25 Easy At-Home Workouts You Can Do During the Holidays
These simple workouts will keep you in shape throughout the holiday season, no gym necessary.
If you tend to fall off the health wagon during the holidays, you're not alone. Even trainers know the struggle. "Often times we fall off of clean eating—which is fun and fine in moderation—[but] then compound it with a lack of exercise or movement," says Los Angeles-based personal trainer Phil Catudal. "Double the calories and half the exercise isn't a recipe for success." But the good news is, you don't need a gym or a lot of time to work out over the holidays. With these 25 easy trainer-approved workouts, you can avoid winter weight gain and get a head start on your New Year's resolutions, right from the comfort of your own home!
Do squats while your Christmas cookies are baking.
While you're waiting for your Christmas cookies to bake, "see how many [squats] you can do in a two-minute period," says Holly Roser, a personal trainer and sports nutritionist in San Francisco. Serious question: Is there a better reward for doing a bunch of squats than fresh-out-of-the-oven Christmas cookies?
How to do it: Squat with your feet hip-width distance apart and bring your hamstrings parallel to the floor. Hold for two seconds at the bottom and squeeze your glutes as you come up.
Do lunges while you vacuum for guests.
You spend a lot of time cleaning over the holidays while getting ready for guests to come over. So, you might as well get your workout in while you're tidying up. According to Rosser, you can "perform some lunges while you vacuum your house before your guests arrive."
How to do it: Lunge into each vacuum push. When you lunge, make sure your knees aren't going over your toes and your feet are pointing straight ahead.
Do mountain climbers while wrapping presents.
Wrapping presents can get a little boring. To make things more exciting (and to get your heart rate up in the process), add some mountain climbers to the mix. "Wrap a present, then do 25 mountain climbers in between," says Roser.
How to do it: Get into a plank position and bring your knees to your chest as fast as you can. Ensure your wrists are in line with your shoulders and your back is flat.
Challenge your family to a plank-off.
Who doesn't love a little friendly competition with family over the holidays? And if you want to make that competition conducive to your muscle-building, back away from the board games and have a plank-off instead. "Whoever holds their plank the longest after dinner gets to pick who does the dishes," Roser suggests.
How to do it: When you're in your plank, bring your feet hip-width distance apart and keep your back as flat as a table, remembering to breathe through the whole thing.
Hit the stairs for some cardio when decorating.
Instead of heading to the gym to use the incline on the treadmill or stair climber, trainer Debra Atkinson, CEO of Flipping 50, recommends using what you probably already have at home: your actual stairs. "When you go up and down stairs to get your holiday decorations out, make it an interval," she says. "Instead of one trip, make it three! There's always something to pick up, right?"
How to do it: Take it one step at a time during your first trip up the stairs, then take it two steps at a time the second time around. This will vary the way you work your muscles.
Put on your boots and get to shoveling.
Shoveling snow is often looked at as a chore, but you might want to change your mindset about the winter activity. "Shoveling is a great workout," Atkinson says. It's such a good workout, in fact, that according to Harvard Medical University, you could burn anywhere from 180 to 266 calories in just 30 minutes while doing it, based on your weight.
How to do it: Make sure you rotate evenly while shoveling. Alternate between using your right and left hands to work both sides of your body.
Join the post-meal clean-up crew after a holiday party.
Dishes aren't a fun chore. There's no denying that. But when you think about it, there's plenty of muscle-toning perks to doing them. "Whether you're feeding a crowd or are a guest at a party, get involved in drying, stacking, and storing the dishes," Atkinson says. "It definitely beats sitting on the couch when it comes to reaching your activity goals. Everything counts."
How to do it: Instead of just washing, drying, stacking, and storing, add some calf raises into the mix while you're standing at the sink or reaching up into the cupboards.
Deliver baked goods to your neighbors.
Spread the holiday cheer this year while simultaneously working up a sweat by baking some cookies and delivering them to your neighbors. "If you're baking goodies for neighbors, walk them house to house and get some exercise out of it," Atkinson says. "Hands too full to carry them all at once? Good! Make trips back to the North Pole—AKA home—and repeat for all the people you're treating this year."
