Conditioning is where we have the real fun right?
The error that most lifters tend to make is mistaking conditioning work for strength training. After a conditioning workout, people mistake the feeling of being totally out of breath and lying in their own pool of sweat for a “good strength training session.” I can remember the days when I feel the same. That’s not always the case. Just because you got your ass kicked in a session doesn’t mean you got any stronger from it. Real strength training sessions are going to feel a lot different than pure conditioning sessions. Both sessions will have a totally different effect on your body. Let’s get into the main keys of conditioning.
Conditioning Point #1: Intensity
There’s nothing more important than intensity when it comes to pure conditioning. I am a huge believe of in shorter conditioning sessions where the more intensity you put into it, the more results you will get back. This can be different depending on what you’re conditioning for. Bottom line is to go HARD and condition with some more intensity. The faster you get in and out the more recovery you’ll have for strength.
Conditioning Point #2: Progression
Just like with strength, you’ll want some sort of progression when it comes to your conditioning work. What I like to focus on when it comes to progressing my conditioning work is to either increase work time or decrease rest time. For example, if I’m doing an interval set of bodyweight movements, for week 1 I may use a work period of 30 seconds with a rest period of 30 seconds. Then for week 2, I’ll increase the work period to 45 seconds and decrease the rest period to 15 seconds OR keep the rest period the same depending on the athlete. When you approach it in that way, you’ll be able to progress overtime with quality (which I discuss next).
Conditioning Point #3: Quality
Similar to how we focus on quality with strength work, quality is also important with conditioning work as well. To get quality out of your conditioning work it’s rather basic, just focus on keeping your INTENSITY HIGH while following proper progressions. For example, if you’re not quite conditioned enough to tackle a 60 second set of Kettlebell Swings, it’s not going to do you much good to struggle your way through the interval with poor form. While I’m all about pushing the limits, you’ve got to push your limits in a smart way. Just think QUALITY.
Conditioning Point #4: Variety
This is where the most fun lies in regards to conditioning and why most people tend to do a little bit too much conditioning work. I feel constant variety is greatly needed in order to keep pushing your conditioning to new levels. I for one like to change things quite often when it comes to conditioning work to keep things fresh. This also keeps your body guessing each time you condition. Since we stay pretty consistent with our strength work, this is where we can be a little more chaotic.
What I’ll tend to do is a whole mix of different types of conditioning protocols including, but not limited to, bodyweight circuits, complexes, intervals, AMRAPS and who doesn’t like some high quality finishers?
The only rule I play by is to make sure to keep it intense while using the proper set of progressions. As long as I’m moving the body utilizing little to no breaks for rest, and doing it in a safe and controlled manner, I’m good to go.