Crossfit Conditioning: 3 Ways to do More with Less Time

Your time is extremely valuable so use it well. These conditioning tips will help ramp up the intensity of your workouts so that you can get more done in a shorter period of time.

If you’re scrambling for time like almost everyone else on this journey that we call life, or if you’re just looking to ramp up the intensity of your Crossfit conditioning and get a little extra work done in the same amount of time – put these tips into practice now!

1. TIME YOUR REST 

Literally time it. I’m pretty sure everyone has a smart phone or knows a gym teacher (shout out to Mr. Paskiw) and therefore has access to some sort of timer. Even then I would hope the facility you’re going to has a clock you can look at, if all else fails you must be in prison because I don’t have another solution as to how you wouldn’t have access to a timer.

‘Limit your rest time between sets to 60-120 seconds depending on what you’re doing and get a god damn sweat going.’

That’s what you’re there for. Timing your rest can be an excellent tool not only to get the prescribed amount of work done a lot quicker, but it allows you to start training other systems as well. For example, if you start squatting 3 reps every minute on the minute for a set period of time, rather than taking a 10 minute coffee break between sets, you chance the structure of the Workout. With limited rest, we start training our body under a little extra fatigue and add more stress, something new the body will have to adapt to and repair from in a different way.

sara sigmundsdottir crossfit conditioning wod
Sara Sigmundsdottir ramping up the intensity of her WODs

What happens when our bodies are forced to adapt and repair? Yep. We get stronger/faster/better. Obviously if I’m going for a max lift I wouldn’t limit my rest completely, in that case I would want to be as fresh as possible in order to hit the desired weight – but you catch my drift here.

‘I find that timing my sets keeps the intensity high within my workouts and ensures a solid training session.’

You know what that feels like, and you know when you don’t get one. Start timing your sets and get to work.

2. SUPER SET!

Timing your rest is mainly applicable to strength work, but incorporating super sets can be used for adding a little extra in, or tossing in some extra conditioning.

A super set can be used however you want, whether it be for strength lifts, strength and conditioning, or straight up conditioning. I originally started doing this within the programming here at my Box because I wanted to give my crossfitters as much as possible, and really pack that hour with as much training as I could. Our classes are all an hour long so I had to get creative. Super sets are a fantastic way to add in extra accessory work, put some extra stress on the muscles in a short amount of time, add a little extra conditioning, and just get more work done in general.


We usually toss in a super set almost every training session to squeeze in some more work, primarily with accessory lifts. So instead of doing a set of weighted lunges and then taking a break for a few minutes, head straight to another exercise that either compliments the one you just did, or hits something on the opposite end and then take a break.

For example, I would do a set of 12 weighted lunges, then as soon as I was done I would move straight into a set of 5 good mornings and then take a break for a minute or so. Do that for a few sets and BAM, more work done and the intensity is still cranked to 11. You could even do three exercises back to back to back and then take a break, just make sure they’re structured in accordance to your workout.

The accessory movement supersets are a staple in our program to get more work done, but we also use the same tactic for conditioning segments as well.

In that instance we might be doing a set of Pull Ups (or whatever you happen to be doing), then immediately move into a 100m sprint, or row, or burpee box jumps – anything to sneak a little taste of conditioning in there. After the set is done take your required rest, then hit it again with the same intensity. Key here is to take your rest, not too long like we’ve talked about, but when it’s time to work again – WORK. We usually utilize this within the strength accessory work after the main lifts for the day. SUPER SET!!!

3. INTERVALS AND EMOMS

Oh boy do I love me some intervals and EMOMS (Every Minute on the Minute). This is similar to the timed rest we talked about above, but I’m trying to drive a point home here and I’ve had way too much coffee.

‘Intervals and EMOMS are very simple because they force you to get the work done.’

It doesn’t matter if you’re tired, or maybe not quite ready for that next set, when the minute rolls over – you’re starting the next set. If we’re talking about intervals we can use this beauty tactic with either the strength or conditioning portion. If I’m using it for my strength accessory lifts then I would establish a set amount of work that I wanted to get done in a set amount of time.

Intervals and EMOM WODs make you work hard!
Intervals and EMOM WODs make you work hard!

For example, I would give myself 2 minutes to complete a set of 6 on the bench press, 10 ring dips, maybe toss some abs in there and then take some rest. Once your rest is up you start over again. You can employ this with a set amount of time or rest in mind, or you can simply just get whatever work you’re going to do, done, then rest your allotted time. This will force you to get the work done in a timely fashion, and indeed keep that lovely intensity up.

CROSSFIT CONDITIONING: EMOMS

EMOMS are a beautiful tool to cut down your rest time if you want to get more work in, or a decent way to push your limits. In this case you would have a set amount of work you want to do, this can be either strength work, conditioning, or both! After you finish the work you’ll rest for the remainder of the minute, but as soon as that minute rolls over you better be ready for another one!

For example, every minute on the minute for 10 minutes I would do a 50m sprint, 10 KB swings, and 5 Push Ups (or whatever you plan on doing). Once I finish I would take the remainder of the minute to rest. These can be done every minute on the minute, every 2 minutes, every 3, whatever you want! Be wary – it may seem easy at first but it will get hard. If it starts out extremely hard and you’re barely making it through the minute, you might want to back it down a little.

  • The key with intervals and EMOMS is to get the work done quickly and effectively,
  • Take your rest and recover as best you can, then hit the interval again with the same amount of intensity.
  • Ideally each set should take around the same amount of time, with all out effort.

All in all there are many ways to get some extra work in, but you gotta want it. If you employ any of these I promise you it will ramp up the intensity and actually get you excited about what you’re doing. Yeah it will be tiring, but you’ll recover and be ready for more. Find pockets of time where you can fill it with extra work, soon enough your 30-60 minutes in the Box will turn into the best and most effective time in your day, and might be that secret sauce you’re looking for if things are feeling a little bland lately. Now get out there – it’s your set.


sara sigmundsdottir crossfit conditioning wod © Bjarni Sigurðsson

Intervals and EMOM WODs make you work hard! © Bjarni Sigurðsson

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About The Author

Brendon is the Owner and Head Coach at Villains Strength & Conditioning. Getting his start in the CrossFit world with his time spent in the Canadian Infantry - following his deployment from Kabul, Afghanistan he traded in the Army uniform for a pair of sweatpants and hasn't looked back.

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