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Fat-Melting Holiday Workout

Save a little time and shed a few pounds!

The holidays are just around the corner, and you're ready to whoop it up. But everything has a price and you're probably not looking forward to seeing the result of your celebration: Extra blubber on January 1. Relax… and read on. We've got your red-hot holiday season workout.

By Raphael Calzadilla, BA, CPT, ACE

eDiets Chief Fitness Pro

The holidays are racing in and you’re genuinely excited to whoop it up. But everything has a price and you’re probably not looking forward to seeing the result of your celebration -- added blubber attached to your body on January 1.

Reducing calories around the holidays should be outlawed. You should be able to enjoy great holiday food (within reason, of course) and celebrate the season without creating a self-loathing feeling at the start of 2008.

But what do you do when your holiday schedule is filled to the brim?

You need a simple answer to blast fat away but one that won’t soak up a lot of your time.

I’ve created a two-day per week interval cardio program designed for someone with at least three months of consistent exercise experience.

Interval training is best described as incorporating higher intensity exercise with lower intensity (i.e. walking and running intervals). The goal is to perform smaller yet manageable bouts of all-out effort with brief periods of low to moderate recovery. This method really cranks up the metabolism and helps to burn loads of fat.

The beauty of interval training is that you don’t have to exercise for long periods. Unless you’re training for a competitive event, anything more than 30 to 35 minutes is unnecessary and that includes warm up and cool down.

I’ve been getting lots of requests for an elliptical machine interval program so I designed a workout for this very popular machine.

I recommend performing the routine two days per week with at least one to two days spaced between workouts. I’m not suggesting that you only workout twice per week all year long. My intention is to provide an effective cardio routine for the holiday season so you don’t turn into a Pillsbury doughboy look-alike.

Elliptical Interval Workout

  • Begin with a warm up of five minutes at level 3.0 intensity.
  • For three minutes begin moving quickly into your first interval by increasing your strides to between 140 and 160 (strides per minute on your machine). Your resistance should be at level 6 and your pace should be brisk. Your ramp level should be in a neutral position.
  • Minutes 3-5: Slow your pace. Change the strides per minute to approximately 120 to 130 and decrease the resistance to 3 or just go at a nice easy pace.
  • Minutes 6-8: Begin moving quickly. Increase your strides per minute to between 140 and 160. Resistance should be at level 7. Your pace should feel very intense. Make sure to remain in an upright position and don’t bend forward due to the level of difficulty. If it is too difficult, simply reduce intensity but remain in an upright position.
  • Minutes 9-11: Slow your pace to 120 to 130 and decrease resistance level to 4.
  • Minutes 12-14: Increase your strides to between 150 and 160 strides per minute. Resistance should be at level 7. Your pace should feel very intense. Pick up your intensity as you get into minute 13 to 14.
  • Minutes 15-17: Slow your pace and reduce strides to 120. Decrease resistance to level 3 to 4. View your heart rate monitor feature as you enter the last minute -- Your goal is to be between 70 percent and 85 percent of your target heart rate.
  • Minutes 18-20: Increase your intensity to 150 to 160. Resistance should be at level 8 to 9. Consciously pick up the speed very, very fast.
  • Minutes 21-23: Slow your pace. Change the strides per minute to range between 120 and 130 and decrease resistance to 3.
  • Minutes 24-26: Increase your strides per minute to 160 to 170. Resistance should be at level 8. Your pace should be extremely fast. In fact, go as fast as possible.
  • Minutes 27-32: cool down at a pace between 120 and 130. Decrease resistance to 3.

  • The workout is designed as a starting point. Listen to your body and increase or decrease intensity as needed based on your fitness level.

    If you’re an advanced exerciser and have never tried interval training, you’re in for a totally new experience. For approximately 3 to 4 hours after the workout, you’ll feel like you were given a shot of adrenaline. And as the day progresses, you may feel a bit lethargic if you aren’t taking in quality calories. Also, make sure you consume a protein/carbohydrate shake or whole-food meal within one hour after the session. You’re going to need it at that time to prevent a feeling of tiredness.

    Warm-ups and natural progression are vital to prevent injury. As you progress and feel more comfortable, you can add another level or two of intensity. However, in most cases your workout never needs to exceed a total of 30 to 35 minutes and two days per week is all you need during the holidays.

    The beauty of this type of training is that you continue to burn calories the day after your workout. Most people are obsessed with how many calories are burned during a workout, but one of the keys to losing fat is making sure your body continues to burn lots of calories 24 to 48 hours after the workout.

    With conventional cardio workouts your system returns to its base level extremely quick and adapts quite easily. The cardio respiratory system is not unlike any other muscle that you work with strength training. The key is to ask it to do just a little bit more than it is accustomed to doing -- in other words, to impose a new demand.

    As always, your ultimate success in achieving your goals is based on effective exercise (weight training and cardio), following your nutrition plan and massive amounts of consistency. The formula never changes.

    If you’re not afraid of intensity and looking for a workout that burns tons of calories and that won’t conflict with the holidays -- this is the workout for you.

    Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

    A drug-free competitive bodybuilder and 2005 winner of the prestigious WNBF (World Natural Bodybuilding Federation) Pro Card, Raphael Calzadilla is a veteran of the health-and-fitness industry. He specializes in a holistic approach to body transformation, nutrition programs and personal training. He earned his B.A. in communications from Southern Connecticut State University and is certified as a personal trainer with ACE and APEX. In addition, he successfully completed the RTS1 program based on biomechanics


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