Muscle Up Your Strategy for Kicking Off the Holiday Season

By Diane Vives – November 4, 2011

The holidays are just around the corner and with them come many temptations to overindulge and under-exercise. The solution is to get more work done in less time through combination movements.

As we develop a training strategy for the holidays, we want to focus on total-body conditioning and increasing our work output. Instead of isolating small movements or specific body building elements, look at combinations that will increase the amount of working muscle during each exercise. The increased intensity that accompanies combo moves will boost energy expenditure and result in burning more calories over time – during both the workout session and recovery.

Let’s build a progression that moves more muscle and allows us to safely progress to higher workloads. First, you’ll master lower-body movement and upper-body movements separately. Then put them together in a great, one-exercise combo that allows you to increase the total work done. This simple formula can be used to build your bank of total-body movements.

Your body will handle higher workloads and continue to increase its energy output as you increase strength endurance and overall conditioning. Incorporate this with an active lifestyle, and you can face the holidays with confidence in your effective training strategy.

Don’t get carried away by the holiday spirit! Stick with your training strategy; you work hard for your lean, fit physique, so keep it that way.

1) Squat to Overhead Press

This is a great way to start with combinations. The momentum of pressing up from the squat to initiate the press with the arms while progressively building up to pressing heavier weight will increase strength.

• Start in a standing position with dumbbells at shoulders.
• Sit back into the hips, keeping the back straight, until thighs are parallel with the ground.
• Press through heels to return to standing as you extend knees and hips.
• Finish by pressing dumbbells directly over the shoulders until arms are fully extended.
• This should be done in a smooth, controlled motion.

2) Dead Lift to Bent Over Row

Incorporating a great pulling movement for the upper-body muscles will really challenge hip and torso strength.

• Start in standing position with a dumbbell in each hand, arms hanging by your sides.
• Hinge your torso forward at the hips while maintaining a flat back; allow the arms to follow naturally so dumbbells are now hanging below shoulders.
• From this bottom position, perform a row by pulling dumbbells up, leading with the elbows.
• Extend arms back down and press through heels to extend hips and return to upright position.

3) Lunge with Diagonal Chop

The lunge is always great to increase workload, and this exercise adds an overhead-carry position and a chop to challenge upper body and torso strength. This shoulder-to-opposite-hip action is great for athletes to improve throwing and overhead striking movements.

• Start in standing position with the SandBell overhead.
• Lunge forward, keeping torso upright and holding the weight overhead.
• At the bottom of lunge, chop diagonally towards the outside of the forward leg.
• Return to standing by pushing through the heel of forward leg and finish with SandBell overhead.

Diane Vives is the Director of Training and Education for Hyper Wear as well as an Advisory Member of the Under Armour Performance Training Council. She is an internationally recognized fitness expert and has appeared in several publications such as Women’s Health, Shape, and Musclea and Fitness for Her. 

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