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The Ultimate Thanksgiving + Christmas Break (or vacation) Training Program

Last week, I spent some time hanging out with friends in Los Angeles. It was probably my last vacation of the year, but man oh man… I am surely recharged and ready to finish out 2012 with a bang.

It was a nice break from the ordinary, and I got to see someone I haven’t seen in over a year.

As you might imagine with there being so much to do and see, the last thing I wanted to do was spend all my time in the gym.

As a result, I only trained once in 5 days.

Despite my lack of training, I still wanted to make the sessions I was able to get in as effective as possible, so I turned to a Rest-Pause method I like to use that I learned a while back from Børge Fagerli’s work.

Today I want to share with you exactly what we did and it only took us about 30 minutes from start to finish, including our warm ups.

The goal is to do 4 main movements.  I’ll show you the routine, and then I’ll explain the technique.

Exactly what we did:

  1. Dynamic Warm-up
  2. Hyperextension
  3. Leg extensions
  4. Hammer high rows
  5. Machine bench press
  6. Random arm work
  7. Out the door in 30 minutes.

First, let’s start with the warm-up, which took about 5 minutes. We did some dynamic work such as walking lunges, squat stretches, and some various pressing and rowing with light dumbbells.

Here’s a nice warm-up sequence you can do:

1. Foam rolling the quads, hips, hams, calves and upper back (3 minutes total)

2. One set of each of the following with no rest in between (repeat once)

  • Goblet Squats (15 reps)
  • Walking Lunges (15 reps)
  • Overhead DB Press (15 reps)
  • Seated cable row (15 reps)

Overall, this should take you about 5-6 minutes in total. If you need some more work, go ahead and run through the entire sequence again minus the foam rolling.

Since I was training with Bryan, we took turns with each movement and timed each other’s rest periods.

For each movement, we picked a weight we would max out with at about 12 reps total and that load would determine our entire set for achieving 30 total reps.

Here’s the training in a nutshell:

  • 4 movements
  • 30 reps per movement
  • 30-second rest periods between sets
  • Get through it no matter what…

Here’s an example set of the first movement of the day: Hyperextensions.

I grabbed a 95lb dumbbell, and gave Bryan the stopwatch.

I said “once I’ve hit 10-11 reps, start the stopwatch for my 30-second rest period.”

Once the 30 seconds had passed, I proceeded to do another set. However, this time I could only manage 7 total reps.

He started the timer for 30 seconds again.

At this point, I’d hit 11 reps on my first set, and 7 seconds on my second set for a total of 18 reps. Keep in mind, I need to hit a total of 30 reps, so I still have a few more sets left.

After this rest period was up, I started another set. This time I could only squeeze out 5 reps as I knew that I only had one good rep left in me.

Bryan started the timer again as I cried a little bit. Remember above when I said to “get through it no matter what?” Well, at this point, I wanted to quit.

So now we have a total of 23 reps (11+7+5), with 7 more to go.

For the fourth total set, I only managed 3 reps.

Bryan set the timer again, and I could feel my hamstrings burning. This is the fun part. Again, don’t quit.

My next set was 2 reps, and then I finished with another 2 reps for the final set.

To recap, it looked like the following:

  1. 95×11
  2. 95×7
  3. 95×5
  4. 95×3
  5. 95×2
  6. 95×2

Now it was his turn.

We did the following for the next 3 movements, which I mentioned above.

After we were done, we finished with a superset of 4 sets of 20 reps of bicep curls and tricep extensions, and called it a day (these are totally optional).

With this, there was no rest at all, and we simply alternated movements one after another. While he was on the tricep machine, I was doing biceps. It was all about the pump for these…

That was it. We both achieved an extremely effective workout in about 30 minutes, and we even chatted it up with some random L.A. Fitness peeps on our way to each station.

So if you’re one of those people (like myself) who sometimes finds it hard to train as much or as hard as you’d like while on vacation, or over the irregular weeks surrounding Thanksgiving or Christmas, then give this a try.

I’m not saying to completely abandon your current routine, but if you’re short on time, and need a quick workout, this is an amazing way to go about it.

Movement Selection

I want to emphasize the importance of avoiding some of the compounds lifts such as conventional deadlifts, flat bench press, Olympic lifts (especially) and heavy bent over rows due to the increased potential for injury when working to this level of fatigue.

As an alternative, focus on movements that hit the same muscles, but allow you a little more control, and of course, stick with the rule of using a weight you can get for 10-12 reps, and you should be good.

Here’s a small list of movement alternatives

Deadlift: RDL, hyperextension, single-leg RDL’s with DB’s

Bench press: machine press, incline DB press, floor press

Squat: DB lunges, split squats, goblet squats

Rows: Inverted rows, t-bar rows, chin-ups, cable rows, Hammer machine row variations

This type of training is just a glimpse of what I do with my personal clients, as well as what I use in LGN365.

What do you like to do over the holidays or vacations when you don’t have a ton of time to train?

About the author

JC Deen

JC Deen is a nationally published fitness coach and writer out of Nashville, TN. Get more from JC here: Twitter | Facebook| JCD Fitness

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Leave a comment:

Jared Lee - November 29, 2012

When I’m pressed for time I like to do a sort of crazy pyramid. I’ll pick 2-3 movements, usually a compound movement for maximum impact. The reps break down like so: 40,30,20,10,10,20,30,40. Sometimes the reps vary but the higher rep sets early on serve as warmup sets and as you approach the lower reps you become warmer. Rest times are short and the workouts are intense, I’ve had some as short as 20 min so when I’m in a pinch it works well. I don’t recommend it for squats though, usually do leg press in place of it with the higher reps.

Baptiste - November 21, 2012

For my part, I would rather do a circuit with compound movement, something like squat + bench + DB row with maybe some sort of conditioning at the end.
However when I am on the move, it is more probable that I don’t have access to any training material so in this case I will use only body weight movements.. .

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