High-intensity resistance training is all the rage these days.
Once the rarefied domain of boutique studios and CrossFit gyms, it has now made its way into the mainstream, showing up in local health clubs across the country.
And for good reason. These workouts work. Characterized by interval-training rhythms and “functional fitness” movements, they are famed for transforming bodies.
Alpha Training from Life Time is one of the latest offerings to enter this increasingly popular maximal-workout space.
Alpha workouts target eight distinct fitness abilities: strength, power, flexibility, endurance, balance, agility, speed, and coordination.
The goal is to balance your body and make you a well-rounded athlete, says Adam Rozmenoski, lead coach of Alpha Training.
To achieve this, the Alpha program emphasizes full-body primal movements: pushing, pulling, squatting, bending, rotating, running, and walking, as well as periods of high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
The results are improved strength and cardiovascular capacity, as well as a major fat-burning response. (Your body not only burns fat during the workout, but continues to do so for several hours afterward, an effect known as EPOC — excess postexercise oxygen consumption.)
This workout will improve your metabolism and slim you down. But those payoffs are mere bonuses.
“The primary aim is to help people learn to move better and prevent injury,” says Rozmenoski, who designed the following beginner-friendly, power-focused routine.
Safe, strong, and powerful — that’s what it means to be Alpha.
The Alpha Workout
- Perform each pair of exercises as a superset, with little or no rest between movements.
- Recover completely before moving on to the next superset.
- Continue this way until you complete all three supersets.
Equipment: medicine ball, kettlebell, and plyometric box or other sturdy, elevated surface (for jumping).
Note: More advanced exercisers can complete up to five rounds of each superset (with one-minute rests in between) before moving on to the next superset.
Plyometric Box Jumps
- Standing with your feet at hip width, about a foot away from a box or other elevated surface, lower into a squat as you swing your arms back.
- Quickly swing your arms forward and up, then drive through your hips and extend your legs to jump up onto the box.
- Land gently on the balls of your feet with knees soft, then plant your feet on the box. Your heels should not hang off the edge.
- Straighten your legs and extend your hips fully to stand tall.
- Step down one foot at a time. (See “BREAK IT DOWN: The Box Jump” for more alternatives and tips to this move.)
- Repeat 10 times.
Safety note: If you’re not comfortable with box jumps, try single-leg step-ups instead. Place one foot on top of a box and press through the heel to lift your body until you are standing on the box with both feet.
Overhead Ball Toss
- Standing with your feet at hip width, hold a medicine ball at chest level.
- Squat down, keeping your chest lifted and the ball close.
- Explode out of the squat, driving your hips forward and extending your legs.
- At the same time, use the power generated by your hips to toss the ball overhead, about four to five feet into the air, or as high as you can with control. (Alternatively, you can throw the ball against a wall.)
- Catch the ball and drop your hips back down into a squat.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Start in a plank position with your hands on the floor (or, easier, elevated on a box or bench), slightly more than shoulder width apart.
- Bend your elbows, pointing them slightly backward and to the sides, to lower yourself to the floor.
- Just as your chest is about to touch the floor, explosively push up as fast as possible, lifting your hands off the floor as you straighten your arms completely.
- “Catch” your body by returning your hands to the floor before your chest touches down.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Stand in a split stance with one foot in front of the other (about 3 feet apart).
- Bend both knees to lower yourself into a split squat, keeping your hips square and checking that your front knee doesn’t cave inward.
- When your back knee is about an inch from the ground, push off the midfoot and heel of your front foot as you lift your back foot to jump.
- Switch the position of your feet in midair and land softly in the lunge position with the opposite leg forward.
- Alternate sides for a total of 10 repetitions, five per side.
- Stand with the kettlebell in front of you. Hinge at your hips to reach down and grasp the kettlebell, then quickly “hike” it between your legs.
- Extend your hips to swing the kettlebell out in front of you. Don’t pull with your arms; the power comes from your glutes.
- Engage your core and glutes and straighten your legs as the kettlebell reaches roughly face height.
- Guide the kettlebell back to the “hiked” position, near your crotch. Don’t let it fall below knee height. (See “BREAK IT DOWN: The Kettlebell Swing” for more on this powerful move.)
- Repeat 10 times.
Standing Broad Jump
- Stand with your feet at hip width, knees slightly bent and arms at your sides.
- Lower into a quarter-squat, and swing your arms back, as if you’re preparing to take off.
- Quickly swing your arms up as you drive through your hips and fully extend your legs to jump forward about four to five feet.
- Land gently on the balls of your feet, with knees soft, then allow your heels to follow.
- Rise to standing.
- Repeat five times.
Warm-up and Cool-Down
The warm-up and cool-down are an integral part of the Alpha program. The warm-up is intended to transition your body into fat-burning mode, so that you burn fat more efficiently during the workout, says Adam Rozmenoski, lead coach of Life Time’s Alpha Training program. The cool-down starts the process of regenerating and repairing of your muscles.
Perform two to three sets of the following:
- 1 minute of rowing on Concept2 Rower (or other rowing machine)
- 10 air squats
- 10 pushups
- 10 lateral lunges on each side
- Stand with your feet at hip width, with toes pointing forward. Keep your arms relaxed at your sides.
- Push your hips backward and bend your knees to lower into a squat. As you descend, raise your arms out in front of you to shoulder height.
- Quickly drive your hips forward and straighten your legs to rise to a standing position. As you rise, return your arms to your sides.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Start in a plank position with your hands directly under your shoulders, either on the floor or elevated on a box, and toes on the ground. Keep your feet together and squeeze your glutes.
- Bend your elbows, pointing them slightly backward and to the sides, to lower your body toward the floor.
- Push your body up to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times. (Fine-tune your pushup form by visiting “BREAK IT DOWN: The Pushup“.)
- Stand with your feet at hip width and your arms relaxed at your sides. Make sure both feet are facing forward.
- Take a wide step to your right, keeping your right foot in line with your left and toes facing forward. Transfer your weight to your right heel and push your right hip directly back into a lunge, keeping your chest up.
- Push off with your right heel to return to the starting position.
- Repeat 10 times. Switch sides.
- Foam roll and stretch “hot areas” (areas that were worked during the workout or ones that are ailing you more than usual). For details, read “On A Roll” and watch the video “Foam-Rolling Basics“.
Watch the full Alpha workout at “The Workout: Alpha Power (Video)“.
This article originally appeared as “Alpha Power” in the May 2015 issue of Experience Life.