November 29, 2013 at 8:00 am EST | by Gerard Burley
Step it up
Thanksgiving, turkey, holidays, food, gay news, Washington Blade, fitness

Stick to these tips and you’ll blast away the calories from Thanksgiving and the rest of this high calorie holiday season. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. This is the toughest time of the year to stay on the fitness wagon. The key to success is learning how to lean over the side without completely falling off in regard to our fitness goals.

As my clients go away during this time, I always tell them, “Just come back the way (and shape) you left me.” I emphasize this because, as my fellow 30 plus-ers may have noticed, it’s a lot harder to lose the post holiday pounds then it is to keep them off. The key is to stay proactive and you will survive this season without resorting to tacky sweat pants and baggy sweaters. Stick to these tips and you’ll blast away the calories from Thanksgiving and the rest of this high calorie holiday season.

Be a circuit queen — One way to mitigate the damage is to step up your cardio. This is the perfect time to tailor your next workouts to be high intensity, metabolic calorie burners which will keep your jeans fitting until all the leftovers are gone. For the week following the feast, I recommend switching your workouts to heart racing circuit training, which is training many exercises in a sequence and then repeating that cycle.

When setting up a successful circuit, think of five to seven exercises that use as many muscles as possible and do as many reps as you can for 40-50 seconds. Complete your circuits for three to four rounds to really give your whole body a challenge. A very important aspect to successful circuit training is trying to limit your rest time between exercises to one minute maximum. This way your heart rate does not drop and you get a killer calorie burn.

Use more, lose more — Your circuit should be based on whole body compound movements that incorporate upper and lower body muscles. Remember, the more muscles you use the more calories you lose. You want to use your chest, back and lower body as much as possible because that’s where most of your muscles are.  It requires more calories and energy to move your big muscles, so focus on that.

A few of my favorite whole body exercises are the squat and press, lunge with a curl, spider man push up, step up-curl-press and the pull up with a leg raise.  Though these are non-traditional cardiovascular exercises, they engage so many muscles across the body, that you’ll quickly realize you have entered a cardio workout.

Take it up a notch — Now, for my over achievers and over eaters out there, it’s time to step it up. You can get a max calorie burn by adding in high intensity interval training-type exercises within the base of your circuit. More cardio-focused exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, high knee runs and squat jumps can make the difference of 500 or more calories during and after your workout.

These high intensity workouts raise your metabolism by making your body burn more calories after your workout. It takes a lot of calories to recover from a beat down like this. The key to making this successful is pushing it to the limit. This is a sprint not a jog, so if your first half of the exercise is just as fast as your last half, then you’re doing something wrong. Set a goal for completing a certain number of reps for an allotted time so you know if you’re working as hard as you can. I suggest your max burn circuit includes at least two or three exercises built to get you heart rate into its upper range.

With the holiday season in full swing, having a plan to stay in shape can help us avoid big regrets in the new year. Switch your current workouts to more calorie burning circuits and you’ll get out of this season as a champion, not a casualty.

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