Thanksgiving Day Workouts: What Is Your Favorite Activity?

Turkey Trot
U.S. Marines, family, and friends participate in the Marine Corps Marathon Turkey Trot race event at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Nov. 23, 2019. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Quinn Hurt)

Thanksgiving Day can be a time to enjoy some of your favorite things if you are not traveling or in charge of preparing the feast. For 25 years, I have been organizing a fun workout event with local friends and former students who are back in town to see family.

I recently asked a question online to find out what activity people who have some extra time on Thanksgiving Day enjoy. Here are some of their answers, as well as several of our classic workouts we have done throughout the years.

Classic Pyramid Workout

If you are looking for something to do, you cannot go wrong with the PT Pyramid. Gyms and pools are quite often closed, so you may be limited to your home gym or a local park with monkey bars to do pull-ups. It may be cold outside this time of year, so you can mix in some short 200- to 400-meter runs every set and build up to 4-5 miles with the classic 1-10-1 pyramid workout of pull-ups, push-ups, abs and squats.

The Murph (Plus)

You cannot go wrong with the Murph Workout, which totals two miles of running, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups and 300 squats. Another option is to add a sandbag and simulate log PT with the Sand Baby Murph.

Just Run (or Ruck)

Turkey Trots are the most common community events around the country and typically range from 5-10 kilometers. If you add a backpack or a weight vest, it will make running or walking a bit harder but will burn more calories than going without weight. You can even do both. This year, we are doing a four-mile run and a four-mile ruck and adding in squats and lunges every mile for our Thanksgiving Day/Leg Day workout.

Just a Normal Day

Many who are on a program and train regularly find that they have a normal workout to do and find a local gym that is open or use their home gym or a neighbor's home gym to get in a workout. However, often, the avid exerciser may have to alter the training plan and do a calisthenics cardio-type workout or resort to sandbags and weight vests to complete their normal training week. Is it a leg day or upper-body day? Get it done.

Day Off, Hunting or Game Day

Who says you have to do a workout this morning? Some enjoy a sleep-in day, while others like to get up early and get to the woods for a hunting trip. Many find their way to the local high school practice field and play a pickup game of football or basketball with old friends who are back home visiting for the weekend. Regardless, enjoy time with your friends and family if you can.

Two a Day

Personally, I like to get a morning workout with my local friends. That varies each year but is always a good homecoming workout for the active-duty military who used to train with us to prepare themselves for current service. My son will be coming home from college and will bring a few friends over to our home gym and get a lift in before we eat later in the day. By this time, I am ready to eat and sit on my couch and visit while football plays on the television for the rest of the day.


Having a turkey dinner with your fellow service members is always special and something you will remember for the rest of your life. Though it may not be the way you prefer to spend Thanksgiving, just know there are many of us who are thankful for you and your family's sacrifices and know what you do is important. Thank you.

However you spend your Thanksgiving Day time, I hope you find it enjoyable and can be grateful for the things and people in your life that matter most to you. Happy Thanksgiving.

-- Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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