The 28-Day New Year Kick-Start Workout Plan

by Carla Henderson

Looking to jump-start your fitness goals in the new year? Commit yourself to this four-week program to take you into 2022 feeling stronger, leaner and more mobile.

Over the course of this plan, you’ll use elements of progressive overload, compound movements, functional training, mobility and stabilization exercises to create an amazing base for your goals this year no matter where you’re at now.

The foundation of the program includes three strength-based days and two metabolic conditioning (metcon) and mobility days per week. Below you’ll find four weeks of workouts, but this could easily be turned into an eight-week program — more on that later.

To get the most out of this plan, I recommend taking two full rest days each week so you can fully recover and move on to the next week well-rested. These two rest days will allow your muscles to repair and replenish glycogen stores and prevent injuries. Remember, more is not always better. 

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Week 1

Dual Kettlebell Deadlift Dual kettlebell deadlift demonstration. (Photo: rx.photography)

Strength Focus

To get things started, we’ll focus on form and building a baseline this week. You should be able to complete 4 sets of each exercise within a higher rep range as outlined in the workouts below. Use light dumbbells or just your body weight when appropriate.

Although the rep range is starting out on the higher end, you should still feel sore the next day from the increased endurance demands on your muscles. If you don’t, choose heavier weights the next day to get the most out of your strength work this week.

Metcon and Mobility Focus

Week one will focus on shorter metabolic conditioning intervals where you can keep moving steadily without taking breaks. There is no rest between rounds in either of the two workouts this week, so choose weights that won’t compromise your form and will allow you to move steadily from one exercise to the next.

You’ll need a foam roller, lacrosse ball and a strap or belt to perform the mobility work on these days. If you don’t have one or all of these tools, try to pick a stretch that targets the same areas addressed on each day.

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Week 1 Workouts

Monday: Strength

Rest for 60 seconds between each set.

Exercise Sets Reps Dual Kettlebell Deadlift 4 16-18 Curtsy Lunge 4 10-15 per leg Dual Dumbbell Strict Press 4 16-18 Triceps Kickback (with dumbbells or light plates) 4 20

Tuesday: Metcon and Mobility

Today’s metcon workout should not take longer than 15 minutes. If you don’t have a medicine ball, you can perform a dumbbell thruster instead of wall balls. Mobility work will be lower-body focused.

Metcon Mobility 3 rounds for time: - 12 Box Step-Ups (bodyweight or holding dumbbells) - 12 Wall Balls - 12-calorie Bike - Couch Stretch: 2 x 60-90 secs per side - Runner's Lunge with Thoracic Rotation: 10 per side - Banded Hamstring Stretch (3 directions): 2 x 30 seconds per side/position

Wednesday: Strength

Rest for 60 seconds between each set.

Exercise Sets Reps Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat (DB or KB) 4 10-15 per leg Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (DB or KB) 4 16-18 Seated Lateral and Front Raises 4 20 in each direction Push-Ups 4 10-15 (hardest variation you can perform with good form)

Thursday: Metcon and Mobility

Today’s metcon workout is performed as an AMRAP15 (as many reps as possible in 15 minutes) with no breaks between rounds. Choose manageable weights and remember to maintain your form as you move through the exercises.

Metcon Mobility AMRAP15 - 10 Ball Slams (moderate weight) - 20 Jumping Lunges - 10 Push-Ups - 200m Run* - Thoracic Stretch Over Foam Roller: 10 reps of 5 deep breaths in any tight positions - Pec and Lat Smash: 2 minutes per area with lacrosse ball - Calf Smash on Foam Roller: 2 minutes per calf

* Can be substituted for rowing or biking with equivalent time interval (30 to 35 seconds on work).

Friday: Strength

Superset lower-body and upper-body exercises and rest for 60 seconds between each set.

