“the rally cry for my football players is “strong legs, strong lungs”.” – Jim Wendler
Conditioning is a blanket term, it really means the same thing as “fitness”
I prefer the term conditioning as it brings about the right imagery.
Fitness can be anything from aerobics to bodybuilding and is often aesthetically driven. But conditioning brings about images of heroic feats of strength and endurance.
You think of someone who’s well conditioned, you tend to think of them as athletic.
So that’s my bias explained for the terminology, but what does the terminology actually mean?
It means, a well conditioned athlete is more than capable to face the demands of their sport.
And that’s about it.
Therefore to condition an athlete, we need to understand their sport.
Hence why I like to work with martial artists and adventure sports folk, as that is my personal background and I understand that the best.
For the non athlete, the person who trains simply to be fit, there is no specific demands to meet. No lines to colour inside of.
For the non athlete, we aim to tick all the boxes so that they can be ready for pretty much anything, anytime.
We call this GPP in our fancy coaches speak. It means “General Physical Preparedness”
I prefer “GHP” as in “General Human Preparedness”
I don’t believe for even a second that you can be well conditioned without considering the mental side to be of equal (or greater) importance as the physical.
We can break down GPP (GHP?) many ways.
Which is why so many different systems exist, which is largely where all the confusion comes in.
But let’s start with Wendler’s quote above, “Strong legs, strong lungs”
You really can’t go far wrong if you keep that front and centre in your mind.
Weak legs are non optional in my book. I’m not interested in simply squatting a tonne of weight, but I want legs that can go and go and go. As well as squat a tonne of weight….
Legs burn a lot of energy, especially big tree trunk legs.
If we don’t train them for energy efficiency they are going to take a huge toll on us.
There’s no real suprise that the entry requirements for a fighter trying out for the pre UFC MMA competitions, Shooto and Pride, fighters would have to knock out 500 Hindu Squats as part of the fitness testing.
500 Hindu’s is not that much, most people can achieve that if they put their mind to it.
A handful of my Wg-Fit crew have, either because of upper body injury, or as a personal challenge done 1000 reps in a single set.
No, that’s not a typo.
I strongly suggest that you work hard at making 100 reps an arbitrary task, something suitable for a warm or a finisher.
Then shoot for the 500.
Once you have it, maintain it.
It’s attainable for most (injury history obviously allowing)
It will reward you with higher endurance in the legs, frequent high rep training will help recovery of the legs after more intense trainings, and it should keep the joints fresh and healthy.
Try adding a high rep set after a lower body training, or after your sports training.
Squats are not the only option, far from it.
We also run.
Hills are best. As is using a variety of speeds and durations.
Check put this post of Walter Peyton that Ross Enamait posted:
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Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton was one of my favorite athletes as a kid. He was my inspiration to start running hills. What he says at the end of this clip is golden. You can’t beat the hill. It never gets easier, you just get better. #rosstraining #athlete #sprints #training #conditioning #workout
For longer durations, good baseline standard to achieve and maintain is a sub 60 minute 10Km.
Really you should be able to run 10Km much faster than that if you went hard, but I’m talking about a baseline level, a level you can achieve on any given day.
If you have access to a sled, then you have access to a great conditioning tool.
Due to the nature of my gym’s floor, I can’t have a sled, but should we ever get a bigger venue with space for a carpeted track, it’s top of the list of kit to buy.
For a fighter to develop baseline conditioning, we want it pushed at a relatively slow pace for time. Match the sled push to the fight rules, for example 3 x 3 minute rounds with 1 minute breaks.
So speed and load is determined by your ability to keep the sled moving for that time duration.
Now, I can hardly do a conditioning focused article without mentioning the Kettlebell.
High rep swings may just be one of the most advantageous things you can possibly do.
What’s high rep?
Sets of 100+
Or sets of 3-5 minutes
Not only do these build the hip power, but their adding resilience to your lower back and grip.
That can’t be bad.
I’m going to leave you now with this.
In the next part I’ll discuss the value of circuit training as a conditioning method.
Till next time