Demmy James—The holidays are just around the corner, and you can already hear the creamy mashed potatoes topped with greasy, gorgeous gravy calling your name. If you want to keep up with any summer weight-loss initiatives, there are some sweet, yet simple, cardio tricks you can add to your regimen three times a week to combat not only all of the holiday treats you're bound to encounter, but also the winter weather blues.
These simple, high-calorie-burning cardio moves focus on exercises that can help you maintain your weight-loss goals, even with lots of seasonal foods and treats thrown into the mix. However, don't forget, success is all about balance and consistency, so while it's OK to indulge in a few treats, remember that you can't "out exercise" a poor diet.
1. Badass Barbell Complex
This move will help to switch up your daily cardio routine and build upper-body strength and definition. If you’re just starting a new workout program or recently getting back to the gym be sure to lift light. Your body will love you if you increase your weight gradually.
Before doing this routine, start with a four-minute treadmill or elliptical warm-up.
Exercise 1: Barbell Row
• Stand with your feet directly under your hips with your legs hip-width apart. Don’t lock your knees, keep them soft.
• Never bend over to pick up your barbell — squat down to the floor by bending your knees when you pick the barbell up off the ground.
• Start with arms straight and the barbell in front of your thighs. Your hands should be slightly wider than your hips. Lift the bar up to chest height (keeping it close to your body), then pause and lower it back down.
• Repeat in 30 second intervals for two minutes.
• Follow up with one minute of jumping jacks, then move on to the deadlift.
Exercise 2: Deadlift
• Start as you would for the row.
• Slide the bar down your thighs. Keep your back straight and abs flexed. Stop at the middle of the knee and return to the upright position.
• Repeat in 30 second intervals for two minutes.
• Follow up with one minute of jumping jacks or mountain climbers, then move on to the lunge.
Exercise 3: Barbell Lunge
• Place the bar just below the back of your neck on your upper back. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart.
• Step forward with your right leg into a lunge and keeping your heel lifted, drop your left knee toward the floor into a lunge, then return to standing.
• Repeat for one minute, break for 30 seconds and then do one minute on the right leg.
• Follow up with 10 minutes on the treadmill or elliptical machine.
2. Step-Up Your Game Stadiums
Mixing things up with a bit of stadium runs can really step up your cardio routine!
• Start with a simple warm-up: a light four-minute run around the track.
• Stand at the bottom of a set of stairs and sprint to the top, landing on every step, then jog back down.
• Sprint up the stairs skipping every other step on the way up, then jog back down.
• Sprint up the stairs, run across to the set next to the stairs you just ran, and walk back down.
• Stand in front of the first step, legs shoulder-width apart, and jump to the step above off the balls of your feet — repeat until you reach the top and walk back down.
• That entire sequence is one interval. Repeat for two more intervals and then finish with a brisk three-minute walk around the track.
3. Can-Do Attitude Car Pushes
Car pushes are intense. This bad-boy-style workout really gets your gears going and your heart pumping with a little something different!
• Warm up with a brisk jog for four minutes.
• Push a car for 50 meters, walk to the front of the car and push it back to its starting point.
• Leaving the car parked, do one minute of jumping jacks.
• That’s one rep down! Repeat this four more times.
• Finish with a brisk 10-minute walk.
4. Row, Row, Row The Fat Away
The rowing machine can really get your heart beating, and it’s especially great for both gym junkies that just need to change things up or new-comers that need something fun to start out with.
• Start with 10 minutes easy rowing.
• Repeat five times: one minute of sprinting alternating with one minute of rest.
• Take two minutes of rest and repeat the above for four more rounds.
• Finish with five minutes of easy rowing.
5. Rev-Up Bike Sprints
Wingate bikes aren’t always accessible, so you can mimic the Wingate Sprint with spin bikes that are most likely more accessible at your local gym.
• Start with a four-minute easy-pace warm-up; your bike should be on the lowest resistance possible.
• Start pedaling as fast as you can.
• Turn the resistance level up as high as possible while trying your best to maintain that super-fast speed for 15 seconds; stand up if you have to in order to keep your momentum going.
• Return to the seated position, lower the resistance and pedal at an easy pace for 60 seconds.
• That’s entire sequence is one interval. Repeat for five intervals total. If you aren’t feeling it by sprint four, your resistance wasn’t turned up enough, so make sure you’re really challenging yourself.
Even though these fat-blasting activities will keep you in tip-top shape and guide you towards your fitness goals, it’s important to keep in mind that enjoyment and sustainability are the keys to success when it comes to exercise.
Demmy James is a fitness buff as well as strength and conditioning specialist. He is also a content contributor for Muscle & Strength.