Exercise Sets Reps Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (3 seconds on the way down, fast up) — superset with — Reverse Lunges 4 — 4 16-18 — 10-15 per leg Biceps Curls: Hammer and Supinated — superset with — Dumbbell Bench or Floor Press 4 — 4 10 reps of each variation — 18-20

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Week 2

Single-Leg RDL Single-leg Romanian deadlift demonstration. (Photo: rx.photography)

Strength Focus

Sets and reps this week will decrease. If possible, increase the weight by 10 pounds for lower-body movements and five pounds for upper-body movements.

If last week’s upper-body work was challenging, go for a higher rep range and keep your weight the same, since we will be doing one less set.

Metcon and Mobility Focus

The focus of this week’s metabolic conditioning will be one shorter effort on Tuesday and one longer effort on Thursday. Like last week, you should be choosing weights and scaling options that allow you to move through these workouts with minimal rest.

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Week 2 Workouts

Monday: Strength

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps Dual Kettlebell Deadlift 3 10-15 Curtsy Lunge 3 10-12 per leg Dual Dumbbell Strict Press 3 12-15 Triceps Kickback (with dumbbells or light plates) 3 25-30

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Tuesday: Metcon and Mobility

The kettlebells in today’s workout should be a little heaver than what you would normally use. If you have shoulder pain, you can just bring the kettlebell to eye level and complete Russian swings. If you do not have a kettlebell, you can use a dumbbell for this. Additionally, if you don’t have access to rings, you can perform a bent-over row with moderate weight dumbbells that are challenging but don’t compromise your form.

Metcon Mobility 4 rounds for time: - 10 Burpees - 10 Ring Rows - 15 Kettlebell Swings (moderate weight) - Pec Stretch/Doorway Stretch: 3 reps of 30-90 seconds per side - 90/90 Hip Switch: 2 reps of 10 per side with a 2- to 3-second pause at end ranges - Scap Push-Ups in Plank: 3 sets of 8 reps with a 2- to 3-second pause at the top of each rep - Shoulder Abduction to End Range: 2 sets of 10 per side with a 1-pound plate or body weight

Wednesday: Strength

If you’re a push-up master, increase the rep range for bodyweight push-ups or add a light plate to your back (five to 10 pounds) and complete a lower rep range as outlined in the workouts, without letting your hips sag or compromising your form in any other way.

Rest for 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat (DB or KB) 3 10-12 per leg Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (DB or KB) 3 12-15 Seated Lateral and Front Raises 3 25-30 in each direction Push-Ups 3 10-15 (hardest variation you can perform with good form)

Thursday: Metcon and Mobility

Today’s metcon workout is performed as an AMRAP20 (as many reps as possible in 20 minutes) with no breaks between rounds. Make sure you’re moving through a full range of motion when performing sit-ups, with your shoulders passing your knees as you sit up.

Metcon Mobility AMRAP20: - 500m row or 400m run - 12 dumbbell push presses - 20 sit-ups - 12 dumbbell push presses - Lat Stretch With Band: 3 reps of 30-45 seconds per side - Thoracic Prayer Stretch Over Box: 3 reps of 30 seconds or 5 deep breaths - Pallof Press Out: 3 sets of 15 reps per side Pallof Press Out Pallof press out demonstration. (Photo: rx.photography)

Friday: Strength

Superset lower-body and upper-body exercises, resting 60 to 90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (3 seconds on the way down, fast up) — superset with — Reverse Lunges 3 — 3 12-15 — 10-12 each leg Biceps Curls: Hammer and Supinated — superset with — Dumbbell Bench or Floor Press 3 — 3 10 reps of each variation — 16-18

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Weeks 3-4

Push-Up Push-up demonstration. (Photo: rx.photography)

Strength Focus

By now, you’ll ideally be increasing your weights from last week and continuing to do so these last two weeks. Again, try to focus on adding five pounds to upper-body exercises and 10 pounds to lower-body exercises. If you can’t do this without compromising form or don’t have access to a full gym, continue to strive for a higher rep range.

