Strong, Fast & Fit: Building Strength (Part II, Month 5)


By Andrew Heffernan |

There’s a lot to be said for strength training. It can build physical and mental resiliency while improving performance in a variety of activities. It can also prevent injury and help you rehab if one should occur. Overall, it can enhance longevity and quality of life.

And these benefits are accessible to almost anyone willing to give it a try.

With effort and commitment, you can improve your strength. A weight that felt impossible to budge or a move that seemed out of your wheelhouse — whether due to physical or mental factors or a combination of the two — can suddenly become possible.

This month, your effort and commitment will be put to the test as you home in on four full-body moves that will build your overall strength:

  1. Band-assisted pull-up

These moves hit almost every muscle in your body. And these particular variations are among the most body-friendly versions of the squat, press, deadlift, and pull-up. They allow you to focus on quality of effort and increased weight without stumbling over the intricacies of a challenging movement.

While these four lifts form the backbone of this month’s programming, other exercises will fill in gaps to prevent injury and ensure a cardio load each week. But the main focus is lifting heavy stuff.

This month you’ll do three weekly strength workouts: A, B, and C. Perform them on nonconsecutive days, and wait at least 48 hours between sessions. On two other days, you’ll perform recovery cardio. See the chart at right for a sample schedule. you’ll focus on building muscle: Perform more repetitions of movements that allow you to feel each muscle group working, and rest only as long as necessary between sets. you’ll focus on safely lifting as much weight in the four movements as you can. Rest as long as you need to to feel fully recovered.Each week, the sets and reps you perform change slightly, according to the “Sets and Reps” chart at right. For exercises marked “technical failure,” complete as many good-form reps as you can each time you perform the move. Perform the same number of sets as prescribed for the other moves in the circuit.And remember: Prioritize excellent form above additional resistance for all the moves.Twice each week, on days when you’re not doing strength workouts, perform asession. After a five-minute warm-up of deep breathing, stretching, and light calisthenics, complete the following workout:

Use a thicker band. Use a thinner band — or no band at all. Experience Life.

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