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Tis the season to scramble for last minute holiday gifts, put up the remaining decorations, plan a big family dinner, attend parties, and engage in the other festivities that come along with the holidays and the fast approaching New Year.

Because people are busier than ever during this time of year, they have trouble sticking with their training program or worse yet, they skip the gym all together. Just because you have minimum time available during the busy holiday season does not mean you should stop working out. What you need are some Time Crunch Holiday Workouts that get you in and out of the gym in 20 minutes while still allowing you to make progress.

Yes, you only need 20 minutes to get in a great strength training workout.

Time Crunch Workout Tips

Before you get to the time crunch workouts, you must understand a few important tips if you want your training sessions to be effective.

1) Just get to the gym! The hardest part of sticking to a training program during a busy time is just getting to the gym. Schedule a time to train, and just get there. It’s not about “having time” to train, it’s about making time. Do it! (For more ideas to squeeze in fitness, visit “25 Ways to Make Time for Fitness”.)

2) Make the most of your time in the gym. Once you’re there, make the most of every second. You can do that by performing big compound movements that work the greatest amount of muscle possible. And, please, lift something heavy while you’re there. Strength training for 20 minutes will provide better results than spending 30 or more minutes on a cardio machine.

3) Work hard. If you’re only going to train for 15 to 20 minutes, you better work hard. Just so there is no confusion, my definition of work hard means you will train with intensiveness. For example, if you are going to perform five reps on the deadlift, you better use a heavy enough weight that allows you to perform five perfect reps, and no more. Using a weight you could perform for 10 reps but only doing five is not training with intensiveness.

Yes, this means you will have to really focus on what you’re doing and push yourself. However, if you work hard and stay focused, you’ll get more out of a 20 minute workout than most people do from a 60 minute workout.

Sample Time-Crunch Holiday Workouts

Workout 1 – Barbell & Bodyweight

1a) Deadlifts 3×5
1b) 1 Arm DB Push Press or Parallel Bar Dips 3×8

This workout is very simple because it contains only two exercises. After a warm-up for the deadlift and push press/dips, select a weight that allows you to complete the prescribed number of repetitions with perfect form, but no more. As an example, you should use a weight for the deadlift that allows you to complete five reps without your form breaking down, but another rep should be almost impossible. This is working hard.

Do the same for the push press or parallel bar dips.

You will superset the exercises, meaning you will perform a set of deadlifts, rest 90 seconds, and then perform a set of push presses or parallel bar dips. Rest for about 90 seconds and go back to the deadlifts. You will repeat this format until you complete three sets of each exercise.

Workout 2 – Barbell & Bodyweight

1a) Squat 3×8
1b) Neutral Chin-ups (or pull-downs) 3×8

The same guidelines from Workout 1 apply to this training session. Remember to train with intensiveness!

Workout 3 – Dumbbells Only

1a) Dumbbell Goblet Squat 3×8
1b) 1 Arm DB Row 3×8
1c) 1 Arm DB Bench Press 3×8

This workout uses dumbbells only and contains three exercises. Perform a set of exercise one, rest 60 seconds, perform a set of exercise two, rest 60 seconds, and then perform a set of exercise three. Rest 60 seconds and repeat until you complete a total of three sets per exercise.

So there you have it; three time crunch workouts you can use during the busy season that will get you in and out of the gym in minimum time while still allowing you to get results.

Remember – train hard!

Nia Shanks

Nia Shanks is a personal trainer and author of Fat Loss Detour and Beautiful Badass, which includes 16 different training program and no-nonsense, stress-free nutrition guidelines.

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