In the United States, Memorial Day provides many of us with a long weekend at a time of year when it’s just starting to get warm. People celebrate by going to parades, barbecues, and sleeping in. Celebrate spring (and perhaps a day off) with this no-equipment workout that you can do outside (or in your hallway).
I adapted this workout from “Grid Training,” which is meant to be done in (you guessed it) a grid. Since I don’t have that much space at the gym I work at, I adapted it to be done down a line. So pick a space where you can go in a straight line for about 20 yards (60 feet). If you only have access to a smaller space, simply turn the 1x into 2x and the 2x into 4x.
Here’s how the workout is organized:
1x Slow Standing Movement (1x means go down the line once)
1x Ground-Based Movement
2x Fast Standing Movement (2x means go down and back)
2x Recovery Walk
Repeat these movements for time (i.e. 10, 15, or 30 minutes). The intensity is cumulative: It should start out relatively easy, but over time you should start to fatigue—you might feel out of breath or like your recovery is shorter (even though it hasn’t changed).
The exercises below are indicative of a typical workout I might do, but they’re just suggestions. You can swap out the exercises with ones you like better, as long as you stick with the categories (i.e. a walking side lunge instead of Frankenstein walks, a crab walk instead of a leopard crawl, or a carioca instead of a shuffle).
Slow Standing Movement: Walking Lunge
Stand tall and tight with both feet planted firmly on the floor at hip-width apart, toes facing forward. Take a big step forward with one leg, bending both knees and lowering your back knee until it's an inch or two off the floor. Keep your feet hip-width apart. At the bottom of the movement, both knees should be at 90 degree angles, your back heel should be stacked over your back toes, and your front foot should be flat on the ground. Drive into your front heel and mid-foot to step forward your back leg into your next lunge. Move your arms in a cross-body pattern: when your left leg moves forward, your right arm will move forward and vice versa. No matter where you are in the movement, your spine should be neutral and your hips, knees, and ankles should all be aligned.
Ground-Based Movement: Leopard Crawl
Start on your hands and knees with your knees directly under your hips and your hands directly under your shoulders. Your spine should be in a neutral position. Maintaining that neutral position, lift your knees a few inches off the ground. Without letting your knees touch the ground and without raising your hips or rounding your back, simultaneously move forward your right hand and left foot. Only move a few inches so you don't shift your hips to one side or the other. Repeat with the left hand and right foot to complete one rep. Your knees should never touch the ground. Continue to move forward for the desired reps, time, or distance.
Fast Standing Movement: Power Skipping
Stand tall and tight with your hips directly under your ribs. Drive one leg up with your knee bent until your knee is at hip height. Simultaneously raise forward the opposite arm, bent 90 degrees at the elbow, and send the same-side arm (also bent at the elbow) back behind you. Your fingers should be splayed apart as if energy is shooting out of them. As you bring up your bent knee, jump off the straight leg, landing back on the same foot before lowering the bent leg. Return to the start position and repeat on the other side. You want to move quickly and powerfully, trying to jump as high as you safely can with good form. As you move, make sure that your back remains in its neutral position and don't let your hips move from side to side.
Slow Standing Movement: Frankenstein Walks
Stand tall with your arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height, palms facing the floor. Step forward and raise your leg straight out in front of you. Don't worry about reaching your foot to your hand, just move it in that direction. Keep your back in a neutral position, making sure you're not rounding your upper back to reach your toes or your lower back to get your leg higher. Lower your leg and repeat the movement on the other side.
Ground-Based Movement: Inch Worms
Stand tall and tight with your feet about hip width apart. Reach your hips back and keep your spine neutral for as long as you can, until you need to bend your back to reach your hands to the floor. Keeping your feet stationary, walk your hands forward until they are below your shoulders with your body in a plank position. Pause. Inch your feet forward slowly, trying to keep your back neutral for as long as possible, as if you're moving through the yoga exercise "downward dog." When your feet are close to your hands and you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings, walk your hands forward to plank to begin the next rep.
Fast Standing Movement: Shuffle
Get into a semi-squat position with your feet a few inches apart. Step your leading foot out and pull your trailing foot most of the way in, step out again, continuing the pattern for reps, time, or distance. Keep your hips low and your knees bent the entire time. Move as quickly as you can with good form.