by Joe Giandonato, MBA, MS, CSCS
Beat the post-holiday blues and burn calories with innovative home based workouts.
Holiday season, which in the western world spans from Thanksgiving to New Years, giving rise to inordinate stress and associated poor health choices. This time of the year, especially for northern regions is synonymous with inclement and bitter weather, posing as yet another obstacle in beginning an exercise program or adhering to an existing one.
An investigation on weight gain, occurring between Thanksgiving to New Years, revealed an average weight gain of 0.37 kg, however, among sedentary individuals, who were classified as overweight or obese, weight gains exceeding 2.3 kg were reported (3).
Knowing that a lack of time coupled with the unpredictable weather may disrupt your workout routine, members of the personal training staff at the Rec Center have assembled simple workouts and tips to help you stave off unwanted pounds and/or get a jumpstart on your New Year’s resolutions, giving one of these workouts a try is definitely worth your while.
For second year physical therapy student and personal trainer, Akil Piggott, finding the time to workout is tough, especially when each day is jam packed with attending classes and studying. Akil, an ACSM Health and Fitness Specialist, suggests performing bodyweight exercises as they require no additional equipment and can be performed conveniently in your home.
Repeat the following sequence three times:
- Reverse Lunges with Kick x 25 repetitions each side
- Burpees x 15 repetitions
- Mountain Climbers x 15 repetitions each side
- Bodyweight Squats x 25 repetitions
- Oblique Twists x 15 repetitions each side
- Push Ups x 15 to 25 repetitions (can be performed with either knees or toes as the pivot point)
Perform the sequence with little to no rest between exercises.
Keeping strong when most of your waking hours are spent on the pitch can be challenging, just ask Maty Brennan, who recently concluded his collegiate soccer career at Drexel. During long seasons, Maty would rely on bodyweight exercises to maintain his strength. While traveling, Maty utilized a workout similar to the one appearing below:
Stationary dynamic warm up consisting of: butt kicks, high knees, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, and lunges
Complete three sets of a total body exercise, performed explosively, which can include one of the following: burpees, jump squats, plyometric push-ups with a clap
Alternate three to five sets of an upper body strength exercise with a lower body strength exercise from the lists below:
Upper Body: push-up, pull up, or inverted row (using stable object or a suspension system), hand stand push-ups (supported or unsupported)
Lower Body: squat, step up, rear foot elevated split squat, glute bridge
Core: sit up, crunch, leg raises, plank, side plank, oblique twists, bicycles
Maty advises that the number of repetitions performed should be based on a person’s capabilities and goals. For those who are bit newer to the exercises, is advisable to keep the repetitions fewer per set in order to establish proper motor engrams. Once a certain exercise has been mastered, Maty suggests to increase the repetitions to make each set, and the entire workout, more metabolically demanding.
Logan McIntosh, an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and newest addition to the personal training team, put together a one-time workout which is not designed for the faint of heart. Burpees performed in a descending repetitions scheme are paired with push-ups which increase with each subsequent set. Doing so will reduce injury risk as fatigue becomes a factor. If you are proud that you’ve survived that part, Logan snuck in some planks at the end, ensuring that you’ll keep your core strong enough to dismantle and pack away decorations after the holidays.
Burpees x 10 repetitions
Push Up x 1 repetition
Burpees x 9 repetitions
Push Ups x 2 repetitions
Burpees x 8 repetitions
Push Ups x 3 repetitions
Burpees x 7 repetitions
Push Ups x 4 repetitions
Burpees x 6 repetitions
Push Ups x 5 repetitions
Burpees x 5 repetitions
Push Ups x 6 repetitions
Burpees x 4 repetitions
Push Up x 7 repetitions
Burpees x 3 repetitions
Push Up x 8 repetitions
Burpees x 2 repetitions
Push Up x 9 repetitions
Burpee x 1 repetitions
Push Ups x 10 repetitions
Plank 5 x 1:00
Master Movements and Mobility
Nick Deacon, one of our longest tenured team members and also an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, suggests dedicating the winter break getting good at the basics.
Can’t perform a full depth squat? Find new positions and hang out down there for a few minutes every day.
Can’t do a push up? Gradually decrease your leverage over the break, beginning with push-ups performed on a few steps and work your way down the floor one step at a time.
