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The 12 Lifts of Christmas

Didn’t get this way by doing jumping jacks.

I like challenges. Anytime Ben Bruno throws up (throws down) a challenge on his blog, I’m probably going to skip my workout of the day to complete it.

Personally, I’ve seen a few “12 Things of Christmas” workouts and was never impressed. I didn’t want challenges that involved burpees or mountain climbers. I wanted a barbell loaded with some heavy ass weight. Here’s a challenge for all of you!

Being in the Christmas spirit and all, I’ve decided to put together a 12 Lifts of Christmas workout. It was surprisingly difficult to come up with twelve exercises and that’s surprising because there were only a few criteria:

  • The lifts need to be two-handed barbell lifts (a restriction that I imposed on myself for ease of transition through the exercises)
  • There needed to be twelve lifts (obviously)
  • I didn’t want to let go of the barbell throughout the challenge or have to change the weights
  • For that reason, there needed to be a precise order to the lifts (because performing 10 presses with your 1RM deadlift would be insanity)
  • There needed to be NO Olympic variations (because good Olympic lifters/coaches are so much harder to come by and using Olympic lifts wouldn’t allow many lifters to safely complete the workout)

So, without further adieu, here are the rules to the 12 Lifts of Christmas workout:

  • Two hands on the bar the entire time – you cannot let go of the bar
  • The bar may be racked and unracked between the front squat, squat, and row
  • You may use a clean or cross-handed grip on the front squats because you can rack the weight afterward and switch it back up

Each number corresponds with the reps that shall be completed.

  1. Press
  2. Overhead squat
  3. Push press
  4. Back lunge (4/side and done in the front squat position)
  5. Front squat
  6. Back squat
  7. Bent-over row
  8. Single-leg deadlift (4 per leg, 8 per leg for the men in the room. Just kiddng, I’m not a male chauvinist. I left it to 4 per leg when I did it.)
  9. RDL
  10. Sumo deadlift
  11. Glute bridge
  12. Ab rollouts

For a frame of reference, I completed the entire thing in about 4-5 minutes (I didn’t time it exactly) with 135 lbs. If you can’t press, push press, or overhead squat 135 lbs, I suggest getting training/bumper plates to ensure that the bar is the right height for the deadlifts and glute bridge.

I completed the challenge in a santa hat – and shirtless

The glute bridges are almost welcome at the end of this as your lungs will probably/hopefully/most likely be on fire.

I did not video myself completing this challenge, which in hindsight is probably a good thing because my OH squats, push-presses, and single-leg RDLs were U-G-L-Y. And I had no alibi.

Here are a few things to remember:

  • You can use an Airex pad for the glute bridges and for your knees on the rollouts, but I didn’t use one.
  • Make sure to get a thorough warm-up before, as you’ll be using pretty much every muscle for this one.
  • I added them up and there’s 82 total lifts in here. Be prepared to be tired at the end. If you’re doing it as part of a larger workout, I’d save it for the end.

Try this one someday when you’re pressed for time (pun completely intended), even if it’s not Christmas anymore.

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