For those unfamiliar, Arthur Jones’ metabolic conditioning is best thought of as a form of aggressive circuit training, using heavy weights and going to absolute muscular failure on every exercise. At the time this approach was thought to be novel and unique, although if you’re a student of physical culture it fell into the category of “what’s old is new again”…

In the earlier part of this century, wrestling and weight training practically grew up together. The emphasis wasn’t just on being strong – it was about being strong AND well conditioned – which is to say you were expected to be capable of lifting heavy AND keep that work rate up for an extended period of time. However, the conditioning aspect of weight training soon fell off the radar screen, and the two were seen as almost mutually exclusive by the time Arthur revisited the topic.

Jones knew how to make a point and one of his associates was Kim Wood, then strength coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. Wood brought Jones’ protocol and Nautilus machines to the Cincinnati weight room, and soon had the whole squad on it. Shortly thereafter, the Bengals adopted a strategy of going from play to play in rapid succession, in some cases not even huddling between plays. They wound up gassing the other team’s defense and play by play, minute by minute – wore down their opponents.

If you’re interested in trying this, here’s how best to go about it:

Arrange for a 7 exercise circuit, with 2 minutes of rest between each exercise Typical example would be Squats, followed by bench presses, still legged deadlifts, seated shoulder presses, pullups, bicep curl and lying tricep extensions in the 8-12 rep range. Gradually reduce the rest periods, until such time as there is NO rest between each exercise

Thereafter, focus on lifting either more weight and/or performing more reps while running through this exercise loop. Jones himself found a twice a week training frequency superior to 3x/week, and further stated that no additional cardio was necessary.

It’s important to heed this advice: Start LIGHT, take time to gradually reduce your rest periods and feel this method out instead of gunning it out of the gate. If you decide to do that – you’ll either throw up on yourself, somebody else or get injured. I’ve personally witnessed the tri-fecta and trust me when I tell you – it ain’t pretty….

Still, this is a worthwhile experiment to gain BOTH strength and cardiovascular fitness in one session. For those of you pressed for time, it just may be the solution you’ve been looking for!

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Coach Rob Regish

Rob Regish is an internationally recognized name in the field of health and fitness. He's been a weekly contributor to for almost a decade, answering listener questions from around the world.