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  • Writer's pictureCoach Kosta

The 9-Move Dumbbell Thanksgiving Workout

Every Thanksgiving, we like to share a workout that helps you strike the perfect holiday-fitness balance. This workout is a Chicago Fit Performance holiday tradition, because at CFP we love to move and we don’t believe Thanksgiving should be about restricting food (more on that later). After all, one meal is just one meal. Also, remember you don’t need to “earn” your meals. If you don’t want to train before Thanksgiving, then don’t. Spend time with your family and enjoy it. Okay, rant over. If you love to train — which is the best reason to exercise — let’s get to the fun stuff... How it Works This workout features a 9-move whole body circuit using a pair of 15-20 pound dumbbells or kettlebells (or whatever pair of weights you have access to). You do each move for as many quality reps as you can in a minute with no more than 20 to 30 seconds of rest between moves. After completing each move in the circuit, rest 1 to 2 minutes. That’s 1 round. Do 3 to 5 rounds.

What I love about this routine is you only need a pair of dumbbells/kettlebells and you can ensure steady gains all over your body by gradually progressing to a heavier pair of weights over time. Although if you only have access to a single pair of dumbbells, you can progressively complete more reps within each minute and/or more total reps each session to stimulate more lean muscle mass.

Of course, you can adjust the weight up or down based on your current fitness level and equipment access.

How do you know if you’re picking the right weight for the full circuit?

If you’re able execute moves 1 to 5 for a minute without needing to rest/pause too much (you want to a hit a minimum of 6 to 8 reps), then you will be able to complete moves 6 to 9 without a problem.

  1. Twisting Biceps Curl

  2. Modified Upright Row

  3. Rear Foot Elevated Hip Hinge

  4. Overhead Press

  5. Front Squat

  6. Bent Over Row

  7. Pushup

  8. Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

  9. Skier Swing

Notes and Tips

  • This is not a workout that is part of any particular training plan. It’s designed for Thanksgiving or other days where you just feel like getting some sweat, having a little fun, or shocking your system.

  • 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 the exercises for a full minute, do as many as you can with great form, then rest, and move on to the next exercise.

*Be sure to tag #chicagofitperformance if you take it on!

What about the food?

The problem with Thanksgiving (or any other holiday or celebration meal) is that instead of approaching the event with the intent to enjoy the food and company, people often turn to the extremes.

For some, they are afraid to eat what they want and never relax and enjoy the holiday. They choose the “healthy” options (like turkey) and avoid what they really want (like pecan pie, aka the reason I come to Thanksgiving).

They often spend so much time worrying about avoiding calories that they lose all perspective. Or, they eat everything offered at Thanksgiving. And for many, that one day of indulgence turns into one week, then into 3 weeks in preparation for Christmas, and inevitably rolls over into New Years.

The best approach to Thanksgiving, like most things in life, is somewhere in the middle.

Do yourself a favor: Eat food, and enjoy the time with friends and family. Don’t let your fitness goals become a burden for your life. No matter what your level of dedication, that’s not a sacrifice you want to make.

Then, (and this is the key to a “healthy” Thanksgiving) cut yourself off at the end of the day. Think of holidays like a splurge day. Enjoy your indulgences and then when the day is over, get rid of those tempting leftovers.

Happy Thanksgiving! If you are looking for coaches to help you change your body and lifestyle? Apply for a STRATEGY SESSION HERE (no strings attached other than you’re serious and committed to making a change) and go over where you are, your goals, and the steps needed to get you to your goals.


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