By Sarah Klein
Halloween means candy and costumes, but it also brings an abundance of pumpkins to seemingly every grocery store and front stoop. Sure, you can cook them and carve them, but why not use them to switch up your workout, too?
As long as you pick a pumpkin that’s not too heavy (and not too light!), that gourd can give you just as good of a workout as any old medicine ball, kettlebell or set of dumbbells.
Don’t believe us? Here are just a few ways to use your pumpkin to get a full-body workout. Costume changes not required.
The Pumpkin Lunge With Twist
Like any lunge, this move will work your entire lower body — but adding a twist gets your abs involved, too. Step forward with the right foot, and lower your body down until there is roughly a 90-degree angle in both legs (your left shin should be parallel to the ground with the knee almost touching). Focus on keeping the right knee in line with the second toe of the right foot. Find your balance, then twist as far as you can to the right, holding tight to your pumpkin. (For an extra challenge to the arms, hold your arms out straight in front of you.) Return to starting position and repeat with the other foot, twisting in the opposite direction. Continue to alternate feet in place or take this move on the go! Aim for three sets of 12 on each side either way.
The Standing Pumpkin Chop
Start with your feet slightly farther apart than shoulder width and lift your pumpkin in front of you. Using your core to power you (and not your arms), swing your pumpkin above your head to the right, turning the chin, hips and toes in the same direction. As if you were chopping wood or swinging a golf club, bring your pumpkin back down below your waist on your left, once again turning the chin, hips and toes in the same direction. Don’t let the momentum do the work for you; focus on the abs, especially on the obliques, as you chop through three sets of 12 in each direction.
The Single-Leg Pumpkin Deadlift
The single-leg deadlift is a hamstring, glute and back exercise disguised as a test of balance. (If you’re new to the single-leg deadlift, let your pumpkin sit this one out at first.) While standing on one leg with a little give in the knee, hinge at the hips as you lower your pumpkin to the ground and raise the other leg behind you. Squeeze the glute of the raised leg, and then, using the hamstrings and glutes, lift your body back to starting position. Keep the back flat throughout the entire movement. Aim for three sets of 10 on each leg.
The Sumo Squat With Overhead Pumpkin Press
Start in a wider-than-normal squat stance and point the toes slightly outward. This recruits smaller lower-body muscles into your squat routine while simultaneously working the big guns even harder. Adding an overhead press makes this a compound movement, meaning it works more than one muscle group in one exercise, effectively cutting your workout time in half. Lift your pumpkin above your head, but don’t lock the elbows. Try for three sets of 12.
The Offset Pumpkin Pushup
regular perfect pushup, but with one hand elevated on your pumpkin. This ups the challenge: Not only is your core working harder to keep you balanced, the lower side of your body carries a bit more weight, while the higher side gets a bit more of a friendly stretch. Start with a set of five on each side if this is your first time trying an offset pushup. If you already know the drill, try switching which hand is on the pumpkin in between each rep.
The Kettlepumpkin Swing
Kettlebell swings are not to be entered into lightly: If you’ve never tried one before, it’s crucial to master the proper form before pushing yourself to swing around heavy weight. The perfect two-handed swing is powered not by the arms and upper body, but by the core and lower body. Each upward swing comes from force generated by a thrust of the hips. Explode through those hips, engage the abs and activate the glutes, sending your “kettlepumpkin” up to about chest height. Hinge at the hips and keep the back flat as gravity swings that gourd back between your legs. Repeat for 10 reps with perfect form if you’re new to these. Try for 30 seconds to a minute if you’re more experienced.
Keep in mind we’ve sped these images up for your enjoyment. All of these movements, but in particular the kettlebell swing, should be slow and controlled.
The V-Sit Pumpkin Twist
Balance on your sit bones (use a yoga mat if this is not so comfy) while leaning slightly back and bringing the shins parallel to the floor. Rotate your torso to one side, tapping your pumpkin to the ground gently at the outside of the hip, then repeat in the opposite direction. Repeat for 30 seconds to one minute. Make it harder by straightening the legs at a 45-degree angle in front of you.
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