Strong, Fast and Fit: Reset (Month 4)


By Andrew Heffernan |

Forget the “go hard or go home” hype: Your body is not a machine, and you can’t keep pushing yourself without ever taking a break.

“Improvements in performance and other fitness metrics are not linear,” says program designer Troy Jacobson, senior national director of Endurance Sports Training at Life Time. If you keep going harder and doing more, sooner or later you’ll hit a wall — or even injure yourself. The best way to avoid burnout is to back off right when you’ve achieved a mini-peak in your training.

If you’ve been following our training series for the last three months, you’ve earned the right to slow down, says Jacobson. While most gym-goers take time off at random, you’ve been working out long enough to warrant a month of workouts that are a little easier than what’s come before. (Just getting on board with the Strong, Fast, and Fit program? Get started at ELmag.com/strongfastfithome.)

This month, says Jacobson, “We focus more on cardiovascular fitness while maintaining earlier strength gains.” You can expect a cardio effect even in the strength circuits.

This recovery month is designed to set you up to achieve bigger gains in the next two months, as you move toward peak form in June.

Speaking of June: You might start thinking now about participating in a summer event that takes advantage of your burgeoning fitness. An active vacation, a long hike or bike ride, even an obstacle-course race or triathlon are all great options.

Month 4 Overview

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

  1. Recovery days are just as important as workout days, says Jacobson. Don’t skip them.

RPE Scale

The Workouts

For both strength and conditioning workouts, perform three rounds of the two circuits. Rest 30 seconds between exercises in Strength Workout A, 20 seconds between exercises in Strength Workout B, and one minute between rounds in both workouts.

For instance, in Strength Workout A Circuit 1, perform exercise A for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds; perform B for 30 seconds, then rest for 30 seconds; perform C for 30 seconds, then rest 30 seconds; perform 30 seconds of D, then rest for one minute. Repeat the cycle two more times before moving on to Circuit 2.

Do the same for both circuits in Strength Workout B, but rest for 20 seconds between exercises instead of 30 seconds.

Always perform as many good-form reps as possible in the time allotted.

STRENGTH WORKOUT A

A. Burpee Sprawl: 30 seconds

B. Plyo Lateral Jump: 30 seconds

C. Assisted Pull-Up: 30 seconds

D. Prisoner Squat: 30 seconds

A. Wide-Grip Pushup: 30 seconds

B. Burpee Sprawl: 30 seconds

C. Hollow Hold With Rotation: 30 seconds

D. Leg Lift: 30 seconds

Strength Workout B

A. Pushup: 30 seconds

B. Plyo Lateral Jump: 30 seconds

C. Arm–Leg Raise: 30 seconds

D. Burpee Sprawl: 30 seconds

A. Dumbbell Shoulder Press: 30 seconds

B. Hollow Hold With Rotation: 30 seconds

C. Assisted Pull-Up: 30 seconds

D. Burpee Sprawl: 30 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 cardiovascular 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 finished, perform an easy cool-down for 10 minutes.

Month 4 Exercises

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

  1. Reverse the movement, lowering the dumbbells back to shoulder height under control.

Prisoner Squat

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

Wide-Grip Pushup

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

Leg Lift

  1. Return to the starting position and alternate legs for the duration of the set.

Arm-Leg Raise

  1. Lower and repeat with your left arm and your right leg, and continue alternating sides for 30 seconds.

Hollow Hold With Rotation

  1. Reverse the movement and continue at a controlled pace for 30 seconds.

Burpee Sprawl

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

Plyo Lateral Jump

  1. Land softly on the floor and repeat, this time jumping to your left. Alternate sides for 30 seconds.

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.

Beyond the Core: How to Flex Your Neck

Travel Lightly: The Beauty of EcoTourism