Strong, Fast & Fit: Turn Up The Volume (Part II, Month 4)

Build serious muscle this month with our amped-up, four-day lifting schedule.

A man holds two dumbbells.

This month we’re applying laserlike focus to a single goal: building muscle mass. This means we’ll dial down the overall intensity and cardio efforts as lifting volume increases. Think of the next four weeks as laying the bedrock for better fitness and overall health, giving you the strength to ramp other activities up again next month.

The big difference you’ll notice is that instead of three strength-training workouts per week, you’ll do four. And instead of working the entire body each time, you’ll work the upper body on two days and the lower body on two days.

This allows you to perform a higher volume of work while giving each muscle group more recovery time between sessions. This, in turn, offers greater flexibility in scheduling your lifts: You can strength-train two days — and even up to four days — in a row.

Because the focus here is on strength training, the program calls for just one medium-effort, steady-state cardio workout per week. Perform a cardio activity you enjoy — such as jogging, rowing, swimming, or cycling — for 20 to 30 minutes. You can do this workout on the same day as your strength training or on a different day.

Another option that’s encouraged but not required: On days when you’re not doing cardio, take a 20- to 60-minute walk, ideally in nature, and with other people.

You can also take a walk up to seven days a week, before or after your workout, or any time it’s convenient.

Don’t think of these walks as formal exercise. They’re just head-clearing, meditative strolls. Fit them in when you can, and don’t stress out when you can’t.

Let’s get started.

is an Experience Life contributing editor.

Photography by: Kelly Loverud; Styling: Pam Brand; Fitness Models: Robert Clark and Anna Taylor

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