Health & Fitness | November 26, 2020 8:30 am

The Perfect Thanksgiving Weekend Workout Plan, If You Must

You've eaten way too much. Now what?

thanksgiving workout
Photo by Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Michael Schur, a producer on The Office and co-creator of Parks and Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Good Place, was the latest to dive in the trenches of turkey Twitter yesterday, writing, “You have been conditioned, from birth, to think Thanksgiving food is good and important. You never had a vote. It’s a religion, and you were indoctrinated. It’s not fair, and it’s not your fault.”

He goes on to argue that this particular season — with so many untouchable traditions already making way for COVID measures — signals an opening for off-beat menu items. At one point, Schur puts stuffing on absolute blast, comparing its “billion herbs” to “licking a forest floor.” Fighting words, which you may or may not agree with. It’s notable, though, that Schur is simply stumping for different food this Thursday, not less food.

As always, this Thanksgiving will be an exercise in excess. Those posting online about “going rogue” this year are still feasting — perhaps by ordering $75 worth of Thai instead of the customary turkey and fixings. We’ll all still eat and drink ourselves silly, because it’s dark out and it’s been a long year. That’s what the end of November is for, and you should never feel guilty about it.

That said, one day of heavy consumption doesn’t need to knock you out for an entire holiday weekend. Days off are sacred, whatever time of year they arrive, and you can absolutely use this Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get a few workouts in. They’ll hold back the levees from whatever gluttony you got up to on Thursday, sure, but they’ll also give you a crucial bit of you-time during an infamously hectic time of year.

Below, read our perfect Thanksgiving Weekend workout plan. We’ve fit in three sessions — a run, some strength training and a spot of yoga — with explanations on why each is suited best for that day. Enjoy your turkey (or noodles) and good luck sweating it all out.

fall running
Photo by Annette Riedl/picture alliance/Getty Images

Friday: Pace Progression Run


This year, the Turkey Trot’s taking place on Friday. We’re starting out the weekend’s efforts with a four-mile run around the neighborhood. Why? Because Friday is a continuation of Thanksgiving Day festivities; it’s a second swing at the holiday, just in sweatpants instead of sweaters. There’s the behemoth sandwich you’ve got planned for lunch (which will probably include thick-cut bacon), indoor cheer like board games or movies, and many more drinks to be had. So it’s important to get your sweat in before all that fun, and to do so in a way that mitigates yesterday’s damage.

We recommend a pace progression challenge. Run each mile a little faster, starting at an extremely comfortable jogging pace. In mile splits, this might look like: 14:00, 12:00, 10:00, 8:00 (adjust according to your ability). It’s a great way to ease into the concept of working out, especially when, after that alarm goes off, your head and stomach are screaming no. Run on an empty stomach — trust us, as long as you keep it under 60 minutes, there’s enough glycogen to burn through thanks to all the stuffing you ate — and don’t be surprised if your hangover goes away. Blood flow flushes out toxins and sends endorphins to your brain.

man doing plank
PeopleImages/Getty

Saturday: Bodyweight Workout


Normally, this would be a great day to go to the gym for 90 minutes. The house is either still a little more crowded than usual and you’re getting sick of all the company, or everyone’s left and there are chores to dodge do all day. A long, drawn-out session in the “Iron Paradise” (The Rock’s words, not ours), is well-earned after multiple days of eating, drinking and hosting. The only issue? This year that probably isn’t an option. The nation’s health clubs are, for the most part, closed or about to close.

Assuming you were one of many Americans who never got their hands on dumbbells this year or are still waiting for your Peloton delivery, Saturday is a great day for an old-fashioned bodyweight workout. We recommend devising a makeshift circuit with some straightforward parameters: five moves, 10 reps for each, rest for 30 seconds to a minute in between each move. Run it through five times. Your word bank of options includes, but isn’t limited to: push-ups, air squats, dips (you’ll need a chair or bench), burpees, bicycle crunches, mountain climbers, lunge dips, reverse lunges, Russian twists and skater hops. For those that involve going side to side or one leg at a time, double the rep count.

yoga with adrienne
Yoga With Adrienne/Facebook

Sunday: Yoga With Adrienne Session


The Monday after Thanksgiving isn’t as big of a come-down, “back to reality” day as, say, the Tuesday after Labor Day Weekend, or the first workday after New Year’s. To some extent, we’re all in holiday mode for the next few weeks. But it’s still a stressful time. Closing out the year at work on a high note, when you’re trying to score deals on gifts for family members, plan holiday travel or host another social-distanced gathering is a lot. It’s likely you will experience some “scaries” this Sunday.

The best way to combat them, and power through a fantastic workout in the process, is perform a yoga session with YouTube legend Adriene Mishler. We wrote a bit about Mishler during peak quarantine, when her congenial personality, bespoke flows and dog Benji earned her millions of new followers. Mishler is an excellent, highly patient instructor; her classes are slow and pronounced, with special attention given to transitions, and time or alternatives offered to those who find themselves utterly lost. Her library is also a treasure trove of content, most of it pegged to a specific purpose or vibe. We recommend a session that aligns well with the repose your mind and body will crave this Sunday, like Yoga to Feel Your Best or Gentle, Relaxing, Cozy Flow.

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