Strong, Fast, and Fit: Turn Up the Heat (Month 2)

By Andrew Heffernan |

Ask any good trainer about the best way to accomplish a fitness goal in record time and you’ll hear some variation on the time-honored maxim “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

Be patient, they’re saying. Make haste slowly.

If you completed the first four weeks of our six-month training program (detailed in the January/February 2017 issue of Experience Life), it’s likely you’re already feeling and seeing changes: more energy, less strain when you carry groceries and climb stairs, more muscle, and less fat. Having tasted success, you’re probably hungry for more: bigger weights, more sets, more workouts.

But that’s exactly what program designer Troy Jacobson, senior national director of Endurance Sports Training at Life Time, isn’t going to give you this month.

The next installment is tougher than last month’s, but because you’re fitter now, it might not feel much harder. “The goal is still to develop a fitness foundation,” says Jacobson, “so increases aren’t too substantial, and they don’t create extraordinary stress.”

What these workouts will do is raise your general fitness — muscular strength, endurance, and cardiovascular endurance — another notch or two, with an eye toward getting you into peak form around June.

Jacobson does that by introducing new strength exercises, pushing you harder on your cardio days, and, now and then, combining strength and cardio in a single workout. You’ll get more work done in a given week, but you’ll still have up to three days of full rest per week.

Month 2 Overview

For the next month, your workout schedule will look like this:

  1. These are an optional workout day, says Jacobson: “Train according to how you feel.”

Strong and energetic: Do a light-to-moderate 30- to 45-minute cardio workout.

Middling energy: 30-minute walk, easy bike ride, or other light activity.

Fatigued: Rest.

RPE Scale

The Workout

For both strength workouts, perform three rounds of each circuit, taking 15-second rests between exercises and one-minute rests between rounds. For instance, in Circuit 1, perform exercise A, rest 15 seconds; perform exercise B, rest 15 seconds; perform exercise C, rest one minute. Always perform as many good-form reps as possible in the time allotted. Repeat that entire sequence two more times, then do the same for the next circuit.

Strength Workout  A

A. Hands-Release Pushups: 30 seconds

B. Prisoner Squats: 30 seconds

C. Plank With Shoulder Touch: 30 seconds

A. V-Sit: 30 seconds

B. TRX Row: 30 seconds

C. Walking Lunges: 30 seconds

Strength Workout B

A. Pushups: 20 seconds

B. Squat-to-Calf Raise: 20 seconds

C. Plank With Shoulder Touch: 20 seconds

A. Dead Bug With Leg-Lowering: 20 seconds

B. Dumbbell Curl and Press: 20 seconds

C. Walking Lunges: 30 seconds

Cardio Workout A

Perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy — running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, rowing, or other — at a steady state for 20 to 30 minutes.

Cardio Workout B

Perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy at a steady state for 25 to 35 minutes.

Cardio Workout C

Warm up for 10 minutes on a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy, slowly elevating your intensity to Zones 3 to 4. Then perform a one-minute sprint interval in Zone 4. Rest for one minute. Repeat this work–rest cycle a total of seven to 10 times. When finished, cool down for 10 minutes.

The Month 2 Exercises


  1. Too tough? Perform the exercise with your hands elevated on a box, table, or bench.

Hands-release variation: Lower your body until your chest makes contact with the floor, lift your hands an inch off the floor for a moment, then press yourself up and repeat. Too difficult? Perform the movement lowering your chest onto an aerobic step or low box.

Squat-to-Calf Raise

  1. If the movement feels awkward, try it with your heels elevated on 5-pound plates.

Prisoner-Squat variation: Perform the movement with your hands interlaced behind your head, and without coming onto the balls of your feet at the top of the move.

Alternating Shoulder-Touch Plank

  1. Continue alternating sides for the prescribed time period.


  1. Too tough? Hold as long as you can, rest for a few seconds, and repeat throughout the set.


  1. To make the move more difficult, start with your feet farther forward; to make it easier, start with them farther back.

Walking Lunge

  1. Continue alternating sides for the prescribed time period.

Dead Bug With Leg-Lowering

  1. Continue alternating legs for the prescribed time period.

Dumbbell Curl and Press

  1. Reverse the movement, lowering the weights first to shoulder height as you turn your palms toward you, then back to your sides, and repeat.

Ski School

Unstoppable: Anthony Robles