Every year the holiday season sneaks up on us and before we can get a handle on the chaos, fitness has dropped way down the priority list. It can be tempting to postpone any workout plans until further notice.

Staying fit throughout the holidays not only helps to keep you in shape, but exercising will make you more productive and give you an energy boost. Here are 8 fast workout ideas for even the busiest schedule.

Fast classes

Health clubs and gyms know what we’re going through balancing a million things at once and barely having time for a lunch break some days. That’s why Virgin Active (virginactive.co.uk) runs fast classes: group exercises classes that last no longer than half an hour while promising to give you a workout that feels way longer. Check out twentyfour – a fat-burning session that gets you twisting, pushing and pulling in every direction while boosting metabolism and raising the heart rate.

Late-night affair

There’s nothing worse than rushing to the gym for a quick in-and-out session and being faced with a crowded gym floor, shower queue or sparse equipment. This kind of session involves weaving through people, wasting time trying to find a decent spot and waiting around for the dumbbells you want or the squat rack to free up. So, if your schedule allows for it, choose the absolute least busiest times, like late at night. You’ll get your pick of the kit, shower cubicle and mat space. No dilly-dallying. No fuss. No wasted time.

Cardio, meet strength

For the next few weeks, forget about separating cardio and strength days. Spin Mondays, leg Wednesdays and circuit Fridays can wait – over the party season there’s no reason why you can’t get your cardio and strength fix in one swift session. Creating a cardio workout using resistance exercises with little rest between sets means you’ll tick both boxes, so get moving with box jumps, mountain climbers and jumping lunges for now. Check out our tips in our ‘Make cardio your strength’ box.

More, but less

However many times you usually exercise, cut it. Switch from five to three sessions a week without sacrificing any of the effects by taking it up a couple gears when you are working out. Thinking quality over quantity could save you precious hours, and is as easy as modifying your moves. Turn squats into squat jumps, press-ups into press-up renegade rows and runs into sprint sessions. Cut rest periods, opt for supersets and incorporate warm-ups into sets, too.

Make your commute count

Currently taking the bus, train or car to work? Get yourself a decent backpack, a good pair of trainers and run or cycle instead. Not only will you be getting your workout done and dusted before you even start the day, but you’ll also be unleashing that eco warrior within. The environment, as well as your schedule, will thank you for it.

Keep it in the bedroom

No, not that! We’re talking, wake up, work out, get ready and go. Sounds too easy, doesn’t it? Well, why shouldn’t it be? There are plenty of ways to work out at home and if you complete a quick and intense bodyweight workout in your bedroom before you even take your morning shower, you’ll barely notice the dent in your day. Burpees by the bed, anyone?

Social affair

Around Christmas time, when everyone’s struggling to keep up with their schedule, for some reason we all think it’s a great idea to make loads of social plans, too. Not just with our best mates and families but with old friends for reunions. It doesn’t make sense, but we’re all guilty of it. So why not make your social events exercise-related? You could all go for run together, try a new class (great for a talking point afterwards, too) or hit the gym. Double whammy or what?

Make life harder

Yep, you read that right. Do exactly what you normally do every day but make it more difficult. The lift should become a stranger, while the stairs an acquaintance, shopping trolleys should be abandoned for your new best friend, the basket, and don’t you even think about driving a walkable distance. All of these switch-ups will get you burning calories while barely affecting your time.

Recover on-the-go

Refuelling and replenishing your muscles after a tough workout is essential. Not only does muscle growth encourage a boosted metabolic rate and in turn fat burn, but you also need your hard-working muscles to repair in time for your next session. Getting post-workout nutrition isn’t rocket science, but making it quick and convenient can be tricky. 

Make cardio your strength

Fat loss expert Dave Fletcher (theodysseyway.co.uk) explains how to make your cardio and strength workouts a match made in heaven.

1. Try a circuit of low-rep exercises with little rest to keep the heart rate up. This is the best way to maximise fat burn within a single workout.

2. Perform big, compound movements like squats, deadlifts, shoulder presses and press-ups. Now is not the time for bicep curls.

3. Do heavy reps to stimulate your fat-twitch muscle fibres, which will help to boost metabolism.