The easygoing workout to get you back in the saddle after the holidays
If your workouts took a backseat to parties and family time over the holidays, there's no need to fret. It may be tempting to engage in a bit of self-flagellation for all the holiday cocktails you enjoyed, but don't go gangbusters with high-intensity workouts that could sideline you with an injury.
Ease your way back into your regular workout routine with this 30-minute four-round circuit. These full-body exercises will prepare you for more intense workouts in the weeks to come, while still offering a healthy dose of cardio to boot.
Round 1: Easy cardio
Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, cycling through three total times without rest between exercises or sets. After you've completed three sets, rest for one minute before continuing with the next round.
Marching high knees
March in place, bringing your knees as high as you can in front of your body. Extend your arms at your chest to give yourself a visual goal for your high knees.
Continue marching in place with high knees, but place your arms behind your head and rotate your torso on each march, reaching your opposite elbow toward the lifted knee.
Lower yourself into a baby squat with your arms at your side and knees together. Extend one leg out laterally as you simultaneously raise both arms out laterally, extending them from your shoulders. Bring everything back to center and repeat on the opposite side, keeping your core tight and your chest lifted.
Round 2: Static strength
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, cycling through the three-exercise series three times without rest. After you've completed your sets, rest for one minute before continuing with the next round.
If 30 seconds is too easy, aim for 45 or 60 seconds per exercise.
Lean against a wall, your feet about 1.5 to 2 feet away from the base of the wall. Bend your knees and slide your torso down the wall until your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle — keep your weight in your heels. Hold this position, engaging your glutes, thighs and core throughout the exercise.
Position yourself on your hands and knees in a modified push-up position with your shoulders over your palms and your hips extended, so your body forms a straight line from head to knees. Hold this position for the duration of the exercise, keeping your core tight, as if you were pulling your belly button in toward your spine.
Sit on the ground — your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, your palms resting behind you for support. Press down through your palms and heels and engage your core to lift your hips up into the air to form a "tabletop" with your body. Your body should form a straight line from your head to knees (don't crane your neck up or flop it back). Tighten your glutes, core and thighs to hold the position for the duration of the exercise.
Round 3: Active strength
Perform each exercise for 60 seconds, cycling through three total times without rest between exercises or sets. After you've completed all three sets, rest for one minute before continuing with the next round.
Squat and reach
Stand with your legs wider than shoulder-width apart, your toes pointing outward. Keeping your core tight and your torso tall, bend your knees and lower your hips toward the ground, trying to keep your knees aligned with your toes and your weight in your heels. Reach down and touch the ground between your legs with both hands. As you reverse the movement and press through your heels to return to standing, sweep your arms up and out laterally to the sides while reaching them over your head. Continue the exercise, sweeping your arms down and out as you squat, and up and out as you rise.
Knee push-up rotation
Start on your hands and knees in a modified push-up position, your hips extended and your palms under your shoulders, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows and lower your chest toward the ground to perform a push-up. When you press back up to your modified push-up start position, plant your toes on the ground and extend your knees, raising yourself into a full plank. From this position, sweep one arm up and out to the side as you engage your core, while twisting your torso to follow your arm until your body is in a side plank position with one arm planted under your shoulder and the other arm pointing toward the sky. Lower your raised arm back to the ground, rotating back to a full plank position. Lower your knees back to the ground before performing another push-up. This time, rotate into a side plank on the opposite side.
Downward Dog to plank
Start in a full plank position, your hands on the ground under your shoulders, your body fully extended, so you form a straight line from heels to head. Hold for a count of three, then press through your palms and your heels as you lift your hips toward the sky, while extending your arms up from your shoulders until your body forms an inverted V position. Your heels don't need to touch the ground. Hold for a count of three before returning to the plank position.
Round 4: Active cardio
Perform each exercise for 30 seconds, cycling through the three-exercise series three times without rest.
If 30 seconds is too easy, aim for 45 or 60 seconds per exercise.
Sit on the ground with your knees bent, feet flat on the ground, your hands on the ground behind you for support. Engage your core and press through your palms and feet as you lift your hips from the ground. Take five to six "steps" backward with your hands and feet in a crab walk, then reverse the movement and take five or six "steps" forward to return to start. Continue this backward-forward movement for the duration of the exercise, keeping your core engaged and your hips off the ground.
Start in a full plank position, your palms on the ground beneath your shoulders, your hips and knees extended so your body forms a straight line from heels to head. From this position, bend your knees and press back through your hips (as if you were doing a squat) as you press through your palms, extending your arms up from your shoulders. The catch? You can't ever let your knees touch the ground. When your hips are pressed back and your arms are extended as far as possible, powerfully press through the balls of your feet and reverse the movement, returning to a full plank.
Low lunge and reach
Start in a full plank position. Step one leg forward, just outside the same-side hand in an overexaggerated lunge. Press through the heel of the lunged leg and the ball of your extended leg and use your core to lift your torso up as you extend your arms over your head. Hold for a count of three, replace your hands on the ground and step your lunged leg back to plank. Repeat on the opposite side.