If you’re anywhere in the world you may soon find yourself cramming turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie into your mouth like you were starving. In case you’re not familiar with it, Thanksgiving is the US holiday where we celebrate a legendary meal shared between Europeans and the indigenous people. The spirit of the holiday is an idealistic celebration of shared cultures, but it’s also an excuse to eat three rounds of dinner and two desserts, judgement-free.
It’s all about multicultural sharing, love, and food. Who wouldn’t get behind that?
Even if you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, you are weeks away from the international holiday known as December. Soon enough our homes and office break rooms will be overflowing with cookies and cakes.
Between holiday shopping sprees and parties, the chance to eat healthy grows progressively difficult in the next few weeks. To combat this, a healthy high-intensity training can offset the damage.
Let’s get this out of the way right now; forget about burning off all your dietary transgressions in the gym. Once the season of cheating begins, we’re talking damage control.
If you can, though, November makes a nice time get ahead of your body. The strategy is to drop a few pounds of fat the same way you would clear storage room in the basement for a relative who’s moving in.
It will all make sense. Keep reading.
No Rest Workouts
There is a science to the rest one takes between lifts, but for most of us, it’s more a course of habit. We rest because exercise is hard.
We also wipe our brow once, take a sip of water, check the weights, make eye contact with a passerby, then adjust our clothes because… we need to. The lift won’t go well unless we do all that stuff, right?
Forget it. The longest you should rest is a few minutes, but that’s only if you’re maxing out your lift. Most of us only need 30-60 seconds between lifts, and that is only if you are doing the same exact movement.
If you’re stacking exercises, you need almost zero rest between sets.
When you stack your exercises, you don’t stop between sets. We could write a book on approaches, but to simplify, stacking is usually one of two possible patterns.
A lift that focuses on your primary muscles, is then followed by a lift focusing on secondary or tertiary muscle. Alternatively, you may stack lifts that work opposing muscle groups, so the second one is resting while you wear down the first.
Super-stacking may mean you add a third exercise, depending on who you ask, but it may mean more than any number of stacked exercises over two. Some like to call that super-super stacking to differentiate. Same idea.
They don’t all have to be lifting moves either. You can stack batches of cardio with your lifts. The more you stack, the harder your heart will beat, the more calories you burn.
In traditional interval training, there is a set parameter of time where one alternates between intensities of a movement. It’s often used in track and field training, especially with runners, especially for conditioning.
When most people talk about intervals, what they mean is Fartlek (It’s Swedish; stop laughing) training. The difference is that with intervals we mean timed periods of intensity.
Fartlek intensity varies based on your perceived exertion. In the latter, you may run as hard as you can until you can’t go anymore, then slow down until you recover, then run again.
Both will stoke your furnace, and keep it burning even while you sleep.
These two techniques offer a massive net calorie burn, but are not for the inexperienced; only if you are conditioned or know what you are doing.
You may not feel like sliding right into another lift after you knock out a set, but jumping rope could strike your fancy.
Jumping rope is not as easy as it looks, so be patient. Improvements take a long time. Some of us still struggle every, single, time. The bonus is that jumping rope will develop your emotional tolerance if you can stick with it.
The great thing about jumping rope is you can start as slow as you want. You don’t have to go all Muhammad Ali the first time.
There are all kinds of guides to what length you should use, but in general, you will use a longer rope when you start out, getting shorter as you get faster. When you stand on the rope, the handles should land somewhere between your belt line and your armpits.
Try just doing 60-seconds of jump rope between lifts to keep your heart rate up. You’re gonna sweat.
There are three basic movements in the gym, pressing, pulling or squatting. You can make your gym time more calorically intense and even fun by combining them in one movement.
This isn’t the same as stacking because in this case, you’re turning two or more moves into one. The burpee is a classic example of this. It’s a squat, a push-up, and a jump. The push-press is another.
You can make up your own. Do walking lunges across the floor with dumbbells in your hands. At the top, curl those weights, then press them while standing on one leg. You could combine cable rows with squats too.
Get crazy, but start slow and light with any new moves.
If you’re gonna implement these techniques to get ahead of the holidays, great. Do yourself a favor and eat like a champ too, tons of veggies and fruit with enough protein at every meal. Avoid the naughty stuff, since it will surround us all soon enough.
If you can drop five to ten pounds of body fat now, you won’t mind gaining them back in the next few weeks. Your food will taste so much better when you know you trained for this.