Thanksgiving means gathering together, and not necessarily just around the dinner table. Each year, thousands of fitness enthusiasts across the US now regularly gather for classes like “Turkey Burn & Firm,” or the infamous organized 5k Turkey Trot before their Thanksgiving meal.
But does a massive, pre-meal workout really make much of a difference? Or should we consider a different strategy if burning calories is our goal?
The Old Case For A Thanksgiving Workout
If you regularly exercise, there’s no harm at all in sticking to your schedule and treating Thanksgiving day like any other workout day. This can absolutely help solidify good habits through the holiday season.
But for some, working out on Thanksgiving is purely a ‘Hail Mary’ attempt to burn a ton of calories to offset the big meal they’re going to have later that day.
Yes, burning more calories at the gym does mean you’d benefit from replenishing those calories at your next meal. However, that hour-long workout isn’t really enough on its own to account for all the delicious food you’ll enjoy at the Thanksgiving table. And worse, a super-intense Thanksgiving workout that leaves you ravenous can actually cause you to overeat later. In fact, it’s almost a guarantee.
A Better Solution
If you’re concerned about all of the calories you’ll eventually be enjoying and want to utilize them more efficiently, there’s a better way than exhausting yourself in the morning.
Getting a workout in the day after Thanksgiving can actually help better utilize those calories (by sending them to your muscles, rather than storing them as fat). You’ve got the stored energy, and now you can use it for a great workout on Friday! Plus, getting moving the day after large caloric intake ensures that one cheat day doesn’t accidentally become two.
What Thanksgiving Workout Should You Do?
Typically, when we think of burning a ton of calories, our minds go straight to cardio: running, elliptical, biking, or spin class. And yes, in the moment you may burn more calories, but the calorie burn stops once you stop moving.
Instead, try incorporating strength training. On an activity tracker, you may burn fewer calories in the workout. Ultimately, however, your body continues to burn more calories after you’ve finished the strength-based workout.
Here are two of my favorite workouts to try the day after Thanksgiving:
As Many Rounds (or reps) As Possible (AMRAP): Air Squats + Push-Ups
For 4 minutes, complete as many rounds as you can of 15 Air Squats and 10 Push-Ups. Rest for 2 minutes, then repeat the 4-minute interval. Do that cycle (rest & repeat) for a total of 3 sets. No cheating on those push-ups!
Every Minute On the Minute (EMOM): Lunges, Sit-Ups, + Burpees
At the start of each minute (rotating through 3 movements), perform either Lunges, Sit-Ups, or Burpees for 30 seconds. Rest the remaining time until the next minute starts. Do this for 15 minutes.
At the end of the day, working out should be both enjoyable and meaningful to your body. Even if it isn’t the most ideal movement, something is better than nothing. If working out on Thanksgiving helps you stay on track, then do it! If you are able to get a workout in on Friday, great! It all adds up and can help you feel good through the holiday season.