Cardio is like brussels sprouts, a station wagon, and that nice but dorky girl who likes you all rolled into one: You know it does good things for you, but it’s bland and boring, and you’d do almost anything to find an excuse to stand it up. If you’re a hardcore gym-goer, worried about developing heart disease if you don’t do cardio, or simply under the impression that you can’t lose fat and see your abs without it, chances are you’ll slog through weekly treadmill runs anyway.
But the only time in life you should be forced to do something you hate is when you visit relatives over the holidays—not when you work out in the gym. The fact is you can train your heart and your muscles in less time than it takes to complete most cardio work- outs, all while doing your favorite fitness activity—lifting weights.
For the next eight weeks, we won’t ask you to jog even as far as to the end of the room, but you’ll still have the best cardio sessions of your life and lose perhaps as much as 16 pounds of pure fat. At the same time, you’ll retain every ounce of muscle mass you’re currently carrying—maybe even gain some—and you’ll correct muscle imbalances. The Non-Cardio Fat-Loss program awaits.
THE SIMPLE COMPLEX
By now, you’re probably stumped. What could possibly account for the kind of results we’re promising (and not require illegal performance-enhancing substances)?Meet the complex (also called a circuit), a favorite training technique among athletes such as martial artists, wrestlers, and strongmen—guys who don’t even own running shoes but have hearts so powerful they could pump water through a 40-story building. A complex is a series of two or more exercises performed in succession for a specific num- ber of reps with limited rest intervals. In other words, you move through one exercise after the other, using the same number of reps for each. You can perform them with one or more barbells, one or more dumbbells, or your own body weight, or as a mixture of any combination therein (as we offer here). Complexes can hit the entire body in one fell swoop, or you can do a complex for the upper and lower body separately (all three are useful methods and should be cycled into your training, as fat loss requires continual changeups in your workouts to keep making progress). Performing the exercises of a complex once through is called a run. In the beginning of our program, just one run will be su∞cient (and about all you’ll be able to handle). As you improve over the next eight weeks, you’ll do more runs (up to three). You can also increase the intensity of a complex by reducing your rest time between runs or increasing the number of reps you perform on the exercises, both of which we’ve programmed for you on the pages that follow. Still not sold?Check out the following—a short list of the many benefits of complex training:
Saying these workouts won’t take long may be the understament of the millennium—they may take only three and a half minutes! That’s right, run through the exercises once and go home. However, don’t take this as a sign that complexes are easy—you’re going to earn the right to go home early. You have to adhere to the pacing of the workout, resting only as long as it takes to move to your next exercise, or else it won’t work. But whether you’re training half the body with a complex or the whole body at once, you’re going to work a ton of muscle mass very quickly and send your heart rate soaring. As you progress on our program, you’ll do more runs and rest less time between runs, making for extremely dense work- outs in short periods of time. No workout will take more than 24 minutes.
Six weeks into the program, you’ll start doing complexes three days a week. Prior to that, we only ask that you hit them once or twice. For the rest of the days of the week, you can either continue with your current workout routine or, God forbid, do regular cardio (but it isn’t required).
We’re leaving it completely up to you. However, by Week 6, your body is going to need your undivided attention to perform these complexes and recover from them, and that means you must cease any other training. The last thing you want is to push yourself for eight weeks only to end up overtrained at the end, when you should be at your peak.
MORE CALORIES BURNED
From now on, consider yourself the Human Torch from Fantastic Four.You’ll be performing compound lifts (exercises that require the coordination of several muscle groups) without rest in between, and that can burn hundreds of calories. Not only that, but the recovery process your body will go through after each workout will raise your metabolism for a day or so afterward—yes, you keep burning calories at an elevated rate long after you put the weights down—so don’t do any heavy training the day after, so you’ll have time to recover. Furthermore, studies have shown that the calories burned in the hours after a workout come largely from stored fat, as opposed to muscle or carbohydrates.
Hey, you’re lifting weights! Not only is that less monotonous than running in place for 45 minutes until you’ve ex-hausted your iPod, but it demands much more concentration. You have to support heavy loads and move quickly between exercises, so each run becomes more like a challenge to your resolve— rather than another run-of-the-mill workout you have to trudge through.
IMPROVED MUSCULAR BALANCE
Flip through the next few pages and look at the exercises in each complex workout. Think about how they work your body. You should notice that every time you’re asked to make a pushing motion (such as in a bench press), you follow it up at some point with a pulling motion. This isn’t by accident. Balancing the movement patterns in your workouts leads to balanced muscle development, and that results in better posture, more efficient movement, and more complete muscularity. We all have a tendency to favor one side or one exercise over another when we train— now you can even things out.
Jim Smith is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (C.S.C.S.) and competitive strongman in Sayre, Pa. Visit him at dieselcrew.com 35 Percentage more fat lost by subjects who trained with circuits like the ones shown here than aerobic exercise, according to a study from Penn State University