Get Jacked-o’-Lantern With These 4 Halloween Inspired Exercises

Tis' the season for ghosts, ghouls, and candy!

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and training is my favorite…well, it’s just my favorite. 

Combining two awesome things sounds like a pretty darn good idea to me, so let’s take a look at four unconventional, Halloween-inspired movements you can use to ramp up your own training this fall!

For your inner Mike Myers: 

Halloween was my favorite movie last year, and I won’t lie: I spent a good bit of the ride home practicing the signature knife slash (without a knife, I promise)! If you’ve ever practice combat sports, you know that type of movement actually requires a lot of core strength, and landmines are one of my favorite ways to build that.

Now, the tricky part about landmines is to avoid cheating by using your lower back. To avoid that, make sure you’re squeezing your glutes (and abs, of course). You’ll also want to keep your scapula retracted and elevated to take pressure off of the shoulders, and flex your lats to help provide stability. Don’t go to heavy on this one!

It’s an ego crusher, for sure.

If you don’t know how to program landmines, I recommend starting off with a weight that you could use for about 12-15 reps and starting off with three sets of 10. If you’re performing them correctly, that will leave you plenty sore!

For hauling your prized pumpkin through the patch: 

No, just going to the pumpkin patch with bae isn’t enough. You gotta drag one of those suckers home, and that means hauling a couple of 20-pound behemoths back to the car. You’d better practice if you don’t want to drop one of those great gourds on the ground and smash it to smithereens – and no better way to practice than with farmer’s walks.

As an ardent reader of Dan John and Josh Bryant, I’m a big fan of farmer’s walks. No other movement works your core, grip, and traps so hard and so efficiently. However, I see a lot of guys performing the farmer’s walk incorrectly, so here are some technique tips to keep in mind if you decide to integrate them into your training:

  1. Choose your loads carefully. Light loads are best for training speed, if you’re planning to compete in a strongman competition, but they won’t tax your core or grip nearly as much as a heavy load will. If you’re using the farmer’s walk strictly for those purposes, I strongly recommend you throw on a whole lot of weight.
  2. Don’t pick your feet up too high. That’s wasting energy, and, more importantly, likely to slow you down and throw you off balance.  You want to almost “shuffle,” keeping the feet close to the ground at all times and taking small steps as quickly as possible rather than slow, lumbering strides.
  3. Brace, brace, brace. The tricky part about the farmer’s walk is the tendency for the weights to swing.  To prevent that, you need to keep your core incredibly tight. Be sure to also pause for just a second after picking up the weight to allow it to settle before you begin to walk, or the weights will be swinging before you even get started.

When programming the farmer’s walk, I like to use a weight I can hold for just 10-30 seconds and perform 4-6 trips of max distance with that weight.

For burning off 1000 calories of Halloween candy:

So, you had no Halloween visitors and that entire bowl of mini Snickers bars was just staring you in the face, daring you to eat the whole thing. You never turn down a dare, but after the sugar high wears off, you realize you need to really get back on track with the diet and burn off all that chocolate. No better way to blast some calories (and indulge in a little self-masochism) than Prowler pushes.

There’s not much to Prowler pushes, but if you need some inspiration, here is my favorite workout using that blasted contraption:

Load the sled to a weight that’s not crazy heavy, but it too heavy for you to sprint with.  Walk about 50 meters forward, using the high handles and focusing on squeezing with your glutes and hamstrings and driving through your heels.  This should be a slow, controlled push. Then, without any rest, switch to the low handles and sprint all-out back to the starting point, driving through your toes and keeping your feet moving the entire time.

Repeat until you can’t!

For escaping zombies:

When the zombies attack, you’ll need to be able to run darned fast to get away – and running darned fast places a lot of tension on the hamstrings.  If yours aren’t up to par, you could easily pull one – leaving you easy prey for the undead.

To strengthen those hammies, hop on the seated leg curl machine. Why seated? The hamstring is forced to work differently when the hip is in extension and flexion. Most hamstring movements (Romanian and stiff-leg deadlifts, lying curls, glute-ham raises) keep the hips in extension, so it’s important that you perform some seated curls to train the muscle in both positions.

When performing any type of hamstring movement, it can be beneficial to squeeze your quads at full extension of the knee, as this can help to stretch the hamstring. 

That stretch is really important; you want to train through the muscle’s full range of motion. And keep the tempo slow. It’s really easy to cheat on hamstring movements by involving the lower back and glutes, and as those are both large, strong muscles, they can end up doing the majority of the work. Slowing the tempo will help you to perform the exercise properly and fry the muscle you’re actually targeting.

What’s your favorite Halloween workout?  Share it in the comments!

Editor’s note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the author’s and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image from @phdeadlift Instagram page. 

Ben Pollack

Ben Pollack

Ben Pollack is a professional powerlifter and holds the all-time world record raw total of 2039 in the 198-pound class. He has won best overall lifter at the largest raw meets in the world, including the US Open, Boss of Bosses, and Reebok Record Breakers.

Ben earned his Ph.D. in the history and management of strength and fitness from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018, and has published articles in a number of scholarly publications, including The Journal of Sport History, The Journal of Sport Management, and Iron Game History: The Journal of Physical Culture. He also coaches strength athletes of all skill levels, including several internationally-elite powerlifters and world record holders. You can contact Ben through his website (phdeadlift.com) or via email at [email protected]

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