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Essential Quick Tips for a Healthy, Fat-Free Holiday Season

Tis the season…you’ve got a ton of things on your “to-do” list, and time is running is short.  The holiday hustle and bustle can be enough to stress anyone, but here are four quick stay-fit tips to help stop unhealthy weight gain before January 1.

You have about million things to do for the holiday season, with only a fraction of the time you need.

This is dangerous. How?

Dangerous, because it is EASY to skip your workouts.

EASY to start making poor food choices.

It is a huge mistake to put your precious lean muscle tissue at risk. Whether you are just starting a new fitness program or you’ve been working at it all year, there is no reason to start fooling around with that valuable muscle you are now trying so hard to protect.

Why is lean muscle tissue so important? Simple. You lose muscle, you lower your resting metabolic rate, which typically accounts for about 60-75% of your total daily calorie burn. This means that everyday you will be burning less and less calories which will put you on the fast track for packing on ugly, unwanted body fat during the holidays.

So let’s look at it like this. There are a number of ways to maintain or even increase the number of calories your body will naturally burn each day, both from exercise and from your normal daily activities.

The result? Your body becomes a much stronger, lean, fat-burning machine. Use the simple strategies below to maintain and even increase your current amount of lean muscle mass, maximizing your daily calorie burn. In the end, you’ll feel a lot better than one of those “holiday food hangovers”.

1.) Perform at least one intense strength training session per week.

It has been proven that even ONE intense, well structured total body workout per week is an effective way to maintain current fitness levels when you can’t exercise during really busy times (like the holiday season). So, to best maintain your strength and lean muscle mass, shoot for at least one, concentrated strength training workout during the week to keep strong and prevent unwanted fat from catching up. If time allows, perform up to three total body strength workouts per week with three cardio interval workouts on the non strength training days for total body fat domination.

2.) Score the Magic Numbers.

No offense, but your body is a moron. In other words, it cannot differentiate between 100 lunges performed in a row versus 100 total lunges performed in a day.

When you honestly cannot find a five to 20-minute time slot to complete an effective total body workout, look for hidden chunks of time during the day to get in a certain number of daily repetitions for a certain number of exercises that work your entire body.

Got a free moment before bringing the kids to band practice?

Great, crank out 10 push-ups, 10 rows, and 20 squats.

Using this method throughout the day will lead to big numbers by the end of the day that will burn the same amount of calories in addition to creating similar muscle building effects as if you did all of the exercises at once during a single workout.

It is important to note that this “Score the Magic Numbers” routine is merely a preventative back-up option to an ideal 20-minute interval training workouts which are scientifically proven to burn nine times more fat than ordinary exercise (like the ones we use in our boot camp program).

Short rest periods between exercises create the optimal hormonal environment for rapid fire fat loss and lean muscle gains, as opposed to taking much longer rest periods between exercises. So, be sure to get score your numbers this holiday season!

“What exercises are most effective?” Glad you asked.

Make sure to pick multi-joint, compound movements that hit as much of your body’s major muscle groups in the shortest amount of time possible (e.g. squats, lunges, push-ups, rows, etc.). Use the plan below as guide to build your own “Score the Magic Numbers” workout. Adjust the repetition ranges accordingly based on your current strength levels. The only thing you need is your body weight and adjustable dumbbells and/or resistance bands. Perform this plan up to three times per week, resting a day between workouts.

Make sure to alternate between Plan A and Plan B for more variety. You can either hit your magic numbers by doing one exercise first (e.g. perform push-ups rest-pausing as needed until you get 100 total), or by simply employ circuit style training (e.g. 20 squats, 10 push-ups, 10 rows, repeat 10x throughout the day to hit your totals).

“Score the Magic Numbers” Holiday Workout Mixer

Plan A- Body weight Squats or Double Leg Hip Extensions: 100-200 total

Push-ups: 50-100 total (knee pushups ok)

DB/Band Rows: 50-100 total

Plan B- Body weight Lunges or Single-Leg Hip Extensions: 50-100/total per leg

Off Chair/Couch Dips: 50-100 total

DB/Band Curls: 50-100 total (feel free to swap pull-ups or pull-downs here if you have access to the equipment)

3.) Rage Against Those Pesky Machines

Machines have made us an incredibly lazy, out of shape and overweight society. This holiday season make it a point to not use them! Now I don’t mean to say that you cannot drive to the mall during the holidays. However, when you get to the mall, don’t sit there and wait for the spot right next to the door. Park down the isle and briskly walk the rest of the way. Skip the escalator, take the stairs. Little changes with all those extra steps will add up quick and burn the calories.

4.) Get moving, get outside and get fit!

I remember growing up in North Dakota, snowdrifts, igloos and snowball fights. Running up snow covered hills with your feet sinking into the snow with every step…it’s was fun, but exhausting! Now, I know unless you are in the high country, Phoenix doesn’t get to see a whole lot of snowdrifts. But, you can still enjoy the pristine, cool outdoor air by hustling up Camelback Mountain or follow the paved trail up North Mountain. Point is…shut the TV off, grab the family, get some fresh air and have some outdoor fun!

Enjoy this timeArticle Search, only comes once a year! ;)

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Curtis Hoekstra, CFT is the founder of the wildly popular Arizona Fitness Boot Camp. The program provides rapid fat loss and strength gain in less time for a third of the cost of one-on-one personal training. For a NO RISK TRIAL to the Phoenix or Scottsdale boot camp locations, please visit

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