Conditioning Made Simple

by James Kerrison on September 20, 2011

Every training program should put an emphasis on performance and progression.

Simply turning up and spinning your wheels, doing the same sets/reps/weight etc that you did the week before isn’t going to get you anywhere.

I also think you should do as much exercise standing (or on your feet) as possible. You won’t find much bench press, exercise bike, rower, or seated exercises in my routines. We do more than enough sitting these days, commuting, working, relaxing, that the last thing I recommend when exercising is to sit down some more!

Using these guidelines lets have a look at my favourite conditioning exercises that should be a part of every exercise program.

#1 The Kettlebell Swing

The swing is number one for a reason! It’s going to improve your strength, endurance, power, cardiovascular fitness all in one powerful movement. Not only is it a great conditioning exercise but it will improve your other lifts as well.

Put simply the more you swing and the more you can swing then the more other ‘stuff’ you’ll be able to do.

Add to this that the kettlebell swing works the often underused hamstrings, glutes and back which will help to balance out your training.

I prefer the hip hinge style of swing as its more efficient and means you can do more work!

Basic Conditioning: Get your technique 100%

Intermediate Conditioning: 50 consecutive swings

Advanced Conditioning: 100 consecutive swings

You can also add them into your workouts in sets of 15-30 to turn a regular workout into a super conditioning workout.

#2 Sled Pushes

Sleds (often known as the Prowler) is a close second when it come to conditioning. The reason I put it after swings is that because it is more of a pushing and quad dominant exercise than the swings. Typically most exercise programs will already have a lot of quad work in them (think squats, lunges, step ups, jumps) so adding more isn’t always a good thing.

Pushing a weighted sled around is the ultimate in “simple but not easy’ exercises. It takes all of 2 seconds to learn and has the potential to have anyone lying in the foetal position, crawling or the like in a very short amount of time.

Basic Conditioning: 20-40 metre sprints with 60 seconds recovery (5-10 repeats)

Intermediate Conditioning: 20-40 metre sprints with 30 seconds recovery (5-10 repeats)

Advanced Conditioning: Tabatas (20 work, 10 rest, 8 rounds)

 

#3 Jumping Rope

In terms of ‘take anywhere conditioning’ jumping rope is the king. Skipping is a staple of conditioning for boxers and with good reason. Apart from getting the legs, heart and lungs going, it is great for improving quickness and general athleticism. You can skip regular style, double unders, triple unders (apparently) and then there’s Buddy Lee style skipping!

Basic Conditioning: Warm up, 2-3 minutes

Intermediate Conditioning: 5-10 minutes

Advanced Conditioning: Add to other circuits to boost total workout conditioning.

In a world where some new fitness fad comes along every minute the basics are still going to get the job done. If these were the only three exercises you were going to do, you would be one fitter than the average Joe.

Add in some pushups and you’ll get a great upper / lower workout that will send your conditioning through the roof. (Think sled 20-40 metres, pushup x 10-20, swing x 20 and skip for 60 seconds as a nice little combo!)

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