Top 3 Conditioning Exercises to Get Shredded

The holidays have passed and you’ve successfully added solid muscle during your bulk. Awesome, but now you have a problem: not all the mass you gained was lean, and you’ve developed a spare tire around your mid-section.

This poses a few problems:

  1. You want to get bigger, not softer. The extra body fat is camouflaging your hard work from the masses.
  2. Because of the increased body fat, you’ve decreased your insulin sensitivity, making it easier to gain fat and harder to gain muscle.

Which now begs the question: “Is it time to abandon the winter bulk and start cutting body fat, or make changes to continue gaining mass while burning flab?”

Related: 6 Things About Fat Loss You Don’t Want to Hear

Rather than abandon your bulk only to regret the decision three weeks later, opt to make changes in your routine, namely, conditioning.

Yes, your mass gains might slow a bit, but my guess is they already have. Getting bigger at the price of decreased insulin sensitivity and getting fatter is a losing proposition.

Moreover, properly planned conditioning will improve your training, keep your hard-earned muscle, improve your work capacity, and help to cut body fat. In the interest of being a shredded high performance machine, this is obviously ideal.

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Three Key Factors For Conditioning

Time Efficient: To maximize changes in body composition, i.e. getting jacked and lean, weight training must still be the focus. Conditioning can’t crush your ability to recover from training, unless you want to look like an emaciated, chest sunken teen. Diet and sleep are factors, but in most cases, conditioning sessions should be kept short.

Intense: Conditioning density, doing more work in less time, is the best way to improve insulin sensitivity, cut body fat, and maintain your sanity. If you’re like most dudes in the gym, lifting is the easy part.


Well, that’s a chore akin to scrubbing toilets with your toothbrush.

Top 3 Conditioning Exercises to Get Shredded

Poop jokes aside, working above your anaerobic threshold, a point of intensity where your body is burning glucose for fuel, stimulates the release of growth hormone, a very potent fat burner amongst other things.

Further, working above your anaerobic threshold puts your body in an oxygen debt, leading to the phenomena known as exercise post oxygen consumption (EPOC). Because you’re training at a high intensity and depriving your body of oxygen, your body must work double-time to re-pay the oxygen debt, leading to increased caloric expenditure long after training ends.

Total Body in Nature: To maximize intensity and keep workouts short, exercises and routines that stimulate the most muscle mass are most efficient. In the most basic sense, larger muscles contracting burn more calories, require more oxygen/glucose, are the most efficient. That means don’t waste your time doing calf-raise Tabatas, move major muscle groups through a full range of motion, bro.

Pick Your Poison

1) Jump Rope

This isn’t your elementary school days of singing tunes and skipping rope with your classmates. Instead, jumping rope provides a low-impact yet potentially intense conditioning method to keep you lean during a bulk.

Jumping Rope is a self-limiting exercise, meaning the intensity will be dictated by your ability. Unlike sprinting when you can look like a Caveman and push the intensity, failure to skip the ole’ rope correctly will lead to the rep ending.

This has a few cool benefits:

  • You must stay in an aligned “joint stacked” position, forcing you to stay resilient under repetitive contact. This is huge for injury prevention and reinforcing posture.
  • Since you’ve been bulking and weigh more, your relative strength might be less. Relative strength, how strong you are for your size, is an important variable for moving your body through space in activities like sprinting, jumping, and bodyweight exercises like push-ups. By building your relative strength and jumping rope, you’ll gain a better appreciation for your newfound size and improve athleticism.

For starters, just spend 5 minutes before training, and five minutes after training jumping rope. Yes, you’ll screw up. But do the things you suck at, it’s how you get better and make progress. Over time, start adding a few minutes at the end of your training (up to 15 minutes) to jump rope.

2) Bodyweight Finishers

Body weight finishers are an excellent conditioning option if you’d rather stay in the “weight room” than hop into the cardio zone. No worries here, the goal is similar: Short duration, high intensity finishers that focus on major movement patterns and muscles.

Push-Up Stand Up

I originally got this killer from Martin Rooney, CEO of Training for Warriors. The drill is as simple as it sounds: push-up and stand back up.

This is excellent to cap off an upper-body day, anytime you need a quick conditioning workout, or if you’re stuck in lousy hotel room, per the video below.

Here’s how it goes:

  • One push up…stand up.
  • Two push ups…stand up.
  • Three push-ups…stand up.
  • Go to ten.

Aim for under two minutes. If you’re game, do 2-3 sets, or even add a squat so it’s push-up, stand-up, squat. Quick, easy, efficient, and minimalist, it doesn’t get any simpler.


This is a killer total-body finisher that can also work as a full workout when you’re in a time crunch. As a base of strength, you should be able to perform 12-15 chin-ups. If not, switch chin-ups for an inverted row.

At the end of a Workout:

  • Chin Up: x10
  • Dip: x10
  • Bodyweight Squat: x15
  • Rest: 15-30 seconds
  • Chin Up: x8
  • Dip: x8
  • Bodyweight Squat: x15
  • Rest: 15-30 seconds
  • Chin Up: x6
  • Dip: x6
  • Bodyweight Squat: x15
  • Rest: 15-30 seconds
  • Chin Up: x4
  • Dip: x4
  • Bodyweight Squat: x15
  • Rest: 15-30 seconds
  • Chin Up: x2
  • Dip: x2
  • Bodyweight Squat: x15
  • Rest: Lie down and try not to puke

Top 3 Conditioning Exercises to Get Shredded

3) Hill Sprints

Sprints can be done during two times in your training.

If optimizing performance and athleticism is important, perform sprinting after your warm-up and before lifting.

I know what you’re probably thinking: Won’t this gas me out before I lift?

Like anything in training, there’s a cost:benefit ratio.

If you sprint before lifting, you may improve performance by potentiating the nervous system for explosive movement.

The high-speed muscle contractions will improve motor unit recruitment, helping you stimulate more muscle fibers during training. But, fatigue must be managed.

Too many sprints without enough rest will lead to fatigue outweighing the neural benefits, thereby decreasing lifting performance.

The sweet spot is highly individual, but sprints twice per week is a good starting place. 4-6 six sprints of ten to twenty yards will improve athleticism and give you a boost in conditioning.

On the flip slide, you can sprint after conditioning. As long as you maintain technique to prevent injury and sprinting speed isn’t important to you, this is your best bet. 

Top 3 Conditioning Exercises to Get Shredded

I’d recommend finding a big hill, or a treadmill with an incline 4-6 %. This incline will prevent overstriding injuries prevelant with poor mechanics and fatigue.

Start sprinting twice per week after a dynamic warm-up and a few build-up sprints. Then, start sprinting 20 seconds on, 40 seconds rest for 10-12 reps. Increase the speed every week and push your limits. 

Related: 6 Intense Treadmill Workouts To Get Shredded For Summer

Simply Shredded

Even when your primary goal is mass, conditioning is still important.  With these three workouts, you’ll stay leaner, healthier, and more athletic even when adding size.

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