Thanksgiving Workout: 10 Exercises For Your Turkey Burn Workout!

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People often fear that they’re going to gain a lot of weight from overindulging in a Thanksgiving feast. 

And, while a turkey drumstick drowned in gravy and surrounded by a heap of mashed potatoes, yams, and stuffing is probably not going to earn a spot on the “Eat This” side of a weight loss diet book, most people aren’t going to gain much appreciable body fat from one big, rich Thanksgiving dinner.

However, with the addition of alcohol and a big piece of pumpkin pie, it can certainly be a day of eating that puts you well over your calorie target and has you feeling bloated and holding water for a few days.

While approaching Thanksgiving dinner with an attitude of striving for moderation and control is probably a wise plan of attack no matter what, you can also help offset the extra indulgence with a good Thanksgiving workout.

Thanksgiving Day workouts are a great way to deplete your glycogen before you enjoy the carbohydrate-heavy Thanksgiving dinner and to stoke your metabolism so that your body is ready to put all the nutrients from your turkey dinner to use rather than shuttling them off to storage.

Below, we’ve created an awesome Thanksgiving Day workout. 

Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Day Bodyweight Turkey Burn Workout

If you’re a regular gym goer, you’re probably not looking for a Thanksgiving workout as a means to help you compensate for eating too much. Rather, you’ve likely come to rely on your workout for your daily dose of endorphins to get you through the day, so this isn’t a pinch-hitter workout for you.

However, because most gyms are closed on Thanksgiving, there’s a good chance you need a Thanksgiving workout you can do at home with no equipment.

Therefore, we’ve created a fun, challenging turkey burn workout that requires no equipment and minimal space.

The best part is that you can tailor this Thanksgiving workout to your fitness level by increasing the pace and duration if you’re a more advanced athlete or modifying the exercises where necessary, and pacing yourself appropriately if you’re just getting started on your fitness journey.

Regardless of your current fitness level, the basic premise of the turkey burn workout is the same: complete as many rounds of the 10 exercises as you can for your chosen workout duration while maintaining proper form throughout. 

We recommend setting a timer for 30-45 minutes, depending on your fitness level and goals

Try to move as quickly from one exercise to the next without resting in between moves.

Grab a towel and water bottle, gear up your favorite playlist, and get ready to push yourself through this at-home Thanksgiving Day metabolic circuit workout. 

You will certainly stoke your metabolism before you indulge in a holiday feast, and you will feel great about getting in a tough workout even on a holiday.

People doing jumping jacks in a park.

#1: Jumping Jacks

Jumping jacks are pretty straightforward and may seem basic, but they’ll get your heart pumping. Move as fast as you can while still completing the full range of motion.

Complete 50 reps if you’re an advanced athlete and 25 reps if you’re a beginner.

#2: Jump Squats

Jump squats strengthen the major leg muscles, such as the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, while also working the quads, back, and arms. Remember to brace your core and keep your glutes engaged.

1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, chest up, and back straight.

2. Drop down into a squat by bending your knees and sitting your hips all the way back, as if reaching your butt back to sit in a chair.

3. Swing your arms to help drive your body upward as you jump straight up as high into the air as you can. You should be reaching your hands up toward the ceiling.

4. Bend your knees as you land to absorb the impact, transitioning immediately down into a full squat again.

5. Press through your heels to press up into your upright vertical jump again in one fluid motion.

6. Continue jumping as high and fast as you can and squatting back down until your knees are bent to at least 90 degrees (half squats don’t count!).

7. Advanced athletes should do 20 reps, and beginners should do 10 reps.

A person doing a push up.

#3: Push-Ups

You might as well bang out a bunch of push-ups during your Thanksgiving workout. It’s a great move for strengthening your chest, triceps, shoulders, traps, and core. 

Be sure to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body, your spine neutral, and your glutes and core engaged.

Your body should be in a straight line from your head to your feet.

Complete 20 reps using good form.

#4: High Knees

This is a good exercise for our Thanksgiving workout because it boosts your metabolism, elevates your heart rate, and leaves you breathless if you’re pushing yourself.

1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart with your core engaged.

2. Sprint in place, driving your knees up towards your chest and pumping your arms vigorously.

3. Run as hard as you can, counting your steps until you hit 40 footfalls if you’re a beginner and 80 if you’re advanced.

