Most of us gym rats don’t need to be talked into hitting the gym. If anything, you need to talk us out of hitting the gym. However, that’s not the case for most gym rats when it comes to doing cardio. No matter what type—high-intensity interval training, steady-state, or anything in between—when it comes to hopping on a hamster wheel, we cringe and search for an excuse to bail.
Unfortunately, cardio activities shouldn’t be viewed as optional—even when you’re looking to pack on size instead of lean out. It’s common to use the fact that we wear bulky clothing during the fall and winter as an excuse, but here are the facts: Cardio keeps your heart strong, can rev up your metabolism, and, as noted in a 2012 issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology, is equally if not slightly more effective than resistance training for fat loss.
Of course, that still might not be enough to sway you. So instead of trying to conjure up more reasons as to why cardio should be weaved into your training, we’ll simply offer an out: a fast-paced, properly packaged resistance-training routine that you can hammer out multiple times per week to help get you jacked and keep you looking defined. Using circuits, supersets, and a little testicular fortitude, rip through this for two months and you might never need to run on a damn treadmill again.
When utilizing weight training to stimulate fat loss, the compound lifts will give you the most bang for your buck, which means the foundation of your routine should center on movements like presses, rows, deadlifts, and squats. These types of exercises will most effectively boost the heart rate, burn off calories, increase natural growth hormone production (GH is a powerful fat-burning hormone), and enhance the metabolic rate.
Since the primary goal is to keep body-fat levels in check (while keeping lean tissue intact), you want to keep repetitions in the medium to medium-high range throughout each workout. This translates to about 10 to 12 reps per set for upper-body exercises and 12 to 20 for the lower half. These higher rep ranges will force more calories to be burned, stimulate lactic acid production (which also increases GH release), and greatly ignite your metabolism, while still providing your muscles with resistance that’s challenging enough to foster continued growth.
Most of the time when focusing our efforts exclusively into building pure muscle mass, we use a straight-sets approach, with two to four minutes of rest in between. However, when the goal is to burn excess calories and keep those cuts and striations you’ve worked so hard to get, it’s far more effective to speed up the pace of your training with techniques like supersets, circuits, and reduced rest time.
Weight training in this manner can be very demanding on your muscles and cardiovascular and nervous systems. I highly recommend that you take a full day’s rest after completing any of these workouts. If you still wish to perform small amounts of cardio, it would be best to do it on your off days. All exercises should be performed with perfect technique and full control throughout every rep. Feel free to change some of the movements to better fit your needs, but always make sure the majority are basic compound exercises in order to get the greatest fat-burning effect. Keep your diet in check during the cooler weather, hit these three workouts hard, and you’ll be itching to take off that sweater.
Directions: For Workout B, rest no more than 2 min between supersets. For Workout C, perform as many circuits as you can in 60 min. Move from one exercise to the next as rapidly as possible. Do not go to failure on each movement, but rather 1-2 reps short. Rest about 3-5 min in between each circuit by slowly walking around the gym until you’re ready to go again.