Generally, the holiday season wreaks havoc on our fitness and diet goals: your "to-do" list gets longer and longer every day, making time in the gym an impossible feat. Even worse, heavy meals and sweet treats can be too tempting to resist. Next thing you know, your gut resembles Saint Nick's.
To combat this extra bulk, you need to plan. Your plan should include a workout program that will effectively challenge your body without taking hours out of your day. If you can stick to it, you'll be better protected against holiday weight gain and more ready and able to work toward your New Year's resolution.
The following training regimens are quick but effective. No matter your goal, there's a workout for you. If you can make a commitment to perform alternate sessions of strength and cardio five days per week, you can maintain your fitness level and keep your body as lean as possible.
Note: Before any of these workouts, be sure to do a light 3-5 minute warm-up—especially if you train first thing in the morning. It's also important that you perform at least five minutes of light stretching after you're done working out.
Build Your Strength
For this workout, you'll only need a barbell and plates. Most people are able to lift more weight using a barbell than dumbbells, so use this to your advantage.
Perform the indicated number of reps for each exercise and rest for 30-60 seconds while you adjust the weight for the next movement. If you work out at home without a squat rack, use a little less weight and increase the reps so you still get fatigued. You need to push this single set to your limits. You won't help yourself by lily-lifting.
The vast majority of your gains come from the initial set, so doing an entire workout of single sets will be productive as long as you challenge yourself.
Rev Your Metabolism
This workout will raise your metabolic rate, increase your strength, and improve your cardiovascular fitness. It's a great comprehensive workout session.
Perform the circuit as quickly as possible—but don't forget good form! Rest for 30-60 seconds only after you've finished all the exercises. Repeat the circuit one more time. (If you feel you need to do one more circuit—do it, but make sure you're not doing difficult lifts like the deadlift if you're too fatigued.)
Boost Your Cardio
Interval training is the single best way to boost your fitness level and maximize post-workout fat burn. Rather than slugging away on a treadmill however, this bodyweight workout will have you jumping, squatting, and skipping. It enhances your cardio fitness, and helps increase your core stability and your agility level.
Perform each exercise for one minute, and rest for 30 seconds after every three movements. The workout will only take about ten minutes, so you can perform it a couple of times per day.
Power Your Core
This workout is meant to help improve your core strength. It will challenge your abdominal wall and your balance. Many of these movements are on unstable surfaces or are one-legged, so your stability muscles will have to contract harder than they typically would during a regular workout.
Do each exercise in a superset, and rest for 30 seconds between supersets.