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5 Ways to Build Conditioning Into Your Workout

Build muscle and shed fat in the same workout with these simple tips.

Every gym has that one member who seems to live there. Always there, chatting with his cronies by the power rack, he is a master of turning a workout into a day’s work. However, it’s no coincidence that there’s one of them — most people want to get in and out, bang out their workouts, wring out the sweat and head on to the next activity on their never-ending to-do list. After all, who would want to spend 90 minutes doing what could be done in 30? That’s why we prefer to flout long-held training protocols that mandate that weightlifting time and cardio time be separate affairs. Here are five ways to build muscle and shed fat in the same training session, speeding you on your way to your goals — and your next appointment.

1. Rest Less

Sounds obvious, right? Still, rest periods are one of the most overlooked aspects of overall conditioning. We’re looking at you, guy-who-walks-to-the-fountain-after-every-single-set. Consider a study that found that lifters who simply reduced rest periods between sets on the bench press burned 50 percent more calories during a workout than when they rested three minutes. You can assume the same type of return when training other bodyparts. Each week try to shave 10 to 15 seconds off your usual rest time until you’re right around the 30-second mark.

2. Go Heavy

If you truly want to build bigger, better-looking muscles, you’ve got to challenge them with heavy weight. Happily, heavier weights have a greater impact on body composition than ESPN’s strongmen would lead you to believe. Researchers from the Norwegian University of Sport and Physical Education discovered that training around your six-rep max increased resting metabolic rate higher and for longer after the workout than 12-rep sets.

3. Alternate

Enough of the easy stuff. If you’re really ready to dedicate yourself to integrating conditioning into your weight-training routine, try alternating your traditional heavy moves with high-octane fat-burning activity in one full-body, six-pack-shredding circuit per week. For example:

Bench Press: 10 reps
Jump-Rope: 30 seconds
Pull-Up: 10 reps
Jump Squat: 30 seconds
Upright Row: 10 reps
Mountain Climber: 30 seconds

4. Sprint

On your next home-based or outdoor workout, instead of any rest, perform sprints. Scientists at the University of Western Ontario in Canada found that subjects who performed four to six 30-second sprints three times per week burned twice as much fat as those who jogged for 30 to 60 minutes at a steady pace. Both groups gained an average of 1 percent lean mass. This is the perfect protocol for bodyweight-driven workouts.

5. Train Against The Clock

Instead of training for max weight, opt for more moderate weight loads and set yourself a time limit. For example, see how many incline bench presses or T-bar rows you can do with a given weight in 60 seconds. On your next set, try to beat that total. Or try finishing your next full-body workout in 30 minutes or less. Having a target finish time helps keep you on task while keeping your heart rate high throughout the session.