Do this Energizing Recovery Workout Before Thanksgiving
We get it. The holidays can be stressful, especially as we navigate our new reality. And if you are one of the more fortunate individuals who has the means to consider a holiday celebration this year, count yourself on the lucky side. And while you might not host a hungry group of people in your home this Thanksgiving, it doesn’t mean the pressures of having an enjoyable holiday meal isn’t there—even if you’re only cooking for yourself.
Before the cooking frenzy begins, however, take a moment for yourself with a recovery workout that will put you in the right mindset for Turkey Day and the rest of the season.
We asked Michol Dalcourt, founder of the Institute of Motion and ViPr Pro, for a slow, controlled, and dynamic workout, featuring breathing techniques and strengthening movements, that will have you feeling energized, stress-free, and glowing from the inside out.
The following workout should be completed as three giant sets, alternating between each movement.
Weighted Belly Breathing
Laying flat on your back (aka supine) with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, gently place a lightweight on your belly. You can use a weighted blanket, a few books, or anything else you have on hand. Inhale slowly through the nose for five seconds, so your belly/belly button is being pushed towards the sky as your lungs fully expand. When you’ve hit your lungs’ capacity, exhale slowly for 10 seconds and allow the belly to gently fall back to its neutral starting position.
Reps: Repeat this breathing technique for 10 cycles of your breath.
Benefits: When you take full, measured, and complete breaths, your body naturally responds by relaxing. Deep breathing increases stimulation of the diaphragm muscle and vagus nerve (which helps your body come to rest), as well as engages parasympathetic tone (or body-wide relaxation) and gut repair, which is activated through parasympathetic fibers leaving the vagus nerve and increases stem cell activity in the gut.
Percussive Exhalation Overhead Squat
Standing with feet roughly hips-width distance, imagine you are screwing your heels into the ground in order to engage your glutes. Placing a resistance band, cloth strap, or towel between your hands, bring your item of choice up over your head and pull the band/strap/towel apart so your shoulder, lat, and back muscles are activated. With your arms engaged overhead, lower yourself into a high squat position before adding two short percussive breaths followed by a third exhale (imagine your blowing out candles on a birthday cake). With each percussive breath you should sink a little bit lower into your squat, holding the position at the bottom for your “birthday cake” exhale. With your arms still overhead and glutes engaged (imagine pressing your knees outward to keep your posterior chain activated), stand all the way back up. Make sure when you lower into your squat that your chest stays lifted and you’re looking forward, with the majority of weight in the middle of your foot. And rather than hinge forward from the hips, sit back into an imaginary chair.
Reps: Repeat this percussive exhalation overhead squat for eight reps.
Benefits: Not only are you working on your breathing mechanics and breath control, but you’re working on increasing core stability, resulting in better hoop tension in the abdominal wall and strength in the glutes and lat muscles. When we work on our core strength and stability in everyday tasks, like bending over to tie a shoelace or picking things up, and even our posture will improve.
Lateral Lunge with Lateral Knee Ward
Starting in a standing position, step your right leg out to the side (or laterally) and bend into the right knee sending your hips behind you. With your spine long and core engaged, your right knee should be lined up with your second toe and your right hip should be in line with your knee. Take your right hand and place it on the outside of your right knee. Push your knee into your hand (not your hand into your knee) and hold for five seconds. You should feel your glute and abductor muscles fire up. Make sure to breathe through the hold before pushing all the way back up to a standing position. Complete movement on the left side.
Reps: Alternate your lateral lunge until you’ve completed five rounds on each side for a total of 10 reps.
Benefits: This exercise works on hip stability, strength, and endurance, as well as increases motor control in the spine, hip, and pelvis. Not to mention that this is a full-body movement and requires greater metabolic demand.
Rotational Z Get Up
In a seated position on a mat, towel, or blanket bring your right shin parallel to the top edge of your mat/towel/blanket with your left leg “zig-zagged” behind you. Depending on your hip mobility, your sit bones should be rooted on the floor and your spine tall. With your legs in this “Z” position, rotate through the torso to the left with your arms in front of you (think of it like winding yourself up). Using the momentum of your arms, “untwist” yourself to the right while simultaneously swinging your left leg around to land in a lunge position on the other side with your right knee planted on the ground. Push firmly through your left foot to stand all the way up before sending your right knee back into the lunge position and lowering all the way into your starting “Z” leg position. It might be awkward at first, but the momentum from your rotation and get up should become very fluid.
Reps: Repeat the Z get up five times on each side.
Benefits: This exercise helps with hip and ankle mobility, and promotes fluid dynamics when you go from a compressed seated position to an extended standing position. (Fluid dynamics works on the flow of liquids in your body, including blood, lymph, water, and interstitial fluid in tissues.) Z get-ups also help with body motor control and coordination, which ultimately help with other everyday movements liked getting up and off the ground.
Alternate through the breathing exercise and three movements three times, and you’ll feel ready for whatever the holidays throw at you. Click here to watch a video demo of all the movements.