The UEFP Holiday Workout Challenge

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The holiday season is quite possibly the most ecstatic time of the year. At no other point in our calendar year do you get to experience the enjoyment of meeting new people, cooking some good food, gathering with friends, and arguing with family over who gets to host Thanksgiving Day dinner.

It’s also a season of inconsistencies; this is the one time of the year in which my clients will have erratic appointments. Even the clients who have the steadiest schedules have to make adjustments for visiting family and an endless line of Christmas work parties. They often fear that their unstable schedule will cause an issue with their personal training since they can’t train as frequently as they would like. Clients who train four times a week drop down to two and some even only come one day a week.

However, I understand that the holiday season can disrupt things. With that understanding came the UEFP Holiday Workout Challenge. While frequency (how many times in a week you workout) is a huge proponent for getting in shape, sometimes you have to deal with the cards that you were dealt. In this case, seeing my clients less frequently means that I can crank up the intensity and volume (how much work you do) to give their body’s a little shock to get through all those office parties.

Keep in mind that these aren’t workouts you would want to do year round. I’m anticipating that a client may workout only twice a week, so these lucky souls are getting 3 to 5 days to recover from their workout. In some cases maybe even more, because I may shut the studio down for a week. All in all, these workouts should only be attempted no more than twice per year. They’ll shock the metabolism and help build a little bit of muscle, but too much of anything is a bad thing. Plan to use any of these workouts right before Christmas with the thought that you’re not returning to the gym till after New Year’s.

You’ve been warned about the intensity of these workouts, so without any further ado, let’s get into the UEFP Holiday Workout Challenge:


  1. Pick a move for 50 reps


Pick one movement and stick with it for the entire workout. Your goal is to get 50 reps in as fast as possible without going to extreme fatigue and maintaining solid form with each rep. That means doing anywhere between 1-6 reps each time you attack the bar; whatever you need to slowly chip away at that 50. Take one big compound movement for that workout; so deadlift, squat, bench press, power clean are the most logical choices. A triceps kickback is was too easy, and a full squat snatch is too dangerous to attempt for that many reps. Use a weight that you could comfortably get for 6-8 reps in one set.


  1. The 30 Minute Workout

                Take the same moves from above and simply try to get as many reps as possible in 30 minutes. Once again, these reps shouldn’t be performed under extreme fatigue. A conservative starting point would be 315 for the deadlift, 225 for the squat, and 185 for the bench. Ladies can try 185,135, and 95 respectively. Knock out your number of reps and then try to beat it next year.



  1. The 500 Kettlebell Swing Workout


                This is borrowed from Dan John’s 10,000 Swing Kettlebell workout. In it, Mr. John prescribes doing 500 swings for each workout. While he has specific guidelines for the swings and a strength workout, we’re just going to focus on knocking out 500 swings in a single session. It doesn’t sound like much, but using an adequate kettlebell (a minimum of 26 pounds…if you’re not comfortable swinging that, don’t do this workout) will do the trick. Do a minimum of 10 swings in a single bout, and never go past 50 swings at once. Rest no more than two minutes between sets.


  1. The 35 Meter Sprint

                There’s a protocol that was tested with researchers in which collegiate wrestlers sprinted 35 meters for 8 sets.  Doesn’t sound like much until you find out that the athletes only rested for 35 seconds in-between each sprint! By the fifth sprint you end up questioning your sanity. Since those of us in Michigan have to deal with unpredictable weather, do this workout indoors where you’ll have plenty of room to decelerate and you’re free of obstructions. After you 8 sprints, rest four minutes and knock them out again.


Definitely intense, and definitely something to be used with caution. Try some of them though and you may need a new wardrobe for the new year.

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