Five exercises you can do at home, next to your Christmas tree

The best solution – in the given circumstances

Christmas is the time of year when even very distant relatives get together to meet and big families unite again. So many of us make a lot of preparations (cooking, cleaning, present-hunting), and very often you just haven't enough time left in the great hustle and bustle around the holiday to do the amount of exercise you normally do during the year.

Of course, as committed (and fanatic!) promoters of regular exercise, we suggest that – even if not five times 2 or 3 hours a week – you should go down to the gym for an hour at least twice a week. Certainly, besides exercising, the ideal solution to remain in good shape would be to follow the much-emphasised reasonable holiday diet (on which we have also given you lots of tips: for example, planned indulgence or sticking to your diet of five meals a day).

However, if we had to list the best and worst scenarios of what may happen during this week (between Christmas and New Year), we could find a few stages between a fully active and exemplary lifestyle and the one that leads to total indulgence, overeating and sloth.

Suppose you can only moderately resist cookies or can't resist them at all, and you are unable to drag yourself down to the gym, but if you read some home exercises somewhere, you could perhaps insert them in your mornings. Here you are:

Cookie-free 30-minute workout plan for home

After the usual five-minute warm-up exercises (rotations, stretches from head to ankle, or, for advanced athletes, full-body foam rolling), we will mainly work on the bigger muscle groups, because they can very effectively boost metabolic processes and circulation.

Wide-stance squats:

We still can't show you a more effective and easy-to-do exercise than this classic basic exercise. Take a comfortable, wide stance, with your feet pointing outwards, the angle of your knees aligned with your feet, and your back straight; lower yourself to about right angle. Keep this position for about 3 seconds, and then push yourself back up by consciously using your glutes. Options: you can combine the exercise with alternate knee raises, you can hold a dumbbell to your shoulders or hold a 1.5-litre mineral water bottle above your head with straight arms. 4 x 30 reps.


if you’re still not sweating after the first exercise, now you will. Take a stopwatch and take your starting position, which is straight-arm plank (that is, the all fours position you need for push-ups). Back straight, shoulder blades closed, knee extended; support yourself on your toes, with glutes and abs squeezed. Start the 60 seconds; meanwhile pull your knees alternately to your chest as if running in a horizontal position. It’s not an easy exercise, so you might first want to complete the one minute at a slow pace with breaks. Keep trying for four sets.

Single-arm dumbbell row or bent-over dumbbell row:

If you have any surface you can use like a gym bench to support yourself on (e.g. a coach or a sturdy coffee table), put your left knee and extended left arm on it.  Take a dumbbell/mineral water bottle/easy-to-grab weight in your right hand, and keep your back horizontal and straight. Pull your right elbow to your side, right next to your body, by closing your shoulder blades. Make sure your upper body remains still (don’t rotate your upper body). Do 4 x 15 reps on both sides. If you don’t have any such surface, take a shoulder-width stance, lean ahead with your back straight and pull both your bent elbows back by closing your shoulder blades: 4 x 15 reps.


According to your physical condition, you can choose the female version (with your knees on the floor), the normal or the advanced version, with weights on your lower back.  Wide push-ups mainly affect your chest, whereas narrow push-ups will work your triceps. You need to pay attention to similar things as with planking. 4 x 12 reps.


You can’t leave abs out, either! Although it won’t make your abs flatter, it's great for activating your abdominal muscles, which has already saved us from excessive eating many times. It’s because, on the one hand, if you know you’re going to do abs, you won’t eat much to avoid vomiting, and, on the other hand, you’ll crave for healthier foods when you can feel your muscles. Lie on your back, put your hands behind your head and lift your legs alternately with a scissor-like movement until your elbow touches your opposite thigh. We will be ruthless to you: your daily goal will be 4 x 60 reps.


You can do the above exercises one by one, completing all sets of each, or combine them in four supersets. When you get bored, you can as well change the order, the weights or the length of rests. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Panna Plézer

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