Unless you have ridiculous discipline, you’re going to give in and consume a few unwanted calories over the holidays. I do it myself when I’m not hyper-focused on a specific training or performance goal. The good news is that you can burn off these extra calories nearly as quickly as you’ve consumed them. And you can do it anywhere when you follow my favorite holiday damage-control workout.

Here's my philosophy: If you’re going to splurge over the holidays, then you need to burn to pay for your sins. The good news is that my Tabata-style circuit workout takes only 25 minutes. The catch: It's 25 minutes of hell.

Most of the exercises in my program emphasize lower body. They’ll jack up your heart rate and encourage your body to burn stored fat, helping you get in shape or maintain your conditioning if you’ve succumbed to the temptations of the holiday season.

Kris Gethin’s Holiday Damage-Control Workout

You’ll perform eight bodyweight moves that take no equipment, allowing you to perform this workout wherever you happen to be over the holidays—in a hotel room, at a relatives’ home, in a gym or outdoors. Below, I’ll give you a short description about how to perform each exercise.

Go through the workout circuit style. You’ll perform one set of each of these eight moves one after the other, and then you’ll go back and perform four more circuits of eight for a total of five circuits. So you’ll perform a total of 40 sets.

These aren't sets of a specific number of reps, though. You’ll perform each set for only 20 seconds. During every set, you’ll crank out as many reps as you can in the allotted time with good form. Then you’ll rest for 10 seconds before moving on to the next exercise. You’ll maintain this rhythm of 20 seconds for each exercise with 10 seconds of rest throughout the circuit of eight moves.

Each full circuit will take you about four minutes. Then you’ll rest for up to one minute before beginning your next circuit. That means you’ll be able to complete the full five circuits in 25 minutes or less. You’ll be winded, but you’ll know you’ve completed a pile of hard work that supports your goals.

Kris Gethin’s Holiday Damage-Control Workout
Circuit: Perform 4 rounds, resting around 1 minute between rounds
Alternating lunge jump
20 seconds (rest 10 seconds)
+ 1 more exercises


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Technique Keys

Split Squat

Placing one leg about four feet in front of the other. Lower your body smoothly and quickly until the upper thigh of your lead leg is parallel to the ground, and then press up through the heel of the front foot. Perform 10 seconds of reps with the first leg, and then switch to the other leg for 10 seconds before you rest for 10 seconds. Aim for about 10 reps for each leg, per set.

Squat Jump

Stand with your legs spread about two feet apart, or around shoulder-width. Lower your hands to the floor before each jump. You should reach a nearly vertical position as you leave the floor with about six inches or so between your feet and the ground. Aim to perform about 12-15 reps in 20 seconds.

Sumo Squat Pulse

The 25-Minute Holiday Damage Control

Widen your stance from squat jumps to about three feet, or just outside shoulder-width, and clasp your hands at chest level. Squat only through the middle range of the motion, not quite as low as parallel or all the way to a full upright stance. The goal is to “pulse” in the mid-range and complete as many reps as possible in 20 seconds. Aim for at least 20, if not more.

Alternating Plyo Lunges

Start in the same position as the split squat, but now jump off the ground, moving your trailing leg forward while moving your forward leg back. Do this without traveling forward, switching legs with every jump. Make sure to leap high enough to perform a full proper lunge, with your upper and lower legs at a right angle at the bottom of the move. Aim to complete about 20 reps in total during each set.

Mountain Climbers

You’re going to get onto the floor resting on your forearms and toes in the “pillar” position (similar to push-up, but on your forearms rather than hands). Keeping your body in the plank or push-up position, bring one knee up toward the same-side elbow without raising your butt. Then do the same on the other side and continue alternating. Perform about 10 reps for each side in 20 seconds.



For this move, you engage your core and work your upper body. Begin at the top of the push-up position, and lower onto one forearm and then the other (the “pillar” position). Now press back up to lockout, alternating sides from one rep to the next. Aim to complete about 15 full reps in each set.


Lie on your backside, making sure you exhale before each V-up so you can contract your abs more deeply. Raise your hands above your head so they’re near the ground at the start position. With knees bent, raise both your lower and upper body, bringing your arms forward and hands close to your knees. Aim to knock out 20 reps in each set.

High-Knee Raise

You'll finish off each circuit with this move. With straight arms, place your hands out at about waist level. Bring up one knee to that side’s hand. Then lower that leg as you simultaneously bring up your other leg to that side’s hand. Go back and forth with a pace like you’re jumping rope. Aim to perform about 40 reps, or 20 per side, in 20 seconds.

About the Author

Kris Gethin

Kris Gethin

Kris is a writer and photographer, and periodically provides Bodybuilding.com with articles and pictorial features.

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