Post-Holiday Leg Day Workout {Don’t Get On the Treadmill, Do This Instead}

Three reasons you should skip the treadmill and head straight for the weights after the holidays! Plus, four lower body exercises you need to include in your next gym workout.

Post Holiday Workout | Leg Workout at the Gym | How to recover from the holidays

We are in the heart of the holidays, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve had your fill of wine, trail mix cookie balls, and brownie bites.

That said, I already have a gym date on my calendar for December 26th or shortly thereafter, to get right back on track. I mean, I’ve already seen posts all over social media of a fit girl with a plate of holiday cookies and a post that reads, ‘Definitely hitting the treadmill hard tomorrow.’

This makes me want to scream — ‘NO, NO, NO!

Spare yourself the pain of watching seconds tick by on the treadmill as you trudge one foot in front of the other into a steady-state cardio coma.’ Unless you love to run, then by all means run your little heart out if that’s your preferred form of exercise. I’d personally recommend throwing a couple sprints into your run {1 minute sprint + 1 minute walking/jogging recovery, repeat}.

But if you’re just hitting the treadmill to burn off the extra holiday calories, then I have a much more efficient workout for you — hit the weights!

3 reasons you should skip the treadmill and head straight for the weights after the holidays. 

  1. Loading up your plate with grandma’s extra cheesy potatoes and Uncle Doug’s super soft sugar cookies increases your body’s insulin and cortisol levels, and puts a lot of stress on the body’s digestive system. 30 minutes plus of aerobic training {aka ‘cardio’} can actually increase stress/cortisol levels, while providing the least amount of benefits to balancing out the body’s insulin.
  2. While the calorie burn during a workout might look the same between a cardio and a weight-lifting session, women who lift weights burn more calories in the 24-hours following a lifting session than women who just perform cardio. Why? Lifting weights is proven to boost your basal metabolic rate, or the rate at which your body burns calories!
  3. Resistance training is the best way to improve insulin sensitivity. If you want to offset the sweet carbohydrates you consumed, hit the weights. Exercises like squats, lunges, pull ups and bench presses are much more likely to get your body back on track than jumping the treadmill or elliptical. In other words, lift heavy weights targeting your major metabolic muscles {legs, chest, back}. 

The truth is, weight lifting is effective for both building muscles and burning fat.

So the moral of the story is — enjoy the holiday cookies and then lift heavy!

**This workout is designed to be performed with gym machines, however you can still reap the benefits of strength training at home! If you’re looking for an at-home strength workout, check out these 8 At-Home Strength Training Workouts or this full-length, follow-along style 30-Minute Leg Workout

The Workout: Post Holiday Leg Workout for Women

It’s Leg Day in the gym! Complete 8-10 reps of each exercise x 3-4 sets before moving onto the next exercise. 

  1. Back Squat  {8-10 reps x 3-4 sets}
  2. Weighted Curtsy Lunge or Power Curtsy Lunge {8-10 reps per leg x 3-4 sets}. I highly recommend doing the power curtsy lunge in the Smith Machine Squat Rack, especially if it’s your first time giving it a try. 
  3. Sumo Leg Press {8-10 reps x 3-4 sets}
  4. Single Leg Side-Lying Leg Press {8-10 reps per leg x 3-4 sets}

Back Squat

Back Squat | Squat with Smith Machine | Leg Workout for Women

Power Curtsy Lunge

Curtsy Lunge | Leg Workout at the Gym | Leg workout for women

Sumo Leg Press

Sumo Leg Press | Quick Leg Workout at the Gym | Leg Workout for Women

Single Leg Side-Lying Leg Press

Single Leg Side-Lying Leg Press | Post Holiday Workout | Leg workout for women

Pin this Workout: Gym-Based Leg Workout For Women

After the holidays workout | full workout picture | leg workout at the gym

Looking for more strength workouts? Click here to see the rest of my Strength Training Workouts or Strength + HIIT Workouts.

6 comments
  1. Is there a reason that you recommend doing 3-4 sets of each exercise? I’ve seen various workouts that recommend doing one set with heavier weight to lighter weights and 3-4 sets.

    • Hi Mariah! Great question. I suggest doing 3-4 sets per exercise so you really push your muscles to fatigue. The goal would be to still lift at a heavy weight, you should be near failure in last 2 reps of each set. I like lifting heavy but also repeating sets to increase muscle fatigue/failure to guarantee soreness the next day! I hope that helps answer your question. Lindsey

      • Thank you for responding! I recently changed my lifting style to doing one set of each lift and pushing to failure and then moving to the next lift without any break. This has saved me time and I am still seeing great results. There is definitely more than one way to reach fatigue and see strength gains!

        • Hi Mariah! Absolutely, I personally like to mix up my lifting style and will do it both ways. It’s all about making the workout work for you and keep striving for those strength gains! -Lindsey

  2. love these, I get so bored of leg lifting/have no idea what new options are, so this is super helpful. I’m trying to get to the gym more instead of doing all at-home workouts, because there is only so much improvement you can get from constantly doing dvds…

    • Glad you hopefully have some new leg moves for your next trip to the gym! I’m all about a good mix of both, love my home workouts and the gym too; but major gains are made when you lift heavy! Happy Leg Day Lifting :)!