We’ve got a big meal coming up (not to mention a whole string of holiday parties and events), and even if you’re going to do your best to stay Paleo this Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s still a very good chance that there may be a little tendency to overdo it. And it has nothing to do with pumpkin pie, I swear.
I’m here to help. Well, to help you help yourself.
Now, I’m not here to give you a magical workout pill that allows you to go off the chain and consume 10,000 calories without any consequences, as fun as that sounds. What I am here for is to give you more than a few good reasons as to how and why to get a workout in on the morning of Turkey day and why you should not skip your holiday workouts in general. And then we’re going to give you a couple ideas for ways to get sweaty.
Step 1: Skip Breakfast
While not necessarily a workout or movement pointer, this little tidbit will help you to keep your calories for the day a little more in check.
Not eating until your Thanksgiving meal is allowing your body to benefit from a bit of fasting. Yeah, it’s okay to skip breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. You know for a fact that you’re not going to starve, and giving yourself a bit of leeway calorie-wise probably isn’t a bad idea. I mean have you had maple sweet potatoes?!? You’re going to want an extra helping of those. Even if your Thanksgiving meal is planned for late in the day, drink a little extra water during the day to keep your belly full and you’ll still be fine.
We’ve done posts before about the benefits of fasting every so often, but as a reminder, you’re boosting HGH, testosterone, and priming the body to deliver nutrients while keeping fat moving and burning (instead of cuing to storage) when you allow yourself to go without food for an extended period of time.
Step 2: Workout in the Morning
Now that we’re not eating at the first sign of sun, we should get you moving. Working out in a fasted state is going to help you stay in fat-burning mode as well as prime you for proper caloric replenishment.
We’re essentially putting you in a state where your body is really craving calories, and not just your in your belly for food! We want to pull the stored fuel from your muscle tissue to give plenty of room for those muscle cells to be screaming, “Gimme! Gimme!” when those calories come flooding in later in the day.
So this workout will be one to get you good and sweaty, as well as try to tax your body into burning through a bunch of your stored calories.
(If you feel you need a warm-up before you start—you probably should!)
Step 3: The Workout
Getting your sweat on earlier in the day helps to rev your engine up and put you in a little of a caloric deficit for the day. Combine that with your lack of calories since you’re fasting, you’ve given yourself a little extra leeway to buffer your Thanksgiving shenanigans.
The following is considered one round of the workout. Depending on your fitness level, you will be perform just a few rounds or several.
Standard clap overhead. From a standing position, place hands 18-24 inches in front of feet, kick both feet back, drop to push-up, jump feet back to start, stand and jump while clapping overhead.
Standard “air squats.” Feet shoulder width apart, weight in the heels, knees tracking over the toes, hips dropping below the knee, hands in front for balance, and midsection firm and active.
30 Mountain Climbers
Top of push-up position. Bring one knee up towards the chest until it passes your elbows. Return to start. Repeat other side. This is one “count” or “rep.” Keep your back as horizontal as possible. Try not to hunch the back, or allow the hips to go up and down. You should maintain a plank position throughout.
Focus on landing on the toward the front of the foot. Have a nice easy bounce to your step. Lean forward just enough to move yourself forward. Let gravity do the work, you should feel as if you’re being pulled forward or almost “falling” into the run, stead of pushing yourself with a big overemphasised push toward the back.
Step 4: Push Yourself
Option 1: See how many rounds you can get through in 20 minutes.
Option 2: Do 10 rounds as fast as you can.
Either one of these options will leave you wonderfully worked before your feasting day, as well as getting the whole body working and taxed. The burpees are both great upper body work as well as calling on you to produce explosive power with the jump. The squats call on your bigger muscle groups in the legs to work over time to pump out those 20 reps. The mountain climbers combine the midline stability of the plank along with the vigorous contraction and extension of the legs, while the run simply asks us to get moving and keep moving.
There’s some evidence to support that going as hard as possible for a short period of time actually has wonderful “afterburn” effects. This means that your metabolism remains elevated, even though you’re not actively working out. This afterburn effect can last anywhere from 12-48 hours after a workout is over. This means that you’re burning more calories at rest!
What these workouts will do for you is to pull out a great deal of the stored sugar (glycogen) that you have in your muscle cells. The burpees will call on your arms and chest, as well as the explosive power of your legs, while the squats will ensure that the full range of motion of the legs provides opportunity for a very nice glycogen deficit in your lower extremities. The mountain climbers will move that stress into your midsection, while the running is just a great way to keep your heart rate up, and provide a rest for the other parts of your body.
Oh, and hey—did you know that I program workouts every week for our PaleoFit members? They get four workouts every week, including three beatdowns, and a little mini workout that almost always lasts less than five minutes! You also get sweet movement how-to videos so you’ll be informed about how the movements should look and feel! Check us out!