy, elastic-waistband pants are all set up and ready to go, that can only mean one thing: The holiday season approach-eth.

While it’s easy to accept your inevitable food-ular doom and the extra junk in the trunk to be unexpectedly discovered in January, why not fight the cliche holiday bulge? Get the workout hours now (before the chaos sets in), stuff your face, and curb the disastrous consequences of binging. Perfect, no?

This is our proposal and challenge to you: Get fit before the holidays. We designed a simple, at-home, all-body workout to give you a little fitness boost. It’s set up in order of flow — do it all or nitpick; adjust as needed. Give it a go!

Loosen up with yoga

  • Downward- and upward-facing dog poses. These are a great way to begin; they’re very energizing poses. Start on all fours, with hands and feet shoulder width apart. While keeping hands firmly on the floor, tuck your toes underneath you, and lift your tailbone toward the ceiling. Legs and arms should be straight, feet and hands flat. From downward-facing dog, lower your body flat on the floor. Point your feet while pushing off the floor to lift your chest upward, and look up.
  • Triangle pose. This is for your joints and spine. Standing with your feet wide apart, turn your left leg so that your foot is at 90 degrees (in relation to your body). Your right foot should remain where it is. Dip with your hand touching your left foot, arm straight and your right hand outstretched to the ceiling. Repeat on other side.
  • Knees-to-chest pose. This is the final little warm-up before launching into the workout. Lie flat on your back, and simply pull your knees to your chest, then wrap your arms around them. Now you’re ready!

Legs galorewoman doing lunges

  • Lunges. These are great for firing up those leg muscles and glutes. Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Step out with your right foot, bend at the knee, and sink into a lunge with your left knee almost touching the floor. Both legs should be at near 90-degree angles. Return to the starting position, and proceed with your left foot. Aim for three sets of 10–15 reps.
  • Leg alphabet. This will work those legs to the max; don’t be fooled. Lying flat on your back with your left leg bent, extend your right leg (keeping it straight), and begin tracing consecutive letters of the alphabet. Make the letters as large as your leg movement permits — no cheating. Try to go through the whole alphabet, but take your time with each letter. Don’t be discouraged, and keep adding more letters every week. Don’t forget to switch legs.
  • Curtsy lunges. These will get your heart pumping and legs burning. Standing with legs shoulder width apart, step back to the right using your left foot, and sink into a curtsy, touching the floor with your hands. Rise while keeping feet in position, and hop over to the left, switching legs, and sink into a curtsy on your other leg. Aim for three sets of 10 reps; increase and decrease reps as needed.
  • Squat jumps. This is a basic exercise but with major payoff. You’ll love it. With feet shoulder width apart, lower yourself into a squat (almost a plie squat), then launch off the floor into a jump. Land with knees bent back into a squat. Aim for three sets of 15–20 reps. Adjust as necessary.

Work the arms

Without dumbbells

  • Plank/side plank. It’s yoga and Pilates wrapped into fitness magic! Assume the starting push-up position — weight resting on your arms, palms flat, back straight, toes tucked. This is the plank. Hold it for three sets of 30–45 seconds. Now for the side plank, begin in the same push-up position, but swing your body to the left side, stacking your feet on top of each other, and place your right hand on your hip. Gain balance, then extend your right arm upward, creating an aligned line throughout your arms and shoulders. Hold for three sets of 30 seconds each. Alternate sides.
  • Push-ups. Push-ups are a great way to build muscle using your own body weight, and everyone knows how to do them! Try to really push yourself, and make note of your progress. Start with two sets of 10–15 reps, and increase as desired. If you’re struggling, try modified push-ups.

With dumbbells

  • Bicep curls. Working on an obvious arm region, this exercise is simple yet effective. Stand with feet shoulder width apart, hands (holding dumbbells) at your sides. Raise the dumbbell in your right hand, rotating your forearm so your palm faces your shoulder. Lower to the starting position, and repeat with your other arm. Aim for three sets of 15-20 reps.
  • Overhead extensions. These are great for those triceps, and you can use either one heavier dumbbell with both hands or two of your regulars in each hand. While sitting or standing, extend both arms (with dumbbells) overhead, then bend at the elbow, and lower the weights behind your head. Raise them back up, and extend them overhead. Aim for three sets of 15–20 reps.
  • Shoulder presses. This one’s to give you those dreamy, sculpted shoulders. Start off with elbows bent, keeping each dumbbell at shoulder level. Lift the dumbbells by extending your arms up, and then lower them. Aim for three sets of 15–20 reps.

Get those abs

  • Crunches/side crunches. This is the basic staple of all ab workouts, but you probably won’t like it. Lie flat on your back, hands behind your head, knees bent. Flex your abdomen, and raise your torso off the floor as high as you can, keeping your lower back flat. Lower and repeat. Aim for three sets of 20–25 reps. Shift to side crunches by keeping your feet together and twisting your legs to the side to lay them stacked on the floor. Flex your abdomen, and raise your torso as before. Three sets of 20–25 reps.
  • Jackknife sit-ups. These are just fun to do, and they burn! Lie flat on your back with your arms extended. Simultaneously and keeping them straight, raise your arms and legs upward to meet. Keep your arms and legs parallel to each other. Lower and repeat. Aim for three sets of 15–20 reps.
  • Sit-ups with extended legs. This is pretty much the mother of all crunches. Lie flat on your back, and extend your legs upward, slightly lower than a 90-degree angle. Flex your abdomen, raise your torso, and reach for your feet with your hands. Hold at the top for a moment, lower, and repeat. Aim for three sets of 15–20 reps.

There! You’re done and looking super fit, yes? Yes. Let us know what worked for you and what didn’t. Experiment, and stay fit and healthy!

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