Fast festive workouts: 20 minute calorie burner

As the end of the year approaches, work demands increase, social calendars fill up and many of us find it challenging to squeeze in a full workout. Every day there’s a new function or event to attend and we all know that that means: indulgence! There will be plenty of food (healthy and unhealthy), lots of calories and the temptation of free-flowing alcohol.

Before you know it you’re stuffing yourself with food, minimising your workouts or dropping them entirely, and suddenly finding you’re all sluggish and tired.

In order to ensure you maintain your fitness during the disrupting festive season, Fitness First’s National Fitness Manager Michael Cunico has teamed up with top personal trainers to bring you a time-efficient workout.

The 20 minute calorie burner

This quick weight-based circuit will keep you burning those extra calories consumed over the festive period. By Fitness First personal trainer Alissa Peck (pictured) it should be completed as part of a balanced full-body training program. Include some light stretching to warm up, or work with less intensity when you first get started.


A1. Upright dumbbell row

Grasp a dumbbell in each hand using a pronated (palms inwards) grip that is slightly less than shoulder width apart. Starting with the dumbbells resting on the top of your thighs, extend your arms with a soft bend in the elbow and keep your back straight. Lift the dumbbells in line with the top of your shoulders. Pause at the top of the movement making sure that your elbows are higher than your forearms. Then lower the dumbbells back to starting position.

A2. Push ups

Lie on the floor face down with your body straight and in line with your toes. Place your hands under your shoulders, but slightly wider than shoulder width. Focusing on the eccentric phase, inhale and  slowly lower yourself, keeping your elbows at a 45 degree angle until your chest almost touches the floor. Using your chest (pectoral) muscles, push through your palms as your press your upper body back to the starting position and pause at the top. If you feel you don’t have the ability to perform this on your feet, lower your knees and use this as your starting point.

A3. Dumbbell shoulder press

While holding onto a dumbbell in each hand sit on a flat bench or utility bench that has back support. Lift the dumbbells to just above shoulder height in line with your ears one at a time. Make sure your palms are facing forward. As you exhale push the dumbbells up until they touch above your head, leaving a slight soft bend in your elbow. Pause at the top before slowly lowering them back to the starting position as you inhale.

A4. Lateral raises

Placing your feet hip-width apart, hold onto a dumbbell in each hand at your side at arms length with a soft bend in your elbows. Stand tall with a straight torso, core embraced and your chest proud. As you exhale lift your arms up until they’re parallel to the floor in line with your shoulders. Pause at the top as you continue to focus on squeezing your shoulder muscles and maintaining the tension on your deltoids instead of your traps. Then slowly lower your arms back to your starting position.

B1. Goblet squat

Brace your core and stand with your feet on a 45 degree angle, slightly wider than hip distance apart, holding a kettlebell or dumbbell close to your chest. Keeping your chest up and your shoulders back, perform a squat. Its imperative that you lower yourself hinging from the hips as far as your body will allow, maintaining a neutral spine. Pause at the bottom position, keeping tension in your heels and glutes. Pressing into your heels (to maximise glute activation), use your elbows to push your knees out. Return to standing, keeping your spine tall.

B2. Bulgarian split squat lunges

Grasping onto two dumbbells stand in front of a bench or plyometric step facing away from it. Extend one leg back and place your foot on top of the bench, stepping out with the other leg so you can stand comfortably. Lunge down slowly until your quadricep is parallel to the floor. Keeping your knee in line with your toes, slowly but powerfully push up through your heel back to a standing position, focusing that tension on your glutes and hamstrings. After you have completed a full set on each leg, swap legs and repeat.

B3. Box jumps

Choose a box or ledge that is an appropriate height. Stand in front of the box with your feet at shoulder width apart. Embrace your core and perform a short squat in preparation for jumping onto the box. You may choose to swing your arms behind you, or if you’re just beginning, hold them in front of your chest to assist with balance. Jump out of this squat position, extending through your hips, knees and ankles to jump to the highest position possible, landing on the box with your knees bent and feet flat. Step back to the start position and repeat.

Alissa Peck is a level 2 personal trainer who specialises in mindset and lifestyle coaching at the Fitness First Hornsby club. Contact her via Facebook and Instagram at @unofitness or email her at

Videography by Matt Grech.
Photography by Lee McCluskey.