The 12-Day Holiday Fitness Challenge

10 minutes a day can do the trick

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Paradoxically or not, people are a lot busier during the holidays. That’s why many workout programs that save people time but have the same results have been designed by professionals. Some routines are no more than 30 minutes long.

Imagine if you can cut this time down even more to just about 10-15 minutes a day and still stay fit? Exercise physiologist and Bowflex Fitness Advisor Tom Holland has done just that. He wants to prevent the “If I don’t have 60 minutes, I better not start at all” mentality.

“Recent research has shown that even 15 minutes a day can be just as effective as 30 minutes or more,” he says. His 12-day challenge, he adds, “is really a push to just get some exercises in.” The quick workouts easily fit into a busy schedule and help beat the holiday stressors.

The exercises can be as intense as you want to make them, Holland says. Work them up to you level. They are the same for beginners and more advanced gym-goers. The difference is in the repetitions. A lot of people are just now starting to get more active as the New Year is around the corner and people make their resolutions. “The workouts are meant to jumpstart your fitness program, to get into the habit of training,” Holland adds.

Nautilus & Bowflex — Bowflex 12 Days of Fitness
Infographic by Nautilus, Bowflex 12 Days of Fitness

“I wanted a bit of everything,” Holland says about why the routines are divided in this particular way. “The exercises can really give you different ideas about something you have not done before,” he adds. You don’t have to strictly follow the program – and by all means mix it up, Holland says – but if you switch some of the exercises, make sure you work out the same muscle group.  

The one cardio exercise that you may find strange is running in place because it seems unnatural. “You can substitute it with any cardio exercise you want,” he adds, “as long as it’s a full body movement.”

The one part of the challenge that you should never miss is the boxing workout. “It’s really simple and really effective, it’s great to really burn calories,” Holland says. “Anyone who has boxed for two minutes had realized how difficult it really is.”

How are you going to feel on the 13th day, you may be wondering? “Pleasantly surprised,” Holland says. There will be some level of soreness but the “good-pain” kind. You’ll be stunned to see how good you’ll feel and how simple [the exercises] are to do AND be effective.”

Here is a detailed description of how to do each exercise:

Burpees: Moves that engage major muscle groups throughout your body, burpees are done by dropping into a crouching position, pushing the legs back into a push-up position, returning to the crouch, and finally, standing back up.

Chest Fly: While lying flat on a bench, tighten your chest muscles by holding dumbbells above your body and slowly lowering them by spreading your arms out to each side. Once your elbows are at the level of your chest, raise them back up and repeat.

Crunches: Crunches build strength in your core and help protect your lower back. Learn how to do bicycle crunches and double crunches. Or mix it up with the reverse crunch.

Jumping Jacks: Cardio interval moves that work the entire body by jumping out with your arms extended and jumping back to a standing position.

Triceps Kickbacks: Triceps Kickbacks are a great way to strengthen and tone the back of your arms. Bend over at the waist and bring your elbows up in line with the sides of your body, keeping your arms at 90 degree angles with dumbbells in your hands. Keeping your elbows in place, slowly straighten your arms out until your hands are in-line with the sides of your body (arms should be completely straight). Slowly bring your arms back to a 90 degree angle again and repeat.

Lunges: Lunges are a great way to strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and calves. Simply step forward with one leg and lower yourself down, keeping your front knee over your ankle and behind the toes, until the top part of your leg is about parallel with the floor, revert back to a standing position and repeat.

Mountain Climbers: Among the great moves to boost your metabolism, mountain climbers start in a push-up position with your hands on the floor. Lift your right knee straight up toward your right arm, then back down and repeat with your left leg.

Planks: This basic move tests your body’s overall strength. Hold your body for a determined amount of time in a push-up position with either your arms extended, or with your entire forearm completely on the ground. To rest, put your knees on the ground.

Push-ups: This classic, yet functional move improves upper body strength. From a resting position on your stomach, push your body upward by extending your arms.

Skaters: Among the great ways to tone the legs, skaters incorporate sweeping side jumps that engage your lower body.

Squats: Defined as functional exercises, squats mimic the movement of sitting and rising from a chair to tone the lower body.