You don’t mind going to the gym and lifting heavy weights. You don’t mind pushing yourself to reach a new personal record on the bench press, squat, deadlift, and other various exercises. You also love the challenge of shattering your personal records on assistance exercises every week. However, when it comes to conditioning work or any form of “cardio,” going to the dentist can actually sound like a much more appealing option.

Not only is conditioning work great for promoting fat loss, but it’s also important for training and improving the health of the cardiovascular system (heart, veins, arteries). While conditioning and/or cardio work may seem like they don’t pay off immediately, it’s very important that everyone engages in some form of it each week. After all, you don’t want to get winded just from walking across the room when you’re 60 years old, do you?

While spending time on a machine is incredibly boring, many people just don’t have access to the more entertaining (and effective) tools for conditioning work and fat loss. The vast majority of gyms don’t have tires, sleds, Strongman equipment, or Prowlers, and most people can’t put the money aside to buy those tools.

In this article, I want to share some methods that you can use to improve your GPP, lose weight, improve your cardiovascular health, or round out your training program so your heart doesn’t explode ten years down the road. These methods can be used either at home without any equipment or in the most basic commercial gym setting.

Incline walking on a treadmill: I admit that I abhor most cardio machines. However, I have found that walking on a treadmill with a generous incline can be a great addition to your training program. Start out with ten minutes at the highest incline you can tolerate with a brisk pace and work up to 20–25 minutes. Note: Make sure you don’t hold on to the handles when you’re walking.

Burpee intervals: These are a personal favorite because they’re very effective and don’t take much time to complete. If you aren’t sure how to perform a burpee, all you do is squat down, put your hands in front of your feet, kick your feet back so you’re in the top position of a push-up, kick your feet back up to your hands, and then explode straight up into the air. Land and repeat.

Start by performing 10 burpees and then rest for 60 seconds (90 seconds if needed). Repeat that for a total of 5–10 rounds, depending on your experience and current conditioning level. If you want to make this more challenging, you have a few options.

·        Decrease the rest periods.

·        Perform more burpees.

·        Add a push-up to each burpee (perform the push-up after you kick your feet back).

·        Perform the most advanced version, which includes a push-up and chin-up. After you drop down and kick your feet back, do a push-up, kick your feet back to the starting position and then explode into the air, grab the pull-up bar and perform a pull-up. Land and repeat.

Ladders: To perform a ladder, choose 2–3 exercises and perform 10 reps for each exercise. Then perform nine reps for each and then eight, all the way down to one. If you really want to kick your butt, work your way back up the ladder.

Two of my favorite exercises to use with this method are jump squats and push-ups. Perform 10 jump squats, immediately perform 10 push-ups, and then work your way down the ladder until you perform a single rep for each exercise.

You can also use exercises that can be performed with kettlebells or dumbbells. For example, kettlebell/dumbbell swings and push-ups can be performed in the same manner as explained above.

Jump rope intervals: These are another personal favorite of mine. Start out by jumping rope for 30 seconds and rest for 60 seconds. Start out with 10 rounds in this fashion. To make things more challenging, you can:

·        Increase the work period.

·        Decrease the rest period.

·        Use different foot work patterns such as alternating high knees, butt kicks, single leg hops, and other techniques.

If you’ve never done these before, be prepared to be humbled.

Body weight circuits: When I design body weight circuits, I generally choose two lower body exercises, a core exercise, and an upper body push/pull. This way you engage every muscle in the body. However, the combinations and possibilities are endless, so feel free to create your own.

Here’s a sample body weight circuit:

·        Body weight squats

·        Close grip push-ups

·        Inverted rows

·        Reverse lunges

·        Side planks

You can perform each exercise for a specified number of reps, but I like to perform each exercise for a set period of time. For example, perform each exercise for 30 seconds before moving on to the next exercise in the list. After you complete the circuit, rest for 1–2 minutes before repeating 2–5 more circuits.

Kettlebell or dumbbell intervals: Two of my favorite kettlebell exercises to use for intervals are swings and one arm snatches. If you’ve never trained with kettlebells, stick to the swings because snatches have a learning curve.

For the swings, you can perform them using both arms at the same time or use one hand at a time and perform a set with each arm. When performing snatches, I always suggest using one arm at a time and keeping the weight on the light side. After all, this work is for conditioning, not strength training.

For example, perform 10 snatches (start with one arm before switching to the other), rest 60–90 seconds, and repeat 2–5 more times. This same format can be applied to the kettlebell/dumbbell swings.

Medleys: If you get bored easily with conditioning work, you might prefer this style. Pick a few different methods mentioned above and string them together. For example, walk on a treadmill with a high incline for 10 minutes, perform 5–10 jump rope intervals, and finish with a couple rounds of body weight circuits. This way you aren’t spending too much time on one thing, which is the ultimate cure for cardio ADD.

If you haven’t been doing any form of conditioning, start slowly by incorporating 1–2 days a week into your current training program. I prefer to do these workouts on “off” days so I get more activity and can still put 100 percent into lifting days.