Made you look. There is no pumpkin spice in this workout, but there are pumpkins.
Just like seasonal lattes, pumpkin workouts are seemingly everywhere so I thought I’d whip up a few pumpkin moves because I’m all about grabbing a quick and easy weight you’ve probably already got lying around to get your body moving more.
Note: Pumpkins aren’t a requirement. You can do these with any vegetable, medicine ball/weight, or other easy-to-hold item with a bit of weight.
Another note: Pumpkins can be tricky to hold. Only put a pumpkin over your face or chest if you’re able to hold on well. And in case of moves where you might drop it (looking at you, Reverse Pumpkin Hold) maybe try it over a bed or other soft space so it doesn’t, well, get squashed if it hits the ground.
P.S. This whole article is just begging for puns, and I’m doing my best to restrain myself.
Start with ‘Squash Squats’
Warm up by taking your pumpkin–and your body– to and from the ground a few times. If you prefer chair squats, hold your pumpkin close to your chest as you sit down and get back up again.
If you have a tendency to fall backwards in a squat, a pumpkin makes a great counterweight to help you find better form.
Speaking of good form, here are some reminders:
- Start standing with feet slightly wider than your pelvis and turned out to align with your thighs as needed (the bigger the pumpkin, the wider the stance).
- At a certain point you will have to let your knees move forward, out over your toes, to get down as low as you can.
- Make sure the knees are tracking in the same direction the feet are pointing.
- Come back up to standing by pushing your butt back and getting your knees back over your ankles as best you can.
Repeat 13 times, because who said 12 was the best number of reps and also 13 is ON BRAND for October. (You can also do 2 or 5 or 19 because you’re in charge.)
Pumpkin Forward Bend/Deadlift
Whether you get your forward bends done in the garden, yoga class, picking up Lego off the floor, or like to take a deadlift (ON BRAND!) approach, the form is pretty much the same—tipping the torso forward and lifting back up by moving the hip joints, not the lower back.
- Stand and hold your pumpkin with the outside edges of your feet parallel and your ankles pelvis-width.
- Keeping your legs straight, bend forward as far as your hamstrings will let you by hinging at the hips and keeping your spine neutral (don’t round the back).
- Hang there for a second or two while holding your pumpkin for a good stretch down the backs of the legs.
- If you’re doing a forward bend version, keeping your neutral spine, lift back up (move from the hips!) to an upright position.
- If you’re doing a deadlift, you can bend your knees while keeping a neutral spine as you lower the pumpkin down to the ground and back up a bit, before straightening your legs and standing up at the hips.
- Repeat 13 times, obviously.
I love this move because it’s a great way to both strengthen and stretch the back of the legs. If you want more stretch, hang out in the forward bend part. If you want more strength, just keep it moving.
Jumping is good for the bones. If you’re new to jumping, keep the pumpkin small (or don’t use anything at all). This one is fun for kids and adults alike; I just stress the importance of good form, especially on the landing. Watch this old video of mine—my kids are so little!—about minding your knee angle on the landing.
How many times, you ask? I pumpkin-jumped over 20 times in a handful of minutes when taking these pictures and that was probably too many, too fast. When it comes to jumping there’s a point of diminished returns—the best amount of jumps (and time between them) depends on your age, bone status, and fitness level. Kids can handle a lot of jumping but for newbies start with a few to see how you feel the next day and then increase from there.
This is a seasonal version of the “log pullover” from my book Diastasis Recti: The Whole-Body Solution to Abdominal Weakness and Separation. I love it because it’s both a shoulder- and core-strengthening move all in one.
- Start on your back, knees bent, holding the pumpkin over your chest. (Just a reminder: make sure you pick a weight you won’t drop!)
- Keeping the ribcage down on the floor, lower the pumpkin overhead, going as far as you can without letting the ribcage lift off the ground.
- Then, bring the pumpkin back up to the starting position.
- Repeat 31 times. Just kidding. How about 13? Or 8? YOU TELL ME.
Pumpkin Triceps Press
Pump up the back of the arms with this Pumpkin Press!
- Start on your back, holding the pumpkin over your chest.
- Press the pumpkin up, squeezing the elbows toward each other (they will tend to pop open and away from each other).
- Slowly lower the pumpkin back toward your chest, keeping the elbows hugging in.
Repeat 13 times or until you fatigue.
Posterior Pumpkin Hold
This move is a real shoulder-mobility challenger and is harder than it looks! Reminder: You might want to go very light here, so maybe a mini-pumpkin, or a block or half dome works well (check out the fourth exercise on this list to see how to use a dome as a substitute).
- Start by holding a pumpkin/block/dome behind you however you can.
- To increase the challenge, put a slight bend in your elbows and work to squeeze them toward each other (don’t let your elbows poke out to the side).
- For more challenge: see if you can lift the pumpkin back and away from the hips a few inches/centimeters.
- Hold for a few seconds, rest, and repeat.
What makes pumpkin weights so great? You can have your workout and eat it too.