Rumor has it the average American eats around 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. Remember that number for a moment.
Let’s say you wanted to “undo” the damage of the meal. According to researchers at Southern Main, the average weight training circuit of 8 exercises completed in 8 minutes (when performed at a high-intensity with minimal rest) has the ability to burn approximately 150 to 200 calories. Not a bad 8-minute fat incinerator, but not quite up to par with your feast.
But you wouldn’t stop after just 8 minutes. So you keep going and target an hour-long workout following the same routine. Realistically, if you factor in fatigue every subsequent round of exercise would lower your intensity and require more rest. Using these assumptions it’s safe to say that the calorie burn of each round would most likely drop. But why be negative?
Let’s forget about fatigue, and instead imagine a world where you maintain a blistering, superhuman pace for nearly an hour (7 rounds). At that pace you’d still burn around 1400 calories…or about 3,000 shy of your big T-Day Meal.
Is One Meal Really That Bad?
While it might seem like a lost cause, this is not meant to discourage you from eating on Thanksgiving. In fact, it’s just the opposite.
The hypothetical fitness math should offer evidence that one day of bad eating wouldn’t be cancelled out by one workout…even one of Herculean proportions.
That also means one massive meal (or day of eating) will not outdo a regular lifestyle of healthy eating and consistent exercise.
Which is the perfect excuse to enjoy Thanksgiving with a little more dietary freedom—if that’s how you decide to celebrate it. (If you don’t love eating extras there’s obviously no reason to force it.)
But just because your workout won’t burn as many calories as you eat, you still might want to find time to squeeze in a workout. A hard training session can help put some of those excess calories to good use (think building muscle), or at the very least give you some piece of mind if you choose to be gluttonous.
This workout is designed to do the trick before any feast or cheat day.
It’s is a high-intensity “depletion” workout intended to deplete your glycogen, which is a primary energy source in your body. When glycogen is filled, eating extra calories (and carbs) can play a role in making you gain weight. When it’s depleted, the food you eat will go to refueling your body, restoring your energy, and helping you build muscle and repair after a tough workout.
How To Do This Workout
This workout functions like a big circuit. You’ll perform one set of the first exercise, rest for 20 to 30 seconds, and then move to the next exercise. Follow this pattern until you complete all 11 exercises in the workout, and then rest for 2 to 3 minutes. After your break, keep the weight the same (or decrease if needed) and increase the number of reps you perform the next round. You should perform the following number of reps on each round of the circuit.
First set = 10 reps per exercise.
Second set = 12 reps per exercise.
Third set = 15 reps per exercise.
Fourth (and final) set = 20 reps per exercise.
Notes and Tips
- This is not a “normal” workout or part of any particular training plan. It’s designed for Thanksgiving or other days where you just feel like crushing your body with volume, having a little fun, or shocking your system. (Translation: You’re probably going to be pretty sore and sweat a bunch. If not you’re either a machine or in tremendous physical condition.)
- Before you begin this workout, please do a quick warmup or some mobility exercises. You want your body to be prepared.
- If at any point you can’t perform all the reps listed, do as many as you can, rest, and then move on to the next exercise.
The Ultimate Pre Big Meal Workout
- Dumbbell Goblet squat
- Dumbbell high pull
- Dumbbell overhead press
- Dumbbell bent over row
- Mountain climbers
- Dumbbell front squat
- Dumbbell Romanian deadlift
- Dumbbell Renegade Row
- Dumbbell Alternating Lunges
- Dumbbell biceps curl
- Dumbbell swings
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and the author of You Can’t Screw This Up. He is the founder of Born Fitness, and the co-founder of Arnold’s Pump Club (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Pen Name Consulting. An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was previously the Chief Nutrition Officer for Ladder, the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. According to The Huffington Post, Bornstein is “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, and E! News.