The temperature is starting to drop, the days are getting shorter, leaves are falling off the trees, pumpkin-spice flavors are popping up at your favorite coffee joints and the soap opera of professional football is happening almost seven days a week. It’s now officially fall, which means that Halloween is right around the corner.
For those who enjoy costuming and the revelry, Halloween can be one of the, if not the, funnest holiday events of the year.The challenge is that Halloween is also the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season, which will run through January 1. From Halloween treats to Thanksgiving pies to New Year’s drinks, the ongoing cascade of empty calories over the final three months of the calendar year can easily throw off all the hard work done the other nine, but be rest assured, that does not have to happen.
If you want to stay committed to your exercise plan but still be in the holiday spirit, here’s a great Halloween-themed workout to help you with your fitness goals. Don’t be scared of the names. This workout can help you fight off the weight gain that tends to haunt most Americans this time of year.
Make sure you complete a dynamic warm-up before starting this workout. For best results, complete all reps/sets of one exercise before moving on to the next. Start with three sets and progress to five sets of each exercise as you become more familiar with the movements.
- Spider Crawl: Spiders are creepy creatures, but they are extremely athletic. Use some motivation from the way they move to help you break a sweat. Make sure you have about 5 yards (15 feet) of space to use. Begin in a high-plank (push-up) position. Bring your right knee on the outside of your right elbow and reach forward with your left hand as you crawl over the floor. Push your right foot into the floor to extend your leg and move forward to bring your left knee forward on the outside of your left elbow. Travel the entire distance and turn around to go back to the beginning. For extra credit, do a backward crawl to return to the start position. Repeat three to five times.
- Dead Bug: Don’t worry, you’re not going to be poisoned like a cockroach. This exercise can help you improve the strength of your deep core muscles. Simply lie on your back facing the ceiling, maintain a neutral curve in your lower back, and hold both arms and legs straight up over your body while bracing (contracting) your abdominals. Hold 45 to 60 seconds, then rest 30 seconds. Repeat three to five times.
- Dumbbell Deadlift to Overhead Press: The term “dead” refers to the fact that the weight is resting at a “dead” standstill when you begin the lift, not because of any ghoulish outcomes that could occur if the lift is done incorrectly. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and a dumbbell resting lengthwise between both feet. Hinge back with your hips and reach for the dumbbell with your right hand. Press your feet into the floor as you push your hips forward to return to standing. When you are standing, do a biceps curl to overhead press with the dumbbell. As you bring the dumbbell down, push your hips back to lower yourself back to the floor. Repeat four to six times before switching arms. Rest 60 seconds between sets.
- Jackknife Push-Up on Stability Ball: Scare the extra pounds away with this total-body exercise that focuses on the chest, shoulders, upper arms and abs. Start in a push-up position on a stability ball with both legs on the ball and your hands on the ground shoulder-width apart. (Squeeze your thigh and glute muscles for extra stability.) Lower yourself into a push-up, and at the top, lift your hips and keep your legs straight to perform a jackknife. As you bring the ball closer to your hands, slowly lower your hips. When your body is parallel to the ground, perform another push-up and repeat until fatigued. Rest 60 seconds, then repeat three to five times.
- Dumbbell Ax Chop: Make this a more realistic seasonal exercise by wearing a hockey mask and working out at a closed summer camp. Hold a dumbbell in a vertical position (like an ax handle) with your fingers laced around the handle. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart so that your right foot is slightly forward of your left, and place both hands over your left shoulder. Keep your body weight on your left leg and your right foot rotated so that it is pointed toward the inside of your body. Bring the weight down across your body over the outside of your right thigh as both feet rotate to the right. As you bring the weight down, sink into both hips and finish with your left foot rotated so it’s pointing toward your right. Push your right foot into the ground and swing your hands back over your left shoulder as you return to the original starting position. Complete eight to 10 reps and alternate sides for a total of three to five sets.
- Dumbbell Skullcrusher: Don’t let the scary name keep you from strengthening your upper arms with this killer move. Start by lying on your back with your feet resting on the floor. Hold both arms straight up with a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly bend both elbows so the weights come down on either side of your forehead, and extend both arms back to the top. Perform 10 to 12 reps, then rest 60 seconds. Repeat three to five times.
- Suicide Run: Finish off the workout with that old staple of high-school sports—the suicide run (also known as line drills). In a traditional “suicide” on a basketball court, do the following: Start on the baseline under the basket, run to the foul line and back to the start, run to half court and back, run to the opposite foul line and back, and finally finish by running to the other side of the basketball court and back to the start as fast as possible. If you have access to a court, do three to five suicides. Rest 60 to 90 seconds between each one. If you can’t access a basketball court, repeat the effect on a treadmill: Alternate a fast-paced run for 60 seconds with a slower jog for 60 seconds. Repeat five to seven times. (Do a couple of more reps to make up for the fact that you’re on a treadmill.) Make sure to stay hydrated and enjoy!
Unless you’re a bear getting ready to sleep for the next four to five months, the longer nights and colder weather doesn’t give you permission for adding on extra layers of “insulation.” You’ve been working hard all year. Don’t stop now. Enjoy the holidays, but whether it is this workout or a favorite group fitness class, make time for exercise. Your waistline will thank you.
Photo credit: tverdohlib, Adobe Stock