The holiday season is almost here – I can already feel the festive party buzz and hear the tacky tunes…
The Christmas and holiday season is busy – balancing work, life, nutrition, and training can be hard enough through the year without the added festive social plans.
It can be a difficult time to stick to a fitness or nutrition regime but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with efficient ways to make a positive effort for yourself without sacrificing all the fun December brings.
We’ve pulled together some quick but productive 20-minute workouts that fit busy schedules, get your body working, build strength and stamina, and get that gym pump, no FOMO.
20-Minute Circuits to Build Strength, Speed, and Stamina
These 20-minute workouts are a quick and easy way to get your training in without having to spend hours in the gym over the festive season.
Using short sharp training techniques can help you work efficiently, feel energised, and get that post workout high.
As ever, warm up and cool down for 5-10 minutes before/after each circuit to avoid injury and aid in recovery. You can increase or decrease intensity by adding or removing resistance.
This full body circuit covers you from head to toe and can help build muscular strength in a quick and efficient time, using a mixture of compound and upper/lower body for a well-rounded circuit.
Work through each exercise before moving onto the next for 40 secs and rest for 20 secs. Repeat the circuit 4 times, rest for 1 minute between rounds or more if you need it.
Squats (Barbell, Dumbbell, or Bodyweight) – 10-12 reps
- Step under a racked barbell so it sits across your upper back. Hold the bar with an overhand grip about two hands width from your shoulder, tuck your elbows under and hug the bar into your traps while engaging your upper back. Alternatively rack a dumbbell on each shoulder, or just use bodyweight.
- With control stand upright to take the weight of the bar, take a step backwards out of the rack, and set your feet just outside of hip width apart.
- Start the movement by keeping your head up, back straight, and driving your bum back and down. Maintain tension throughout the movement.
- Continue to lower until your hips are in line with your knees at 90 degrees. Hold at the bottom of the movement for 1-2 secs before driving through your feet into the floor to push yourself back up.
- Keep your core braced throughout, at the top hold for 1-2 secs and repeat.
Deadlift (Barbell, Dumbbell) – 10-12 reps
- Position your feet with toes beneath the centre of the barbell, hip-width apart and grip the floor with your feet. Maintain a relatively vertical shin angle.
- Bring your shoulders over the bar and hold it with an overhand grip. Hinge at the hip, driving your bum down towards the floor.
- Contract your lats, pull them back and down, and use the bar to pull your body in tight, lifting your chest.
- Take a deep breath in, engage your core, and drive through the floor with your legs, keeping the bar tight to your body as you lift it from the ground.
- Lock your hips out at the top, engaging your quads, glutes, and lats.
- Maintaining tension in your core, hinge from your hip, and, maintaining a tight bar to the body, return to the starting position in a controlled lowering movement.
Hip Thrusts (Barbell, Dumbbell) – 10-12 reps
- Your backside should be just above the ground to start the movement with a bench or platform at your back ready to support you, feet on the ground and a barbell or weight across your hips and pelvis.
- Drive your hips up toward the sky, keeping your feet flat on the floor and you upper back flat to the bench or platform.
- Your knees should rise to be at 90 degrees from the ground with your body forming a straight line between your shoulders and knees.
- Squeeze your glutes at the top of the movement and hold for a second.
- Slowly lower your hips down, controlling the movement to return to the start position.
Standing Push Press (Barbell, Dumbbell) – 10-12 reps
- Start with a barbell racked on your upper chest, or dumbbells on your shoulders. Hands set slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core and engage your back.
- Dip slightly into a high squat, keeping weight through your heels, and then driving back up and pressing the bar directly overhead, making sure to tuck your chin back.
- Keep your body engaged throughout. Push up until your arms are fully extended, hold for 1-2 secs before slowly returning to the front rack and repeat.
Renegade Rows (Dumbbell) – 10 reps each side.
- Place two dumbbells on the floor next to each other and position yourself in a high press-up position, hands gripping the dumbbells.
- Engage your core and hold a tight position, row one arm at a time. Hold at the top of the row for 1-2 secs before returning to the start position.
This speed circuit will raise your heartrate, get you sweaty and leave you feeling fitter and stronger with quick bursts of speed and agility. Full body movements help build cardiovascular endurance and strength.
Work through as many reps of each exercise in 45 seconds as possible, rest for 15 seconds and then move onto the next exercise.
Note down the reps at the end of each round, rest for 1-2mins and repeat 4 times. Try and beat your reps each time, but maintain your form.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend into a squat position. Keep your core engaged, lower your hands to the floor in front of you in line with or just inside of your feet.
