12 Days of Fitmas Challenge

Every year Fitness experts release a new “12 Days of Fitmas Challenge”: a fun and festive way for you to stay active and healthy during the holiday season. While your gym might be closed, we’ve got you covered. Even during feast days, your body needs consistent exercise and challenge to burn of those roast potatoes. Here’s how to stay in shape at Christmas.

What is the 12 Days of Fitmas?

A 12-Day Challenge builds up over 12 days, so you only need a few minutes to yourself on Christmas Day. Just as gifts pile up in the song, Twelve Days of Christmas, you add an exercise to the routine each day until you’re completing a full session by the end.

 

Get a headstart on your New Year’s Resolutions with our Christmas Workout Challenge!

 

HIIT Workout Every Day for the 12 Days of Christmas!

This workout challenge is designed for moderately fit people. If you are new to this kind of exercise, take it slow and don’t perform any exercise that causes pain. 

If you are looking for a more intense workout, add more rounds, performing each set three, four or five times. 

  • 30-Second Plank
  • 2 Push-ups
  • 3 Reverse Sit-ups
  • 4 Burpees
  • 5 Hammer Curls
  • 6 Tricep Extensions
  • 7 Chest Presses
  • 8 Weighted Squats
  • 9 shoulder presses
  • 10 Reverse Lunges
  • 11 Single Arm Flys
  • 12 Upright Rows

 

The workout follows a High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) model, challenging you to perform each exercise as intensely as you can with breaks in between. 

Take 30-60 seconds rest between each set, and drink water!

On the first day, you’ll just do one exercise. Each day for 12 days, add another set. This builds up the workout over time so you can focus on the correct form and gradually increase the intensity.

All you need for this challenge is:

 

Day 1: 30-Second Plank

On the first day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • Core Strength from a 30-Second Plank!

christmas-plank-work-out

Strengthen your abs to build a foundation for the rest of the workout. Just 30 seconds can be a challenge if you’re not used to planks, but by day 3, you’ll find it easy. 

To perform a plank

  • Get on your hands and knees on your mat.
  • Come down onto your elbows to support your weight on your forearms and fists.
    • You can keep your hands at shoulder-width or bring them together, depending on what is comfortable for you.
  • Stretch your legs straight out behind you, engage your core and lift your knees off the floor. 

You should be up on your toes with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your back straight and don’t let your hips drop down to the floor. Hold for 30 seconds – don’t forget to breathe!

Modifier: If this low plank is too difficult, try a high plank, with your arms straightened and your hands flat on the mat under your shoulders. Keep your body straight and hold.

 

Day 2: 2x Push Ups

On the second day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

burpees

Push-ups are a staple of strength training. They target your core, shoulder and chest muscles. Of course, 2 push-ups might not do much for you if you’ve been hitting the gym for a few months. Add more reps, sets or rounds until this workout is perfect for you.

To Perform a Push-up:

  • Get into a high plank position with hands slightly wider apart than your shoulders and arms straight and core engaged.
  • Bend at the elbows, lowering your body steadily until your nose is 1 inch from the mat. Keep your body straight and your elbows tucked in beside your body.
  • Push the floor away until you are back at the starting position. Avoid arching your back as you do this, so that your chest and hips rise together.

We’ve set the bar low with 2 push-ups, but if you can do more in 30 seconds, get pumping.

Modifier: to make push-ups easier, use a raised surface to support your hands, such as a step or yoga block. Keep your body straight, and try lower supports as the challenge progresses until you can manage a full push-up.

Day 3: 3x Reverse Sit-ups

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • 30 Second Plank!

Today you’re adding reverse sit-ups, which target the lower abdominal muscles. This move places less strain on your neck and back than normal sit-ups or crunches.

To Perform a Reverse Sit-up:

  • Lie face-up on a mat with your knees bent at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor. 
  • Keep your arms by your sides and your palms down. 
  • Exhale and engage your core.
  • Lift your feet off the ground and raise your hips until the thighs are vertical, keeping knees bent at 90o throughout the movement. 
  • Bring your knees toward your face as much as you comfortably can, without lifting your mid-back off the mat.
  • Hold the position for a moment
  • Breathe in as you slowly lower your feet back to the floor.

Repeat 3 reps. Do one set to start, and slowly increase the number of reps and sets as you get stronger.

 

Day 4: 4x Burpees

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

Burpees strengthen your heart with explosive movements that exercise your whole body, including your shoulders, chest, abs, quads, inner thighs, butt, and triceps. 

