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Fit 4 Life | Healthy for the holidays: 12-in-12 workout for Christmas

Published:Wednesday | December 12, 2018 | 12:00 AMMarvin Gordon/Contributor
Let's make holiday fitness a challenge: a 12-in-12 challenge in keeping with the Christmas spirit.

Christmas is only two weeks away. With the rush and traffic, not to mention personal holiday preparations, it is getting hard for many people to stick to their workout programmes.

In spite of the time constraints, with the right approach, much can still be achieved for the remainder of the year.

So, let's make holiday fitness a challenge: a 12-in-12 challenge in keeping with the Christmas spirit. 

The idea behind the 12-in-12 challenge is to follow a 12-minute high-intensity workout plan for the 12 days of Christmas – or any 12-day period. The short duration of the training should alleviate the time issues while the high intensity allows for much to be achieved. And, as a bonus, you get a head start on the New Year's fitness resolution folks.


There are two approaches. The first is to do 12 sets of exercise; one set each minute for 12 minutes. The only rest time allowed is the time you have between completing a set and the start of the next minute.

So, for example, if it takes the full minute to complete an exercise, you go straight into the next set without rest. The timing is set but the exercises aren't; you can mix and match for a full-body burn, or you can focus on a single major muscle group for a more targetted workout. You can even use a single exercise German volume training style – squats, for example.

The second approach is a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) plan. With this strategy, we use three minutes for a HIIT-style warm up and then run a nine-minute full-on HIIT session.

See the programme below.


- 20-second jog

- 20-second high knees

(do four sets without rest)

- 20-second rest


- 45-sec burpees

- 45-sec sit-ups

- 45-sec push-up

- 45-sec static squat (hold)

- 45-sec leg raise

- 45-sec jump lunges

- 45-sec med-ball swing

- 45-sec mountain climbers

- 45-sec jog

TIP: a water bottle can be used in place of a medicine ball for med-ball swings. 

Substitute your own exercises to make the programme suitable for your fitness level.

- Marvin Gordon is a fitness coach; email:;