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The Perfect Holiday Workout

By Jenny Hadfield, Runner’s World
10/17/2013 10:55:52 AM

Having trouble finding the time to train? Here's how to keep up your fitness during the year's busiest season.

How can we do it all and stay fit when life gets crazy during the holidays?

The short answer is, we can't.

That is, we can't do it all and stay healthy. The next best option is to go with the flow and train seasonally. Just like we don't typically eat stews and hot soups in the middle of summer, when things get really busy come the holidays, we can plug in high-quality workouts that give you more bang for your time and make treadmill running a real joy.

Credit: Runner's World

Read More: Your Treadmill FAQs, Answered

You may be losing ground this time of year if you're running at the same intensity for 30 minutes, especially if you're used to running more during the week. It's also important to note that a 30-minute run three to four times per week is plenty to maintain cardiovascular fitness and health.

But if you're looking to lose or maintain weight and work on speed, form, and improved fitness, you can easily do so with what I call the Perfect Holiday Workout. (Pair this with our tips on How to Prevent Holiday Weight Gain.)

No gimmicks here, folks-this workout is as simple as it gets and backed by plenty of research. Underneath the cute holiday workout theme is a high-intensity interval workout (or HIIT if you want to sound cool at the gym) that is short, sweet, and will blast fat during and after the workout.

A 2008 study by Gibala et al. demonstrated that 2.5 hours of sprint interval training produced similar biochemical muscle changes to 10.5 hours of endurance training and similar endurance performance benefits. That doesn't mean you have to put in 2.5 hours of HIIT to benefit, either. A little goes a long way.

PLUS: How HIIT Makes You Faster

It's the perfect workout for this time of year because you can easily do it on a treadmill, bike, elliptical, stairwell, or any place you can push hard and recovery easy. It also burns fat like a log on the fire by increasing your resting metabolic rate for up to 24 hours post-workout, especially in comparison to a steady-state aerobic workout.

So after I run the Perfect Holiday Workout, and as I'm sitting watching A Christmas Story for the fifth time, I'm burning fat. And when I'm lounging on my couch reading the latest Runner's World magazine, I'm burning fat. And when I'm chillaxing with my family, I'm burning fat.

Less time, more intensity = a happier runner and one that will not only maintain, but possibly gain the benefits of HIIT.

Of course, there are a couple of rules that need to followed. For more on these rules and the actual workout, continue reading on Runnersworld.com.

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