Holiday Workouts

Holiday Workouts

The Post Christmas Lunch Run


Alas, you really did get intimate with a gravy boat yesterday. On the bright side, however, your body is perfectly primed for a workout that can burn off a chunk of last night’s meal.


‘With all the potatoes and stuffing, Christmas lunch is a big carbo-load,’ says Greg McMillan, a kinesiologist and running coach. ‘That means the glycogen stores that fuel your muscles are full to capacity.’


In addition to lots of muscle-fuelling carbs, your feast contained a good amount of protein, essential for rebuilding muscles that break down during a long run. Even better, you likely have the day off work, an invitation to forestall the mall pilgrimage for an hour (or more) on the move. Go slowly, enjoy the scenery and keep moving for as long as you’re able.


‘This is all about time on your feet, because you’ll burn more calories the longer you go,’ says McMillan. The reward: 800-plus calories burned, a clear conscience, and an invigorating start to the holidays.


The Post Cocktail Party Workout


Fact: You overindulged and consumed many hundreds of calories that need to be burned off. Fiction: After that last ill-conceived round of mojitos, you’re up for a major workout the next morning.


Relax, says McMillan. It’s okay to give yourself an easy day, then hit the ground running after that.


So rebound post-party with a low-key hour of something that feels kind to your body say, walking, swimming or yoga. Then crank up the intensity a day later. McMillan suggests an interval workout – a 3km warm-up, five two-minute intervals (at a medium hard effort) with one-minute recovery jog in between and a 3km cooldown.



That’s enough to kick back 700 calories.


The Dessert Cheese Burner


Gone a bit heavy on the sweet dessert? Well, as far as your muscles are concerned, vanilla swirl fudge still translates into a decent carbo load. But unlike your turkey and sweet potato buffet, the dessert binge doesn’t offer the body much else in the way of nutrients. That’s why McMillan recommends intervals to burn off those sweets in a hurry.


The plan: Knock out six to eight 30-second repeats at about 90 percent of your top speed with two-minute recovery jogs in between. (Bookend your speedwork with 3km jogs.)

‘When you do a hard track workout, you’re tapping into those carbohydrate stores at a higher rate,’ he says. ‘But since it’s a shorter duration workout than a long run, you won’t break down the muscles as much. The payoff? In less than an hour, you’ll torch about 700 calories.


The Big Superfeast Calorie Killer


Last night’s feast provides the perfect energy for speedwork, endurance, even muscle repair. The coach’s prescription to maximize that fuel supply: A tempo run, followed by weight training to amp up your metabolism.


Few workouts are more efficient than the tempo run because it treads the line between aerobic and anaerobic.


‘You’re trying to reach that balance at your body’s lactate threshold,’ says McMillan. First, head out for a 6km tempo run (at about an 80 percent effort) bookended by 3km jogs. Second, complete a circuit in the weight room that works your major muscle groups to fatigue. Then enjoy the glow of a tough workout that zapped more than 1,000 calories.


Mad Multiple Runs


A 2004 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that three 10-minute runs on the same day protect the heart from dietary fat better – and even result in more total calories burned – than a single 30 minute run. ‘If you exercise vigorously multiple times each day, your metabolism remains elevated for a few hours without returning to the pre-exercise level,’ explains the study’s lead author, Thomas Altena, an assistant professor at Missouri State University.


‘Each successive run can then further speed up your metabolism and raise the demand for calories. The end result is that more calories are burned between short runs – like those to do errands. Simultaneously, triglyceride levels in the bloodstream are lowered, which helps prevent heart disease.’ Other researchers have also noticed this stair stepping effect on metabolism when subjects do several short, daily runs or other workouts.

Sandra Prior runs her own bodybuilding website at

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