As you get prepared for your Thanksgiving holiday, it's going to be important that you make sure not to let your workout fall by the wayside. There's no question that you'll likely take in a few more calories than you ideally would with your usual diet plan during this meal, even if you are making healthier choices. But, by performing a good workout session the day before, the day of and the day after, you can reduce the impacts this meal has on your overall physique.

The key to coming out of Thanksgiving without an ounce of weight gain is making sure you plan for it carefully. Your strategy for the three days surrounding the meal should be to perform a longer duration cardio session the day before thanksgiving to really boost your overall calorie burn leaning up to the meal, then perform a higher rep strength training workout the day of thanksgiving to deplete the muscle glycogen levels and provide a calorie 'sink' for the coming meal to go into, and then follow that up the day after with an interval training session that will boost the metabolic rate to help burn off any of the left-over calories that you may have taken in.

By using this pre, during and post-meal strategy, you can eliminate all chances of body fat gain.

Let's have a look at the three workouts that you should be doing so you can get your game plan in gear for the big holiday.

Your Day-Before Cardio Workout

Since many of you may be traveling over to relatives for the holiday, you may not have access to your normal gym cardio equipment. As such, you're likely only left with a few options.

Going out for a long run tops the list of choices as this is not only going to be easy equipment-wise, but it's also great for your total calorie burn. Since running does get the heart rate up higher and is one of the best forms of cardio in terms of how much energy you utilize, this makes it rank right at the top of what you could choose to do.

If running isn't an option—either because of injury or because you simply dislike it, then going for a long walk is another method that you could consider. Get the whole family (or whomever you're sharing the holiday with) involved as walking is something that almost anyone—fit or unfit can do.

Running outdoors.

Running increases your heart rate as much as listening to your mother-in-law. Get out of the house, save your body and your mind.

If you take a walk around the community for a good hour to an hour and a half, this can cause you to easily burn 400-600 calories. Remember, the focus of this session is not to try and max out your intensity. You're going to save that for the workout after Thanksgiving day. During this point you just want to get out, burn some calories, and focus on staying active.

If you really want to prevent weight gain, you could consider two cardio workouts this day so you burn off an extra thousand calories that day to make room for the meal ahead.

Note that while doing this cardio training on this day though you are not to go replacing those calories with additional food as that would quickly defeat the purpose.

Your Strength Training Workout

Then, on the day that Thanksgiving hits, you'll want to perform a strength training workout utilizing higher rep training with shorter rest periods. This is going to help to deplete the muscle glycogen in the muscle so that when you do eat your Thanksgiving meal, you can intake a higher level of carbohydrates without having them spill over into the body fat stores.

This will be a full body workout to maximize the calorie burn during the workout as well as after and to get those muscles hungry for more carbs.

Note that to make this process work most effectively, it will be best if you can focus on the lowest fat, highest carbohydrate foods at the Thanksgiving table.

Your Full Body Workout

Perform one set of all the exercises in order moving from one exercise to the next as fast as you can doing as many reps as possible within one minute. After one round of the circuit has been completed, take a 2-4 minute rest break and then repeat one more time through to finish off.

This workout should only take approximately 30 minutes to complete so it's easy for you to sneak away and do at some point throughout the day.

Full-Body Circuit
2 rounds
Dumbbell squat
2 sets, to failure
+ 3 more exercises


  • 2,500+ expert-created single workouts
  • 3,500+ how-to exercise videos
  • Detailed workout instruction
  • Step-by-step workout tips
  • Training at gym or at home
  • Access to Workout Plans
  • Access to Bodyfit App
  • Store Discounts

What comes with BodyFit?

  • Instructional Videos
  • Don't risk doing a workout improperly! Avoid injury and keep your form in check with in-depth instructional videos.

  • How-to Images
  • View our enormous library of workout photos and see exactly how each exercise should be done before you give it a shot.

  • Step-by-Step Instructions
  • Quickly read through our step-by-step directions to ensure you're doing each workout correctly the first time, every time.

Your Interval Cardio Session

Finally, to finish off the workout plan for the Thanksgiving holiday you have the day after interval training session. Since you can't work weight weights again this second day since we did your full-body workout the day before, interval training is the next best option to help increase your metabolic rate so you can maximize your calorie burn.

For this interval cardio workout you'll focus on slightly longer interval periods of 45-60 seconds and then couple this with a 90-120 second rest period. Repeat the work to rest intervals 10 times total, meaning that your workout should last somewhere between twenty to thirty minutes.

Also be sure that you start it off with a 5-minute warm-up and cool-down to prevent injury and reduce the chances of post-workout stiffness.

You can perform these intervals however you would like - if you're back at your regular gym doing them on the treadmill may be your best bet or even better, do them outside to make transitioning between the sprint and rest intervals that much easier. Again, if you aren't a fan of running and are back at your usual workout facilities, then you can select any other piece of equipment that you typically do your cardio on instead.

Elliptical trainer

Interval training can increase your metabolic rate and blast fat to help you get over the holiday bulge.

Running typically is easiest to use for interval training purposes however it's definitely not a must-use if you don't want to. So there you have your workout guide to get you through the Thanksgiving holiday season. If you plan for it carefully there's no reason why you have to come out dealing with fat gain.

About the Author

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark

Shannon Clark is a freelance health and fitness writer located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

View all articles by this author