Turkey Day Tabata or Feast Gone Bad

photo from Flickr

Here’s something you probably don’t know about me: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I’m sure you’re thinking it’s because of the food. And yes, it’s partially because of the food. But it’s mostly because I associate T-Giving with a laid-back attitude that’s all about togetherness and love. (And food. Which is love. If you do it right.)

Before sharing food-love with your near and dear, there’s no better way to demonstrate your undying affection than a really brutal workout. I’ve written up two Thanksgiving possibilities below: Turkey Day Tabata and Feast Gone Bad.

Both include movements that require minimal equipment, so you can do either of these workouts in a park, your yard, your parents’ yard or, in a pinch, your parents’ basement. If you’re a well-behaved exerciser and do a good warmup first, these workouts will require approximately 25-30 minutes of your time. Surely you can carve out half an hour before you dig into your feast!

Attention Austinites: I asked Dave which he preferred, and he chose tabata. We’ll be hosting the Turkey Day Tabata at Gillis Park in south Austin on Thanksgiving… 8:00 a.m…. bring dumbbells and a jump rope if you’ve got ’em. (Bonus points if you bring a thermos of coffee or tea for after. I’ll bring sweet potatoes for our post-WOD refueling!)

Tabata training is a totally kickass way to get huge benefit from minimal time; I wrote some stuff I learned about Dr. Tabata and his protocol here. In case your unfamiliar, the tabata is 20 seconds of work, followed by 10 seconds of delicious, satisfying rest… 8 times – and you do that whole shlemiel for four different exercises.

The reason  I like tabata workouts is that they’re so challenging, they block all potential mental whining. For those 20 seconds of work, I AM the work. It’s enormously freeing to just BE. Be the pushup. Be the jump rope. Be the pain.

A few guidelines for Turkey Day Tabata:
1. Be sure to do a solid warmup before you start. I’ve posted the warmup we’ll be using below.

2. If you must, you can take a brief rest between each exercise, but between the eight rounds of an individual exercise, don’t waiver from the 10 seconds of rest.

3. The exercises that work best for tabata are the ones that are generally comprised of only one movement (for example, NOT burpees or man-makers) and don’t require a ton of thinking about form (for example, I wouldn’t throw snatch into the mix). Here are some good ones:

air squats
box jump/step ups
running sprints
med ball slams
dumbbell/kettlebell overhead or press
jump squats
mountain climbers
jump rope/double-unders
kettlebell/dumbbell swings
dumbbell/kettlebell thrusters
kettlebell sumo deadlift highpull
PVC pipe overhead squats

4. Don’t go too heavy on the weight. Please. The idea is SAFE, controlled, effective full range of motion. Use manageable dumbbells or kettlebells that allow you to complete the movement correctly and move like you mean it.

5. There are two ways to keep score, if you’re into that kind of thing. (IF you want to keep score! Like there’s a CrossFitter out there that doesn’t keep time or count during a workout! Track your reps each round, then: (a) count your lowest number on each round and that’s your score for that round… or (b) keep a tally of your total reps for the whole workout

Dave’s Turkey Day Tabata
500m lap around the park
high knees, butt kicks, punter kicks, walking lunges
2X 10 squats + 10 pushups + 10 rotations + 10 situps

8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: med ball slams
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: overhead press
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: sprawls
8 rounds, 20 seconds work/10 seconds rest: jump rope/double-unders

plank 2X1:00
side plank 2X:30 each side

I love the Fight Gone Bad format: 5 exercises performed for a minute each then a full minute of rest… for three rounds. Yes, it totally kicks my *ss, but the symmetry is very appealing. And really, you can do anything for a minute, right?!
Thanksgiving Feast Gone Bad
3 rounds:
1:00 pushups
1:00 overhead squats (dumbbells or PVC pipe) or air squats
1:00 box jumps
1:00 dumbbell/kettlebell overhead/push press
1:00 jump rope/double-unders
1:00 rest

NOTE: If you don’t have dumbbells available, you can replace those exercises with bodyweight options: air squats, walking lunges, jump squats, burpees; see the tabata list above for more ideas. Aim for a mix of upper- and lower-body focused moves.


12 Responses to “Turkey Day Tabata or Feast Gone Bad”

  1. Meagan says:

    Melicious! This is fantastic. I <3 <3 <3 (yes, the love is so deep I can't spell out the four letter word) your post on a Thanskgiving idea that is not food related. Or not mostly food related. Bookmarking this to come back to for a pre-meal activity. I should at least be able to talk the 3 year old niece into it.

  2. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Meagan! I'm glad you like it. Tabata is actually a really great way to get non-CrossFitters involved in playing… and Feast Gone Bad could easily be adapted to playing, too… run in circles for a minute, jumping jacks for a minute, leap frog for a minute, etc. Have fun!

  3. Meagan says:

    Very fun! I will now come up with a list of 3-year-old approved activities, since there will be a few of them. Get my kid and my crossfit in all in one. Thanks again, M.

  4. Barbara says:

    I'll be there! Can't wait:)

  5. girlblake says:

    Man, I wish I could be there! I'll be thinking of you guys. Gotta love a lotta Tabata 😉

  6. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Gotta love a lotta Blake!!!

  7. Kim Dowse says:

    wow! sounds like fun, well, in a crossfit sort of way. have a great t-day!

  8. MelG says:

    I thought of hopping on a plane and hitting Dave's Turkey Day Tabata with you but… As soon as there's them magical transporter things I'm there. Have a wonderful happy Thanksgiving!

  9. jencereghino says:

    We were with you in spirit, but chose the "Feast Gone Bad" option. :)

    Here was our WOD:
    Row for Calories
    Kettlebell Swings
    24" Box Jumps (I did step-ups…24" is scary…)
    45lb Push Press
    45lb Front Squat

    That was fun! I love the FGB format…I'm definitely a "Chipper" kinda gal. 😉

    Thank you, as always, for the WOD inspiration! I'm anticipating the "12 Days" WOD…no pressure…

  10. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Jen, I love the workout you put together! Our tabatas were harder than I anticipated — which is always the trick of tabata… it fools me into thinking it won't be too bad, and then it kicks my butt!

    As for 12 days, I did post a workout last year and will probably do something again for Christmas this year… stay tuned!

    12 Days of CrossFit Christmas:

    And photographic evidence of us doing the workout:

  11. jencereghino says:

    Oh, I know about last year's 12 Days…Scott and I did it AND talked our CF gym into doing it! LOVED it!!! My first time doing "Burpee Box Jumps"…how could I forget. :)

  12. Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Ah, burpee box jumps. So fun, so terrible.

  13. […] Get moving in the AM. I love getting some exercise in first thing Thanksgiving morning–call it working up an appetite! Making sure to get that movement into your day can help empower you to make healthy choices throughout the day. Go walking with some family, or try a Turkey Day Tabata. […]

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