People use the holiday season as an excuse to be bad—slacking off on workouts, loitering around the holiday candy, imbibing enough liquid courage to make fools of themselves at the office holiday party. But here’s a little secret: If you want 2019 to be your fittest year ever, now is the time to get back in shape.

As the most wonderful time of the year nears, we ask you to make a choice: Will you exercise your alter ego or get your fit on?

If you chose the latter, welcome aboard. Next stop: a happier, healthier, fitter 2019. Use the following training strategies to sail through the holidays without loosening your belt—and get a massive head start on your peers come January.

Your Get-Back-in-Shape Fitness Plan

It’s easy to overbook yourself during the holidays. Use these tips from Kevin Donoghue, Spartan SGX trainer and obstacle specialist in Monroe, New York, to keep fitness at the top of your to-do list, no matter how busy your wonderful life gets.

  1. Ignore the calendar. January 1 is no better or different from any other day to initiate a plan to get back in shape, so why not start training right now?

“Procrastination digs a deep hole,” Donoghue says. “By the time New Year’s rolls around, the hill you need to climb has become very, very tall—so intimidating, in fact, that it could discourage you to continue past the second week of January.”

Solution: Get up and get moving—now. Any activity that can make you sweat for 30 minutes is perfect. “This one positive step can set the tone for a healthy day,” Donoghue says.

  1. Don’t look beyond the horizon. One of the biggest mistakes resolutioners make is trying to take on too much too soon. Instead, look at fitness as a trek rather than a sprint, and break it into smaller chunks of manageable goals and expectations.

“I have competed in events that span more than 50 miles,” Donoghue says. “But instead of looking at it as having to do 50 miles in a single effort, I tell myself to complete just 1 mile—and repeat that mantra 50 times. Give yourself a break and focus on making a solid effort every day, one day at a time.”

Not feeling it today? It happens. Here are six ways to spike your motivation in 60 seconds.

  1. Condense your workouts.We get it—you’re busy this time of year, but getting in a solid workout is simpler and faster than you think.

“Use compound movements sprinkled with plyometrics in short, high-intensity circuits,” Donoghue says. “They hit your whole body and crank up your metabolism for hours, without the need for a gym membership and using minimal equipment.” For some ideas, see the Better Body Workout below, which was designed by Donoghue.

  1. Keep up the cardio. Doing longer, less-intense workouts like running or hiking on your non-strength training days not only can curb holiday weight gain but also can make your body a more efficient machine. “Doing 20 to 40 minutes of cardio at a slow, easy pace can help you recover while building aerobic capacity,” Donoghue says. “Ultimately, this will encourage your body to burn stored fat as an energy source.”

Another great option? Yoga. You’ll get in your mobility while alleviating some of that inevitable holiday stress.

The Better Body Workout

Got 10 minutes? Then you can fit in a workout. Do a combination of any two of the three workouts below up to three times per week. Alternate these with recovery days, during which you can either run, hike, swim or bike for 20 to 40 minutes—or take a complete day of rest. (Just make sure you learn how to train in cold weather.)

If you overindulge at a party, don’t fret. “The day after is an opportunity to step up your efforts,” Donoghue says. Use those extra calories to your advantage and jump a little higher, push a little harder and run a little farther.

Your Week of Workouts

Day 1: AMRAP 1 + Circuit
Day 2: Recovery activity of choice, 20 to 40 minutes + 10 minutes of mobility work
Day 3: AMRAP 2 + Circuit
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: AMRAP 1 + AMRAP 2 + 10 minutes of mobility work
Day 6: Recovery activity of choice, 20 to 40 minutes
Day 7: Rest or 30 to 45 minutes of yoga


Instructions: Complete as many rounds as possible of the below sequence for five minutes, moving briskly without resting or sacrificing form. Rest briefly, then repeat this AMRAP up to five times through for a 25-minute workout.

Lateral shuffle: 10 reps each direction
Burpee: 2 to 5 reps

Lateral Shuffle

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart with your arms extended at your sides, parallel with the floor.
  • Bend your knees and hips and brace your core to get into an athletic stance, then keep your upper body as still as possible as you shuffle laterally first to the left and then to the right.


  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, then jump your feet back into plank.
  • Do a push-up, jump your feet back underneath you and then explode up into the air, clapping your hands overhead. Land softly and repeat right away.

If burpees are too challenging, do squat thrusts.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, toes turned out slightly.
  • Hold a set of dumbbells at your shoulders, palms facing inward.
  • Sit your hips back and down as you bend your knees to squat, then quickly stand back up, using that momentum to press the weights up overhead.
  • Lower slowly to your shoulders and go right into the next rep.


Instructions: Alternate between these two moves for three to five sets, resting minimally between moves and sets. Rest briefly between sets.

Inchworm: 6 to 10 reps
V-Sit: 30 to 60 seconds


  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  • Fold forward from your hips and place your hands on the floor in front of you.
  • Walk your hands out until you’re in plank, then walk your feet up to meet your hands, keeping your legs as straight as possible, then stand up.
  • To make this more difficult, do a push-up before moving your feet.


  • Sit with your knees bent and your back straight. Find your balance on your tailbone.
  • Lift your feet off the floor and lean back slightly as you reach your arms forward either parallel to the ground or overhead. Keep your knees bent, shins parallel to the floor.
  • Or, for a bigger challenge, straighten your legs to make a V in the air.


Instructions: Go through this sequence as many times as you can in 20 minutes, resting as needed.

Flamingo Curl and Press: 5 reps each leg
Dumbbell Row: 15 reps
Vertical Jump: 10 reps

Flamingo Curl and Press

  • Hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing forward.
  • Stand and balance on your right leg. Curl both weights up toward your shoulders, then press them straight up overhead to full extension.
  • Return to the start and repeat five times total, then switch legs.

Dumbbell Row

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a set of dumbbells at your sides, palms facing inward.
  • Hinge forward from your hips until your torso is about 45 degrees to the floor. Hold here as you drive your elbows up and back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Pause and then lower to the start.

Vertical Jump

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart or slightly wider, then quickly bend your hips and knees to load your posterior chain as you swing your arms back.
  • Explode up off the floor, reaching your arms overhead as you jump as high as you can. Land softly and repeat right away.
  • If that’s too easy, hold dumbbells at your sides or shoulders.

Build your strength, athleticism and endurance with our FREE bodyweight workout plan. 

Written by Lisa Kenilworth, a freelance writer from New York City. A longer version of this post originally appeared on

Photo credit: jacoblund, Thinkstock