You do your best not to overindulge over the holidays. But, inevitably you end up eating more, moving less and generally having a more relaxing time over the Xmas period. That’s great – and there is no way that you should feel guilty about the odd extra few calories that you are taking on.
Yet you also know that the science of weight gain doesn’t make allowances for the time of the season. Those extra calories have to go somewhere. That somewhere will more than likely be your hips and waist – unless you burn them off. And burning them off doesn’t have to be a chore. In this article, we present 10 super effective moves that you can employ to help you to stay on the right side of the calorie equation over the holiday period. Simply pick and choose half a dozen moves and perform 3 sets of 15 reps each t defeat the Xmas bulge.
Exercise #1: Wall Handstand
- Handstands are great for overall balance, strength, kinesthetic awareness, control and confidence. You can either top and tail a workout with them or inject them into a workout at various parts to spice things up. Handstands can be dialed up or dialed down according to your fitness and strength levels.
- Stand about half a meter away from a wall. Focus on a spot on the floor about 20 centimeters away from the wall – this is where you will place your hands. Step in, and as you place your hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart, kick your legs up so they land against the wall.
- Spread your fingers and push through your fingertips, extending your arms out straight, and push up from your shoulders. Brace your core by pulling in through your abs, squeezing your butt, and squeezing and lengthening your legs. Try to lengthen and tighten your body by squeezing everything upwards.
- Start with 10 or 20-second holds, then build up to 30 seconds or even a minute.
- A more advanced move is to try to come off the wall for short periods of time, so you are just supported by your hands. Or better yet, do them completely without a wall.
- For an even easier version, place your hands on the ground and ‘climb’ your knees or feet up onto a well-supported bench placed behind you, so that you are in a strong ‘V’ position, with your hands firmly on the ground and your feet on the bench.
Exercise #2: In & Outs
- This exercise requires so much muscle – both physically and mentally – that it requires a combination of strength, power, cardio, and agility. That’s pretty good for a no equipment exercise!
- Start in a plank position with your fingers spread, hands shoulder width apart, shoulders back and away from your ears, a long neck, and your chin pulled in. Draw your belly button up towards your spine and tuck your tailbone under slightly. Your legs should be strong in this position – you are basically like a plank of wood, solid and straight.
- Jump your feet in, pulling your knees toward your chest, then jump your feet straight back out to where they started.
- You must remain strong in your upper body, pulling your shoulder blades down, keeping your arms extended long and strong, and holding your core tight.
- In & Outs can be toned down by stepping your feet in and out rather than jumping.
Exercise #3: Hollow Rocks
This movement comes from the world of gymnastics. It’s a tougher movement than you might at first imagine, as you are required to recruit just about all of your muscles. So, although you might think it’s an abdominal exercise, think again.
- Start by lying on the ground, with your arms extended overhead, hands together. Your legs and feet should be squeezed tightly together.
- Simultaneously lift your arms and legs off the floor and draw your abs down towards your spine, making your body into a cupped shape or a hollow. Squeeze all of your muscles tight as you rock, with control, back and forth.
- A rock both forward and back is counted as one repetition.
Exercise #4: Body Weight Squats
Squats is one of the best exercises you can ever do. With or without weights, this is a foundation movement. When you are doing squats with bodyweight only, you can ramp up the speed but make sure that you have a good depth and form.
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, feet slightly turned out. If you are tall with long legs, go slightly wider again. Keep your shoulders back and down, lift your chest, pull your belly button in towards your spine.
- Lower your butt back and down. Extend your arms forward and up to counterbalance yourself, and also to encourage your upper body to stay more upright. Push your knees out so they are aligned with your toes.
- Try to drop your butt just lower than your knees and stay strong through your core throughout the movement, both down and up as you return to the start position. Don’t lose your strength at the bottom of the movement; drive up out of it by pushing through your heels.
Exercise #5: Hand Release Push Ups
This variation of a push up allows you to benefit from a maximum range of motion. Using a full range of motion results in a better movement, better fitness, better performance and, ultimately, a better body.
- Start lying on the ground in a grounded push up position. Place your hands just outside your shoulders and tuck your elbows in. Spread your fingers, pull your chin in, lengthen your neck, pull your shoulders back down away from your ears, push your chest out and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Draw your abs in and tighten them. Strengthen your legs and squeeze your butt.
- Now push up into a plank position, with every part of your body except your toes and hands coming off the ground at the same time. Lower yourself back down and quickly raise your hands off the ground, then repeat.
Exercise #6: Tuck Jumps
This is a very dynamic movement. It requires agility, power, cardio fitness, speed, and balance.
- Stand with your feet about hip distance apart. Do a semi-squat and swing your arms back, ready to jump.
- Spring upwards and, as you drive up, thrust your hips forward and pull your knees up toward your chest. Keep your body switched on so you land like a cat, with balance and accuracy. Your arms help initiate the jump phase, so swing them back as you land, and then forward and up again as you repeat the jump.
Exercise #7: Side Winders
This move works in a similar way to in and outs, except that it hits the internal and external obliques, and requires coordination along with all the elements needed for an in & out.
- Start in a plank position with your fingers spread, shoulders back away from your ears, a long neck and your chin pulled in. Draw your belly button up towards your spine and tuck your tailbone under slightly. Your legs should be strong in this position.
- From here jump both feet in together towards your right hand, then jump back out into the starting plank position. Repeat the action, this time jumping towards your left hand.
- Sidewinders can be toned down by removing the jump and stepping your feet in and out.
Exercise #8: Prisoner Walks
This exercise focuses on the large muscles of your butt and legs but also fires up your core by engaging the abs and the back. By holding your hands behind your head and keeping your elbows back, you are naturally encouraged to stay upright in your upper body and to squeeze between your shoulder blades. Your upper body and lower body are working simultaneously.
- Start in a standing position, feet hip-width apart. Place your hands behind your head and make sure your elbows are pointing directly to the side of you or even slightly back, out of your eyesight. It’s important that this position is held throughout the movement.
- Kneel down, one leg at a time, and then stand back up. Either lead with one leg for a number of reps and then lead with the other for the same number or alternate the lead leg for each rep.
- Do this exercise on a soft surface, such as grass, carpet or a mat.
- If this move is too hard on your knees, then step up onto a knee-high bench using the same upper body technique. To make it easier use a lower bench.
Exercise #9: Vertical Power Jumps
Vertical power jumps recruit your legs while also making your core and upper body to work to get maximum height. This is an explosive movement, meaning that your heart rate will go right up.
- Place your feet between hip and shoulder width apart, then bend down into a semi-squat while swinging your arms back.
- Powerfully swing your arms forward and up to assist with the jump itself. Power comes from the hips, so as you come up out of the squat, you must thrust your hips forward.
Exercise #10: Over the Fence Jumps
This exercise is usually done with a bench. When you remove it the exercise becomes tougher.
- Start on all fours, hands shoulder-width apart, then jump to your feet, hands remaining where they are. Imagine a line running across the floor directly beneath you; that’s what you are now going to jump over to one side with both feet, and then jump over it to the other side, springing your feet up and over.
- As you jump, you must draw in your abs, expand your chest, drop your shoulders down and away from your ears, and one then your neck while pulling in your chin. Spread your fingers and push through your hands with strong arms.