This program covers all your bases to kick butt in the SHAPE Diva Dash. You will perform four total workouts per week: Two are focused on increasing strength in your basic movement patterns—pushing, pulling, squatting, lunging, bending and twisting—a third is designed specifically to increase your conditioning through interval work, and the fourth combines a bit of both with additional emphasis on speed and agility. You can warm up before each with some foam rolling, dynamic stretching or mobility exercises and bodyweight versions of the moves you’ll be performing in your workout.
For the first three weeks of your training, your goal will be to build strength and efficiency in basic yet dynamic moves, and learn how to stabilize your core while other parts of your body are moving. This is ultimately what will allow you to produce and absorb the various forces necessary to do well in the Diva Dash. Then, in weeks 4-6, you’ll be able to safely increase the intensity with running intervals, plyometrics and higher-threshold core work.
For the strength workouts, each exercise has two options. Choose the first if you’re an intermediate trainee, and the second if you’re a tougher diva. If you’re not sure, try them both. If the first is too easy but you can manage the second with perfect technique, go with the harder version. If you struggle to maintain good form, the easier option is your best bet. Remember: The goal is always to challenge yourself, but never at the price of potential injury. The same thing goes for weight selection: The last two reps should be hard to complete, but you should still be able to do them with perfect technique.
You’ll also notice that your strength exercises are paired: A1 and A2 mean the exercises are performed back to back before moving on to exercise group B and C. For unilateral moves, perform the designated reps on each side. And because your goal in the Diva Dash is to move through the obstacles as quickly as possible, you’ll do the same in your workouts. Rest only as long as you need to complete all the reps of your next set at the same weight. Same goes for the agility workout: There’s no rest on the course, so try to get through the circuit as fast as you can. Your interval workouts have clearly defined work: rest ratios and you’ll notice that they increase each week.
To ensure enough recovery, allow one full day of rest between strength and interval sessions if possible, preferably two full days between strength workouts. A sample week might look like this:
Monday: Strength day 1
Wednesday: Core and Intervals
Friday: Strength day 2
Saturday: Agility Circuit
Now, onto the program!
Meaghan Shea is a personal trainer at Focus Integrated Fitness in New York City and editor of their company blog FitnessMASH. Her certifications include ACE-CPT, NSCA-CSCS and AAHFRP-MES. She is finishing up her Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University.