The WSJ Workout Challenge Test-In Exercises

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By Jen Murphy -WSJ


Use these three exercises to measure your progress in the workout regimen


From left, Paige Alms, Samantha Campbell, and Gary Miyamoto demonstrate different parts of The Wall Street Journal Workout Challenge, which Campbell designed.

Welcome to all those doing The Wall Street Journal Workout Challenge!


WSJ Workout Challenge

New for 2024: A five-week challenge designed to get readers excited about exercise, improve strength, and reach a new level of fitness.

Below is a summary of the three test-in exercises we’re using to gauge your progress for the program. It was developed by Samantha Campbell, owner of Deep Relief // Peak Performance Athletic Training Center in Maui, Hawaii.

For all of these workouts, you’ll activate your muscles with a dynamic warm-up, five to six exercises for one minute each. Here’s an example. If any of these drills feel too challenging, march in place instead.

Test One: 20 seconds of plank shoulder taps

Samantha Campbell demonstrates the advanced version of plank shoulder taps.

Choose one level

Beginner: Place your hands flat on a wall, arms straight. Step your feet behind you so your body forms an angle that feels challenging for you. Tap your left hand to your right shoulder, and then your right hand to your left shoulder. Each tap is one rep.

Intermediate: Perform with your hands resting on the edge of a low table or countertop.

Advanced: Perform from high plank pose.

Pro: Place your feet on a chair while in a high plank.

Tip: Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Hands should align with shoulders for all levels. Avoid letting your hips dip side to side.


Test Two: 20 seconds of step-toe taps

Campbell demonstrates step-toe taps.

Choose a step height you feel comfortable with. I’ll be using a 6-inch high aerobic step, but you can also use a curb or stair. Start with your feet on the floor. See how many times you can tap each foot atop the step, your toes just barely touching the surface. Each tap counts as one rep. Keep weight on the bottom foot while you tap the top foot. Try this drill a few times to find a pace before timing yourself.

Test Three: Wall-facing V

Campbell demonstrates the wall-facing V.

Stand facing a wall with your arms in a W shape. Your toes, hips, and nose will touch the wall. Raise your hands along the wall toward a narrow V-shape. Your thumbs will point behind you, palms facing each other. Mark or note how high up the wall your arms can reach without discomfort or pain. The goal is to have straight arms and your elbows close to your ears without letting your shoulders rise up to your ears. (I’ve got some work to do!)

Score this exercise on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning your elbows are very bent and shoulders are hunched and uncomfortable. A 5 means you have straight arms, shoulders remain down the back and you feel no discomfort.

How do you stack up?

Compare your test-in scores with me, our coach, Samantha Campbell, some pro athletes, and other WSJ readers, from youngest to oldest.

Workout Challenge: Test-in scores from readers




*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, or prescription of any kind. The decision to use, or not to use, any information is the reader’s sole responsibility. These statements are not expressions of legal opinion relative to the scope of practice, medical diagnosis, or medical advice, nor do they represent an endorsement of any product, company, or specific massage therapy technique, modality, or approach. All trademarks, registered trademarks, brand names, registered brand names, logos, and company logos referenced in this post are the property of their owners.