By Nick Tumminello
The outdoor workout provided in this article, which requires no additional training equipment to perform except a grass field and a nice day, involves supramaximal interval training and a metabolic bodyweight training circuit.
This workout is not only designed to help you maximize the metabolic cost (so you can burn more calories both during and after the workout), but also to challenge you on multiple levels while allowing you to get outside and use the best piece of exercise equipment ever developed— the human body.
Performing the Supramaximal Interval Training Portion of the Workout
Research has demonstrated that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improves work capacity (i.e., conditioning), glucose metabolism and fat burning.1,2,3 And, the most effective form of HIIT at improving fitness and performance may be supramaximal interval training (SMIT),4 which is why this workout includes three SMIT options to choose from.
To perform this workout, choose one of the three following SMIT exercise for the parameters described. You’ll then perform the metabolic bodyweight circuit in the following section.
SMIT Option #1: Shuttle Run
Set-up: Place two cones 25 yards apart.
Lengths are as follows:
200-yard shuttle run = four round trips between the cones
250-yard shuttle run = five round trips
300-yard shuttle run = six round trips
Between rounds, use a work-to-rest ratio of 1:3 or 1:2, depending on your fitness level. For example, using a 1:3 ratio, if it takes you one minute to complete a 300-yard shuttle sprint, then rest for three minutes before starting the next round. Perform two to five rounds depending on your fitness level.
• You can start your shuttle runs from the starting line. However, I recommend jogging up to the starting point in order to reduce the potential risk of injury that can come from quick starts.
• Drive with your arms while sprinting.
SMIT Option #2: Gasser Run
Set-up: Place two cones 50 yards apart.
Action: Jog up to the start cone, then run as fast as you can back and forth between the cones. Unlike in shuttle sprints, you don’t touch the cones at the turns; therefore, you stay more upright.
Use a work-to-rest ratio of 1:3 or 1:2 between rounds, depending on your fitness level. Perform two to five rounds.
• You can start your gasser runs from the starting line. However, I recommend jogging up to the starting point in order to reduce the risk of injury that can come from quick starts.
• Drive with your arms while running.
SMIT Option #3: Hill Sprint
Set-up: Find a fairly steep hill at least 20 yards long. If you’re lucky, you’ll find one that is 40 yards or even longer.
Action: Run up the hill as fast as you can, then walk down slowly to set up your next run.
Use a work-to-rest ratio of 1:3 or 1:4 between rounds, depending on your fitness level. For example, using a 1:3 ratio, if it takes you 20 seconds to complete a hill sprint, then rest roughly 60 seconds before starting the next round. Perform five to 10 rounds depending on your fitness level.
• Do not take short, choppy steps; take a full stride on each step.
• Drive with your arms while running.
• To vary your leg movement, you can walk backward down the hill between sprints.
Performing the Metabolic Bodyweight Circuit Training Portion of the Workout
Not only does research demonstrate that the higher the intensity, the greater the metabolic impact,5 which we took advantage of in the SMIT portion of this workout, but research also consistently reports that a direct relationship exists between the duration of exercise and excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC),6 which is the number of calories expended (above resting values) after an exercise bout. In order to help you get the best of both worlds, this portion of the workout is designed to keep you moving for more extended periods of time than you did in the SMIT portion of the workout.
The following metabolic bodyweight training circuit combines various crawling type patterns, which we call “animal patterns,” with various upright agility drills. You’ll alternate between animal patterns (performed on the ground) and agility drills (performed standing), performing each animal pattern and agility drill pair twice through before moving on to the next pair of drills, which you’ll also perform twice, and so on.
Each paired-set is done for a total of 20-30 yards up and 20-30 yards back for a total of 40-60 yards per lap. You’ll perform each of the animal patterns for roughly 10 yards. You’ll then stand upright and perform the agility drill for another 10 to 20 yards moving in the same direction. Then you’ll turn around, and perform the same agility drill all the way back (20-30 yards) to where you started. Once completing this sequence twice through, you’ll switch to performing a different animal pattern and a different agility drill twice through in the same manner, and so on.
The main goal is to finish this entire circuit— all of paired sets of animal patterns and locomotion drills— in as little time as possible, without sacrificing the quality of the technique demonstrated in any of the drills.
Animal Pattern 1: Tiger Crawl
On all fours, step off with your right foot and left arm, keeping your knees off the ground. Be sure to keep your hips and shoulders fairly level. Repeat on the other side. Continue moving forward, alternating sides.
Agility Drill 1: High Knee Skips
Stay tall, bend your knee and raise your upper leg until it’s horizontal to the ground. Similar to jumping rope, the stride requires a double-foot strike pattern, or right-right followed by left-left hops. You also have to coordinate the pumping of your arms to the double-foot strikes.
Animal Pattern 2: Alligator Crawl
Starting in the push-up position, lower your chest slightly and bring your right knee to your right elbow. As you push up, reach your right arm forward and bring your left knee to your left elbow. Drop back into a partial push-up, and when you come up, reach forward with your left arm and bring your right knee to your right elbow. Repeat.
Agility Drill 2: Backward Run
Take long strides as you run backward while maintaining a relaxed upper-body and torso while you coordinate the pumping of your arms.
Animal Pattern 3: Rabbits
With your feet wider than shoulder-width, squat down low and hinge forward at your hips, placing your hands in front of your feet. Lift your feet off of the ground and drive your legs forward so they end up outside your hands. Repeat this action, continuing to move forward.
Agility Drill 3: Lateral Shuffle
Assume an athletic-ready position with your feet hip-width apart and knees bent with your weight back in your flexed hips. Shift your weight toward your right, picking up your right foot and explosively pushing your left foot into the ground to start moving to your right. Continue to move to your right in this manner: picking up the right foot and placing it to the right while pushing the left foot into the ground to generate force and momentum for the sideways movement. Your feet should remain parallel with one another with the toes facing forward. Then, reverse the direction by shifting your weight over your left leg, push off with the right foot and begin shuffling back to the starting point.
Animal Pattern 4: Spider Crawl
Assume a push-up position, and move laterally. Your arms can cross, but not your legs. Don’t let your hips sag and be sure not to lift your butt in the air any higher than your shoulders. Move 10 yards in the same direction. Then reverse the motion moving 10 yards back to the start.
Agility Drill 4: Carioca
Start with your feet a little wider than hip-distance apart, knees soft. Use your left foot to push off, crossing it behind the right foot and transferring your weight onto it. Move your right foot to the side until you’re back to your starting stance. Now cross your left foot in front, stepping onto it. Move your right foot to the side. Continue moving to your right, crossing the left foot behind, then in front, until you reach the end of your planned distance. Then reverse your direction.
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3. Talanian, Jason L.; Stuart D. R. Galloway, et al. (2007). “Two weeks of high-intensity aerobic interval training increases the capacity for fat oxidation during exercise in women”. Journal of Applied Physiology 102 (4): 1439–1447.
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