Use 20-minute workouts to not get fat over the holidays!

There are many great things about the holiday season.
End of year parties, time with family and friends, feasting and the general feeling of festivity as the year draws to a close and the feeling like we have a ‘fresh start’ in the new year.
While the feeling of a ‘fresh start’ is often somewhat misguided – because most things usually carry on exactly the same the following year, the feeling is still there and it allows us to let our guard down a little and take our foot off the gas for a few weeks. At least that’s the feeling that a lot of us get here in South Africa.
One of the unfortunate casualties of all of these festivities and ‘letting our guard down’ is that our bodies suffer a little.

We drink too much, we eat too much and too many of the wrong things and we don’t workout as much as we should.

Many other fitness writers and ‘gurus’ will tell you how you need to resist all of this temptation and avoid situations where you’ll have to drink and over-indulge with food.
I think those kind of recommendations are complete BS.
I mean really, who wants to be that guy with no friends who never has a beer or a dessert, just so that he can be in great shape?
What’s the point of working out and watching your diet most of the year if you can’t have a little fun and enjoy yourself?
My recommendation, is enjoy yourself, you only live once!
Accept that you might gain a little weight over the holidays – use it as motivation for the New Year to really train hard and be focused.
I’ve said before, to be in AMAZING shape 365 days a year is just not realistic.
If you look at athletes, they have clearly defined seasons and off-seasons, they plan their training so they peak during the season and then recover and enjoy life a little during the off-season.
However, they don’t let themselves go entirely and they still do SOME TRAINING in the off-season.
If you consider the holiday season your ‘off-season’, then bear this in mind – athletes don’t let themselves go entirely and they do SOME TRAINING.

Enter: 20-minute workouts

To limit the damage over the holidays, I have 3 workouts for you that take less than 20 minutes. If you do them with enough intensity and time them properly, they’ll prevent you from gaining too much flab over the holidays and will also keep your conditioning at a decent level so you can go back to proper training after the holidays.

I’ve provided links on some of the exercises to other articles that explain how to do them perfectly

20-minute workout #1:
Do each exercise for 1 minute, rest 15 seconds between exercises, move through each one in a circuit fashion.
1) Burpees
 2) Push-ups
 3) Alternating Lunges
 4) Jump Squats
 5) Plank
Rest for 45 seconds after going through the circuit and repeat 2 more times for a total of 3 rounds.

20-minute workout #2: “The Burpee double assault”
Do each exercise for 1 minute, move through in a circuit fashion:
Round 1:
1) Burpees
2) Scissor Kicks
3) Close grip push-ups
4) Bodyweight Squats
5) Burpees
Rest for 1 minute
Round 2:
1) Burpees
2) Scissor Kicks
3) Wide Grip Push-ups
4) Burpees
Rest for 1 minute
Round 3:

1) Burpees
2) Scissor Kicks
3) Burpees
Rest for 1 minute:
Final Round:
Do as many burpees as possible in 2 minutes.
Collapse, fight the urge to pass out, and take a shower 😉

20-minute workout #3: Double ladders
1 Push-up, 15 Jump Squats
2 Push-ups, 14 Jump Squats
3 Push-ups, 13 Jump Squats
4 Push-ups, 12 Jump Squats
Continue in this fashion until you get to 15 push-ups and 1 Jump Squat. Try to do as quickly as possible.
Rest as necessary to complete the required numbers.
These are tough workouts, but they can be done in around 20 minutes.
Ideally try to get in 3 of them per week through the holiday season.
To increase their effectiveness at keeping you lean over the holidays, try to do them before you know you’ll be over-indulging on holiday treats.
That way, most of the sugar and carbohydrates you consume will go into replenishing your glycogen levels (which were depleted by the workout you did) and will not be stored as fat. I love my sugary treats, but doing this and timing the workouts correctly has really helped me limit the ‘holiday damage’ and has kept me lean over the years.


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Article by Bryan Hamann. Bryan is a personal trainer, bootcamp instructor, Ironman Triathlete and author of THE PRISON WORKOUT.

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