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Four Cardio Exercises to Burn Off Thanksgiving Dinner


November 27, 2017

It’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, and we’ve only got five weeks until the next Big Feasting Day. If you’re determined to not let annual holiday weight-gain get the best of you, we wrote a blog to help! We’ve found 4 exercises that require minimal time and equipment, allowing you to easily integrate them into your week. Don’t wait until your New Year’s resolution: get ahead of the holiday now!

The four exercises below come with instructions on why they’re beneficial for fat burn, what equipment you’ll need, and how to use them in a workout. Plan on using one of these today after work!

#1: Sprint for a Full-Body Fat Burn

Okay, yes, this is a major buzzkill for a list of exercises that are supposed to motivate you. Trust us—don’t be scared. Sprints are your friend. Not only do they work out virtually every muscle in your body, but sprinting makes more effective use of your time. Instead of jogging for an hour, sprinting for 15-20 minutes will burn more fat than pretty much any other exercise in that timeframe.

The other great thing about sprinting is it requires no equipment. Live near bleachers or a track? Use that. Live on a straight street (or even a hill) with a sidewalk? That works great too. You can have a powerful sprinting workout virtually anywhere—you just need shoes.

How Your Workout Should Look:

Alternate your sprint periods with your rest periods. If you’re on a track, alternate between sprinting a lap and jogging a lap. If you’re unable to sprint a whole lap, then try sprinting the long edges of the track and jogging the short edges.

If you’re on bleachers or stairs, sprint uphill, then jog or walk down. It’s not a great idea to run full-bore downstairs.

If you’re on a treadmill, use time as your interval. Start with 1 minute of rest and 30 seconds of sprinting, and alternate for 10 repetitions. When you find yourself getting bored, shrink the rest time and add it to your sprint time. Eventually, you’ll want to work toward shorter and shorter rests and longer sprints.

#2: Cycling (but You Gotta Hustle)

Stationary bikes usually go unused at the gym (outside of cycling class), so this is a great option if you’re a self-motivated athlete. The catch with cycling as a fat-burning exercise is you have to be willing to peddle at a high speed—so no distractions or internet browsing for this one. The good news is that cycling is an effective fat burner over the course of an hour. The average man will lose 1,000+ calories in a high-intensity spin class. More moderate speeds yield somewhere around 600 calories in an hour (for a 180-pound male).

How Your Workout Should Look:

Use intervals of high-speed and low-speed to form the foundation of your workout. For example, you could start with intervals of 2 minutes of intense cycling, followed by a 1-minute “rest” at a lower speed. For people who really know their bodies, you can set intervals according to a 1-10 scale of rest (“Level 1” being practically asleep, and “Level 10” being your absolute hardest effort).

For example, you could do a workout where you cycle for a minute at L.5, then two minutes at L.7, then one minute at L.6, then two minutes at L.8, and so on. Once you reach L.10, you start over the whole cycle. If that sounds a little too complicated, simple intervals of “high” and “low” gear will do fine.

#3: Jump Rope for Fast Footwork & Coordination

There’s a reason jumping rope is part of every fighter’s workout (and why it’s included in all the Rocky montages). It improves your coordination and grace, strengthens all your “quick start” muscles, and gives you a great leg workout to boot. As far as fat burn goes, you can’t go wrong—just 30 minutes of focused work can shed 500 calories.

Jumping rope works your body similarly to sprinting—making jumping rope a great alternative if you’re stuck indoors or don’t have time to go running outside. Everyone with a busy schedule should have a jump rope in their office, purse, or suitcase for a quick workout at any time.

How Your Workout Should Look:

Similar to a sprint workout, use intervals to switch between high-speed and low-speed. Jump as fast as you can for one minute, then hit a lower gear for 30 seconds. Rinse and repeat 20 times—in the end, that’s 20 minutes of high-speed jumping and 10 minutes of low-speed jumping. Do that just three or four times a week, and you’ll have worked off your Thanksgiving dinner (and then some).

#4: Swimming Burns Fat While Going Easy on Your Joints

If running or jumping sound like they’d be painful for your joints, take up swimming as an alternative. For people who have access to an indoor pool this holiday season, we recommend integrating swimming into your regular workout routine. Apart from being fun for most people, swimming works the entire body. Thanks to the combination of water and gravity, swimming is both a resistance workout (building muscle) as well as a cardio exercise (burning fat).

Keep in mind that this isn’t just for experienced swimmers. Novice and proficient swimmers can benefit from a pool workout.

How Your Workout Should Look:

For skilled swimmers, swim as many laps as you can as fast as you can. Different strokes burn different amounts of calories, so don’t stick with what you’re good at—use all types of strokes.

If you’re not used to swimming for exercise, try this: swim a lap as fast as you can (down and back), then swim a lap at a lower gear. Rinse and repeat. If you can’t manage that second lap quite yet, don’t give up! Just treading water will burn calories and build muscle.

One Last Note:

You may have noticed a pattern with our workout instructions: intervals are how you can keep your heart pumping and your body burning for longer periods.

In the same way, exercise isn’t about undoing the effects of binging or “damage control”—it’s about creating sustainable habits for long-term health. Just like within a workout, intervals of rest and activity are how we keep ourselves healthy and sane. Don’t go from never working out to planning a 6-day crash routine. Take it slow. Progress, not perfection.


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