- Lean your weight into your hands and jump your feet behind you into a high plank position before lowering your body to the ground.
- Engaging your core and glutes, return to high plank and then jump your feet back into your hands and return to a squat position before powering up and out of the squat with a jump and repeat.
Lateral Skater jumps
- Stand with legs hip-width apart, allow your hips to drive back slightly and your knees to soften.
Start the movement by shifting your weight onto your left leg, while picking your right foot up off the ground.
- Bend your left leg at the knee to lower your hips a few inches lower, then push explosively off through your foot. Extending into a sideways jump towards the right side.
- Keeping your chest forward land on your right leg, you can allow your left foot to tap the floor for stability if needed.
- Steady yourself and then repeat the movement to jump off the right leg to the left.
- Adopt a high plank position, placing your hands as wide as is comfortable.
- Engage your core and drive the right knee towards your chest before returning it and then driving the other knee toward the chest.
- Repeat this movement, keeping your hips flat.
- Standing with feet shoulder-width apart, initiate the squat movement by driving the hips back and down.
- Keep your chest lifted and core engaged. At the bottom of the squat power up to a jump before landing back in the squat position and repeat.
- Start in a high plank position, placing your hands as wide as is comfortable.
- Slowly lower your chest towards the floor, bending at the elbow and keeping your abs engaged.
- Just before you touch your chest to the floor, push through your hands and return to the start position.
This stamina circuit will help you do what it says on the tin, building both cardiovascular and muscular stamina with 5 easy dumbbell-based movements.
The aim is to hit high reps with good form as well as working on speed to ensure recovery is efficient.
This circuit follows an EMOM forma – on the minute, work through the rep range with form and efficiency, then recover for the remaining time of that minute before moving onto the next exercise. Do not rest other than the time left within the minute.
Devil’s press (Mins 1,5,10,15) – 12 Reps
- Place your dumbbells on the floor next to each other and position yourself in the press-up position with your hands on the dumbbells.
- Jump your feet into your hands and swing the weights into a snatch from the centre between your legs. Extend fully at the top before returning the weight back down between your legs.
- Lower the dumbbells back to ground, jump your feet back so your chest touches the ground and then repeat.
Alt Reverse Lunges (Mins 2,6,11,16) – 16 reps (8 each side)
- Start with feet hip-width apart, chest upright, and bracing your core, holding dumbbells by your side.
- Take a big step backwards with your right foot, and slowly lower yourself by bending your left knee towards the ground until your knee is parallel to the floor at 90°, your other knee will also be bent at a 90-degree angle but prone.
- Hold in the lowered position before driving back up by pressing through your front foot and returning to the starting position.
- As soon as you stand repeat with the other leg, and keep alternating between legs until you have completed all the reps
Squat to shoulder press (Mins 3,7,12,17) – 12 reps
- Stand with your legs hip-width apart and core engaged. Dumbbells should be held at the shoulder with your elbows bent.
- Drop into a squat, knees bent to 90 degrees, keeping the back straight and core engaged.
- At the bottom of the movement push through your feet, driving your hips up and reversing the movement. As you do this drive your hands upwards above your head to shoulder press the dumbbells squeezing the shoulders and traps.
Kettlebell swing (Mins 4,8,13,18) – 20 reps
- Start with the kettlebell on the floor slightly in front of you between your feet, which are set shoulder-width apart.
- Hinging at the hips, grab the kettlebell on top of the handle and pull it back between your legs to start the momentum.
- When the kettlebell is at the further point back between your legs, drive your hips forwards and keeping your core engaged and chest lifted to send the kettlebell up to shoulder height.
- Let the bell return between your legs and repeat. Ensure the kettlebell is heavy enough that you can’t lift it with your arms.
Hollow Hold (Mins 5,9,14,19) – 30-40 secs hold
- Lay flat on your back with your legs stretched out in front of you and toes pointed.
- Stretch your arms to full extension so they run horizontally away from your head, engage your core, and raise your arms/shoulders and legs off the floor (around 6-8 inches) ensuring your lower back is firming pressing into the floor.
- Hold this position for the intended time maintaining tension in your core the entire time.
Take Home Message
Balancing a social life in December with your health, wellness and fitness goals the two is no mean feat. But, with efficient and impactful workouts that mean you can get in the gym, get stronger, feel better and fitter with time left to see those you care about is possible.
Align your goal and try these quick circuits over the next few weeks to keep up your routine without giving up any holiday fun.