Come the holidays, things can get a bit hectic. Despite having some well-deserved free time off from the office, there’s family to see, gifts to buy, and of course, football to watch.
But if you’re thinking all things merry means taking a break from working out, don’t drop your dumbbells so fast—especially if you don’t want seasonal weight gain to get the best of you. Research shows that the extra pounds you put on between Halloween and Christmas can take more than five months to lose.
Just because you don’t have a ton of time to hit the gym doesn’t mean you should derail your entire fitness routine. Take the quality over quantity approach and focus on a few key exercises—some of which you can do from the comfort of your own home (and no, we’re not just talking about walking up stairs).
Thus, we present you with the seven days of fit-mas: seven classic moves that will prep you for everything the holidays can throw your way, from hanging lights along the roof to carrying that tree from the farm to your living room.
Prepares you for: Carrying heavy shopping bags
Works: Core, forearms, back, legs
Do it: Grab a pair of kettlebells or dumbbells and hold them by your sides. Walk forward taking short, quick steps. Go for the given distance, as fast as possible.
Trainer tips: Don’t be the hero and grab kettlebells or dumbbells that are so heavy they compromise your posture.
Avoid the temptation to slouch, and keep a tall spine with your shoulders back.
Jacket by Theory; sweater by Todd Snyder; pants by Boglioli; boots by To Boot New York.
Prepares you for: Hanging those holiday lights outside
Do it: Stand facing a plyo box holding a set of kettlebells or dumbbells. Lift your right leg up until your foot is completely on the box, including the heel. Pressing through your heel, step up onto the box. Drive your left knee up to hip height as you do this. Return to start, stepping one foot down at a time.
Trainer tips: Begin by stepping up with only your bodyweight. This will help you master the movement and make sure that the box you’re using is the appropriate height (and manageable).
You shouldn’t feel like you’re catching air time when making your way back to the beginning phase of the movement.
Coat by Theory; sweater by Theory; pants by Onia.
Battle Rope Double Wave
Prepares you for: Holiday sleigh rides with the kiddos or four-legged friends
Do it: For a traditional wave pattern, hold the ends of the rope (make sure it’s anchored securely ahead) at arm’s length in front of your hips with your hands shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and begin simultaneously raising and lowering both arms explosively.
Trainer tips: The closer you are to the anchor, the harder the work will be. Move forward and backward while holding the ends to adjust your level of resistance.
Jacket by Theory; sweater by Theory; flannel by Todd Snyder; jeans by BOSS; boots by Ross & Snow.
Ball Roll Outs
Prepares you for: Building a snowman
Works: Core, glutes, arms
Do it: Kneel on the floor facing a large stability ball. With your hands clasped together, lean your weight forward onto the ball without moving your knees. Brace through the core and engage the glutes, and press the ball forward until your body forms a 45 degree angle from shoulder to calves. Return to start for one rep.
Trainer tips: It’s super important to make sure you’re thinking about your core during this exercise. That tension is critical, especially when returning back to start from the lowering phase. Use your breath to help, too, inhaling as you lower and exhaling when you return to the top of each movement.
Blazer by Boglioli; jacket by Save Khaki United; shirt by GAP; jeans by Levi’s; boots by Vince.
Prepares you for: Shoveling snow
Works: Back, legs
Do it: Stand with feet slightly wider that shoulder-width apart, with a barbell on the floor in front of you. Bend at the knees and the hips to take hold of the bar with an overhand grip; your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
Straighten your legs slightly to load the tension on the bar. Keeping your back straight and core tight, squeeze your glutes and stand up. Return the bar to start.
Trainer tips: Make sure you’re pulling in your lower abs and bracing through the core throughout this movement—especially in the lowering phase.
Also: The bar should remain close to your body the whole time, in contact with your thighs when you’re standing upright. Your shoulder blades and pull in your lower abs.
Jacket by LAD; shirt by Frame; pants by Levi’s; boots by Ross & Snow.
Prepares you for: Ice skating with your significant other
Works: Hamstrings, hips, quadriceps
Do it: Stand with your weight on your right foot and your right knee bent. Lift your left leg off the floor behind you. Now bound to your left by pushing off with your right leg. Land on your left foot, lifting your right leg off the floor behind you. Continue hopping back and forth.
Trainer tips: For added balance, you can touch your back foot to the floor.
Jacket by Save Khaki United; sweater by Boglioli; shirt by Boglioli; pants by Onia; boots by Vince; socks by Brooks Brothers.
Prepares you for: Picking up and carrying the Christmas tree
Do it: Stand with your feet spread shoulder-width apart. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until your upper thighs are parallel to the floor (or as low as you can comfortably go). Pause, then return to stand.
Trainer tip: Imagine that you’re drilling your feet into the floor by actively pressing your lower legs, ankles, and thighs outward. This will create essential tension to really get the muscles firing.
Raincoat by A.P.C.; jacket by Frame; shirt by BOSS; pants by Theory. Workout gear: shirt by Outdoor Voices; shorts by Patagonia; sneakers by Athletic Propulsion Labs.
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