13 Methods To Increase Your Conditioning

By Skyler Zarndt MS, ATC, RSCC

 

This is the 4th part of what is an overview of Joel Jamieson’s Certified Conditioning Coach Course.  In this segment, we will discuss a variety of training methods that you can use to increase your conditioning levels.  If you need a refresher, check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

When designing a training program, we obviously need an end goal.  What are we trying to achieve with this particular program?  Endurance?  Speed?  Regardless of the goal, our program is nothing more than organization.  It is our road map.  We figure out where we want to be, and then we determine the methods best suited for getting us there.

The following methods will give us all of the tools we need to help us achieve our desired conditioning goals.  We will break down our 13 Conditioning methods into two categories: General Conditioning, and Local Muscular Endurance.

LOCAL MUSCULAR ENDURANCE

Local Muscular Endurance exercises help train certain muscles or groups of muscles to perform repeated contractions against submaximal resistance.  This type of training allows us to work for longer, become more efficient, and allows for faster recovery.

Methods

TEMPO LIFTING:

  • Develops size and endurance of slow twitch fibers
    • Constant tempo (2-0-2) [This denotes 2 seconds of eccentric movement, 0 seconds of pause at the bottom/top of movement, and 2 seconds concentric movement)
    • 3-5 sets x 10-12 reps
    • 40-60 rest between sets
  • Goal of tempo lifting is fatigue.
  • Not to be used for a full body workout.  Pick 2-3 exercises and use them as ACCESSORY lifts AFTER your max effort/dynamic effort lifts.

EXPLOSIVE REPEAT:

  • Increases endurance of fast twitch fibers by increasing mitochondria and improves elastic energy transfer
    • 8-15 seconds work, 30-60 seconds rest
    • Use cyclical movements, i.e. jump squats
    • Goal is to maintain power throughout each set
    • 10-15 sets per exercise
  • Improves elasticity, which is important for transferring power and energy
  • Start with low level hops/bounds/jumps, and gradually build up volume over time
  • NOT a max fatigue technique

SLED DRAGGING:

  • Increases anaerobic buffering and mitochondria in fast twitch fibers
    • Wide variety of exercises to choose from
    • Concentric only – CAN BE USED FOR REGENERATION
    • 20-50 yards, 60-90 seconds rest
    • 3-4 sets per exercise
  • The mainly concentric muscle action will help prevent any delayed onset muscle soreness.  When used at appropriate loads (25%-45%), can help with recovery

STRONGMAN ENDURANCE:

  • Improves postural endurance, grip strength, and anaerobic muscle buffering
    • Carrying for distance
    • Farmers Walk
    • Axel Clean & Press
    • Yolk Walk
    • 60-120 seconds work, 2-4 minutes rest
    • 2-3 sets per exercise
  • Pairs well with tempo training to help build local muscular endurance
  • 2-3 tempo training exercises + 2-3 strongman endurance exercises

AEROBIC PLYOMETRICS:

  • Improves endurance of fast twitch fibers and elasticity of supporting tissues
    • 8-12 bounds, 10-30 seconds rest, 5-10 minutes per set, 1-3 sets per exercise
    • Minimum ground contact time
    • Best exercises include hurdle hops and low box jumps
  • Start with explosive repeat, then use aerobic plyometrics
  • Goal is to accumulate volume and build elastic work capacity
  • Can also be used as a warm-up or cool-down

 

GENERAL CONDITIONING

The goals of the following general conditioning exercises are specific to the methods themselves.  They range from improving resting heart rate (RHR) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV), to increasing lactic energy production and anaerobic endurance.  The key is to test and determine what specific needs you or your athletes may have, assess areas of deficiency, and then prescribe appropriate conditioning methods.  For most athletes, essentially all of the following methods would be appropriate to use at some point during the annual training cycle.

Methods

CARDIAC OUTPUT:

  • Increases left ventricular size through eccentric hypertrophy (dilation)
  • Increases mitochondria in slow twitch fibers
  • Develops vascular network
    • Heart Rate 130-150
    • 30-90 Minutes
  • Improves efficiency of aerobic system, which drives recovery for the entire system
  • Improves Parasympathetic dominance which allows us to better cope with the stress of training
  • Should be noted that resistance for this training needs to remain low in order to keep blood pressure down.  If blood pressure rises too much, heart becomes less elastic, which negates the benefit of increased left ventricle size

TEMPO INTERVALS:

  • Improves capillary density and oxidative abilities of slow and some fast-twitch fibers
    • 8-10 seconds work, 60 seconds rest
    • 8-16 reps
    • Moderate intensity (<70% of max intensity)
  • Will see some regeneration effects
  • Goal with tempo intervals is to build work capacity

HIGH RESISTANCE INTERVALS:

  • Conversion of “Fast Glycolytic” to “Fast Oxidative Glycolytic” muscle fiber type
    • High resistance – use an incline or a load
    • Short work – 5-6 seconds
    • Rest 60 seconds or until HR is ~130 BPM
    • Moderate to High volume
  • Purpose is to activate the highest threshold fibers
  • Would not use this method until moderate fitness levels are achieved
  • Easiest application = Uphill Sprinting

HIGH INTENSITY CONTINUOUS TRAINING (HICT):

  • Increases oxidative abilities of moderate fast twitch fibers.
  • No eccentric component = useful method for recovery
    • 10-20 minutes
    • 1-2 sets
    • Low tempo
    • HR = 150-160 BPM

INTENSIVE INTERVALS:

  • Increases rate/capacity of alactic energy production
  • Use exercises intended for explosive strength and power training
    • 3-6 seconds work
    • 60-120 seconds rest
    • 10-20 sets
  • Used as season gets closer, much more sport specific

EXTENSIVE INTERVALS:

  • Increases lactic energy production and anaerobic endurance
  • Very fatiguing method, used more as a general preparation method (not as sport specific)
    • 30-40 seconds work
    • 1-4 minutes rest
    • 2-5 sets
    • 1-2 series
  • Rest longer for lactic power, shorter for lactic capacity

THRESHOLD TRAINING:

  • Increases oxidative efficiency and power at lactate threshold
  • This method trains just below the level where ANAEROBIC system dominates
    • 5-10 minutes
    • 1-3 sets
    • HR in “threshold range” (160-170 BPM)

CARDIAC POWER INTERVALS:

  • Increases cardiac contractility, anaerobic muscle buffering, and local muscular endurance
  • The goal is getting HR to max and keeping it there
    • Intensity to max HR
    • 90 seconds to 2 minutes
    • Rest 1-3 minutes
    • Best exercise: sprinting
  • Do not use more than 2x per week for 3-4 weeks, as it is very intensive

 

As you can see, the methods to achieving better conditioning go beyond the traditional view of “running to get in shape” or anything like that.  The methods themselves will have very specific effects on your conditioning levels.  For example, if you only do Cardiac Output work, you’ll have a low Resting Heart Rate, but your anaerobic endurance will suffer.  Luckily, we have the ability to monitor and track variables that give us insight to how our body is responding to the stresses placed upon it.

It is also obvious that certain methods of conditioning are used for very specific purposes.  My advice to anyone who wants to improve their overall level of conditioning is this:

  • Determine where you are starting (test)
  • Figure out where you want to be and how long you have to get there (plan)
  • Determine the appropriate methods for attaining results (program)
  • Periodically re-test and monitor variables to ensure improvements are being made (evaluate), and adjust as needed.

 

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