6 Key Ingredients To Conditioning

Dustin Myers

Well it’s that time of year again - summer.   The summer months are full of trips to the beach, afternoons at the pool, sporting tank tops to cookouts - all activities that make even the most cardio-phobic lifters start to focus on their conditioning.  I strive to stay in “shirtless” shape year round, but if you fall into the line with the “spring and summer only” cardio types, I got some news for you.  Simply having a good diet plan, lifting hard, and doing the occasional jog is not going to give you the chiseled look you are hoping for.  And besides - conditioning is not just about appearance, the real goal is to be in great cardiovascular shape and be able to tackle any activity that the summer brings.  Check out my 6 essential ingredients to conditioning and get ready for swimming, rock climbing, hiking, and impromptu extra workouts…and look the part while you’re doing it.

1. Sprint Work

In my mind, sprint work is the most important element to conditioning.  Science will try to tell you that building your aerobic base with long steady state cardio is the key…but let me ask you this.  If you only do long slow jogs, and I do nothing but anaerobic sprint work, would you be able to make it thru a day on the track with me?  Probably not, but the sprinter will be able to jog at a slow pace all day long.  The key is not over doing it.  I recommend doing a sprint based workout 1 or 2 times per week.  This could be at the track, an inclined treadmill, or on an aerodyne or rower.  When it comes to aesthetics, nothing beats the build of a sprinter.  Sprint work will help you lean out and build muscle as well.

2. Long Aerobic Base Workouts

Just because I said that sprinting is the number one priority doesn’t mean you can neglect building your aerobic base.  Having a good aerobic base will help support all of your other activity and is also a good way to burn calories without totally wiping yourself out.  I recommend doing a long (30-45 minute) low intensity session 1-2 times per week.  This could be a long run of 4-5 miles, or 40 minutes on a bike.  the key is not to push yourself to absolute exhaustion on this day.

3. Strongman style GPP circuits

GPP stands for General Physical Preparedness.  This is one of my favorite styles of training because you are working your entire body, building your cardio, and getting STRONG.  I include strongman style training at a minimum 1 day per week and include Farmers Carrys, Tire Flips, Sledgehammer Swings, Sled Work, and Medicine Balls.  Another way to implement GPP work is to include a few exercises or a small circuit after every weight lifting session (rather than devoting an entire day to it).  You can either pair similar exercises - sled work after leg day for example - or contrast opposing movements, such as doing Tire Flips after a chest workout.  That’s the great thing about GPP, it’s pretty tough to mess up the programming - just make sure to bring the intensity. 

4.  Middle Distance

1 mile Timed Runs.  10 minutes max distance on the aerodyne.  Weighted Walking Lunges for time. 2000m Row for time.  Max Effort middle distance is the toughest type of conditioning…and the one that most people skip.  Don’t be that guy.  Work in one of these examples once each week.

5. High Volume Bodyweight Movements

I am a big believer in doing high rep sets and supersets of bodyweight exercises on a regular basis.  Body weight movements help build stability, core strength, and lead to having a symmetrical chilled build.  Don’t think there is an element of cardio to this type of muscle conditioning?  Try doing a 10 round superset max reps of pull-ups and pushups with no rest and you will see how strong your lungs are in relation to the rest of your body.  I do one dedicated bodyweight only workout each week (usually on a weekend), and also work into my weight routines some high volume sets of pull ups, push ups, or ring work another 3 days per week

6. Boxing

I could have included boxing under the GPP category…but then again, it can serve as sprint work, helps build the aerobic base depending on your pace or tempo, etc.  Basically it deserves it’s own category because of the plethora of benefits.  If you want to have a strong ripped core and get shredded, then you should box at least once per week.  Bonus benefit:  hitting the speed bag is one of the absolute best prehab/rehab movements for the rotator cuff.

I may not be the biggest or the strongest, but one thing I pride myself on is always being in shape and capable of doing any type of workout at the drop of a hat.  Take my list above and make sure you can cross off each category every week and you will be amazed at how much better you will look, feel, and perform in the gym.

If you liked this article, check out:

Core Strength With A Twist

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