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What Is a Shredding Exercise?

A shredding exercise describes a form of exercise that emphasizes bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of moderate-intensity activity or complete rest. After the brief recovery, the exercise is repeated. This differs from traditional endurance exercise which requires continuous movement and intensity for a sustained period of time.

Proponents claim that shredding exercise can help you build lean muscle and burn more fat in less time than endurance training. Clinical data appear to support these claims.


Shredding Exercise


High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise

High-intensity intermittent exercise, or HIIE, is a shredding exercise and alternates bouts of high-intensity movement with moderate-intensity exercise. Performing box jumps for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of sit-ups is a good example. Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, examined the effects of HIIE on the body composition of young, overweight males. Twelve weeks of HIIE resulted in significant reductions of abdominal, trunk and visceral fat, along with significant increases in lean mass, according to the study published in the June 2012 issue of the “Journal of Obesity.”


Sprint Interval Exercise

Sprint interval exercise involves sprinting with all-out explosive power and speed for several seconds, followed by jogging or brisk walking. Two minutes of sprint interval exercise promotes significantly more body-fat loss than endurance training in a fraction of the time, according to researchers at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. Their study — published in the August 2012 issue of the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” — found that two minutes of sprint interval exercise increased metabolism for 24 hours afterward in an equivalent manner to 30 minutes of continuous endurance exercise.


Circuit Training

Circuit training is a form of shredding exercise that combines high-intensity strength training with cardiovascular activity. Circuit training is comprised of several exercises within a circuit. Instead of resting between each exercise, you move quickly to the next exercise. After completing each exercise in the circuit, you rest for 30 to 60 seconds. For example, a circuit may consist of 3 sets of 15 reps of bicep curls followed immediately by equal sets of pushups, followed immediately by 60 seconds of jump rope. When the circuit is complete, you rest for 60 seconds and then begin a new circuit with three more exercises.



Regular aerobic exercise exerts a small influence on body fat compared to interval training, according to a review published in the May 2011 issue of the “Journal of Obesity.” The majority of exercise programs geared towards fat loss focus on continuous exercise at a moderate intensity. This has lead to disappointing weight-loss results, according to the review. Various forms of shredding workouts — like those based around bouts of high-intensity exercise for short intervals — promote more fat loss than continuous endurance training.


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