Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

Burn Calories Fast with Circuit Training

Family eating large meal
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"I just know that, as soon as I even see my mother's homemade apple pie, I will immediately gain 10 pounds." That's just one of many comments I hear from clients over the holiday season, and it's no wonder. With the holiday parties, excessive eating and lack of exercise, it's easy to gain weight. It's also easy to keep the pounds off if you're creative with whatever workout time you can scrounge up.

Circuit training is a great place to start and the perfect choice for quick holiday workouts.

What Is Circuit Training?

Circuit training is great for busy exercisers because these types of workouts move quickly with no rest periods to slow you down. You can combine strength and cardio together or keep them separate, depending on your goals. The idea is to do each exercise one after the other for a certain period of time or number of reps. It makes for a fast workout that targets all of your muscle groups and helps you stay fit no matter how busy you are. To create your own workout, here are some guidelines:

  1. Choose 6 to 10 different exercises. You have several options, including a) alternating between strength training and cardio, b) sticking with just strength-training exercises, c) doing just cardio exercises, or d) doing some combination of all of the above. If you don't have time for separate cardio and strength workouts, combine both into the same workout to save the most time.
  1. Don't rest between exercises. The point is to keep your heart pumping and your muscles warm, so move quickly from one exercise to another.
  2. Write your exercises down. Plan your workout beforehand, so there are no pauses between moves.
  3. Determine how long you want to do each exercise. Use either a time limit (i.e., 30 to 60 seconds) or a specified number of reps (i.e., 25 repetitions). You may need to practice your workout a few times before you get a sense of how much weight you need and how many reps to do. You'll want to get to the end of each set or exercise and feel as if you can't go for one more second.
  1. Decide how many circuits you'll do. Beginners do one circuit and intermediate/advanced exercisers can do 2 to 3 more circuits.
  2. Always warm up, cool down and stretch after your workout.

If you need some ideas, the workouts below will give you a place to start:

  • Strength and Power Circuit is a 10-minute routine alternating a strength move with a high impact cardio exercise. You can repeat the circuit for a longer workout.
  • Fat-Burning Circuit includes challenging strength moves along with high-intensity cardio of your choice for an all-around workout.
  • Advanced Cardio and Strength Circuit is a long, very challenging workout that includes high-intensity cardio moves and tough, dynamic strength moves. This is a great choice for advanced exercisers who really want a challenge.

Making the most of your exercise time, even if it's only a few minutes, is just one way to manage your weight this holiday season and still have some fun. Even if you don't have a large chunk of time to devote to exercise, you can still maintain your endurance and muscle mass with shorter workouts. It's easy to let your routine slide over the holidays, but a little preparation and some creative ways to work out will keep you on track and help you avoid holiday weight gain.

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