When was the last time you slammed a medicine ball against the ground as hard and as fast as you could? Or jumped in the air as high as possible?
It’s the final month of Strong, Fast & Fit: Part II — a time to build on everything you’ve done so far while taking another step forward in your strength and cardio fitness. In the next four weeks, we’ll be adding new explosive, athletic movements: jumps, throws, pushes, and leaps.
It’s hard work, but it can be a lot of fun, too.
These moves are designed to turn all your newfound strength into power — the ability to move quickly and accurately in all planes of motion. It’s a key component of athletic movement and an insurance policy against falls and accidents.
At the end of the month, you’ll be strong, powerful, flexible, and resilient enough to take your fitness journey in any direction you wish. Enjoy the new vigor you’ve worked so hard to build.
With a foundation of fitness supporting you, the sky’s the limit.
Month 6: Bringing It Home
This month, you’ll return to alternating between two full-body workouts on three nonconsecutive days each week. Feel free to change workout days based on your schedule.
These strength workouts are broken up into rounds A and B. During the month, you’ll complete 12 workouts (six “A’s” and six “B’s”) for a total of six rounds.
Each workout is built around supersets, pairs of exercises targeting similar muscle groups. The first move (labeled “A” in each pair) is an explosive movement; the second (labeled “B”) is a strength move. Rest as little as possible between the A and B moves. Then rest about 60 seconds before returning to the A move and repeating the cycle. Continue in this manner until you’ve completed all sets in the pair, and then proceed to the next pair of exercises.
For moves labeled “technical failure,” perform as many reps as you can without sacrificing form.
Prior to each workout — and any time you need some quick energy — perform the mobility and activation drills from month 2. (For a refresher, visit “Strong, Fast & Fit: Learning the Ropes (Part II, Month 2)”.)
For the next month, your workout schedule might look like this:
There are two cardio sessions per week: cardio A and cardio B. Schedule them whenever you can, ideally on separate days from your strength work. The same day can work, too — it just makes for a long workout.
Choose any form of cardio you enjoy, indoors or outdoors. After a five-minute warm-up, spend 20 to 30 minutes on the activity at a comfortable pace (6/10 on an effort scale). Cool down with light movement or by stretching for five minutes.
Perform your cardio activity of choice at an easy pace (4/10 on an effort scale) for five minutes. Then spend 30 seconds at a near-maximal pace (9/10) followed by 150 seconds (two and a half minutes) at a recovery pace (5/10). Repeat the three-minute work–rest cycle a total of six to eight times — depending on your energy level and time available.|
- Take an underhand (chin-up grip) on the bar.
- Hang with arms fully extended, and engage your shoulders, core, and glutes.
- Draw your elbows down to your sides as you pull yourself up until your chin clears the bar.
- Lower yourself with control to fully extend your arms at the bottom of each rep.
- Use a superband to adjust the difficulty and ensure you can do each rep with great form.
- From the bottom of a lunge position, swing your arms forward and up, jumping upward as high as possible.
- While airborne, switch the position of your feet, landing with the other foot forward.
- Jump continuously, alternating the forward-leg on each rep.
- Load a trap bar with a medium weight and stand inside the hexagonal opening, feet at shoulder width and parallel.
- Bend at your knees and hips and take hold of the high handles, palms facing inward.
- With your head in a neutral position, lengthen your torso, drop your hips, lift your chest, and brace your core. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your chest high and your back flat, drive through your heels and come to standing.
- Pause for a moment and return to the starting position, lowering the bar to the floor.
- Assume an athletic stance, holding a medium-weight medicine ball at chest height.
- Raise the ball overhead.
- Throw the ball onto the floor as hard as you can, dropping your weight and bending your knees slightly.
- Catch the ball on the rebound and repeat.
Workout B Variation: Side-to-Side Slam
- Perform the same move, alternately slamming the ball onto the floor to the outside of each foot.
- Assume a pushup position — hands and feet slightly wider than shoulder width, palms and the balls of your feet on the floor, arms locked out, and body straight from your heels to the top of your head.
- Keeping your body straight and your head in a neutral position, simultaneously bend your arms and retract your shoulder blades until your chest contacts the floor.
- Push yourself back to the starting position.
- Lift your left hand from the floor, rotate your left arm back and up toward the ceiling.
- Pause, lower your hand to the floor, and repeat, raising your right arm.
- Alternate arms on each rep.
- Too tough? Perform the move with your hands elevated on a box or bench.
Workout B Variation: Plyo Pushup
- Perform the same move with your hands elevated on a box. On each rep, explode forcefully out of the low position so your hands leave the box for a moment at the top of each rep. Catch yourself, landing softly, and repeat.
