Holiday Fitness: Lower Body Workout

Holiday Fitness: Lower Body Workout

It’s Day 4 of the holiday workout challenge! So far, we’ve done cardio, upper body, cardio again, and now it’s time for the…

Lower Body Workout – 15 Minutes, No Equipment!

This is another 15-minute workout that you can do at home, in a hotel room, outdoors, or a in a gym, equipment-free (except for a towel or mat if you do not have carpet or a soft surface)! All you will use is your own body weight to challenge your strength and get your heart pumping! Like the upper body workout, this is going to be Tabata style – meaning, 20 seconds “on” followed by 10 seconds “off.” This interval-style workout will rev up your metabolism and keep your heart pounding, but will also give you brief breaks to recharge your energy between moves.

Ready for the sequence? Here are the moves at a glance: 

3 minutes: Warmup

4 minutes: Workout

  • Squats with kicks
  • Skater jumps
  • Donkey kicks
  • Clamshells

8 more minutes: Repeat the 4-minute workout twice more!

2 minutes: Cool-down

This is a simple workout that utilizes multi-planar movement – forwards and backwards, side to side, and rotational. Moving in all directions is important for all muscle groups when designing a workout, but in my opinion, it is most important for the legs. Many people easily build up muscle imbalances in their legs from overtraining in one specific direction of movement. For example, runners – even runners who are in very good shape – often have very strong quads and tight IT bands, but weak hamstrings and glutes. Eventually, imbalances lead to injury. Prevent common overuse injuries by incorporating these multi-planar moves!

Here is the detailed sequence, broken down for you: 

3 minutes: standing warmup 

  • Perform dynamic stretching by standing in place and swinging your legs forwards, backwards, and side to side throughout your full range of motion. Use momentum, not strength, to get your legs as high in every direction as you possibly can.
  • Perform 20 squats (body weight only) at a comfortable pace, allowing the large muscle groups to “wake up.” Remember, squats should be a low, “sitting back” motion, as if you are going to sit in a low chair behind you. Your knees should never go beyond your toes when you squat. Remember this for the more intense squats later in this workout!

1 minute: squat with kicks (20 seconds of alternating legs, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat once more)

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your arms by your sides.
  • Squat (sitting back and low) and extend your arms out in front of you to help with balance.
  • Instead of returning to a full standing position, shift your weight and perform a controlled side kick with your right leg.
  • Return to a squat.
  • Shift your weight and side kick with your left leg.

1 minute: skater jumps (20 seconds of alternating legs, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat once more)

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart or slightly wider, with your arms by your sides.
  • Jump to your right side, landing on your right foot, and allow your left leg (staying in the air) to extend behind your body to the right side (like a curtsey in the air).
  • Immediately jump to your left side, landing on your left foot, and allow your right leg to extend behind your body to the left, like a curtsey.
  • Continue jumping back and forth, as fast as you can. Your goal is to get in as many skater jumps as you can in the 20-second tabata intervals.

1 minute: donkey kicks (20 seconds of one leg, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat with the other leg)

  • Move to your hands and knees on a mat or towel.
  • Plant your hands firmly, and lift your right leg, maintaining your 90-degree angle in the knee, and push your heel to the sky.
  • Without fully returning the leg to the ground, lower it slightly, then push it back up as high as you can.
  • Perform the move for 20 seconds on one side, rest for 10 seconds, the perform the move on the other side for 20 more seconds.
  • Tip: with donkey kicks, the challenge is to maintain the 90-degree angle of the knee. You are pushing the heel to the sky, not the back wall.

1 minute: clamshells (20 seconds of one leg, followed by 10 seconds of rest, then repeat with the other leg) 

  • Stay on the mat, but roll onto one side in a fetal position, supporting your upper body slightly on your elbow.
  • Keeping your feet together, lift your top knee and return it to resting. Do this for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.
  • Roll over to your other side and repeat the move on the other side for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds.

Repeat the 4-minute circuit two more times for a total of 12 minutes! 

2 minutes: cool down 

  • Perform dynamic stretching once more, allowing your legs to move through the full range of motion in all directions.
  • Static stretch in all directions by performing the following moves:
    • Hamstring stretch – lie on your back, and, gripping your right calf in both hands, keep your left leg extended in front of you on the floor and lift your right leg straight up into the air. Your goal is to keep the right leg as straight as possible but to use the resistance of your hands to move your right leg into as deep of a stretch as your hamstrings will allow. Keep your lower back pressed against the floor the entire time. Switch sides.
    • Standing pigeon – stand and, maintaining your balance, cross your right ankle over your left knee, and then reach for your toes. Hold, and then switch sides.
    • Hip flexor stretch – remain standing, and take a large step forward with your right leg. Keep your hips squared (both facing forward, not rotating), and lean into the stretch that this creates in your left hip flexor. Hold, then switch sides.

I hope you’re sticking with this invigorating holiday workout plan! This is a challenging but short-on-time circuit training plan that will help you to maintain a healthy metabolism, good mood, and improved immunity throughout the stress of the holidays. Wondering how to make healthier food choices over the holidays? Check out this article to learn more!


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