For those who like to dress up and enjoy the revelry, Halloween can be one of the most fun holiday events of the year. The challenge is that Halloween is also the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season, which will run through January first. From Halloween treats to Thanksgiving pies to New Year’s drinks, the ongoing cascade of empty calories over the final two months of the calendar year can easily throw off all of the hard work done the other 10 months of the year.
If you want to stay committed to your fitness goals, but still enjoy in the holiday spirit, here’s a great Halloween-themed workout that is both fun and effective. 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.
Do a complete dynamic warm-up before starting this workout. For best results, complete all 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.
Spiders are creepy creatures, but they are extremely athletic, so be inspired by the way they move to help you break a sweat. Make sure you have approximately 15 feet of space to use. Start down in a high-plank (push-up) position. Bring your right knee up to the outside of your right elbow and reach forward with your left hand as you crawl over the floor. As you push your right foot into the floor to extend the leg and move forward, 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 start. Repeat six to 10 times.
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. 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 for 45 to 60 seconds, rest for 30 seconds. Repeat three to five times.
Dumbbell Deadlift to Overhead Press
The “dead” in deadlift refers to the fact the weight is resting at a “dead” standstill when you begin the lift—not your inevitable demise if you do the lift 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. Complete four to six repetitions before switching arms. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat for three to five sets.
Jackknife Push-ups on a 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 hands on the floor, shoulder-width apart. Squeeze your thigh and glute muscles for extra stability. Bend the elbows and do a push-up. At the top, lift your hips and keep your legs straight to perform a jackknife as you draw the ball closer to your hands. Slowly lower your hips to return to the starting position. Perform another push-up and repeat the entire movement until fatigue. Rest for 60 seconds and repeat for three to five sets.
Dumbbell Axe Chops
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 axe 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; position both hands over your left shoulder. Shift your body weight to your left leg and rotate your right foot so that it is pointed toward the inside of your body. Bring the weight down across your body and over the outside of the right thigh as both feet rotate to the right. As you bring the weight down, sink into the hips and finish with your left foot rotated to point toward your right. Push your right foot into the ground and swing your hands back over your left shoulder as you return to the starting position. Complete eight to 10 repetitions and alternate sides for a total of three to five sets.
Dumbbell Skull Crushers
Don’t let the scary name keep you from strengthening your upper arms with this killer move. Begin lying on your back with your feet resting on the floor. Extend both arms straight up while holding a dumbbell in each hand. Slowly bend both elbows so the weights come down on either side of your forehead. Extend both arms back to the top. Perform 10 to 12 repetitions, rest for 60 seconds, and then repeat for three to five sets.
Finish off the workout with that old staple of high school sports—the suicide run (also known as line drills). A traditional “suicide” in basketball involves starting on the baseline under the basket, running as fast as possible to the foul line and then back to the baseline, running to the half court and back, running to the opposite foul line and back and finally finishing by running to the other side of the basketball court and back to the start. If you have access to a court, do three to five complete suicides resting for 60 to 90 seconds between each one. If you don’t have access to a basketball court, you can do suicides on a treadmill by running hard for 60 seconds and then slowly jogging for 60 seconds. Repeat this duo five to seven times (do a couple of more reps to make up for the fact that you’re on a treadmill), and be sure to stay hydrated.
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 worked hard all year, so don’t stop now.