The rest period during these last two weeks will increase — and you should need it. If you don’t feel the need to rest for the entire 90 seconds, you aren’t working hard enough during your sets.

Moreover, you should be sore after these sessions. If you aren’t feeling sore, you aren’t progressively loading yourself enough. Keep track of the weights you use week over week to make sure this programming is effective and you’re not just breezing through these strength workouts. They are designed to be hard and to get your heart rate up!

Metcon and Mobility Focus

In Week 3, we’ll begin with a longer cardio effort on Tuesday followed by a shorter sprint on Thursday.

The metcon and mobility workouts in Week 4 are the culmination of all the work over the course of this plan. You’ll see some weighted lower body movements as well as the longest workout yet.

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Week 3 Workouts

Monday: Strength

Rest for 90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps Dual Kettlebell Deadlift 3 10-12 Curtsy Lunge 3 8-10 per leg Dual Dumbbell Strict Press 3 10-12 Triceps Kickback 3 20 unbroken *Increasing weight from last week

Tuesday: Metcon and Mobility

If you do not have access to a medicine ball, you can substitute wall balls for dumbbell thrusters, as noted in the previous weeks. Try to do the 15 reps of wall balls/thrusters unbroken and pace yourself through the rest of the workout, especially the biking. If you do not have access to a bike, substitute this cardio machine for a 500-meter row or 400-meter run (an effort that takes around 2:30).

Metcon Mobility 5 rounds for time: - 15-calorie Bike - 15 Wall Balls - 30 Mountain Climbers - 30 Sit-Ups - Couch Stretch: 2 x 60-90 secs per side - Runner's Lunge with Thoracic Rotation: 10 per side - Banded Hamstring Stretch (3 directions): 2 x 30 seconds per side/position - Side Plank: 3 reps of 30 seconds (add in 10-15 reps of hip abduction per side at the end to increase difficulty )

Wednesday: Strength

Rest for 90 seconds between sets.

If you used plate last week for push-ups, try to go heavier or for more reps.

Exercise Sets Reps Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat (DB or KB) 3 8-10 per leg Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (DB or KB) 3 10-12 Seated Lateral and Front Raises 3 25-30 reps in each direction unbroken, adding weight from last week Push-Ups 3 10 (hardest variation you can perform with good form)

Thursday: Metcon and Mobility

This metcon workout is a sprint. Use the same dumbbells for the front squat and the strict press and try to push it on the run. Spend some time warming up for this workout, using the mobility work to get your heart rate up and prepare your body for a hard effort sprint.

While a ten-minute AMRAP routine may not seem very long, you should feel absolutely spent by the end of this workout if you execute it correctly.

Metcon Mobility AMRAP10: - 100m row/ 100m run - 10 Dumbbell Front Squats - 10 Dumbbell Strict Press - Bike/row easy for 2 minutes

Perform twice through: - Banded Lateral Walks: 15 steps in each direction - Banded Pull-Aparts: 20 reps - Single-Arm Banded Strict Press: 8 reps per arm - Banded Good Morning: 10 reps

- 50m run/100m row at workout pace

Friday: Strength

Superset upper-body and lower-body exercises, resting 90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (3 seconds on the way down, fast up) — superset with — Reverse Lunges 3 — 3 10-12 — 8-10 per leg Biceps Curls: Hammer and Supinated — superset with — Dumbbell Bench or Floor Press 3 — 3 10 reps of each variation — 12-15

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Week 4 Workouts

Side Plank Side plank demonstration. (Photo: rx.photography)

Monday: Strength

Rest 90 seconds between sets.

