The Sunday Morning Workout: Your New Pre-Football Ritual

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Football seems to be on TV five nights a week now, and as we get deeper into another great season, that warm, greasy meal being enjoyed two tables over seems all the more comforting as your team suffers yet another crippling injury. Maybe you’ll have the wings, a quesadilla, a domestic beer ("make it a light"), and then order a plate of nachos for the table. You just want a couple, and after all, you’ll work it off in the morning before heading to the office.

But if that’s what you believe, "you’re fighting a losing battle," says Terrence Walcott, the training manager at David Barton Gym on New York’s Madison Avenue. “There’s no way you can win. If you want to burn those calories after the game, you’ll also be working out for nine hours a day. I don’t think anyone has that kind of time.” 

The calorie math for your favorite football snacks breaks down like this:

Ten chicken wings (550 calories) = 3,000 sit-ups
1/8 tray of taco dip (462 calories) = 46 minutes of jumping rope
Handful of nachos (261 calories) = 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer
Three stuffed potato skins (189 calories) = 20 minutes of spin class
One quesadilla (528 calories) = 60 minutes on the Stairmaster
Six-pack of beer (918 calories) = 90 minutes of circuit training
Three jalapeño poppers (190 calories) = 20 minutes of sparring
Five pigs in a blanket (325 calories) = 45 minutes of Power Vinyasa class

But don’t let those stats discourage you. Walcott, a Michigan Wolverines fan who eats enough wings to "definitely feed an entire family" and washes them down with a few cocktails, says you can still consume what you want during the game if you’re dedicated to strength training at least two hours during the week, which will build lean muscle mass that can help you more efficiently burn calories and fat when you’re sitting in front of the TV. 

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"That should be your goal," he explains. "Whether your game is on Saturday, like mine, or on Sunday, you should have been in the gym Monday, Wednesday, and Friday lifting weights before football even comes around. Don’t try to play catch-up."

With just one hour of strength training, the rate that your body burns fat at rest can be elevated for between 24 and 72 hours. You’re best off starting game day in the gym, so that by the time you head to the bar, "your body's defense against fat storage is as prepared as the defense of your favorite football team" — or the opponent, if you're a Jacksonville fan.  

Here’s Walcott’s Game Day Workout for Football Fans:

Jog for 3 to 5 minutes
Alternate running fast for 1 minute, and recovering with a walk for 1 minute 
Do for a total of 15 minutes

Strength Program
Dumbell Overhead Press + Dumbbell Renegade Rows (get into a plank and row dumbbell up to ribcage, alternating sides)
— Four sets total, alternating exercises

Floor Presses (like a bench press, but lying on the floor) + Single-Arm Rows
— Four sets total, alternating exercises

Wide-Stance Goblet Squats (feet should be wider than hip-width, hold one dumbbell at chest)
— Six sets total

Bulgarian Split Squats (hold a dumbbell in each hand with one leg lunged forward, opposite foot resting on a table or bench behind you)
— Six sets total

*For All Exercises*
Do your first set with a low weight and aim for 20 reps to start, and then gradually increase the weight for the next five sets so that you can only do 8 to 10 reps on by the sixth set.

And if you’re going to indulge on Sunday, Walcott says stick with the wings: "The 1500 calories of meat I eat is made up of protein that’s actually going to fuel my workout. If I’m in the gym lifting weights, my body will absorb that protein and try to turn as much of it into muscle as possible. Quesadillas are just empty carbs filled with dairy."

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