5 Calorie Torching Holiday Travel Workouts

Need some workout inspiration this Thanksgiving? Here are five holiday travel workouts to try!

The holidays are here and that means a few things. One, we get to see our families. Two, we get to eat delicious food. And three, we get some primo days for relaxation and recovery. If you’re a serious strength athlete, there are few days in the calendar year that compare to major holidays when it comes to being perfect for recovery

One of my current holiday traditions is either the day before or the morning a major holiday, I’ll go off program (gasp) for a workout. Now before you cast judgement — hear me out. In my opinion, if there’s a perfect day to go off program, then it’s around a holiday. Look, we’re generally eating and resting more than usual, so why not challenge ourselves for a workout and put those excess calories and macros to use. I’m not saying be reckless, but have fun with a workout and push your body in a way that’s different than your current workout program. 

In this article, I’ll provide five of my favorite workouts that I try to tackle every Thanksgiving. I’ll pick and choose my workout based on my current program, energy levels, and equipment available. At the in-laws? Don’t worry, we have bodyweight options, too!

Thanksgiving Workouts for Strength Athletes
Thanksgiving Workouts for Strength Athletes

1. 10 x 10 Squats 

Oh yeah, if I’m trying to destroy myself and utilize macros and calories for recovery, then few things compare to pounding the legs with ample volume. This workout is perfect for everyone on somewhat of a time crunch that wants to push themselves both physically and mentally. 

  • Equipment Needed: Squat rack, bar, and plates
  • Reps and Sets: 10 x 10
  • Time Requirement: 20-40 minutes

Note, if you’re in prep for a meet or have a heavy lower training session programmed for the day after Thanksgiving, then skip this one because you’re probably going to be sore. 

How To Do It

Warm-up like you normally would for squats before diving into the first set. Start your first set conservatively, think about leaving 3-4 reps in the tank. The goal for every set is to slightly increase the weight without overshooting and failing. Basically, you’re going to work through 10 micro jumps over the course of the full workout. 

  • Set 1: 3-4 reps left in the tank
  • Set 2: 3-4 reps left in the tank
  • Set 3: 3 reps left in the tank
  • Set 4: 2-3 reps left in the tank
  • Set 5: 2-3 reps left in the tank
  • Set 6: 2-3 reps left in the tank
  • Set 7: 2 reps left in the tank
  • Set 8: 1-2 reps left in the tank
  • Set 9: 1-2 reps left in the tank
  • Set 10: 1 reps left in the tank
  • *Take rest as needed

I like microloading throughout this workout because while the final set calls for 1 rep-in-reserve, and traditionally this would be much heavier weight, it’s going to be well below a true 1 RIR set since you’ve now done 90 reps! 

2. Super Total 

Another fun workout to tackle pre-Thanksgiving is putting together a sub-maximal “super total”. This workout is a great one when you have access to a gym, or have a home gym and a friend to take it on with you. A super total is composed of a snatch, clean & jerk, squat, bench press, and deadlift.

For this workout, you will not be maxing out all of these lifts. Instead, you’re going to work up to a heavy single leaving about 1-2 reps-in-reserve. This ensures you’re keeping your intensity in check to avoid overreaching. 

  • Equipment Needed: Squat rack, bench, barbell, and plates
  • Sets and Reps: Super total
  • Time Requirement: 1-hour+

thea lund snatch pull

How To Do It

Take plenty of time to warm-up properly because you’ll be starting with the snatch. The goal here is to avoid truly maxing out and to be mindful of your intensities and limits. Have fun, but don’t put yourself into such a deficit that you can’t resume your normal block post-Thanksgiving. 

  • Snatch
  • Clean & Jerk 
  • Squat: 1-2 reps left in the tank
  • Bench Press: 1-2 reps left in the tank
  • Deadlift: 1-2 reps left in the tank
  • *Take rest as needed

My advice, if you’re in a strength block, then stay more conservative on your final lifts, think RPE 8/2 reps-in-reserve. 

3. Bodyweight Strength Climb

This is one of my favorites to perform the morning of Thanksgiving when I’m at a friend’s place with no equipment available. It’s a tough one, but it isn’t incredibly exhausting so I can still mentally be present at the dinner table.  

  • Equipment Needed: None
  • Sets and Reps: 10 sets of 4-10 reps
  • Time Requirement: 20-30 minutes

How To Do It

This workout is designed to progressively get tougher due to volume accumulation. It starts easy, but trust me — it picks up quickly!

  • Set 1: 4 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 2: 5 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 3: 6 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 4: 7 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 5: 8 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 6: 9 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 7: 10 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 8: 8 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 9: 6 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • Set 10: 4 reps | 1 1/4 air squat, push-ups, split squat, v-ups
  • *Rest between 45-sec – 75-sec

This one’s a good one because it walks the line of providing enough volume to give you a solid workout, but it doesn’t cause pure exhaustion on any of the movements. 

pushup
Shutterstock/prostock-studio

[6 Elite strength athlete share their favorite hotel travel workouts!]

4. Bodyweight Calorie-Focused Workout

This is another fantastic bodyweight workout that is slightly more metabolic in nature compared to the workout above. For this workout, there is some running (yeah, I know…), so dress warm if you’re in the northern states!

  • Equipment Needed: Mental toughness
  • Sets and Reps: 10 circuits
  • Time Requirement: 30 minutes

How To Do It

Ten rounds of pure hell — get ready. The goal is to complete these as fast as possible.

  • 10 Rounds | 200-meter run, 10 burpees, 8 jumping lunges, 6 inchworms, 4 v-ups
  • *Rest 60-seconds

5. Death By Dumbbell/Kettlebell

The final workout is for anyone with only a dumbbell or kettlebell available. I love this workout because it’s quick, tough, and does a pretty good job at giving the full body a nice workout. 

  • Equipment Needed: Dumbbell or kettlebell
  • Sets and Reps: 10 sets with descending reps 10-1
  • Time Requirement: 20-30 minutes

How To Do It

Similar to a bunch of workouts above, you’ll perform 10 sets here with reps descending from 10-1. Ideally, you’ll want to use a dumbbell or kettlebell that is light enough for you to work through 10 reps of any movement with some reps left in the tank. If you’re missing reps, or having mechanical breakdown, then you’ve gone too heavy! 

  • Set 1: 10 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 2: 9 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 3: 8 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 4: 7 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 5: 6 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 6: 5 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 7: 4 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 8: 3 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 9: 2 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • Set 10: 1 reps | snatch, single-arm deadlift (you’ll do both sides), single-arm floor press, goblet squat
  • *Rest between 45-sec – 75-sec

Wrapping Up

These are only a few workout ideas that you can tackle before taking Thanksgiving to refuel and recover. The most important thing to remember this holiday is that one day of potential excess food consumption will not destroy all of your consistent progress — Happy Thanksgiving! 

FAQs

What are the best holiday travel workouts?

When it comes to the perfect holiday travel workout, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. At BarBend, we like to consider two things to ensure you’re going to get the most bang for your buck.

  1. Does the workout coincide with your training goals?
  2. Do you have the equipment available to complete it?

If the workout you’re about to perform matches both of these, then there’s a good chance this workout is one of the best you can perform in that moment!

Do I need equipment to work out when I travel?

Not at all!

In fact, some of the best holiday travel workouts are bodyweight focused. What’s important is that you’re doing workouts that challenge you, but also elevate your heart rate in a strategic way!

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master’s in Sports Science and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,300 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake’s bread-and-butter.

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