Strong, Fast & Fit: Learning the Ropes (Part II, Month 1)

By Andrew Heffernan |

*Month 2 of this program is available !

Exercisers tend to fall into two categories: those who repeat the same workout every day and those who perform wildly different workouts each time they hit the gym.

Both approaches are infinitely better than no exercise at all. But if you want to squeeze all you can out of your workouts — to feel, look, and perform your best — you need what trainers call periodization.

This approach to fitness programming involves workouts that build systematically on each other, nudging you toward the best condition of your life. That’s what this program does.

In 2017 we published a six-part series called “Strong, Fast & Fit,” designed to help readers make significant progress toward their fitness goals in six months (you can find it here). Readers who completed it achieved excellent results — and wanted more. So we listened and are back with Part II.

From now through the June issue of Experience Life, you’ll see a new monthlong fitness plan, each one designed to push you even further. Along the way, we’ll offer tips on nutrition, mobility, and lifestyle that will support your workout efforts.

I’ll be your guide. Since 2003 I’ve coached an assortment of clients — working parents, college athletes, teenagers, older adults, and many others — on how to get fitter and move better. I’ve written two books and dozens of articles on fitness. And I’ve consulted and interviewed some of the best coaches and experts in the world.

I juggle my passion for fitness with the demands of work and family every day, so I understand that time is always scarce and resources are often limited. In this plan, there’s a reason for every rep.

Stick to the plan, and by June you’ll be stronger and fitter than you’ve been in a long time — possibly ever.

Let’s dive in.

consists of two strength workouts, A and B. You’ll exercise on three nonconsecutive days a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, say, or Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday — alternating between the workouts. Stick to these parameters: three times per week, alternate workouts, at least one day of recovery between sessions. Feel free to change the days you work out from week to week.This month, your workout schedule might look like this: on perfecting your form on basic movements like squats, rows, and presses this month. To that end, use less weight than you think you can handle the first two or three times you perform each workout. The last two weeks of the month, increase the weight you use so you finish each set two or three reps shy of exhaustion.Always begin with a— see “Warm-Up Drills,” below. Each workout consists of four main exercises; similar movements are paired (1A and 1B; 2A and 2B). Perform a set of the first move, rest, then perform a set of the second before returning to the first. Continue alternating sets in this manner until you’ve completed all the sets of both moves.

Prior to your workouts on exercise days — and any day during the rest of the week — perform the following mobility and activationdrills.

Fitness training is a two-step process: working out and recovering. This is your recovery-enhancing homework for month 1: You’ve heard this more times than you can count, but make this the month you do it. Go for eight to 10 cups every day. Protein is essential for both muscle building and fat loss. Choose between high-quality animal sources (poultry, dairy, beef, pork, eggs) and vegetarian sources (tofu, lentils, beans) at least three times daily. Get a jump on the cardio workouts to come in future months by walking — 20 to 60 minutes at a stretch, two to five times a week. Don’t worry about distance, steps, pace, or intensity. Walk by yourself or with others, ideally in a natural setting whenever you can. Experience Life.

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One Month to Muscles