The Tesseract (c/o “A Wrinkle in Time”)

“Speaking of ways, pet, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.” ~Mrs. Whatsit

This is the edition I had as a kid. Loved it.

As explained in Madeleine L’Engle’s classic A Wrinkle in Time , a “tesseract” is the fifth dimension.

Later known as “Mrs. Whatsit and the Tesseracts.”

Here’s how Charles Wallace explained it to Meg:

“Well, the fifth* dimension’s a tesseract. You add that to the other four dimensions and you can travel through space without having to go the long way around. In other words, to put it into Euclid, or old-fashioned plane geometry, a straight line is not the shortest distance between two points.”

*It’s actually four-dimensional, but for purposes of this workout, we’re going with the WiT explanation.

The first dimension is a straight line. The second dimension is the line squared - a square. The third dimension is a squared square – a cube. The fourth dimension is time, and the fifth is a tesseract. We can’t draw the fourth and fifth out the same we can with the first three dimensions, but we can conceptualize. Outside the WiT explanation, a tesseract is often drawn as a hypercube.

Tangent time: I love this book. L’Engle’s synthesis of science and spirituality is unique and refreshing. I read it several times during my childhood, and I got to play Meg Murry in a middle school production. It’s been ages, but one of the drama teachers wrote it especially for our school and the plot involved a bunch of literary characters trying to save today’s (90s) youth from being swallowed up by an overabundance of technology. So, in the mid-90s that was… Internet 1.0 and car phones? This was the same school where I met Lois Lowry - quite a literary year!

The Tesseract Workout

Dimension 1 – Sprint across room in a straight line, 8X

Dimension 2 – 12 square pushups ( pushups with arms and legs spread)

Dimension 3 – Move in all directions: Treadmill spins. 30 seconds running forward, 30 seconds backward, 30 seconds sideways to each side. You can also do this on the road or across the room.

Okay… coming up with exercises that represent the fourth and fifth dimensions is just all kinds of strange. And not really possible according to modern technology. Give it time, though. One day I bet we’ll be able to literally, not just figuratively, exercise in new dimensions. Instead of 26.2 miles around the city, a marathon course will take you from the year 2095 to 1776. Benjamin Franklin will be handing out gels at the water station.

Dimension 4 – Wall walk-up to plank to pushup. Start in a plank with feet against the wall. Walk up into a wall handstand. Walk back down into a plank, and do 1 pushup. Repeat.

Dimension 5 – Weighted lunge walk with burpees, 2X across the room. Pretend you’re tessering each time you come down into a burpee.

Complete Dimensions 1-5 five times.


Part inner nerd and part aspiring jock. Mostly inner nerd, though.


  1. Man, I need to read a wrinkle in time again. Such a good book. I also like this animation of the tesseract:

    ALSO, if you are into reading about other dimensions, you should definitely check out Flatland. :)

    • I like that video, too. It’s easy to get sucked into staring at it for a while! Just read a synopsis of Flatland and I will definitely check it out. I think I’ve heard of it before (did Carl Sagan mention it during the original Cosmos series?) but didn’t know what it was about.

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