How to do it: If you want an alternative to walking back and forth, load everything up on a sled and pull it around your neighborhood. You can load up your sleigh with other heavy objects to make it an even more intense workout!
Do alternating lunges during commercials.
You know you're going to take full advantage of all the great holiday movies on TV, so Gideon Akande, founding instructor at Shadowbox Chicago, says that you should use the commercials as a time do alternating lunges. "As an extra bonus, whenever a Christmas reference comes up—whether that's a sale, movie, or another promo—complete five plank walk-outs," he says.
How to do it: For the lunges, start with your feet side by side. Step back with one foot as you lower your back knee toward the ground and keep your front knee over your front ankle. Return to the starting position and alternate sides.
For the plank walk-outs, bend your knees as you crawl your hands to a plank position in which your knees are straight and your hands are planted directly under your shoulders. Pause for one second before slowly crawling back to a standing position.
Do a teaser while putting presents under the Christmas tree.
Don't just put all your beautifully wrapped gifts under the tree. Instead, Amy Cardin, a Rhode Island-based BASI Pilates instructor, says to make a game out of it. By doing teasers while you put presents under the tree, you'll get a killer workout!
How to do it: Begin by sitting with your presents on one side of you—and make sure to position yourself close to the Christmas tree. Bring one leg at a time up to table top position, then squeeze your knees and inner thighs tightly together. Take your hands off the floor and grab one present and place it under the tree. Place three to five presents before turning around and repeating on the other side.
Do squats while putting ornaments on your tree.
Decorating the tree is one of the best parts of the holiday season, so why not make it even better by adding some exercise into the mix? Peter Tucci, a New York City-based trainer at Obé, says to put on your favorite holiday playlist and get to work, doing squats while you're making your tree look amazing.
How to do it: Imagine wearing elf shoes, so your toes are lifted and you're sitting back on your heels. Work your way around the tree, grabbing one ornament at a time while squatting continuously. Keep your chest lifted and your core strong as you squat around the tree. And don't worry about perfecting your ornament placement—just get them on the tree and fix them later.
Or do calf raises while perfecting your tree.
Now that you have all your ornaments on the tree, it's time to make them look nice. That's where Tucci's calf raises come in.
How to do it: While you stylize your tree, squeeze your butt and slowly lift your heels off the ground continuously in 30-second intervals. Be sure to keep your core strong the entire time.
Do roll-ups with wrapping paper.
You can do an entire ab workout with nothing but a roll of wrapping paper. So where to begin? Pennsylvania-based trainer Serena Scanzillo, founder and CEO of the SerenaFit Virtual Studio, says to start with some roll-ups.
How to do it: Grab a tube of wrapping paper and lie flat on your back with your legs out and your arms overhead holding the tube. Slowly sit up and reach the tube toward the ceiling. Be sure you're sitting nice and tall, pulling your abs in with great posture. Slowly roll back down to the mat and repeat for 45 seconds.
Or do twists with wrapping paper.
Next up are wrapping paper twists. These, according to Scanzillo, are essentially just a more fun and festive take on Russian twists.
How to do it: With your legs slightly bent in front of you, lean back with your core engaged and "row" the tube of wrapping paper on either side of your body like a canoe. Feel your obliques tighten as you maintain good posture and form. Repeat for 45 seconds.
Or do presses with wrapping paper.
Don't put that roll of wrapping paper down just yet. Next, Scanzillo says to use it to do some overhead presses. (And test your balance in the process.)
How to do it: Now, with your legs floating in front of you, lean back and balance in a V-sit hold. Sit up nice and strong and begin to press the wrapping paper tube overhead. Keep pressing as you hold your V-sit, engaging your lower abs. Make sure you're not rounding your upper back. Repeat for 45 seconds.
Do push-ups whenever you see a mistletoe.
Usually when you see a mistletoe, you get ready for a big smooch. This year, see it as an opportunity to strengthen your arms with some push-ups. "Got a loved one you wanna kiss under the mistletoe? Great! But also drop and give me 10 pushups," jokes Catudal.
How to do it: If you have a doorway or archway, put some mistletoe up and challenge yourself to do 10 pushups, squats, or another exercise every time you cross it. If you're with someone else, rope them into the holiday fun!
Do glute kickbacks and planks while you're chilling by the fire.
