Burn fat and build muscle – all without running!

Running is bad for size and strength because it breaks down muscle mass. Instead, try some of these unique conditioning drills. Not only will they get your blood pumping, they’ll also improve your speed and cut your body fat. The farmers walk, tire flip, rope work and ground fighting are all great alternatives to standard steady-state cardio.

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I hate running. It’s boring and takes way too long. Worse yet, it can destroy the strength gains I make in the gym. Running, you see, is catabolic, which means it breaks down muscle tissue. And why would we want to break down muscle when we spend so much time trying to stay in an anabolic — muscle building — state?

We don’t.

So instead of letting our cardio work against our strength training, I offer these eight conditioning exercises. Not only will they make you bigger, stronger and faster, they will also vaporize the fat right off your body.


One of the simplest ways to get your heart rate going is to do farmers walks. Find yourself 20 – 30 yards of flat ground and two heavy dumbbells (or barbells or bags or boat anchors). Carry one heavy object in each hand all the way down and all the way back. See how quickly you can cover a fixed distance or see how far you can get in a fixed amount of time. The great thing about this exercise is that you need very little equipment and can tailor it to any degree of experience or conditioning. An added bonus with this exercise is some upper body work. You cannot do this movement without activating the trap, lats and forearm muscles.


Another great way to burn some calories is to pull on stuff. It doesn’t need to be a freight train, but how cool would you be if it was? A large cart, your dad’s pickup truck or your baby brother work just as well. In a pinch, I’ve even put a few 45 lbs plates on top of a towel and dragged on that. Again, this exercise is very easy to adapt to anyone’s level of ability and there are countless variations: facing away from the object, facing toward it, hands overhead holding the rope, hand on the ground with the rope tied around your waist. Don’t be afraid to get creative.


This is great for your arms and traps. Find yourself a stable place to sit and start pulling! Use a hand-over-hand technique or both arms at once. Any way you do it, it’s going to get you breathing hard and sweating like nobody’s business. Again, a freight train would work well for this movement, but any heavy object will do.


A big-ass tractor tire is a great investment for your home gym if you have the space. They are surprisingly easy to find — just visit your local junk yard and ask if you can take a look at their used tires — and flipping it end-over-end is a great deadlift variation. There is some technique to this movement, so have patients and practice a lot: dig your feet deep into the ground and drive up at a 45° angle. And when you’re done flipping the tire, you can use it as a box for box jumps.


Jump Ropes are cheap. You can pick one up at any decent sports store for about $5 and they’re simple enough to take with you on vacation. Jumping rope is hard enough as it is, so don’t add external resistance until you can do at least 15 minutes without resting.


This one is great because you can do indoors. I live in a small apartment and don’t have room for a big tire or sled. So instead, I just push some furniture aside and get my kettlebell out of the closet. 10 or 15 minutes is all you need for a really good workout.


Okay, so this one is really cool! Find yourself a long piece of rope about 50—100 feet long and one or two inches thick. Loop the center of the rope around something sturdy and grasp the ends. Once you’re in place, swing like hell. A few sets of no more than a minute are all you need to get your arms pumping and your heart racing.


Not all conditioning drills need weights. I’m a big fan of Mixed Martial Arts and my buddies and I occasionally go to the gym and spar on the mats. We don’t have any formal training, but it’s still a great workout. Perhaps you would enjoy learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu or Catch Wrestling or any number of other martial arts. Not only is it great for conditioning, but you’ll also learn some very cool skills.

You don’t need to use all these conditioning drills in the same workout. I recommend adding just one or two at a time to your current training schedule, preferably on its own day. Visit the Freebies section of the website for sample workouts and inspiration on how to add these drills into your routine.

One Response to “Burn fat and build muscle – all without running!”
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  1. […] SEGMENT: Running Sucks I hate running and, like I mentioned in a recent blog post, it’s counter-productive to our strength […]

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