Christmas is a very enjoyable time of the year where families come together and absent friends are reunited under the merriment of the festive season.
This is a great time to have a break from the stresses of work and the mundanity of the working week. However, it is also a time where we sit a lot, eat a lot and drink a lot. Many articles will explain the dos and dont’s of what and what not to eat and drink, but what happens to your muscles?
You may have, for the past few months, been training hard, putting the hours in, developing your muscular endurance and ultimately, improving your fitness. Or you may be looking to begin a new fitness regime in the new year, but want to go into it feeling prepared. Whatever the reason, it is important to keep these major muscles (the gluteus maximus, quadriceps and hamstrings) active and to keep the fibres firing.
Below are 3 exercises that can be carried out at home and are very easy to squeeze into your social calendar over the festive season:
1. The Bridge
Strengthens the hamstrings, glutes and your core muscles. Lay on the floor on your back, knees bent with the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Raise your hips as high as you can, lifting your back off the floor. Squeeze your glute while performing this movement and then lift one leg off the floor and straighten. The straight leg and bent leg’s knees should be in line. Keep your hips still, squeeze your abs and engage your core. Hold for 30secs, while tensing your glutes, pushing your hips up and contracting your hamstring. Change legs and repeat 3 times for 30secs on each legs. To increase difficulty, hold for longer and move your straight leg outwards increasing the hip angle.
On all fours on your front, supporting yourself on your knees and palm of your hands with your arms straight. Brace your core and contract your abs. Slowly, but fluently, start moving your knee towards your elbow without compromising your back and creating an arch. From here, keeping your knee at right angles, push back by aiming the sole of your foot up towards the sky. Again, without compromising your back, contract your abs and push up until the glute is fully contracted and this will also engage the glute medius and piriformis. Hold for 10sec and come slowly back down to the start position. Repeat 10times on each side without a break; each movement is continuous. To increase difficulty - use a band and use the sole of the foot to extend the band and increase the depth of contraction. Another variation will be to extend the opposite arm to opposing leg and hold for 5sec, repeating 10times.
3. Wall squat
In a sitting position, rest your back against a flat wall. Keep your head in a neutral position with your eyes looking forward. Crouch down to a maximum 90degree knee angle. Place both arms out stretched in front of you and hold the position. The intensity should be felt in your quads and if discomfort is accumulating in the lower back, increase the knee angle until it has subsided. Hold for 45secs, 30sec rest and repeat 5 times. To increase the difficulty, hold for a long period and straighten out one leg, so all your weight is supported by the opposite. This will put your core under a lot of pressure while fatiguing your quad.
By executing these the exercises on a regular basis over the Christmas period, you’ll ensure your body begins 2016 in a positive way. The muscular strength that will be acquired will accelerate your development when training volume and intensity increases in the new year. This will allow you to succumb to the indulgence of those festive treats without (much!) guilt!
Nick Beer is an Endurance Specialist and Corrective Exercise Coach, with a wealth of experience providing nutrition advice for weight loss and performance. Find out more on his website here and follow @BeerNickTri for more tips.