It's already warm and cozy by the fireplace, but this year, Catudal says you should take the heat up a notch with some booty-burning glute kickbacks.
How to do it: Take the time to do three to four sets of 20 glute kickbacks per leg while hanging out by the fire.. Or, as an alternative, you can do a one-minute plank to target your core.
Do a mini series while watching Home Alone.
You know you're going to be watching Home Alone as often as possible this season, so why not turn it into a workout? "I love to pair exercises to key points in holiday movies," says Jackie Vick, CSCS, a Maryland-based trainer for Gold's Gym. "It gets your family and friends involved, and it definitely creates fun memories and plenty of laughs."
How to do it:
- Every time someone says "Kevin": 20 jumping jacks
- When the family realizes Kevin was left at home: a minute of squats
- Every time the bad guys get hurt: 5 push-ups
- Every time you see Buzz's tarantula: 10 reverse lunges
- When Kevin's mom finds him: a minute of crunches
Do pistol squats with your presents.
Pistol squats aren't easy. But somehow, doing them with a shiny, perfectly wrapped present in hand makes them way more enjoyable. "What better motivation to wrap those holiday gifts, right?" says Ash Wilking, a New York City-based Nike master trainer and Rumble instructor.
How to do it: Grab a present and find something to sit on, like a chair or the couch. Hold the present in front of you with straight arms. Balance on one foot with your opposite leg bent at a 90-degree angle. Squat back into a seated position, keeping the present out in front of you. Once your rear end hits the seat, press back up to stand. If you want to challenge yourself further, take away the seat and balance while doing your pistol squats.
Do a round of burpees between episodes.
If you're binge-watching your favorite show, Betina Gozo, a Nike master trainer in Portland, Oregon, says to get some exercise in with a round of burpees. It's one of the quickest ways to get your heart rate up, and it works your entire body!
How to do it: Jump out to a plank position—or drop to the floor if you're so inclined—then jump your feet back in, bring yourself to standing, and jump up and reach for the sky. Repeat for 45 seconds every time a new episode starts.
Put on your virtual ice skates and get in some cardio.
You don't need to slip around on the ice to reap the benefits of skating. "It's cold outside, so let's get our virtual skates on instead to spike that cardio," says celebrity trainer Luke Zocchi. The exercise not only helps improve your stability and balance, but also works your butt, core, hamstrings, and thighs.
How to do it: Lean forward slightly as if you're pushing off the ice and move from side to side in a skating motion. As you're doing so, bend at the hips and knees, touching one hand down to the opposite foot every time you land. Lightly touch your opposite foot down behind your front foot to stabilize. Do a total of 12 reps on each side.
Come out of hibernation with lateral bear crawls.
When you want to get in a quick Christmas workout, Zocchi recommends lateral bear crawls. They work your entire body—particularly your shoulders, arms, core, and glutes.
How to do it: Start in a push-up position with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Make sure they're directly under your hips and slightly off the ground. Brace your core and move six steps to the left. Pause briefly, then move six steps to the right. Repeat these movements for 60 seconds.
Do a round of scissor kicks while wrapping presents.
The next time you're wrapping presents, put down the scissors and do some scissor kicks instead. Zocchi says it's one of the best ways to get your core burning.
How to do it: Lie down on the floor and place your hands lightly on the ground beside your hips. Extend your legs straight out in front of you, alternating your right and left legs up and down.
Run in place for a quick morning workout.
You don't need fancy gym equipment to get in a run. According to Zocchi, you can work up a sweat this Christmas simply by running in place.
How to do it: Standing tall, run in place as fast as possible. Power your right knee up toward your chest, followed by your left knee. Make sure you're landing softly. Perform 12 reps on each leg.
Do tricep dips while you're cooking dinner.
Your kitchen counter or living room couch can come in handy for some simple exercises—particularly tricep dips. The backs of your arms can be a tricky area to target, but this move will have your triceps burning as you wait for dinner to finish cooking.
How to do it: With your back to the counter or couch, rest the palms of your hands on the edge. Keeping your legs bent at a 45-degree angle on the ground in front of you, bend your arms to slowly lower your body, then straighten them to push yourself back up again. Repeat for 45 seconds.