Nick advises catching up on flexibility and mobility by stretching and foam rolling, which in turn, will help you achieve greater ranges of motion thus improving your ability to squat, hinge, push, and pull.
Correct Muscular Imbalances
Deficits in flexibility and mobility in conjunction with muscular imbalances can render simple tasks unnecessarily arduous. I personally like to devote a few minutes each day, especially during days off from the gym, with simple activation exercises. I’ll wager that most reading this blurb aren’t professional athletes, therefore, a majority of our days are spent either sitting or standing. Life’s demands including activities of daily living or vocation can create muscular imbalances. As I alluded to a bit earlier, we either sit or stand a majority of the day.
If we sit throughout the course of the day, the muscles of the anterior and deep core and posterior chain “shut off”. Our hip flexors become stiff and rigid. Our neck stiffens, our shoulders become sore.
If we stand throughout the day we may experience “extension based” back pain, whereby the spine slips into extension when the core muscles aren’t doing their job in stabilizing the hips and lumbar spine.
If we throw in activities such as running or lifting, these muscular imbalances become magnified.
I’ll often perform an activation block similar to the one below:
- Deep Cervical Flexion Activation
- Lie on your back, keep the shoulders and head in contact with the ground. Flatten your lower back and hips while keeping the knees bent and feet planted on the floor.
- “Tuck” the chin to your throat.
- Hold for 1 to 3 seconds.
- Repeat for 3 to 5 repetitions.
- Complete 1 to 2 sets.
- Short Lever Side Plank
- Assume position on side with bodyweight supported on forearm and outside of knee and lower thigh of the leg making contact with the floor. Use padded surface to alleviate discomfort associated with downward pressure and load of bodyweight.
- Bend knees and extend hips, keep head, shoulders and hips in neutral alignment (all joints should be stacked a top one another).
- Relax shoulder and head carriage.
- Fully inhale and fully exhale for 5 breaths.
- Switch sides and repeat for 2-3 sets each side.
- Glute Bridge
- Lie with back on ground, knees bent, feet on floor and arms to sides.
- Drive through heels and extend hips to lift pelvis up.
- Squeeze glutes and push knees out; hold position for one second.
- Release and lower to ground.
- Repeat for specified reps.
- Perform 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
- Wall Supported Shoulder Protraction and Retraction
- Place the palms of your hands against wall.
- Walk the feet out from beneath your body.
- Brace the core by tightening the glutes and abs and keep the neck long by tucking the chin.
- Try to push your shoulder blades behind you by lengthening you arms and stretching the upper back.
- Now, pull your torso closer to the wall, by pulling your shoulder blades together.
- Repeat for specified reps.
- Perform 1-3 sets of 10-15 reps.
Say our area gets sacked by an archetypal snow storm over break relegating you to shovel your driveway and sidewalk clear. I know, shoveling is no fun, but it can burn a chockfull of calories as it classified as vigorous exercise (exceeding six metabolic equivalents or <6 METs) (1) which six times as many calories as your body does at rest. Among sedentary individuals, snow shoveling is capable of eliciting myocardial oxygen demands similar to that of the maximal treadmill and hand crank tests we administer to determine an new client’s aerobic capacity. Brave shovelers should exercise caution when shoveling by adhering to the prudent advice below:
- Those who have existing cardiovascular, metabolic, or pulmonary disease should avoid shoveling
- Deconditioned individuals should punctuate their snow removal efforts with frequent breaks (1) (in terms of its structure, shoveling should be viewed as a strength training workout)
- For those with creaky lower backs, a shovel with a bent shaft is recommended to reduce excessive trunk flexion (2)
- Clothing should be layered to prevent hyperthermia and water resistant materials should be worn to ward off frostbite and pernio
- Franklin, B.A., Hogan, P., & Bonzheim, K. (1995). Cardiac demands of heavy snow shoveling. Journal of the American Medical Association, 273, 880-882.
- McGorry, R.W., Dempsey, P.G., & Leamon, T.B. (2003). The effect of technique and shaft configuration in snow shoveling on physiologic, kinematic, kinetic and productivity variables. Applied Ergonomics, 34, 225-231.
- Roberts, S.B., & Mayer, J. (2000). Holiday weight gain: fact or fiction? Nutrition Reviews, 58, 378-379.