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How to Do the Ultra Fit Workout at Home

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Put your agility, balance, and coordination to the test with this intense 30-minute functional-fitness routine.

A consistent and varied exer­cise routine is unrivaled for creating baseline physical fitness. But if you’ve been training for a while and feel ready to take your fitness to the next level, Ultra Fit might be just what you want.

The program combines strength and speed work with agility, balance, and coordination skills to help individuals become better equipped to handle the challenges of an active life in and out of the gym, says Life Time master trainer and small-group training manager Lindsay Ogden.

“If you want to be functionally fit,” says Ogden, “agility, balance, and coordination are the skills you really want to hone.”

Since helping to design the advanced high-intensity class for Life Time in 2019, Ogden has watched participants celebrate a variety of fitness achievements:

  • Increased maximum sprint speeds
  • Decreased recovery time
  • Increased strength endurance
  • Improved agility and coordination
  • Decreased body fat
  • Better mind–body connection through challenging proprioception and balance

“It’s awesome to see people dig deep for that inner athlete, pushing for those last five seconds on their sprint,” she says.

And though Ultra Fit is designed for a small-group, treadmill-based, in-club class, the programming can be adapted to do on your own at a fitness center or at home. Ogden offers the following Ultra Fit–inspired workout to train your abilities to stay better grounded and upright on uneven terrain, to change direction quickly, and to use various parts of your body together.

Designed for intermediate to advanced exercisers, this workout combines speed sessions on the treadmill or a hill with ground exercises. (For a ­beginner-friendly functional routine, check out “Ready-for-Anything Fitness”.)

Perform this workout one to three times per week, taking care to prioritize recovery through sleep, nutrition, breathing, and stress management, emphasizes Ogden.

“Ultra Fit kicks your butt and gives you that endorphin release when you learn a new skill or exercise you’ve never asked of your body before.”

At-Home Ultra Fit

Equipment: A treadmill and a low box or step (8 to 12 inches). Alternatively, take this workout outdoors and find a bit of flat road or grass, a hill, and a curb or step.

Start with 10 minutes of walking or jogging, plus a dynamic warm-up (see “The Perfect Warm-Up”). Then . . .

Jog on a flat surface at 60 percent effort: two minutes.

Rest 30 to 60 seconds.

UPPER-BODY AND CORE FOCUS

Perform two sets:

Shoulder Taps: 30 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest.

  • Start in a plank position with your body forming a straight line from heels to head.
  • With control, while keeping your hips and shoulders level, shift your weight into one hand and lift the opposite hand off the floor.
  • Raise that hand across your body and tap the opposite shoulder. Don’t twist your body or hike your hip; keep your shoulders and hips squared to the floor.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Alternate sides to accumulate as many good-form reps as possible in the prescribed amount of time.

Sit-ups: 30 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest.

  • Lie face-up on the floor with knees bent and feet flat. Position your hands at the sides of your head, across your body, or at your sides. (Don’t grab your neck or your clothing to pull yourself up.)
  • Engage your core and glutes and sit up slowly, curling your torso toward your toes. Avoid using momentum or jerky movements to raise yourself up.
  • Come to sit upright, with a straight back and abs tensed.
  • Lower yourself with control. Repeat for the prescribed amount of time, focusing on contracting your abs with each rep.

Rest 30 to 60 seconds.

Run on a flat surface at 70 percent effort: 45 seconds.

Rest 60 to 90 seconds.

AGILITY FOCUS

Perform two sets:

Skaters: 30 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest.

  • Start in an athletic stance, with feet at hip width, core engaged, and knees slightly bent.
  • Push off your right foot to hop to your left and land gently on the ball of your left foot. As the left heel comes down, allow the knee to bend into a partial single-leg squat and bring your right foot behind your left ankle, planting your toes for balance if needed.
  • Quickly push off your left foot to hop back to your right. Continue alternating sides for the duration of the interval, taking care to stick each landing.
  • Alternate sides to accumulate as many good-form reps as possible in the prescribed amount of time.

Quick Toe-Taps to curb or step: 30 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest.

  • Begin with your right foot flat on the ground beneath your hips, and the toes of your left foot on a step, curb, or other low platform.
  • Push off the ground with your right foot to hop up. Switch legs in midair to land with the toes of your right foot on the platform and your left foot on the ground.
  • Alternate sides to accumulate as many good-form reps as possible in the prescribed amount of time.

Rest 30 to 60 seconds.

Run on a flat surface at 80 percent effort: Two rounds of 30-second sprints, resting one minute between sets.

Rest 60 to 90 seconds.

AGILITY FOCUS

Perform two sets:

High-Knee Shuffle: 30 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest.

  • Start in an athletic stance, with feet at hip width, core engaged, and knees slightly bent.
  • Keeping your feet pointing forward, step your right foot about a foot to the right.
  • At the same time, drive your left knee up with power and control.
  • Plant your left foot on the floor as you drive your right knee up. Repeat, alternating stepping and driving the knees up for about 10 steps in one direction. Then repeat in the opposite direction.
  • Continue shuffling for the prescribed amount of time. Aim to move quickly and with control, keeping your nose over your toes (don’t try to lean back) and feet facing forward throughout the move.

180° Jump Squats: 30 seconds of work, then 15 seconds of rest.

  • Stand with feet about hip width apart and planted firmly on the ground, and hands in front of you or on your hips.
  • Brace your core, and, with control, bend your knees and hips to squat down until your thighs are about parallel to the ground.
  • Press through your feet to jump up. As you become airborne, spin your body to the left 180 degrees, so you are facing the opposite direction.
  • Land softly, and immediately lower yourself into another squat. Press through your feet to jump up and, this time, spin 180 degrees to the right to return to your starting position.
  • Repeat, alternating sides and prioritizing squat form, for the prescribed amount of time.

Rest 60 to 90 seconds.

Run uphill at 90 percent effort: Three rounds of 15-second sprints, resting one minute between sets.

This article originally appeared as “Getting Ultra Fit” in the January/February 2021 issue of Experience Life.

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Health & Fitness

Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie

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DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and lightly oil a 9-x-13-inch baking dish.

In a 2-quart pot, bring the vegetable stock and lentils to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and cook until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain the lentils and reserve the stock. Measure the stock and add water, if needed, to make a 1/2 cup.

While the lentils are cooking, place the parsnips in a second large pot and cover with water by an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook until the parsnips are tender when pierced, about 10 minutes. Drain, then place the parsnips in a food processor. Purée until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the nondairy milk, 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and 1 teaspoon salt, and purée to mix.

In a large skillet, warm the remaining avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it begins to sizzle, about two minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the mushrooms, carrots, and remaining salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are shrunken and browned and other veggies are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the thyme, sage, pepper, flour, and tomato paste. Stir until combined, then add the reserved stock from the lentils and bring to a low boil. Cook for about two minutes, then turn off the heat. Stir in the peas and cooked lentils, then scrape the mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.

Spread the parsnip purée over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with the paprika.

Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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