A person doing a forward lunge.

#5: Alternating Forward Lunges

This exercise will allow your heart rate to come back down a bit, yet you’ll still be strengthening your quads, hips, glutes, hamstrings, and core. Make sure you are dropping down fully into each lunge, bending your knees to 90°.

1. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips.

2. Step your right foot forward and drop down into a lunge, bending each knee to a 90°-angle. Your front thigh should hover just above the ground without touching it.

3. Press through your feet to stand back up into an upright position and then switch legs.

4. Continue alternating legs, completing 20 reps per side or 40 overall.

#6: Up-Down Planks

Beginners can perform a basic forearm plank instead of this difficult plank progression, but if you’ve mastered the standard plank, challenge yourself with this dynamic plank. 

In addition to working your core, the up-down plank also strengthens the shoulders, chest, triceps, rhomboids, and traps.

1. Start in a plank position with your elbows and forearms on the floor.

2. Shift your weight off of one of your forearms so that you can lift that arm off the ground and place your palm flat on the floor instead.

3. Press through that hand to straighten your elbow and then repeat on the other side so that you are now up in a push-up position. Your hands should be positioned directly underneath your shoulders.

4. Lower your body back down onto your elbows with control, one side at a time.

5. Keep repeating this pattern, switching the arm that is pushing up to the top position first every time, keeping your hips as stable as possible, and minimizing side-to-side motion by engaging your core and glutes.

6. Complete 30 reps in total by leading with each side 15 times.

A person doing mountain climbers.

#7: Crossover Mountain Climbers

Mountain climbers are great for getting a quick cardio boost while simultaneously working your abs, glutes, legs, and shoulders. 

This modification further engages your obliques. Make sure you maintain good form with your hips in line with your body rather than sagging down or sticking up in the air.

1. Get into a push-up position with your core and glutes engaged.

2. Press your weight into your hands, bend your right knee and drive the leg up under your chest towards your left shoulder, and then return it to the starting position.

3. Alternate legs, driving the left knee towards the right shoulder next.

4. Move as fast and hard as you can for a total of 50 reps (25 per side).

#8: Tricep Dips

Dips strengthen the chest, back, triceps, shoulders, and core. It’s important to maintain proper form to prevent shoulder irritation.

Beginners can bend their knees and place their feet flat on the floor to reduce the intensity of the exercise.

1. Sit on the edge of a chair, couch, or bed with your hands cupping the edge on either side of your hips.

2. Straighten your legs out in front of you so that the back of your heels is resting on the ground, and lift your butt off the chair, shifting your weight fully into your palms and heels.

3. Bend your elbows to lower your hips so that they are just above the floor but not touching it. Your hands should be behind you on the chair.

4. Using your triceps and chest, press through your palms to lift your body up.

5. Complete 20 reps.

A person doing tricep dips.

#9: Burpees

You can’t have a metabolic turkey burn workout without this killer move!

Burpees can be thought of as a full push-up followed by a jump squat blended continuously together in one motion.

Complete 10 reps if you’re a beginner and 20 reps if you’ve been working out consistently.

#10: V-Ups

The last exercise in our Thanksgiving workout lineup is all about the core, which will give you a welcomed break to let your heart rate come down somewhat after skyrocketing with burpees.

1. Lie on your back with your legs extended straight out in front of you, and your arms extended straight back above your head.

2. Engage your glutes to simultaneously lift your entire lower body in a straight line and your entire upper body to meet upright in a folded “V” position. Your knees should be straight, and your arms should remain straight above your head.

3. Slowly lower your body back down, and control the speed of the descent by engaging your abs.

4. Do not allow your feet or upper body to come to a full rest on the floor; rather, hover just above the floor in the extended position and then sit back up into a “V.”

5. Complete 10 reps if you are a beginner and 15 reps if you’re advanced.

After you’ve completed all the exercises, cycle back to the beginning with jumping jacks for round two of your Thanksgiving workout!

Do as many rounds of this Thanksgiving workout as you’re up for, aiming for a 30-45 minute workout, depending on your goals.

Happy Turkey Day!

Looking for other workouts to do at home? Here we have a complete bodyweight workout and resistance band workout just for you.

A Thanksgiving dinner.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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