Get Fit Faster With These Research-Proven Conditioning Workouts

Get Fit Faster With These Research-Proven Conditioning Workouts

Conditioning is an essential part of any well designed workout program. Also known as “cardio,” conditioning workouts produce many benefits:

  • They improve your overall fitness so that you can run up the stairs, kill a CrossFit® workout, or hit the basketball court without passing out.
  • They increase efficiency of the heart, lowering resting heart rate and allowing the heart to pump more blood with each beat.
  • They convey metabolic benefits, improving insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance while helping to keep body weight in check.
  • They increase the number and density of capillaries, which means more oxygenated blood reaches your brain and muscles with less effort. The also enhance function of blood vessels, reducing blood pressure.
  • They improve recovery from heavy strength workouts by increasing blood flow to damaged tissue.
  • They are a great stress reliever and have been shown to improve hormone balance, raising levels of energizing, fat burning hormones, such as growth hormone, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, while balancing cortisol.

When it comes to conditioning, most people think of long, slow aerobic exercise. In reality, there are numerous conditioning protocols that can get you better results in less time.

What follows is a list of workouts aimed at achieving specific goals that have produced great results in recent studies. It’s useful to be familiar with the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) because this will allow you to regulate how hard you are training. The RPE scale ranges from 1 to 10 as follows:

RPE Intensity
1 Very Light
2 Light/Minimal Exertion
3 Just Above Minimal Exertion
4 Light Exertion
5 Moderate Exertion
6 Somewhat Difficult
7 Difficult
8 Very Difficult
9 Extremely Difficult
10 Maximum Effort
For Fat Loss & Metabolic Benefits

To lose fat and improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance, conditioning workouts should intersperses intense effort with rest because this will elicit the greatest metabolic disturbance.

Here are some options:

#1: New South Wales Protocol: 8-second maximal effort sprints (RPE of 8 to 9) on a bike interspersed with 12 seconds active rest (RPE of 3 to 4) repeated for 20 minutes.

Who’s It For? Appropriate for novices but can also be used by advanced trainees who want quick and potent cardio.

#2: The Wingate Protocol: Maximal effort 30-second sprints (RPE of 9 to 10) on a bike or track interspersed with 3-4 minutes active rest (RPE of 3). Repeat 4 to 7 times.

Who’s It For? Appropriate for novices who have some training background. Best suited for intermediate or advanced trainees who know how to push themselves.

#3:1:1 Work-To-Rest Protocol: 20 to 30 minutes of intervals with a 1:1 work-to-active rest ratio, such as ten 60-second sprints (RPE of 7 to 9) alternated with 60 seconds active rest (RPE of 3).

Who’s It For? Great for novices but can also be used by more advanced trainees who don’t like going all-out and prefer moderately high-intensity intervals.

For General Fitness & Cardiovascular Health

You can get improvements in fitness and heart function from a wide range of protocols. A general rule is intensity and volume function on an inverted relationship: If you increase training intensity, you can get away with doing fewer and shorter repeats. If you prefer more volume, opt for moderate-intensity work efforts. Here are some options:

#1:Tabata Training: 20-seconds of maximal effort training followed by10-seconds rest, repeated for four minutes.

Who’s It For? People who have zero time to train but know how to push themselves maximally.

#2: 30-20-10: 5-minute segments in which each minute is broken up into intervals. Work at an easy pace for 30 seconds (RPE of 3), a moderate pace for 20 seconds (RPE of 5), and a high intensity for 10 seconds (RPE of 9 to 10), and then repeat 5 times. Can be done for a total of 20 to 25 minutes.

Who’s It For? Anyone who likes variety in their training and wants a mix of hard efforts interspersed with active recovery.

#3: Descending Distance Protocol: Near maximal effort sprints in descending order as follows: run 400 meters, rest 4 minutes, run 300 meters, rest 3 minutes, run 200 meters, rest 2 minutes, and then do an all-out 100-meter sprint.

Who’s It For? Intermediate or advanced trainees who like to get a lot done in a short period of time.

Final Words: Conditioning doesn’t have to be a chore. By efficiently programming your workout to meet your goals, you can get fitter, healthier, and leaner with less time and effort.



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