Supplements aren't the only things I like to stack. I also like to combine training techniques to spark faster results. That's one reason why my Shortcut to Shred program here on is so effective. Not only do I incorporate different intensity-boosting techniques into the workouts, but I combine three of them in particular into one set to stimulate maximize fat loss.

The three techniques? Cardioacceleration, rest-pause, and dropsets. When combined, they become "cardioaccelerated rest-pause dropsets"—a lethal finisher to an exercise that can provide the fat-burning shortcut you're looking for. Here's how the three-pronged technique works.

Breaking Down the High-Intensity Trio

Cardioaccelerated rest-pause dropsets aren't nearly as complicated as the name sounds. They're pretty simple, actually, but just to make sure we're on the same page, let me quickly break down each of the individual components:

1. Cardioacceleration: a form of HIIT cardio where, instead of standing around resting between sets in a lifting workout, you fill the downtime with a short, intense bout of cardio.

It's important to go straight from your lifting set to the cardio to keep intensity high, so a bodyweight activity like running in place or jumping jacks is recommended, as opposed to a treadmill or other cardio machine.

2. Rest-Pause: a technique for training past muscle failure on a lifting set without lightening the weight.

After reaching initial failure, you rest 15-20 seconds, then resume the set to failure once again.

3. Dropsets: a technique for training past failure, without resting, by lightening the load.

Once you hit failure on a given set, immediately drop the weight 20-30 percent and rep out to failure once more.

Barbell Curl


When to Use the Technique and What Exercises to Use

Wait until your last set of an exercise to use cardioaccelerated rest-pause dropsets. Of course, you can (and should) do cardioacceleration on other sets, but you want to limit the rest-pause and dropset additions to only one set per move.

If you're new to the technique, do it for no more than one exercise per muscle group to get accustomed to the intensity. Choose an exercise that allows you to change weights quickly and conveniently; machine and cable moves are good options, as are dumbbell exercises, provided you have lighter dumbbells close by.

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Step 1: Cardioacceleration

Once you reach failure on that last set of the exercise, immediately go into your cardioacceleration activity—running in place, jumping jacks, step-ups, your choice. Do the cardio exercise for 15-20 seconds.

Step 2: Rest-Pause

After 15-20 seconds, go right back to the lifting exercise you were doing and rep out that same weight to failure. In these first two steps, you're essentially doing cardioacceleration and rest-pause simultaneously by replacing the short rest period with cardio.

Step 3: Dropset

After reaching failure on the rest-pause, immediately lighten the weight by 20-30 percent—from 100 pounds to 70-80 on a cable stack or machine, from 50-pound dumbbells to 35s or 40s, etc.—and, without resting, rep out that lighter weight to failure.

When that's complete, you're finished with your cardioaccelerated rest-pause dropset for the exercise. That didn't take long, did it?

Cardioaccelerated Rest-Pause Dropsets in Action

As mentioned, you can work cardioaccelerated rest-pause dropsets into any workout, limiting the technique to no more than one set per exercise. I would also recommend using the technique only if you're at an intermediate or advanced level of training; due to the intensity, it's not really beginner-friendly.

To see the technique in an actual program, check out Shortcut to Shred in BodyFit Elite. Cardioaccelerated rest-pause dropsets show up in Microcycle 1 of Phase 2 of the six-week plan.

What I love about the technique is that it provides a great intensity boost to a workout, while taking up very little time—an extra minute per exercise, tops. Minimal time investment, maximum fat-burning boost!

For other great intensity-boosting techniques, as well as tons of great programs, meal plans, exercise instructions, and videos, visit

About the Author

Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.

Jim Stoppani, Ph.D.

Jim Stoppani holds a doctorate in exercise physiology from the University of Connecticut and has been the personal nutrition and health consultant to numerous celebrity clients, including...

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