[Singing] “On the first day of Christmas, Don Heatrick gave to me…”

Here’s a daily progressive workout for you to try for the next twelve days. Each day I’ll be adding another bodyweight exercise, with one more rep.

On day 1, Christmas day, you perform one pistol squat (per leg).

On day 2, Boxing day, perform one pistol squat (per) leg, and then two of the next exercise (candlesticks).

Day 3, Perform all the previous exercises for the given number of reps, and add three of the next exercise (chin ups). You get the idea.

Each day you be adding another exercise which involves one more rep than the previous exercise. Over the next 12-days you going to build a fair bit of volume, but it won’t interfere with any of your other training.

Build this routine in addition to any other training you’re doing. Once through the full routine on the 12th day will take about 5-minutes. You can opt to run through the exercises given each day once, twice or three times, the choice is yours. :)


Day 1 Christmas Day — Pistol Squats

Perform one pistol squat per leg. If you need to regress this, do a partial squat onto a box. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, check out my single leg progression video by clicking here – it’ll start at the box pistol squats. Easy huh? It builds, remember you’ll be pistol squatting every day for the next 12-days (not to mention the other lower body exercises coming later in the workout. Also remember you can opt to perform 1, 2 or 3 circuits each day. ;)


Day 2 Boxing Day — Candlesticks

Today, in addition to the pistol squat on each leg, also perform 2xcandlesticks (aka dragon flags or Bruce Lee situps). If you can’t do them laying on a flat bench, gripping overhead, then lay on the floor and grip something heavy overhead — like a couch, or a training partner!

2-legs extended is harder, 1-leg extended is a little easier, staying bent at the hips is easier still. Check out my video by clicking here if you need to see what I’m talking about.


Day 3 — Chin Ups

Today you perform 1x pistol squat on each leg, 2x candlesticks AND 3x chin ups. If you struggle, you can either jump yourself to the top position for each rep, or attach a rubber strap to the bar and put your foot in the other end to boost you up. If you find them easy, either turn your palms away and grip as wide as possible, or perform alternate side pullups (3x per side). You can see a video if you click here.


Day 4 —  Pike Push Ups

In addition to all the previous exercises, today add 4x pike push ups (aka Rocca press). To progress the exercise come up on your toes and get your hips more directly over your hands — you can even put your feet on a step.

To regress the exercise don’t go as steep, keep more weight on your feet — you could put your hands on a step.

Here’s a short video of my 8-year-old daughter, Amber, demonstrating each exercise so far. ;)


Day 5 — Lateral Squat

Today, add five lateral squats on each leg to the building list of exercises.

Keep both feet parallel, pointing straight forward. Keeping your chest up and your back flat, squat down as low as you can — keeping your heel down on the floor and sitting back. It’s actually easier to do the wider you place your feet. You can hold your arms extended out in front to help with balance if you prefer.


Day 6 — Floor Wipers

Add 6x floor wipers (each side) to the routine today. Lay on your back with your arms outstretched each side, palms pressing down into the floor level with your shoulders. Lift you legs straight into the air, pressing your heels toward the ceiling. Lower your legs alternately from side to side, without allowing your feet to touch the floor. Keep both shoulder blades in contact with the floor as you do this and remain braced and tight through you core.

To regress the exercise, keep your knees bent at right angles to reduce the amount of leverage.


Day 7 New Years Eve — Suspended Row

Today, add 7x suspended rows. Make sure you keep the body straight and tight, and your chest is pulled to full height (touching the bar if you’re using one) with the shoulder blades pulled all the way back. You can use a barbell in a rack, suspension straps or even hold onto a partners arms as they straddle you!

The more your feet are raised in relation to your upper body, the harder the exercise will be. The lower your feet are, the easier it will be. Bending at the knees will also make thing easier. If you’d like to see more in a video, click here.

12days8Day 8 New Years Day — Clap Push Ups

Happy New Year! Today, knock out all the previous exercises for their given number of reps, then add on on 8x clap push ups. You can perform these on your toes or down on your knees if you need to regress the movement a little. Keep tight through your core and explode as high as possible, clapping before landing and immediately springing back into the air for the next rep. Think ‘springy’.

Make sure that the floor surface is forgiving (carpet or a gym mat) to minimise impact through the wrists. Also, absorb the landing through the palms by landing on the palm heel (toward the  little finger edge) and rolling diagonally across the palm toward the index finger.


Day 9 — Jump Split Squats

Add 9x jump split squats on each leg to the routine today. Descend down into a lunge/split squat position ensuring the knee of your rear leg doesn’t pound into the floor. Explosively leap into the air and switch  legs, landing in the opposite stance for the following split squat. Keep on bouncing from one squat to the next until you’ve completed 9 reps on each leg.

12days10Day 10 — V-sits

10x V-sits today. Begin laying flat on the floor, then simultaneously lift both your upper body and legs from the floor, balancing on your backside. Hinge at the hips keeping your legs as straight as possible while reaching for your toes. Lower and repeat.

Just two more days to go, keep at it.

12days11Day 11 – Single-arm Suspended Rows

The penultimate exercise is 11x single-arm suspended rows. Hang 1-handed, palm down, from your suspension strap/rope/ partner’s hand (while they hold onto something stationary), turning your upper body away with your opposite arm trailing to the floor and your eyes following it.

Take the trailing arm and attempt to clap it to the rowing arm, then row the strap arm back, rotating the palm vertical, as if drawing a bow while sliding the trailing arm up the suspension strap. Make sure your shoulder blade is pulled back and down at the top of the row, and your vertical grip hand should be drawn in under your armpit. Lower and repeat.

The closer to horizontal you position yourself, the harder the row will be, the more vertical you are the easier it will be.


Day 12 – Spiderman Push Ups

The grand finale! Now add 12x Spiderman push ups and you’re done.

Descend into the bottom of the push up position keeping your elbows tucked into your sides, while simultaneously bringing one knee up to touch an elbow. Press back to the top of the movement, then descend again, this time bringing the opposite knee around the outside to touch the same side elbow — like a dog cocking its leg! You’ll perform 12x push ups, 6x knee lifts on each alternating side.


Workout Chart

You can download the whole workout chart by clicking here.

Well done if you’ve kept at it religiously for the last 12 days, that shows some real commitment and indicates your approach to this year is going to be focused and productive. Keep that up and see just what you can achieve.

Further Resources

Don Heatrick

Founder of Heatrick Strength and Conditioning

Don Heatrick is a family man from the UK, former mechanical design engineer, European Muay Thai silver medallist, former pro Thai boxer (ranked 4th in UK while aged 40-years), a Muay Thai coach, podcast host, and the go-to expert on Muay Thai performance training with over 25 years of coaching experience.

Don helps ambitious fighters and coaches take their game to the next level by bridging the gap between Strength & Conditioning, Performance Science, and Muay Thai.

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