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How to Condition for Your Training Goals

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

Do you want to burn fat fast? Are you tired of logging endless miles on the treadmill? Do you want a more effective way of doing cardio? This workout is what you seek.

This video covers a simple conditioning circuit that you can do from home. It’s guaranteed to help you burn fat in less time than traditional forms of cardio. You can scale this workout to your fitness level – we provide exercise options in the video to make it more or less intense. We also give you a breakdown by sets and time so you can fit it into your fitness routine.

When it comes to conditioning, it is beneficial to understand the metabolic profile of your planned workout so you can make sure it aligns with your training goals. A simple example is an offensive lineman who needs to condition for an upcoming season. The offensive line is one of the most technical and hard-nosed position groups in football, demanding brute strength, power, and speed. It would not make a lot of sense for an o-lineman to rely on jogging on a treadmill for 30 minutes to prepare him for the upcoming season. Steady-state endurance is not a key component of this position group.

To train effectively for this position, an offensive lineman will perform conditioning workouts that match the demands of the position – workouts will consist of short, intense bursts followed by long rest periods (sprints, sled pulls/drives, tire flips, etc. for 3-60 secs). Workouts like this will train the anaerobic energy systems (alactic/phosphagen and lactic/fast glycolytic), provided the rest periods land within the appropriate range. This is crucial to developing the metabolic profile that will lead to success in football. So how do we apply this principle of metabolic specificity to average gym-goers who want to stay in shape?

We need to align our workouts with our fitness goals. We could dive very deep into exercise programming here, but let’s keep things simple and focus on high-intensity interval training or HIIT conditioning. HIIT takes cardio to the next level, ditching steady-state aerobic activity and trading it for short, intense bursts followed by low-intensity rest periods. HIIT has proven to be just as effective, if not more effective, at training our cardiovascular and energy systems for aerobic and/or anaerobic adaptation. We can use HIIT to get in kick-ass shape in less time with arguably more fun.

When programming HIIT workouts, keep in mind your work-to-rest ratio – shorter work intervals (10 secs or less) will naturally be more anaerobic, and longer work intervals (greater than 1 min) will naturally be more aerobic. But we can’t forget our rest intervals, rest intervals equal to or shorter than our work intervals, will become highly aerobic as time increases. But rest intervals up to 20 times longer than our work intervals will keep things highly anaerobic.

Approximate Work-to-Rest Ratios for Energy System Conditioning

A simple way I like to program this for myself is to shoot for a work-to-rest ratio between ≥1:1-4 (aerobic) during my base of fitness and hypertrophy training phases and between 1:5-12 (anaerobic) during my strength and power phases. This keeps my conditioning more aerobic when my lifting is more aerobic and my lifting more anaerobic when my conditioning is more anaerobic. Keeping the stresses similar helps drive adaptation.

Approximate Work Intervals for Energy System Conditioning

Test this concept with your programming, and let me know if you find it effective. Let us know if you tried the workout and your thoughts about it. Can you perform it without breathing through your mouth? Nasal breathing is tough. More to come on this…

Looking for a complete program that includes periodized resistance training and conditioning?

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