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Unfortunately, not all of us have access to state-of-the-art conditioning equipment for developing our conditioning levels or physiques. But the good news is you don’t have to!

For the average bear, walking into a standard, commercial gym is pretty typical, and some lifters rely heavily on them to achieve their goals. Most lifters have access to a basic gym, but they have busy schedules that allow little to no time waiting for machines or wading their way through dumbbell racks and people. Sometimes you just want to get in and get out!

Here are three conditioning-based workouts that anyone can do at almost any commercial gym in less than 15 minutes. Just make sure that you warm up appropriately before beginning a high intensity conditioning workout.

1. Manual Treadmill Sprints

Approximate time: 10–12 minutes

Now, I can’t take full credit for this one. I absolutely love these and learned how to do them from my prep coach Ben Hartman.

Step 1: Make sure that you pick a treadmill with a standard belt such as Matrix or LifeFitness. Treadmills such as Woodway won’t work the same.

Step 2: Turn the treadmill on if you haven't already…but here’s the catch. Don’t touch the speed or incline. You'll place your hands on the front bar or handles and manually push the tread with your own force. It basically replicates pushing a Prowler.

The workout:

  • 5–8 rounds (20 seconds on and 1:30 minutes off equals 1 round)
  • 20 seconds push/sprint as hard as you can
  • 1:30 minutes rest (straddle the belt and just chill)

I promise that you'll be smoked! Not only is this great for your conditioning and physique, but you'll be done in no time.

Running on treadmill

2. Bike Tabata Sprints

Approximate time: 4 minutes

This one seems pretty obvious, but I still think that it's underutilized. It literally takes you four minutes, and if done correctly, it should leave you in a severe state of excess post-oxygen consumption (EPOC), which is a good thing! This is also a great option if you're feeling beat up from training because it takes some stress off your joints in comparison to sprinting.

Step 1: Use a standard upright bike, not a spinning bike or recumbent bike. Upright commercial bikes have a different setup with the pedals and gears, so it works much better and won’t damage the bike or be uncomfortable.

Related Article: EPOC—The Secret to Fat Destruction

Step 2: Jump on, adjust the seat settings as needed for your comfort and make sure the resistance is high enough so that you don’t “bounce” during your sprints. You should push through your heels while keeping your chest up and your core stable.

The workout:

  • 8 rounds (20 seconds on and 10 seconds off equals 1 round)
  • 20-second sprint as hard as possible
  • 10 seconds complete rest (no pedaling)

Simple, short but not so sweet. If done correctly, this should leave you exhausted yet satisfied. What's also great about bike sprints is typically you won't get as sore or sore at all from them. Pedaling on a bike is primarily concentric-based, so you won’t actually damage the muscle all that much even if you feel that burning sensation in your quads.

bike cardio

3. Rowing Ladder

Approximate time: 15 minutes

Most commercial gyms have a rower of some sort and it's a great option that allows you to incorporate the whole body. The workout below comes from my fellow colleagues at the Ohio State University Rec Sports Fitness program.

Step 1: Make sure that you set the rower foot straps accordingly before starting and strap your feet in tight.

Step 2: Turn the rower on. Make sure that your leg drive is the primary focus during a row. Then finish with your upper body while maintaining a neutral spine.

The workout:

  • Row 100 meters as quickly as possible (or pace yourself if new to rowing)
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Row 150 meters
  • Rest 30 seconds
  • Row 200 meters
  • Rest 30 seconds...and so on, jumping up 50 meters each round

Continue until you hit 400 meters and then make your way back down the ladder in the same fashion. This is definitely a good way to get that heart pumping. This workout is a little more advanced, so you can even stop at 250 and work your way back down the first few times. You can progress this workout by keeping track of your time during each meter row and try to beat those times the next time you do the workout.

I hope you find these conditioning workouts helpful. No one has to be in the gym for hours to get a good workout in. You just need to be creative and use your time wisely! Feel free to post a comment if you have any questions about any of the specific workouts.