Health's star trainer reveals the four moves that give you the biggest bang for your workout minutes.
November 13, 2014
1 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Beat holiday weight gain
I totally understand that time is precious during the holidays, but you will thank me (and yourself) come Jan. 1 if you are steady with your workout routine. The single best gift you can give your body is switching to a more efficient routine. By choosing strength exercises that you cycle through quickly, you'll get the most out of a short amount of time and keep your body in tip-top form. Can't squeeze in any moves? Don't worry. Just opt for a focused cardio session instead. You'll be able to celebrate all month long and still keep those pounds at bay.
2 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Tracy's fast fat blaster
These strength exercises use compound movements that work your entire frame (yep, both your upper and lower body!) for the ultimate in calorie torching. Aim to complete this quickie toning sequence six days a week; whenever possible, follow it up with a solid 30 minutes of cardio. Added benefit: You'll be sweating away that seasonal stress, too.
Do all moves on the right side first, then repeat on the left.
3 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Push-up plank with alternating hip drop
Start in plank position; bend elbows, performing one push-up(A). At the top of the push-up, tuck right knee into chest. Rotate waist so that outer side of right hip and thigh are facing the ground. Engage obliques and lower body until you are sitting on right hip (B). Reverse motion to return to plank. Repeat 30 times.
You should feel a slight stretch in your hip.
4 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Knee touch and arabesque extension
Start on all fours, left knee facing in and left foot lifted and facing out, a 3-pound weight in right hand. Lower right forearm to the ground, palm faceup (A). Rotate left hip to extend left leg back as you extend right arm so palm faces down and hand punches straight out (B). Do 30 reps.
This move really challenges your balance.
5 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Bend and kick
Start in plank position with knees slightly bent, legs in a wide stance and fingers spread. Lift left foot, bend knee and bring it in toward chest (A). Straighten left leg and return it to the ground, then lift and extend right leg behind you (B). Return to start. Repeat 30 times.
Keep hands under shoulders.
6 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Plank abs up and down
Start in plank position with forearms resting on the ground, right in front of left (A). Body should be in a straight line from head to heels. Press body to the top of a push-up by placing right hand on the ground and straightening arm (B), then repeating this motion on the left side (C). Reverse the movement, returning to forearms. This is 1 rep. Do 30 reps.
Make sure abs are engaged.
7 of 7Nathaniel Welch
Magic word: Consistency
You can't skip workouts for a few weeks (or the whole month of December!) and think you can make it up with one three-hour session. The body only regularly turns to fat burning when it gets a routine blend of cardio and muscle work, as well as a daily healthy diet.