Fitness Friday – The Post Apocalypse Workout

Happy Friday everyone! More specifically, happy Friday after Thanksgiving.

If your Thanksgiving was anything like mine, then you A) Didn’t work out at all, B) Sat around watching football and/or playing games for hours, and C) Ate and drank three days’-worth of calories in a three hour period.  To a personal trainer, that constitutes a calorie apocalypse! Fortunately, it only happens once a year, and all of those calories were accompanied by precious time with family, so it’s totally worth it.

Today, however, we have some work to do. In fact, the next five weeks comprise that treacherous time of year when most Americans gain one or two pounds, and keep them on forever. In order to make sure that doesn’t happen to you this year, I’ll be publishing my Holiday Survival Guide in a series of posts next week, but for today, let’s just get up and get moving!

I want to share with you a workout I’ve been doing lately that has everything – it’s quick, it hits all the major muscle groups and it burns a lot of calories. Let’s call it my At-Home, Go-To Workout. Here’s what you do*:

1. Warm Up – Always. Not negotiable, ever. Walk around the block or up and down the hallway or up and down a few flights of stairs for 5 – 10 minutes until your blood is pumping and your rate of breathing is very slightly labored; then do 30 seconds each of trunk twists, arm circles and knee bends.

2. Turkish Get Up – This is a weird sounding and quite challenging kettle bell move.  It’s impossible to accurately describe it using words, so here’s a link to a pretty good video of the move. If you’ve never done this before, start with NO WEIGHT. Pretend you are holding a kettle bell or a dumbbell over your head, but don’t actually do it. When you feel comfortable with the movement, then pick up a tiny dumbbell (3 – 5 pounds) and carry on. In a month or two, when you are really bad-ass, you can graduate to 10 or 15 pounds. You can use a dumbbell for this if you don’t have kettle bells.

3. Dumbbell Deadlifts – Grab a pair of dumbbells, the heavier the better. You’re just going to let them dangle at your sides, so they can be really quite heavy (I use a pair of 25 or 30 pound dumbbells, for a total of 50 or 60 pounds). Stand with your feet hip-width apart and engage your core. Now squat down, keeping your low back flat, head up, and driving your knees out to the edges of your tippy toes, then press back up to the start position.

4. Split Squats – This is basically a weighted lunge in place: Stand holding dumbbells down at your sides with one leg forward about two feet. Perform a forward lunge keeping your low back flat and head up, leaning just slightly out over the front (“working”) leg, then press back up to starting position. Do a complete set on one leg, then switch sides.

5. Bent Over Dumbbell Row – If you have access to a pull-up bar or pull-up assist machine, then do those instead, but if you’re at home with only a set of dumbbells, this is a good second choice. Stand with feet hip-width apart and dumbbells hanging down in front of your thighs. Hinge at the hips and bend the knees slightly so that you are leaning over your knees at about a 30-degree angle. In order to protect your lower back, be sure to engage your core and over-exaggerate the arch in your lower back. Pick a point on the wall directly in front of you and stare at it throughout. Slowly perform rows with the dumbbells, bringing them all the way up to your shoulders and extending them all the way back down toward the floor. Remember as you do this, your legs should be working to keep you in position, not your back!

6. One-Arm Overhead Shoulder Press – Stand with a solid base holding a dumbbell in one hand up near your shoulder. Engage your core, then press the dumbbell straight up overhead. Complete the entire set, then switch sides.

7. Pushups – Round out this excellent workout with our old favorite! On your knees or on your toes, be sure to keep your core engaged and your body straight-as-a-board throughout.

Sets and Reps – Start by completing one set of 5 – 8 Turkish Get Ups on each side, then do 2 sets of everything else for 8 – 12 reps. If you do this workout two times per week, you can gradually add one or two more sets over the course of 4 – 6 weeks, so that you are eventually doing 4 sets of 12 reps. That’ll put the workout very close to an hour long, including warm-up, and you’ll be torching between 400-600 calories, depending on your individual metabolic factors (gender, age, size, etc.).

Today, why not add some cardio, too? Hit the stairs, the treadmill, the jogging path, or (God forbid) the shopping mall. Make it brisk and make it last an hour or more – your heart (and your waistline) will thank you!

*Only do this workout if you are healthy enough to do so and have been cleared by your physician for moderate- to high-intensity exercise. If you are not familiar with any of the exercises, consult a fitness professional.

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