Strong, Fast, and Fit: Into the Fire (Month 3)

By Andrew Heffernan |

Smart training boils down to one basic principle: There’s a time for intensity and a time to back off.

In this third month of Experience Life’s six-month workout program — which is based on the time-tested principles of periodization — intensity is the name of the game. (For more about periodization, see “Strong, Fast, and Fit: Your 2017 Action Plan“.)

Expect to go a little bit harder, faster, and heavier than before. In fact, this is one of the toughest months of the entire program, building on the foundation of the previous eight weeks and ratcheting up the demands on your body and mind.

All the strength and cardio workouts are longer and tougher than in previous months, so take it easy your first week and build from there. You want to finish the month strong, not injured or achy.

After a peak at month’s end — concluding with a test to measure your strength and endurance — you’ll ease off the gas a bit next month in preparation for building to your final peak in June.

If this sounds intense, that’s because it is. But don’t worry, says program designer Troy Jacobson, senior national director of Endurance Sports Training at Life Time — this is why you’ve been training.

“Your fitness levels should be noticeably increasing, so you should be ready for a ‘push’ month with higher workloads,” Jacobson says.

In other words, you’ve got this.

Month 3 Overview

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

  1. Test day: In your final workout of the month, warm up with five minutes of brisk walking or easy cycling. Then see how many good-form pushups you can do. Use the same pushup variation you’re accustomed to, and stop the test when you can’t do any more. Rest for five minutes, then choose an outdoor cardio activity you like, such as cycling, swimming, running, or hiking. Set a countdown timer for 20 minutes and see how far you can go before the alarm sounds. Note your distance — either by landmarks, laps, or GPS — and record it for reference later in the program.

RPE Scale

The Workouts

For both strength workouts, perform four rounds of each circuit, taking 30-second rests between exercises and one-minute rests between rounds. For instance, in Circuit 1, perform exercise A, then rest 30 seconds; perform exercise B, then rest 30 seconds; perform exercise C, then rest one minute. Always perform as many good-form reps as possible in the time allotted. Repeat that entire sequence three more times, then do the same for the next circuit.

Strength Workout A

A. Pushup (hands elevated, feet elevated, or flat): 30 seconds

B. Walking Lunge: 40 seconds

C. Hollow Hold: 40 seconds

A. Dumbbell Clean and Press: 40 seconds

B. Bent-Over Dumbbell Row: 40 seconds

C. Burpee: 30 seconds

Strength Workout B

A. Pushup (hands elevated, feet elevated, or flat): 40 seconds

B. Burpee: 40 seconds

C. Stir-the-Pot: 40 seconds

A. Dumbbell Clean and Press: 40 seconds

B. Hollow Hold: 40 seconds

C. Assisted Pull-Up: 40 seconds

Cardio Workout A

Perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy — running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, rowing — for 30 to 40 minutes, at a steady, challenging but manageable pace (Zones 2 to 3).

Cardio Workout B

Perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy for 45 to 60 minutes, at a steady, challenging pace (Zones 2 to 4).

Cardio Workout C

Warm up for 10 minutes doing a cardio exercise you enjoy, slowly elevating your intensity to Zones 3 to 4. Then, perform a 90-second sprint interval in Zones 4 to 5. Rest for one minute. Repeat this work–rest cycle a total of seven times. When you’re finished, perform an easy cool-down for 10 minutes.

Month 3 Exercises

Hollow Hold

  1. Maintain that position, stopping when your lower back comes off the floor.


  1. Continue alternating the direction of the circle on each rep until you have completed all the reps in your set.


  1. Reverse the movement, pushing back up to the starting position.

Advanced Variation: Feet-Elevated Pushup

  1. Perform the movement as described above, this time with your feet on an elevated box, bench, or chair.

Walking Lunge

  1. Reverse the movement, step your rear foot forward, and repeat the movement, alternating sides for the duration of the set.

Bent-Over Dumbbell Row

  1. Hold for a one-count, lower the dumbbells under control, and repeat.

Assisted Pull-Up

  1. Hold the top position for a one-count, then slowly lower yourself back down to the bench, bending your legs slightly until your arms extend fully.


  1. Drop your hips, flatten your back, stand upright, and jump upward.

Dumbbell Clean and Press

  1. Reverse the movement, lowering the dumbbells back to shoulder width and then back to your sides under control.

Unstoppable: Anthony Robles