The scientifically-proven workout (part three)

Along those very lines, the experts designed each of the three unique cycles of The Scientifically-Proven Workout to build upon the cardio and strength components of the previous workouts. “Each program was a stepping stone for the next one to be effective,” says Matthew N. Berenc, director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute.

To jog your memory: Cycle 1 was all about foundation-building; Cycle 2 applied a higher level of intensity, adding weight and volume. “Finally, in Cycle 3, higher-intensity training mixes with higher skill-based exercises,” says Berenc. “In the study done in conjunction with the UCLA Exercise Physiology and Research Laboratory, not only were the participants pushed via strength, but also with power-based exercises.”

And since you’ll be working out even harder, pay special attention to your recovery. “Post-workout, the participants were instructed to foam roll on their own to aid in recovery, the key areas of focus being the quads, hips and upper back,” says Berenc.

As with Cycles 1 and 2, 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 third and final phase of training.

See Berenc demonstrate the Cycle 3 moves.

See the Cycle 1 workout | See the Cycle 2 workout.

Shot on location at Equinox South Bay.

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.

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.

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, then step your right leg back into a deep lunge so that your left knee forms a 90-degree angle. While in the lunge position, reach directly overhead towards the ceiling with both hands (as shown). Return to start position and repeat. Do 2 sets of 5 reps; switch legs and repeat. 

Standing over a barbell, reach your hips back as you hinge forward, eliciting a stretch in the hamstrings and remaining tall through the spine. Using both hands, grasp the bar firmly (as shown). Drive to a standing position as you push your hips forward, contracting the glutes. When you reach the standing position you should feel like you are in a standing plank. Return to the start position by once again sitting back with the hips and bending forward with a neutral spine. Do 4 sets of 6 reps. 

Get into a slightly extended static beast position, placing hands on the floor directly beneath your shoulders, your knees just behind your hips, then slowly lift your knees one inch off the ground. Start by pushing the hips back toward your heals while reaching forward through your hands as they remain on the ground.  Shift your body forward bringing your chest over your hands while at the same time bringing your left knee outside of your left elbow (as shown). Do 5 reps each side; alternating sides as you go.

Place hands on floor directly below your shoulders, knees just above your hips in line with your belt line. Once there, slowly lift knees one inch off the ground. From this position, lift your right hand and left foot simultaneously as you move yourself forward (as shown). Make sure your hands stay below your shoulders and your knees below your hips, maintaining a tight core. Move forward slowly and in small increments, lifting opposite limbs together as you go, for 10 steps. Reverse the motion, taking 10 steps back. Do 2 sets. 

Standing behind a kettlebell with feet shoulder-width apart, hinge your hips back and bend the knees so you can reach forward to grasp the handle of the kettlebell with your right hand in a firm overhand grip. Hike the kettlebell back between your legs and then explosively drive through your hips to a standing position, contracting glutes, and bring the kettlebell to chest level, tucking your straight wrist under the handle and keeping your elbow close to your body. Pause, then press overhead until your right arm is straight (as shown). Slowly bring the kettlebell back to the chest level position. In one fluid movement “throw” the kettlebell between your legs repeating the hip hinge to explosive drive. Do 4 sets of 6 reps; switch arms and repeat. (Berenc suggests a starting weight of 8kg for women and 16kg for men.)

Using a pull-up bar or the grips on a jungle gym, pull up in three counts (as shown), and lower down in three counts. The slower and more controlled the movement, the more effective it is. Do 4 sets of 8 reps. 

Stand on the edge of a box with your right foot on the box, your left foot off the box, keeping arms at sides. Lower yourself into a squat until your right knee is bent 90 degrees and your right thigh is parallel with the ground (as shown). Reaching your arms forward as you lower can help in keeping balance. Do 4 sets of 8 reps; switch legs and repeat. 

Starting in a full kneeling position, holding the handles of an ab wheel, contract (or brace) your abs and glutes as if you were in a plank position. Maintaining the contraction, roll the wheel out in front of you until your arms are fully extended and your torso is as close to parallel to the ground as possible (as shown). Keeping the contraction in your abs, pull down through your extended arm to roll the wheel back towards your hips and return to starting position. Think of this exercise as a moving plank. That’s one rep. Do 4 sets of 6 reps. 

Secure a battle rope around a column or a weight machine, pulling it taut, and then stand, holding an end of the rope in each hand. Whip the rope for 20 seconds without stopping (as shown). Rest for 20 seconds. Repeat for 5 rounds. 

Photographs by Mike Rosenthal; Art Direction & Styling by Ashley Martin; Grooming by Christina Henry