A burpee is a combination of a squat, a plank, and a squat jump. Some trainers include a push-up, while others recommend jumping to plank and back to the squat position. 

To perform a Burpee:

  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart and arms by your sides, with your weight in your heels.
  • Push your hips back and bend your knees until you are in a squat, keeping your back straight.
  • Put your hands flat on the floor just in front of your feet and shift your weight to your hands.
  • Jump your feet back to softly land in a high plank position, with legs stretched behind you and the balls of your feet on the ground. Keep your body straight by engaging your core.
  • To add a push-up, lower your body towards the floor by bending your elbows. Push up to lift the body evenly into a high plank.
  • Jump your feet forwards again so they land just outside the hands.
  • Reach your arms up to the ceiling and straighten your back.
  • Jump explosively into the air. When you land, immediately begin the squat for the next rep.

Doing burpees on an exercise mat or yoga mat is important to avoid slips, trips or falls. You should do burpees as quickly as you can to get your heart rate pumping and add cardio to your workout.

Modifier: Burpees require a lot of energy and can be hard on the joints. Instead of jumping, step into and out of the plank position one foot at a time, and replace the jump at the end with standing and stretching your arms up high, rising up on your toes.

Day 5: 5x Hammer Curls

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

That’s right, it’s time to add some weight into the challenge. Grab your dumbbells and let’s do some hammer curls.

To Perform a Hammer Curl:

  • Hold the weights by your sides
  • Exhale and bend your elbows to lift the weights up to your shoulders. Keep your hands so that they are held vertically at the top of the lift.
  • Inhale as you lower the weights.

As always, you can do more than 5 reps to get a greater challenge, or you can repeat the whole set as many times as you choose.

Day 6: 6x Tricep Extensions

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

Triceps are often smaller, weaker muscles, so take it slowly if you’re new to this kind of exercise. 

To perform a tricep extension:

  • Hold the weight up above your head with both arms straightened.
  • Inhale and bend at the elbows so that the weight comes down behind your head.
  • Exhale as you lift the weight back up to the starting position.

You can use two dumbbells pressed together if they have a flat edge, a single heavier dumbbell held near one end or a kettlebell.

Day 7: 7x Chest Presses

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 7x Chest Presses
  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

 

Chest Presses, as the name suggests, strengthen your pectoral chest muscles. They also work your back and shoulders. You can use dumbbells or a barbell to do this exercise.

To perform a chest press:

  • Lie on your back with your arms bent and your weights above your shoulders. Your arms should be at a 45o angle to the body. Keep your palms facing forward with your thumbs wrapped around the bar.
  • Exhale as you push the weights straight up away from you. Don’t lock your elbows suddenly, and keep your elbows forward from your shoulders to avoid stress on the shoulder joint.
  • Slowly lower the weights back down in a straight line as you inhale, and repeat.

If you’re using a barbell, set the weight to one appropriate for your strength, and use a spotter.

Day 8: 8x Weighted Squats

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 8x Weighted Squats
  • 7x Chest Presses
  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

Squats target every muscle in your lower body, and practising squats can help make you a stronger runner, gymnast, swimmer or cyclist as well. 

Weighted squats add a challenge and strengthen all of these muscles together. Form is extremely important when you add weight to squats, so make sure you focus on performing these correctly before you push yourself to work hard.

To Perform a Squat: 

  • Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width, toes facing front. You can hold your hands together in front of you to help with balance if you aren’t using weights.
  • Drive your hips back, bending at the knees and ankles and pressing your knees wider apart.
  • Sit into a squat position until your knees are at a 90o angle. Keep your core strong, feet flat on the ground, chest up and shoulders back. 
  • Press into your heels and straighten your legs to stand upright again.

You can hold a dumbbell, medicine ball or kettlebell in front of you to add weight. Keep your core engaged throughout the movement to avoid straining your back.

Day 9: 9x Shoulder Presses

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 9x Shoulder Presses
  • 8x Weighted Squats
  • 7x Chest Presses
  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

Shoulder presses work your shoulders and upper back. You’ll notice the muscles in the front of your shoulder strengthen the most. This exercise also builds strength in your wrists and elbows. Use dumbbells or kettlebells for this exercise.

