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For ripped results, base your conditioning workouts around multi-joint moves.
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Cardio and weights are often viewed as two completely different forms of training. Generally, people think of cardio as the best way to lose fat and weight training as optimal for building muscle. By combining the two into a conditioning workout, however, you get the calorie-burning, fitness-boosting benefits of cardio, along with the strength-building and muscle-preserving advantages of weight training, giving you the ultimate ripped physique.
Conditioning workouts are designed to boost your fitness as well as your metabolism -- the speed at which you burn calories. It is this increased calorie burn that makes them so effective for fat loss and getting ripped. You have three basic energy pathways that can be used in conditioning workouts, writes strength coach Jeremy DuVall on the Men's Fitness website. These are the immediate system, which is responsible for short-duration explosive movements; the intermediate system, which is used in slightly longer, but still intense events, such as the 400 or 800 meter races; and the long-duration system, which takes over during low-intensity aerobic exercise.
The Specificity Principle
The type of conditioning you use most should relate to your goals, notes personal trainer Tony Ingram. If you're training for endurance conditioning, you'll need longer, more frequent, lower-intensity sessions. For increasing strength, speed and power, shorter, higher-intensity workouts will be called for. When it comes to getting ripped, you may actually be better off cutting down your conditioning time and going with tougher, high-intensity training, rather than prolonged sessions.
Make the Most of Metcons
Potentially the most effective type of conditioning for getting ripped is metabolic conditioning, or metcons. These are basically circuits with short periods of very high-intensity work paired with short rest periods. The best exercises for these are compound ones, with body weight or free weights, according to coach Justin Grinnell, who recommends performing a metcon circuit consisting of barbell thrusters -- a front squat into an overhead press; pull-ups; tire flips; box jumps and kettlebell swings. Perform 10 reps on each with as little rest as possible between exercises and complete five rounds with just one to two minutes rest between each.
Ready to Get Ripped
Conditioning workouts are undoubtedly a useful tool in your repertoire for getting ripped. Provided you pick challenging exercises and train at a high intensity, two to three metabolic conditioning circuits per week -- performed either as a standalone session, or mixed with weights or cardio training -- can help increase calorie burn and fat loss. You do need to nail your diet too though. Even if you're burning hundreds of calories each week from your conditioning, if you're not controlling your diet so you're consuming fewer calories than you burn, your goal of a lean, ripped physique will be a long time coming.