You don’t need to go to the gym to exercise—try this 12-move Christmas-themed bodyweight workout instead

Challenge your muscles, mobility and cardio fitness with this 30-minute fitness challenge

Personal trainer Lewis Paris performing shoulder taps
(Image credit: Lewis Paris)

Finding the time and space to exercise over the Christmas period can be tricky, especially if you usually go to the gym. 

If you're stuck indoors, why not give this HIIT workout from trainer Lewis Paris a go? It will strengthen your core, work a wide range of muscle across your body and put your cardio fitness to the test in just 30 minutes.

"This workout is extremely accessible," Paris tells Fit&Well. "It can be performed anywhere, at any time—all you need is your bodyweight."

How to do Lewis Paris's 12 days of Christmas workout

If you've ever heard the song "The 12 Days Of Christmas", or you're no stranger to exercise classes, you might have some idea of how this workout is going to play out. 

There are 12 rounds, and each round you'll add a new exercise. The order the exercises are added will determine how many repetitions you do of each one. 

During round one, you'll do 12 repetitions of exercise one; reverse lunges. This will be how every round starts for the rest of the workout. 

For round two you'll do 12 reverse lunges followed by 11 plank knee tucks. And for round three you'll repeat this, then add 10 shoulder taps on to the end. 

The workout is complete when you've finished all 12 rounds, which will see you perform all 12 of the exercises listed below in sequence. 

The aim is to rest as little as possible between exercises, and have this workout wrapped up as quickly as you can (while maintaining impeccable form, of course).

1. Reverse lunges x12

Woman doing lunge in gym

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Start by standing upright then take a large step forward with your right foot. 
  • Keeping your torso upright, bend both your knees to lower yourself towards the ground until your right knee is directly above your right ankle, and both knees form a 90-degree angle.
  • Drive through your right heel to return to the starting position. That's one repetition. Switch the leg you step forward with after every repetition. 

2. Plank knee tucks x11

A man performing plank knee tucks

(Image credit: Getty)
  • Start in a high plank position, with your weight spread between your hands and your toes, and your hands directly beneath your shoulders. Engage your core. Your body should form a straight line from the back of your head to your heels.
  • Bring your right knee to your chest, then extend it back behind you to return to the starting position. Switch legs and repeat. Your movements should be slow and controlled.

3. Shoulder taps x10

Personal trainer Lewis Paris performing shoulder taps

(Image credit: Lewis Paris)
  • Start in a high plank position. 
  • Lift your right hand and tap your left shoulder, then place it back on the ground. 
  • Switch hands and repeat.

4. Jump squats x9

A woman performing a jump squat

(Image credit: Getty / Antonio_Diaz)
  • Stand with your feet roughly shoulder-width apart and your toes pointed outwards slightly. 
  • Keeping your chest proud and your back straight, push your hips backwards and bend your knees to lower your hips towards the ground. 
  • When your thighs reach parallel with the ground, drive through your heels to explode upwards and jump. Once you've landed, that's one repetition. 

5. Burpees x8

A man performing a burpee

(Image credit: Getty / Rbkomar)
  • Start by standing upright. 
  • Bend at the knees and place your hands on the floor in front of your, fingers facing forwards, shoulder-width apart. 
  • Jump both feet backwards so you're in a high plank position.
  • Jump your feet back to your hands, stand upright then jump. That is one repetition. 

6. Walk outs x7

A woman at the bottom of a plank walkout

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Start by standing upright. 
  • Fold forward and place your hands flat on the ground in front of you. 
  • Walk them out in front of you until your hands are beneath your shoulders. This should leave you in a high plank position.
  • Walk your hands back towards you to reverse this movement and return to the starting position. 

7. Mountain climbers x6

A man performing mountain climbers

(Image credit: Getty)
  • Get into a high plank position.
  • Quickly bring your right knee to your right elbow, then extend it behind you again. 
  • As your right toe is about to touch the floor, quickly drive your left knee to your left elbow. 
  • The emphasis here is on moving quickly. Unlike the plank knee tucks, both legs should be moving at the same time. 

8. Star jumps x5

Man doing a star jump on a yoga mat at home.

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Start by standing upright with your arms by your side.  
  • Jump your feet out wide and, keeping your arms straight, bring them up and out to your sides so your body forms a star shape. 
  • Jump back to the starting position. 

9. Push-ups x4

Man doing a HIIT workout in his front room

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Get into a high plank position.
  • Keeping your elbows tucked to your sides, lower your chest towards the ground. 
  • When it is about an inch from the floor, push through your hands to return to the starting position. You can make this move easier by dropping your knees to the floor. 

10. Donkey kicks x3 (on each leg)

Woman doing donkey kick exercise on a yoga mat at home

(Image credit: Getty Images)
  • Start on all fours, with a flat back, your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips.
  • Keeping your knees at right angles at all times, reach your right foot towards the ceiling until your right thigh is parallel with the ground. 
  • Hold this position for a second, then lower it back to the starting position without letting your knee touch the ground. Repeat this movement two more times, then switch legs and repeat. 

11. Commando x2

A woman at the bottom of a commando

(Image credit: Getty Images/DRAKULA IMAGES)
  • Get into a high plank position. 
  • Lower yourself onto your forearms, one side at a time, so you're in a low plank position. 
  • From here, push back up to a high plank position. That's one repetition. 

12. Plank x60 seconds

Image of woman doing plank pose

(Image credit: Cecilia Cristolovean)
  • Get into a plank position, spreading your weight between your forearms and toes. Engage your core to stabilize your spine and stop your hips from dropping. Your body should form a straight line from the back of your head to your heels. Hold this position for 60 seconds to finish the workout. 

Benefits of Lewis Paris's 12 days of Christmas workout

This is an example of a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, combining short bursts of effort with low or minimal rest periods. 

As a result, it will spike your heart rate and elevate calorie burn without taking an hour or more.

"This type of endurance training can also be used to improve your oxygen consumption [the amount of oxygen taken in and used by the body]," Paris says.

This will improve your heart health, as well as carrying over to your performance in other sports by allowing you to use oxygen more efficiently.

"You can maintain muscle and overall mobility with this total-body circuit too," Paris adds. "Beginners to HIIT may also see signs of muscle growth."

If you want a mat to add some extra grip and comfort to your home workouts, take a look at our editor-approved roundup of the best yoga mats

Harry Bullmore
Fitness Writer

Harry Bullmore is a Fitness Writer for Fit&Well and its sister site Coach, covering accessible home workouts, strength training session, and yoga routines. He joined the team from Hearst, where he reviewed products for Men's Health, Women's Health, and Runner's World. He is passionate about the physical and mental benefits of exercise, and splits his time between weightlifting, CrossFit, and gymnastics, which he does to build strength, boost his wellbeing, and have fun.

Harry is a NCTJ-qualified journalist, and has written for Vice, Learning Disability Today, and The Argus, where he was a crime, politics, and sports reporter for several UK regional and national newspapers.