Understanding Energy Systems: Part 2: Developing Conditioning Workouts

Dustin Myers


If you have not yet read Part 1 - Work to Rest Ratios, please go back and read it to understand the basis for the following conditioning categories.

Here are the three main categories that your conditioning work should fall into:

1. Speed/Power Development

Objective: Increase absolute speed and power production

Timing: late off-season, preseason


-Sprints - Maximal Effort running sprints, air dyne, rower or sled with light weight

5-20 seconds - long, preferably active recovery  jogging or light airdyne/bike in between

*Set up prehab or other active recovery stations in between if cycling a whole team thru speed work.

-Post Activation Potentiation- Heavy Weight for short bursts and/or paired with sprints or plyometrics

5 second sled push/5 second sprint (running)/2 min rest


5 second Push/3 Broad Jumps/2 minute Rest


2 reps Deadlift thru bands @50% 1RM/3 Broad Jumps/2 minute rest

2. Anaerobic Power Endurance

Objective: Increase anaerobic threshold and ability to repeat maximal effort bursts

Timing: Preseason, early season


- Burst Intervals 5 seconds on/10 seconds off x 5, rest 3 minutes between sets

Utilize Push or Tug of War protocol with sled

-Threshold work: 30-45 seconds, max effort, heavy weight, 1:30 rest between sets


Airdyne - 30 seconds max effort, 1:30 recovery x

Sled Pull/Push combo set - 30 seconds

Active Recovery (light Airdyne) - 60 seconds

Rest - 30 seconds

Sled Push (1/2 bodyweight) - max distance, 45 seconds

Rest - 2:15

x 3 sets

-Strength/Power Combo sets - heavy weight 1:3 work to rest

3 Rows/Push back distance covered when rowing, 3-5 sets

Seated Tug of War (width of room)/Drag back to starting position, 2-3 sets

3. Aerobic Base

Objective: improve work capacity and over all conditioning

Timing: year round


-    Steady state - jogging, biking, rowing for 20-40 minutes

-    Combination Training

Sled Drag or Push (light weight)- 1 minute

Air dyne or Running Sprint - 10 sec sprint/20 sec light

Weight Holds or Farmers Carry - 1 minute

- rest 1 minute -

x 3 rounds

-    Long Intervals

5 minutes alternating between Push/Pull/Drag/Row, light/medium weight and medium intensity

5 minutes biking or Airdyne, light/medium intensity

x 2-3 rounds

Now, remember, this is just a general overview of energy systems and the corresponding training protocols.  This is not an exhaustive explanation but rather what I think would be the bare minimum to help you to understand how to correctly design sled workouts for your team.  One of the biggest mistakes coaches make when doing sprint work is not giving athletes enough recovery between sprints.  If the goal is to get faster or improve an athletes anaerobic threshold, there must be adequate recovery or the intensity will drop as they begin to depend primarily on oxygen for fuel. An important point to remember is “rest” periods do not necessarily mean sitting or laying still, its best if the athlete stays moving to clear out some of the lactate that accumulates during intense anaerobic work.  Light jogging, prehab exercises or even stance motion can serve as great active recovery in between sets of sled work.