We all want to be in shape and healthy, and that means incorporating guilt-free meals that keep our bodies running smoothly. But sometimes, we all need that cheat meal.
And I’m not just saying that because I love junk foods. A study in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that it’s actually good for you to give in to food temptations every once in a while.
The study put volunteers on diet plans of 10,500 calories per week. For one group, that meant 1,500 calories every day, while the other ate 1,300 six days a week, leaving wiggle room for a cheat day on Sunday. Both groups had similar weight loss, but the ones who could pig out on the weekend had a stronger motivation and better moods.
So don’t feel guilty every time you reach for that piece of chocolate cake or order a bucket of fried chicken, instead, work it off! Here are a few ways you can burn off your cheat meals.
“This squat is good for working on proper form,” says Crystal Wright, former freeskiing world champ and owner of Wright Training.
Start by cupping a kettlebell with both hands, holding it upside down with the handle pointing toward the floor. Keeping the kettlebell close to your chest, and elbows pointing down, lower into a squat, going as low as possible and allowing your elbows to brush the inside of your knees. Slowly stand up, keeping your upper body still.
Squat With Overhead Press
Also known as the ‘thruster,’ this total body exercise works the lower body and engages the muscles of the upper back and shoulders. Grab a pair of dumbbells and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Holding the dumbbells next to your shoulders, elbows pointing forward, squat down until the tops of your thighs are parallel to the floor. Using your legs, push your body up from the squat and thrust the dumbbells overhead, finishing with the dumbbells above your shoulders and your biceps by your ears.
“Use the upward drive from your legs to produce momentum for the overhead press,” says Jonathan Ross, American Council on Exercise (ACE) Senior Consultant and owner of Aion Fitness in Washington D.C. “It allows you to use a heavier weight and gives your legs more work.”
In most squatting movements you slow down as you get to the top of the range of motion so you don’t hyperextend your joints. But with the jump squat, you accelerate at the top of the movement, transferring strength into power.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, perform a squat, and then push forcefully off both feet and jump, raising the arms overhead.
Continue to accelerate through the upward motion, reaching your fastest speed as you push off the floor. Focus extending your hips, knees, and ankles explosively. But make sure you land softly and smoothly back into the squat.
Squat With Front Kick
Adding a kick to your squat adds an element of fun, adds to your cardio and helps improve coordination and balance. Perform a squat and as you stand up, shift your weight to one leg and kick the other leg out straight in front.
Keep the stance leg long and straight and avoid kicking too high. And do the movement slowly at first to assess your balance and control. Faster movement makes it easier to hide instability and lack of balance.
Bulgarian Split Squat
This exercise builds single-leg strength, improves balance and coordination, and increases hip mobility. To begin, place your back foot on an exercise bench and then perform a squat on your front leg, keeping 80 percent of the weight on the forward foot.
Keep the feet straight and knees aligned with feet. As you rise from the bottom think of squeezing the thighs together (even though they will stay separated) as this creates more action in the deep hip muscles, leading to less strain on the knees and a stronger core.
Let us know what exercises you do to burn off your cheat meals!