So what’s wrong with traditional cardio?
“It isn’t the most efficient way of training,” says trainer Stephen Taylor (getbodyconfident.com). “If you enjoy it and have time, fine – but you won’t build muscle from it. Muscle is hard to build as it is, and endless running or workouts on the cross-trainer won’t help this situation.”
So what’s the alternative?
“If you’re a busy man, you want the best results in minimal time. For this, conditioning is the game-changer,” says Taylor. “Conditioning is cardio, but not as you know it. It’s a hybrid of both strength and cardio training that requires you to work out at a high intensity for shorter periods of time. It’ll give you far more bang for your buck when you’re looking to build a lean, athletic physique, but it’s also a fast way of firing up your metabolism.”
How do I do it?
“Conditioning can refer to several types of exercise, but what they all have in common is that they fire up your metabolism and serve as a serious test of mettle,” says Taylor. “They might involve strength or speed alongside endurance.
“My two favourite ways of performing conditioning are weight complexes and bodyweight workouts. A complex is where you pick up a barbell or dumbbell, perform several reps of an exercise, then move to another exercise, then another, and another, all without putting the weight down.
“If you don’t have access to a gym, you can do conditioning at home using your bodyweight. Do 20 reps each of jump squats, press-ups, reverse lunges, leg raises and mountain climbers, keeping the work intense and the intervals short.”
How should I add it to my training schedule?
“Fitting a conditioning workout into your routine will be much easier than traditional cardio,” says Taylor. “The sessions are short enough to be done at the end of any workout for a fantastic full-body burn – but you can also sneak them into your day whenever you’ve got 20 minutes. I’d recommend doing one to three sessions a week on top of your strength training, aiming to increase the weight, reps or number of rounds every couple of weeks for progression.”
And if I still want to run?
There’s no problem with having an aerobic base – especially if you enjoy running. But mix some sprints into your normal sessions: hit a 100m dash with 90 seconds of rest, and repeat six times. If you come away hating it, you’re welcome to go back to the old 5Ks…