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The scientifically-proven workout (part two)

While the components of Cycle 1 were a bit basic, preparing your body for the work to come, Cycle 2 takes your training up a notch. “Cycle 1 is the time during which fundamental movement patterns are learned and a solid foundation for high-level training is set,” says Matthew N. Berenc, director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute. “Cycle 2 is where a higher level of stress is applied to the learned patterns and the participants start to engage in higher-intensity programming. Now more weight or volume of training is being used and the complexity of some movements has increased.”

As with Cycle 1, you'll progress through three specific categories of exercise: Movement Prep, Strength, and Metabolic. Remember, in the study, each individual cycle lasted four weeks, so consider this a sneak preview of the workout you will be doing in the second phase of training. Click on the slideshow below to see Berenc demonstrate the Cycle 2 workout. And circle back next Monday to access Cycle 3.

Start at the beginning. Get the Cycle 1 workout.

Shot on location at Equinox South Bay.

Movement prep: foam roll (glutes)

With your feet flat on the floor, slightly wider than shoulder-width, center a foam roller beneath your glutes. Lift your left leg and rest your left ankle on your right knee (as shown). Roll back and forth from the center of your glute to the bottom of your spine for 30 seconds; switch legs and repeat.

Movement prep: foam roll (thoracic spine)

Lie faceup with feet shoulder-width apart and flat on the floor. Center a foam roller beneath your mid-back or shoulder blades so that it is perpendicular to your body. Rest your hands beneath your head (as shown) and roll up and down your spine for 30 seconds.

Movement prep: Turkish get-up

Start by lying flat on the floor with a kettlebell to your side on the left. Roll on to your left side grabbing the kettlebell with both hands (left hand on the handle), hug it in to your chest and roll on to your back. Press the kettlebell upward with both hands until your arms are straight. Bring your right arm down to the floor, extended out to the side at a 45-degree angle. Bend the left knee with the left foot flat on the floor and right leg extended straight on the floor. Following the kettlebell with your gaze, begin a half get-up by rolling to the right to come up on to the right forearm. Once on the forearm continue the movement by extending the right arm and posting completely on the right hand. At the end of the movement you should be in a tall seated position. Reverse motion to start position. Do 2 sets of 1 to 2 reps per hand. (From Berenc: The starting weight is very dependent; you can start with body weight and progress from there. Form and control is of the highest importance. The focus should be on the movement and not intensity.)

Movement prep: walkout to plank

From a standing position, make a slight bend in your knees, hinge forward from the hips and bring your hands to the floor. Start to walk your hands out until you are in push-up position, hold that position for a count of 2 seconds. Reverse motion to start for one rep. Do 2 sets of 5 reps. 

Strength: double kettlebell front rack squat

Hold a kettlebell in each hand by the handle, with the wrists straight, the weight resting on your forearms and the handles at chest-height. Keeping that position, lower yourself into a deep squat until your elbows touch the insides of your knees (do not try to force the depth, work within your range and progress lower). Come up out of the squat slowly. Do 3 sets of 8 reps. (Berenc suggests a starting weight of 8-12kg for women, 16kg for men.)

Strength: single-arm TRX row

Combine the handles of the TRX to lock within themselves (to create one handle). Holding both handles with one hand, walk your feet forward as you lean back until your elbow is fully extended. From the hanging position, pack the working arm shoulder down keeping the shoulder blade pulled back as you row your elbow and arm to your side, forming a 90-degree angle. (From Berenc: The focus is on keeping the body neutral; don’t let any rotation happen.) Return to the hanging position in a control manner and repeat for a total of 8 reps. Switch arms and repeat. Do 3 sets. 

Strength: ViPR single-leg deadlift with contralateral reach

Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a ViPR in front of your body by the handles. Start the movement by extending and reaching back you’re your right leg while hinging forward from the hips, slowly lowering torso until it is almost parallel to the floor. Reach to tap the right end of the ViPR to the floor, in front of your left foot. Reverse motion to start. Repeat for 40 seconds. Do 3 sets per leg. (Berenc suggests a starting weight of 6-8kg for women and 10kg for men.)

Strength: tall kneeling single-arm shoulder press

In a full kneeling position, holding a kettlebell in your left hand with the wrist straight, brace your glutes and abs as hard as you would if you were going to do a plank – think of this move as a plank in the kneeling position. (From Berenc: Keep the body locked out underneath the bell; you want to create a solid foundation to push from). Press the kettlebell directly overhead, extending your arm straight into the air. Slowly lower the kettlebell to start. Do 3 sets of 8 reps per arm. (Berenc suggest a starting weight of 8kg for women, 16kg for men.) 

Strength: lateral lunge with ViPR chop

Holding a ViPR horizontally by both handles, take a lunging step directly to your right as you chop the ViPR across your body, bring the left end down towards the floor in front of your right foot. Repeat for 30 seconds. Do 3 sets per leg. (Berenc suggests a starting weight of 6kg for women and 8-10kg for men.)

Strength: stability ball stir-the-pot

Get into plank position, resting your forearms fully on a stability ball, hands clasped. Keeping your body still, move your arms (and thus the ball) in a circular motion—as if you were stirring a pot—in a clockwise direction. Do 10 rotations; repeat in a counterclockwise direction.

Metabolic: rower intervals

Row 250 meters. Repeat 4 times. (Berenc says to use the first round to set a target time; with each subsequent set try to go faster.  Everyone’s level of speed and ability will be different depending on how comfortable they are with the movement.)