To perform a shoulder press:

  • Stand tall on your mat, feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent.
  • Hold your weights at shoulder height with your palms facing forward and keep your chin parallel to the floor.
  • Exhale as you lift the weights straight up, keeping a slight bend in your elbows. Don’t allow dumbbells to touch at the top.
  • Lower the weights in line with your ears as you inhale, before pushing them back up.

Using a barbell for shoulder presses requires more engagement from your core and is more challenging. Barbell shoulder presses are best for intermediate or advanced weightlifters.

Day 10: 10x Reverse Lunges

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 10x Reverse Lunges
  • 9x Shoulder Presses
  • 8x Weighted Squats
  • 7x Chest Presses
  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

Reverse lunges can help you build single leg strength, improve your balance, while boosting your cardio. If you add a barbell, or hold heavy dumbbells at your sides, the reverse lunge can become an effective muscle-builder.

To perform a reverse lunge:

  • Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart while holding a pair of dumbbells, or kettlebells at your sides
  • Lunge backward with your right leg as far as you can comfortably while dropping your hips downward.
  • Once in the down lunge position, push back to the starting position with both legs at the same time.
  • Repeat with the left leg.
  • Alternate legs for the desired number of repetitions.

 feel the exercise in your front thighs and glute muscles while having the pressure even across the front of your foot (you’re not leaning too far forward or backward).

Day 11: 11x Standing Dumbbell Fly

On the third day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 11x Standing Dumbbell Fly
  • 10x Reverse Lunges
  • 9x Shoulder Presses
  • 8x Weighted Squats
  • 7x Chest Presses
  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30 Second Plank!

dumbell-fly

A standing chest fly works your chest, shoulders and biceps. This exercise works best when a slow and controlled motion is used, with moderate weights, rather than striving for speed. 

This is a great exercise to help improve your mind-muscle connection, which will carry over to other lifts. 

To perform a standing fly:

  • Stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Hold a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing forward, and arms by your sides.
  • Tuck your chin slightly, pull your shoulders back and down, and push out your chest.
  • Keeping a slight bend in your elbows, lift your arms toward the ceiling until your hands are at shoulder level.
  • Bring your hands in towards the centre as you lift, without touching them together.
  • Pause and squeeze your chest muscles at the top.
  • Slowly lower to the starting position and repeat.

Modification: if you have access to a weight bench, you can perform a chest fly lying flat on your back for a greater challenge. Hold the dumbbells in a neutral grip, and extend your arms so that they are straight up vertically. Keep a slight bend in the elbows as you lower your arms straight out to the sides. Quickly lift the dumbbells back to the starting position. Moving against the force of gravity will work your muscles harder.

Day 12: 12x Upright Rows

On the twelfth day of Christmas, JLL gave to me: 

  • 12x Upright Rows
  • 11x Standing Dumbbell Fly
  • 10x Reverse Lunges
  • 9x Shoulder Presses
  • 8x Weighted Squats
  • 7x Chest Presses
  • 6x Tricep Extensions
  • 5x Hammer Curls
  • 4x Burpees
  • 3x Reverse Sit-ups
  • 2x Push Ups 
  • and Core Strength from a 30-second plank!

The upright row targets your shoulders, upper back, side delts and trapezoids. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells or a barbell for this exercise.

To perform an upright row:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart grip the weights with your arms by your thighs, hands facing towards your body.
  • Inhale and engage your core, keep your back straight and chest up.
  • Leading with the elbows, lift the weights up towards your chin as you exhale. Keep your palms facing your body and the weights in close.
  • Pause at the top of the lift.
  • Lower the barbell as you inhale. Use a slow and controlled movement to return to the starting position. 

By now it’s the 5th of January, and you’re well ahead on your New Year Fitness Goals. You’ll be feeling the benefits of this daily exercise in increased strength, stamina and even improved mood. 

Safety First

This challenge is designed for fit and healthy adults, but if you are recovering from an injury, or need something less intense, you shouldn’t miss out. Why not build your own 12-day Challenge with these low-impact exercises?

Journey into the New Year with JLL Fitness.

If this Christmas Workout Challenge has helped you find out how to stay in shape over Christmas, we’ve achieved something. Building up exercise routines over time is a great way to get to grips with new movements and make progress. Explore more of our blog to find more great ways to stay motivated to exercise over Christmas, and find out about the impacts of daily exercise. Both strength and cardio are important, which is why we’ve included a mix of bodyweight, cardio and weight training. 

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Digital Marketing Manager for JLL Fitness. Interests: Marketing, Digital Marketing, Advertising, Promotions, Sports and Fitness.

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