Spooky season will find you wherever you are, and that includes the gym. While you can do creepy-sounding exercises like skullcrushers and devil’s press any time of year, now is the perfect time to add a few to your regular workout — or try them all.
Some are bodyweight-only exercises, while others use a barbell, a pair of dumbbells, or a pumpkin (yes, really). We’ll go through a few good warmup exercises, then get to the meat of our workout, and end with a little cooldown. Don’t feel like you need to do every exercise on the list; this is more of a menu for you to choose from.
This one’s just to loosen up. Sit on a bench with a broomstick on your shoulders, and twist back and forth. Bonus points if you borrow it from an actual witch.
If you’ve got one of those booty bands, dust it off and put it around your knees. Walk sideways, forward, and backward. Roar and do monster hands while you’re at it.
You may know this one as the cat/cow exercise, because after arching your back like a scared kitty, you then dip your belly down to reverse the movement. Do both if you like, but make sure to imagine the cow as one of those evil ghost cattle from that Johnny Cash song.
Ew, dead bugs. Both the exercise and its namesake are a little bit unpleasant, with deadbugs being one of the most underrated core exercises. They’re hard, and you may find they hurt, but in a good way.
Get your shoulders moving with some light dumbbells. Bring them up and over your head, tap them together, then bring them back to the start.
If we can do deadbugs, we can do flies. And yes, I’m aware that people generally call them “flys” or “flyes,” a fact that vexes me as a writer and editor, since none of these look right. (We actually made an editorial call last week to stick with “flys,” which I am brazenly defying for the sake of spookiness.) Anyway, to do these, you lie face-up on the bench and flap your wings.
Ah, the classic tricep exercise. You can do these on a bench or on the floor. You’re working your tricep when you straighten your arm against resistance, so aim to have your arm pointing to the sky at the top of the movement. Hinge your elbows to bring the dumbbells down and back up. Slowly. Carefully. Do not actually crush your skull. Please.
Look, if you want something that’s easy on your back, you can go do a normal, non-spooky crunch or plank. But if you’re up for a challenging variation on situps, try these ones that make it look like you’re popping up out of your coffin, then settling back down.
Grab a barbell for this one (and don’t be afraid to load it up, once you get the hang of the movement). This is a variation on front squats that doesn’t require any wrist flexibility, yet is great at making sure you keep your shoulders and torso in the proper position. Reach forward as far as you can, and keep those arms straight out in front of you.
I couldn’t leave this classic off the list. We have a whole guide here about how to do deadlifts safely and effectively.
This is one of the stricter bicep curl exercises out there. You’re removing your body from the motion, and letting your arms hang down. (Safety tip: use a proper incline bench, unlike what I’m doing here. Don’t ever lift weights on any janky setup that you aren’t 100% sure can support you.)
If a jackknife isn’t spooky enough for you, just call them jack-o-lantern situps. These are challenging, but a bit easier than coffin situps. Pull your knees to your chest on each rep to work your abs and hip flexors. When you’re done, as a bonus, try the jackknife pullups we mentioned in our list of bodyweight workouts that will actually make you stronger.
If you’ve got a medicine ball, there are a ton of different ways you can pretend it’s your mortal enemy’s freshly carved pumpkin and just smash it. Ball slams and Russian twists would be excellent choices. If you’re using a real pumpkin, though, try these pumpkin smashers, which are a lot like a medicine ball woodchopper. Hold on tight.
Goblet squats? Nah, today they’re goblin squats. Hold a kettlebell, medicine ball, dumbbell, or pumpkin at your chest, then squat down and back up.
Now that we’ve finished our strength moves, let’s move on to a particularly evil conditioning workout. The devil’s press is a burpee with added pain: instead of jumping after the pushup, you grab your pair of dumbbells and snatch them above your head. Pick a number that scares you — say, 50 — and set a stopwatch to see how long it takes you to get that many reps.
Now that all that is over, let’s settle into a stretch that will feel really good after all our core work. Cobra pose is perfect.
We’ll borrow one more from the yoga world to finish off our spooky workout. Lie down, pretend to be a corpse, and think relaxing thoughts.