“Cabin fever” may not be considered a bona fide illness in medical circles, but that doesn’t make the feeling any less troublesome. Month after month of an indoor existence, shuttling between home, car, office and gym without a ray of sunlight or warm breeze to be had is enough to make anyone a little depressed. So as the snow melts and green leaves sprout, it’s no surprise that spirits lift, willpower strengthens and the desire to just get outside becomes undeniable.
At the first sign of spring, most people jump off the treadmill and start doing cardio in the great outdoors. But that’s not quite good enough for us. Switching your high-intensity interval training from indoors to outdoors is easy. What’s tough is moving your weight training outside, too. So, to take maximum advantage of the weather, we’ve designed two challenging workouts that can be done with minimal equipment and in 45 minute or less. The first requires a medicine ball (anywhere from 3 to 15 pounds, depending on your current fitness level) and an exercise band, while the second requires nothing but your own bodyweight. Add in a third cardio session consisting of 45 to 90 minutes of running or cycling, rotating between the three with one or two days rest interspersed as needed, and you have a three-pronged strategy that’ll help melt the pounds away … and cure your cabin fever, no doctor visit required.
Workout 1: Ball and Band
Do each exercise listed for three to four sets of eight to 15 repetitions.
Do each activity for 30 to 60 seconds (depending on your current fitness level), repeating each combo three times through before moving on to the next.
1. Jump Squat and Side Shuffle
2. Pull-Up and Plank Slalom Hops
3. Pike Push-Up and High-Knee-Kick Run
4. Walking Leg Kick and Jump-Rope
5. Bench Dip and Alternating Step-Up (on a park bench)
6. Crunch and Sprints
Workout No. 1: Ball & Band
Walking Medicine-Ball Lunge
Holding a medicine ball with both hands in front of your stomach, elbows bent, step forward with one foot and bend both knees to lower your hips toward the floor. Make sure your lead knee does not extend beyond your toes. Return to a standing position, then step forward with the other foot. Continue down the floor, alternating your lead leg.
Romanian Deadlift With Band
Stand with your feet on the band in a stance slightly wider than shoulder width, grasping a handle in each hand (or hold the actual band, if necessary, to get the proper tension). Keeping your core tight and back flat, lean forward, shifting your hips rearward and bending your knees until your torso is roughly parallel to the ground and your hands are near your feet. Flex your hamstrings and glutes and shift your hips forward to stand upright again.
Full Front Raise With Ball
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width, holding a medicine ball with both hands, elbows straight, at your hips. Keeping your elbows straight, raise the ball upward until it is directly overhead, then lower to the start.
Drape the band over a strong tree limb or playground bar. Get on your knees underneath, extend your arms and grasp the band in each hand at a point at which it’s taut when your torso is upright. Keeping your elbows pointed out, contract your lats and pull down until your hands are even with your shoulders, then return to the start position.
Keeping the band over the limb or bar and remaining in a kneeling position, hold the band with each hand at your ears. From there, crunch down, curling your lower back as you shorten the distance between your pelvis and rib cage and your forehead tracks toward the ground. Pause in the fully crunched position, squeeze your abs and then return to the start position.
Standing Band Overhead Press
Stand on the center of the band with your hands holding the handles at shoulder level, palms facing out, elbows pointed down. Raise both arms overhead to full elbow extension, then lower. Keep the rest of your body still and your core tight, being sure not to lean back and forth as you raise the handles overhead.
Push-Up on Ball
Assume the push-up position on the ground, with both hands on a medicine ball. Keeping your head neutral and core tight, lower yourself toward the ground by bending your elbows, then extend your elbows fully to return to the start. (If you can’t perform a regular push-up for the full length of time, switch to the modified position — knees on ground — as you fatigue.)
Lying Band Biceps Curl
Lie on the ground with the middle of the band looped under your feet and a handle in each hand. Keep your elbows pinned to your sides and perform a curl, bending each elbow simultaneously to bring the handles toward your shoulders. Return and repeat for reps, not allowing the band to slacken so that you keep tension on the muscles throughout.
Ball Overhead Extension
Stand and grasp the ball with both hands behind your head, bringing your arms up so your elbows are alongside your ears. From here, moving only at your elbows, extend your arms straight above you, squeeze your triceps tight, then lower to the start.
Ball Twisting Crunch
Holding a medicine ball at your chest, lie on the ground with your hips and knees at 90-degree angles and your feet up in the air (to engage your lower abs). Crunch your body up and across, taking your elbow to the opposite knee. Squeeze and return to the start, then repeat on the other side. To increase the difficulty, hold the ball overhead as you rep.
Workout No. 2: Bodyweight & Cardio Supersets
From a shoulder-width stance, knees slightly bent, with both hands directly in front of you, squat until your thighs approach parallel with the ground. When you’re down as far as you can go, explode upward to leap in the air. Land with your knees bent and return to the squat position immediately to perform the next jump.
Start with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees bent, hands in front of you. Keeping your body low, shuffle your feet laterally, propelling yourself along by rapidly stepping to the side with the lead foot and then bringing the trailing foot toward it. Don’t cross your feet as you step, and don’t drag your feet on the ground.
Take a wide overhand grip on an overhead bar. Hanging freely from the bar, arms fully extended and feet crossed behind you, contract your lats and bend your elbows to raise your chin toward the bar as high as you can get. Hold for a count at the top before lowering yourself back to a dead-hang position.
Note: If the park or location where you’re training doesn’t have a pull-up bar, you can instead do opposite limb extensions. For this, get down on all fours. First, raise your left foot and right arm simultaneously as high as you can, then lower both and raise your right foot and left arm. Repeat the sequence for reps.
Plank Slalom Hops
From a push-up position, keep your hands on the ground as you hop your legs forward and to the right side (bending your knees so that they end up outside your right elbow). From there, hop back to the center and then hop to your left. Repeat this pattern quickly, never letting your feet touch down for more than a second or two.
Starting from a regular push-up position, walk your feet toward your arms until your butt is pointing up in the air. Keep your elbows extended with your hands placed directly under your shoulders on the ground. Bend your elbows to lower your forehead toward the ground, stopping just before it touches and reversing back to the start.
For this exercise, you’ll do a modified run, in which you lift your forward knee up as high as you can on each stride.
Walking Leg Kick
As you stride forward, kick your lead leg as high as you can, keeping your knee straight. (Think Rockettes.)
You can get fancy if you want, but otherwise, skip rope in the standard style for the recommended length of time. Didn’t bring a rope? Pretend you have one and hop, hop, hop.
Turn your back to a park bench, placing your hands just outside your hips on the bench, cupping it with your fingers. Your knees should be bent, your feet firmly on the ground, and your glutes floating in the air. From here, bend both elbows to lower your torso toward the ground, stopping when your arms form 90-degree angles. Flex your triceps to lift yourself back up.
Stand in front of a park bench, hands either on your hips or hanging at your sides. From a comfortable shoulder-width stance, step forward with one leg onto the bench and drive through that thigh to extend the knee and raise your body upward. Bring the trailing leg to the top of the bench and stand on it, then step back with the opposite leg to the ground and lower yourself. Repeat, this time leading with the opposite leg.
Lie faceup with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Place your hands behind your head, fingertips touching each other lightly and your elbows flared out to your sides. Slowly curl your upper body off the ground, raising your shoulder blades up. The total movement is only a few inches, but be sure to squeeze your abs at the top of each rep for maximum effect.
Rotate between 15-second all-out sprints and 15-second jogs for the 60 seconds allotted for this exercise.