- Stand upright, holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides.
- Take a long stride with your right foot, forward and 45 degrees to the right.
- Bend your knees 90 degrees, lowering your back knee close to the floor.
- Rise from the low position, step your left foot forward and 45 degrees to the left, and repeat.
- Continue moving forward, alternating legs.
Workout B Variation: Rotational Lunge
- Perform the same move holding a medicine ball in front of your chest. Step directly forward with each stride, hold the bottom position, and rotate as far as you can in the direction of your forward leg on each rep.
- Standing a few feet behind the anchor point for a TRX (or equivalent), raise the handles to chest height and walk backward until the straps are taut.
- Keeping your arms extended, walk your feet forward until your body forms about a 45-degree angle to the floor.
- Keeping your body straight from head to heels and your head in a neutral position relative to your spine, simultaneously bend your arms and pull your shoulder blades back, lifting your chest as high as you can toward the anchor point.
- Pause, slowly reverse the movement, and repeat for reps.
- To make the move more difficult, start with your feet farther forward; to make it easier, start with them farther back.
- Stand with your feet parallel and shoulder width apart and your knees soft.
- Draw your arms down and back and simultaneously bend your knees and hips, dropping into a partial squat.
- Swing your arms forward and up as fast as possible and jump into the air as high as you can, landing about 12 inches to your right.
- Land softly, taking care not to allow your knees to collapse inward on your landing.
- Pause and repeat, jumping to your left.
- Perform each jump with maximum intensity.
Workout B Variation: Vertical Jump
- Perform the same exercise, jumping straight up as high as possible each time.
Stability-Ball Leg Curl
- Lie on your back with your heels elevated on a medium-sized stability ball, feet about 6 inches apart.
- Extend your hips so that only your upper back, head, and arms are on the floor. This is your starting position.
- Keeping your body straight from your knees to your neck, bend your knees, lifting your hips as high as possible and squeezing your hamstrings at the top of the movement.
- Slowly straighten your legs, returning to the starting position. Repeat.
Curl and Press
- Stand holding two dumbbells by your sides.
- Turn your palms to face forward and curl the weights to shoulder height.
- Press the weights overhead, rotating your hands to face forward.
- Reverse the movement, lowering the weights first to shoulder height as you turn your palms toward you, then back to your sides, and repeat.
Congratulations! You’ve completed Strong, Fast & Fit: Part II. If you’ve followed along faithfully, sticking to our lifestyle tips and workout recommendations, you’re likely stronger, more energetic, and more athletic than you’ve been in quite some time. Depending on your workout history, that might mean ever.
So congratulations for making your health a priority, for overcoming all the obstacles that prevent busy people from exercising, for staying disciplined and focused, and — we hope — for adopting a beneficial habit that will stick with you for life.
Getting and staying fit is a lifelong journey, not a goal you reach and put behind you. Nevertheless, there are times when celebrating a victory along the way is called for. Right now is certainly one of them. Bravo!
As you come to the end of the six-month program, you might be wondering, “Now what?” The truth is, when fitness is a part of your life and an ongoing tool for physical and mental well-being, there is no “end.” Rather, you take the lessons you’ve learned and the strength you’ve gained and apply it.
You can opt for a new program — possibly one that is focused on a sport-specific goal, such as a triathlon or powerlifting meet — or progress previous programming to suit your improved strength, speed, and endurance. The beauty of the Strong, Fast & Fit programming is that it’s a solid template that can be repeated and progressed.
If you choose this route, go back to month 1 and progress the moves by choosing more difficult variations, adding weight, aiming for more good-form repetitions in the time allotted, or a combination of the three.
Here are other programs to try:
- “Strong, Fast, and Fit Program”: Experience Life’s original keystone program, SFF1 offers six months of varied strength-and-conditioning programming.
- “The Workout: 8 Weeks to Strong”: This two-month “powerbuilding” program combines powerlifting and bodybuilding to strengthen and sculpt your entire body.
- “How to Get Your First Pull-Up”: A 30-day program to help you lift your chin over the bar, once and for all.
- “Exercises for Lower-Back Pain”: Lower-back pain might get you down, but it doesn’t have to take you out. This program can keep you moving to come back stronger than ever.
- “The Easy-Strength Workout”: This two-month program focuses on building strength without wrecking your body.
- “Three Months to Your First 5K”: This 12-week running plan is a realistic, beginner-friendly approach to tackling the 5k distance.
This originally appeared as “Strong, Fast & Fit: Part II — Month 6: Bringing It Home” in the June 2020 print issue of Experience Life.