Strong, Fast, and Fit: Push to the Summit (Month 5)

By Andrew Heffernan |

Everyone has pressure-cooker moments. For students, it’s the final exam. For professional athletes, it’s the playoff game. For corporate warriors, it’s the quarterly report and big presentation.

For fitness enthusiasts — and if you’ve made it this far in our Strong, Fast, and Fit program, that’s exactly what you are — it’s the extra-tough workout. This month, you’ll be experiencing plenty of moments that test your newfound fitness and push it to a higher level.

For three of the next four weeks, you’ll do cardio almost every day. Three days a week you’ll also perform strength workouts that are longer and tougher than what you’ve done before. Most weeks, you’ll punch the workout clock six days, for up to 90 minutes at a stretch.

Why the big push now?

“Last month, you took one step back to take two steps forward,” says program designer Troy Jacobson, senior national director of Endurance Sports Training at Life Time.

“Your body should be primed and ready to push to the next level, and it’s time to leverage that recovered state.” (If you missed the previous workouts, visit

In three weeks you’ll be fitter and stronger than you’ve ever been, ready to tackle a short taper and that final peak in June.

You’ve got this.

Month 5 Overview

Take the first week of the program to adjust to the new movements, aiming for about 60 to 70 percent intensity during most workouts. Shoot for 70 to 80 percent intensity by the end of Week 2, and 80 to 90 percent by the end of Week 3. A little soreness a day or two after a workout is fine, but debilitating soreness is a sign you need to back off.

Determine your work zones by calculating your anaerobic threshold (for a DIY method, visit “How to Calculate Your Anaerobic Threshold“) or taking an individualized metabolic test (available at many health clubs). You can also use the RPE (rate of perceived exertion) scale, a subjective effort measurement, as defined at right.

This month, pay close attention to sleep, nutrition, and hydration, and focus on foam rolling, stretching, and other recovery techniques.

This is an optional workout day. If you’re feeling strong and energetic, do a light-to-moderate 30- to 45-minute cardio workout. If you’re feeling fatigued, take an extra rest day.

RPE Scale

The Workouts

For both strength workouts, do four rounds of each circuit, performing each exercise for 45 seconds. Take a 30-second break between exercises and recover for one minute between rounds.

Strength Workout A

A. Jump Rope: 45 seconds

B. Pushup: 45 seconds

C. Band-Assisted Pull-Up: 45 seconds

D. Plank With Leg Lift: 45 seconds

A. Plyo Jump With 90 With Degree Rotation: 45 seconds

B. Lateral Lunge: 45 seconds

C. Burpee Mountain Climber: 45 seconds

Strength Workout B

A. Dumbbell Clean and Press: 45 seconds

B. Dumbbell Bent-Over Row: 45 seconds

C. Hollow Hold: 45 seconds

D. Pushup: 45 seconds

A. Jump Rope: 45 seconds

B. Plank With Leg Lift: 45 seconds

C. Burpee Mountain Climber: 45 seconds

Cardio Workout  A

Perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy — running, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, rowing — for 45 minutes, at a steady and challenging but manageable pace (Zones 2 to 3).

Cardio Workout  B

Perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy for 60 to 75 minutes, at a steady, challenging pace (Zones 2 to 4).

Cardio Workout C

For 10 minutes, perform a cardiovascular exercise you enjoy, slowly elevating your intensity to Zones 3 to 4. Then perform six two-minute intervals in Zones 4 to 5, resting one minute between each interval. Finally, perform four 20-second intervals at your highest intensity, taking one minute and 40 seconds between efforts. When you’re finished, cool down at an easy pace for 10 minutes.

Lateral Lunge

  1. To make the move harder, hold a dumbbell in each hand.

Plank With Leg Lift

  1. Lower your right leg, repeat the movement with your left leg. Alternate sides for the duration of the interval.


  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.

Plyo Jump With 90-Degree Rotation

  1. Land softly on the floor and repeat the movement, this time rotating 90 degrees to your left. Alternate sides for the duration of the interval.

Dumbbell Clean and Press

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

Burpee Mountain Climber

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

Hollow Hold

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

Dumbbell Bent-Over Row

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

Jump Rope

  1. If it’s hard to time your jump to get over the rope without tripping, try listening for the sound of the rope hitting the ground in front of you. When you hear the tap, jump a couple of inches off the ground to clear a way for the rope to pass beneath you.

Band-Assisted Pull-Up

  1. Pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar, pause, and slowly lower yourself back to the starting position. Repeat for the prescribed time period.

BREAK IT DOWN: The Bench Press

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