Make Cardio Great Again

Techniques to get shredded that don’t steal your soul.

“We’re going to build a wall. It’s going to be huge, trust me.”


A wall right in front of those damn awful cardio machines. If we’re looking to make cardio great again, ellipticals and recumbent bikes have no place in our new reality, unless you’ve recently torn your ACL.

Grab Gains By The P*ssy

You heard us. If you want this brave new world of Stairmaster-free cuts, then you’re going to have to use your fortitude (and your hands). This is not a brand new revelation; however, the 90’s really didn’t help at all. Functional circuit training is undoubtedly the most effective route to reducing body fat while holding on to your hard won muscle fibers. These workouts aren’t the time to use dissociative mental techniques or catch up on your audiobook, this is trench warfare with fat.


Don’t Simply Take Our Word For It

Despite mimicking the act of no holds warfare (which has been getting bros ripped for millennia), circuits incorporating sandbag carries, kettle bell swings, burpees, deadlifts, etc…do wonders for EPOC. Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption is the scientific rationale for your metabolism remaining in overdrive many hours after your workout ends.

This video lays out the science:

We all know that Crossfit employs some “physiologically unsound” movements that make the internet a great place, but one has to admit those circuits have them looking like gladiators. Dare we say, one could learn something from their approach? It’s time training evolved, taking the best aspects from Crossfit, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding, leaving the kipping movements out in the rain where they belong.

Read on the how-to on the next page…

It’s About Testing Limits

If you’re not wheezing like Hillary Clinton after an above average flight of stairs, you’re doing it wrong. Metabolic circuits are meant to be fast, hard-hitting haymakers to your central nervous system — in other words, give it your best shot.


To maximize EPOC there must be a significant oxygen debt. Luckily, combining deadlifts with burpees turns out to be much more mentally satisfying to a gym rat than 45 minutes on a stairmaster (as it should be).

Keep a Deep Bench

When it comes to programming circuits, there’s no shortage of techniques to keep it interesting. In fact, many turn to circuits because their current training style became less interesting.

Rounds – This is usually the overarching framework behind circuits or high intensity routines. Vary the number based on how much volume you need.

5 Rounds:

10 Squats (135-185)

10 Flat Bench Press (155-205)

10 Deadlifts (185-225)

*Rest 30-60 seconds between rounds (respectable), or no rest (Alpha Male).

Reps On The Minute – Popularized by Crossfit, however, this technique can work with any exercise.

On The Minute, Every Minute for 15 Minutes:

3 Clean and Press (moderate weight)


3 Deadlifts (~60% – 75% of Max)

Increasing or Decreasing Reps – Within a routine your reps can continue to move up or down, we (and science) would suggest down.

Each Round Reduce Reps By One – 8 Rounds:

10 Front Squats (95-165)

15 Pull-Ups

10 Russian Twists (with Med Ball or Weight Plate)

Get To It

There you have it. It’s about time to deport those cardio machines from your training and embrace the pain that leads to real gains.


Our Recommendation: Intersperse these gut-busting gauntlets into your week, taking the place of traditional cardio sessions, or structure a new program based on the circuit template. It is definitely a stretch from classic bodybuilding. However, from experience, there have been significant results from those redesigning their training temporarily to a complete circuit style.

Example: Begin with a 5×5 of either Squats, Bench, or Deadlifts, immediately followed by a fast-paced metabolic circuit. Each day come out of the gate with a different lift for the 5×5, it’s that simple.

Now get out and do it.

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