McMillan: Make time for fitness during holidays

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The holiday season can be crazy, making it very difficult to stick to a fitness program. I know you're busy, but your health is worth a small commitment of three workouts this week. Try this week's cardio focus, follow the last three weeks of exercises, and add today's exercises to the program.

Cardio: Start with a short, easy five-minute warm-up. Then begin your 20-minute cardio segment involving any activity of your choice, such as running, walking, cycling, or stair climbing. Start with 20 seconds at an easy pace, and then for 40 seconds pick up the pace and perform a high-intensity interval. Perform this set 20 times for a 20-minute workout. Do this workout three times this week on alternating days.

Step ups + bicep curls: Position yourself in front of a crate or a staircase with one foot on the second step and holding hand weights. Keep your kneecap facing forward and your weight distributed on all four corners of your foot. Now slowly step up, extending the supporting knee into a fully upright, balanced position. While extending up, simultaneously curl your hand weights toward your shoulders, keeping your elbows at your sides. Now slowly lower yourself to the starting position. Perform 8-10 reps each leg per set.

Reverse lunge + tricep kickback: Start standing with feet together. Position your hand weights at your side with your elbows positioned behind you and lifted up toward the ceiling. Start by lunging one leg behind you into a reverse lunge position. Keep your abdominals contracted and maintain good posture. Your front knee should remain over the top of your front foot throughout the exercise, and this front leg should take the majority of your body weight and serve as your working leg. While lunging backward, simultaneously press your forearms back until your elbows are completely extended. Your elbows should maintain their position propped toward the ceiling and act as a hinge. Now slowly extend back up pushing off the front leg until you are fully upright with feet together while releasing the forearms back to the starting position. Perform 8-10 reps on each leg.

Plank: Lay on your stomach. Place your hands on the floor shoulder width apart and extend your arms so they are straight and positioned under your shoulders. Now slowly lift your toes so your body weight is supported on your toes and hands. Keep your abdominals contracted and your back neutral and supported. There should be a straight line from the top of your head to your toes. Hold for 5 seconds. Release and repeat 5-10 times.

Sherri McMillan, M.Sc. is the owner of Northwest Personal Training in downtown Vancouver. She can be reached at www.nwPersonalTraining.com or www.ShapeupwithSherri.com.