Exercise Sets Reps Dual Kettlebell Deadlift 3 10-12 Curtsy Lunge 3 8-10 per leg Dual Dumbbell Strict Press 3 10-12 Triceps Kickback 3 20 unbroken *Increasing weight from last week

Tuesday: Metcon and Mobility

Pace yourself during this 25-minute AMRAP workout and use the same weight for the walking lunges, single-arm dumbbell clean and jerk and the weighted sit-ups. If you don’t feel comfortable performing a single-arm dumbbell clean and jerk, do a biceps curl into a press instead. Perform all 10 reps on one arm and then all 10 reps on the other arm before moving onto the next movement. For the weighted sit ups, place the weight across your chest and hold it with both hands.

As previously noted, make sure you continue to perform full range of motion reps for your sit-ups. If you cannot do this with a weight, use your body weight.

Metcon Mobility AMRAP25: - 20 Russian Twists - 20 Single-Arm Dumbbell Clean and Jerks (10 per side) - 20 Walking Lunges (10 per side) (bodyweight or light weight) - 20 Weighted Sit-Ups (same weight as lunges) - 90/90 hip switch: 2 sets of 10 per side/ with a 2 to 3-second pause at end ranges - Dead Bugs: 2 sets of 10 with 5-second holds at the top of each rep - Foam Roll Quads/Hamstrings: 2 minutes per leg - Calf Stretch (full squat with dumbbell on knee, pushing into dorsiflexion): 5 sets of 15-20 seconds per side, no bouncing

Wednesday: Strength

Rest 90 seconds between sets.

If you used plate last week for push-ups, try to go heavier or for more reps.

Exercise Sets Reps Goblet Bulgarian Split Squat (DB or KB) 3 8-10 per leg Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (DB or KB) 3 10-12 Seated Lateral and Front Raises 3 25-30 reps in each direction unbroken, adding weight from last week Push-Ups 3 10 (hardest variation you can perform with good form)

Thursday: Metcon and Mobility

Use the mobility work as a warmup into today’s metabolic conditioning with a focus on stabilizing yourself before moving through the workout for time. You can either run or row in this workout, depending on what kind of equipment you have access to.

All the rows/thrusters should be performed with the same weight, and make sure you’re rowing toward your hip. Make sure to pace this workout with the run/row and focus on good form with the thrusters, as the volume will make each round progressively more challenging.

Metcon Mobility For time: - 600m run/ 750m row - 50 Dumbbell Thrusters - 30 Bent-Over Rows - 400m run/ 500m row - 25 Dumbbell Thrusters - 15 Bent-Over Rows - 100m run/ 200m row - 15 Dumbbell Thrusters - 9 Bent-Over Rows Easy run/row for 2 minutes

Perform twice through: - Banded Face Pulls: 20 reps - Banded Lat Pulldowns: 20 reps - Tempo Air Squat: 3 seconds down, 1-second pause in the hole, explode up - Bent-Over T’s and Y’s: 20 reps of each (body weight or light plate)

Friday: Strength

Superset upper-body and lower-body exercises, resting 90 seconds between sets.

Superset Sets Reps Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (3 seconds on the way down, fast up) — superset with — Reverse Lunges 3 — 3 10-12 — 8-10 per leg Biceps Curls: Hammer and Supinated — superset with — Dumbbell Bench or Floor Press 3 — 3 10 reps of each variation — 12-15

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Turning This Plan Into an 8-Week Program

This program can be performed for an additional four weeks using the same strength movements while continuing to progressively add weight each week.

If you’re finding it difficult to go up in weight due to equipment limitations, continue to progress into higher rep ranges where those last few reps of a set feel very challenging. To reap the full benefit from this plan for an additional four weeks, access to a full set of dumbbells and kettlebells would be ideal.

The mobility and metabolic conditioning workouts can be repeated over the next four weeks using heavier weights or pushing for faster times. For variety, you can also sub out the run for a bike or row (if one is noted) and vice versa depending on your gym access.

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About the Trainer

Dr. Genevieve Gyulavary, DPT is a physical therapist, CrossFit Level 1 trainer and gym owner specializing in functional fitness, nutrition, wellness, health and injury rehabilitation.

All exercises above are modeled by Gyulavary and photographed by rx.photography.