If you’ve been through a few of our articles, you may have noticed a common thread. In fact, the majority of my posts are elaborations of a few core principles of conditioning and fitness. The truth is that having great conditioning really isn’t as difficult as a lot of people make it out to be, but it’s also much more than just working running yourself into the ground over and over again as far too many people often do.
To help show you how easy getting in great shape can be, I’ve gone throughout the entire 8weeksout articles section and boiled it down to the meat and potatoes to give you…
The Ultimate Conditioning Guide
These are the 8 fundamental principles of conditioning distilled from more than 15 years of working with top-level athletes from different sports all over the world.
1. Know the demands of your sport
This may seem simple, but it’s astonishing how many people focus on training the wrong energy system for their sport (we’ll talk more about this on #5). What are the specific demands that your sport places on your body?
Is it primarily short and explosive in nature, longer duration with low power output, or some mixture of both?
The first and most important principle of all is that you must start by truly understanding the energy system demands of your sport, or particular goal.
Here’s a hint: if your sport is longer than 60 sec of activity, it’s going to have a huge aerobic component.
In other words, if you’re a combat athlete and you’re preparing for 3 rounds of 5 minutes each, then why are you sparring 8-10 rounds straight leading up to the fight? The proper way to go about this, assuming you want to do 8-10 rounds, would be to train 3 rounds of 5 minutes, rest 10-15 minutes or more, and then do another 3 rounds, etc.
Your training efforts will carry a lot further you truly understand the total energy demands and the environment of your sport and then prepare your body for it.
2. Evaluate your weaknesses
We all like to train the areas that we excel in, but that’s not going to contribute to the bigger picture of having well-rounded conditioning. Far too many athletes have failed to improve over the years because they spent all their time training what they are already good at while neglecting the things they struggle the most with.
This is a great recipe for working hard, but not working smart.
It’s vitally important to assess your fitness so you can understand and minimize your weaknesses within the context of your sport.
Again, your focus should be on training for your sport’s demands, so of course there’s no reason to be going on long distance runs if you’re assessment shows you lack endurance but you’re training to throw shot put.
What should your assessment look like?
The answer is that it depends on your sport. One of the most important things to keep in mind, however, is that your assessment should correlate to performance in your sport or relative to your goal. All the testing and assessment in the world won’t do any good if the results have little to do with real world performance.
You can see a simple example of how I use testing and assessment to guide programming by checking out the free 4 Week Conditioning Program. In video 1, I’ll walk you through a basic conditioning assessment that carries over into most sports that require a balance of strength, power and endurance.
3. Follow a training program
Blindly working out without a road map of where you want to go is a waste of time. There are much more efficient ways for you to train and see the results you want.
Your training should be structured so that the benefits of each workout have a culminating effect over time. This means that the rationale behind your daily workout and where it fits within the bigger picture should be clearly defined before you head to the gym.
It’s never enough to just show up and work hard and expect the results to just happen. This is like blindly throwing money at the stock market and expecting to make a big return just because you made an investment.
To be successful takes an intelligent approach, and just like you need to invest your money wisely if you want it to grow, you need to invest your time wisely if you really want your conditioning to improve.
Using a “one-size-fits-all” workout that some random person throws up online is never the most efficient way to train either (and often times, it’s dangerous). Your program should be specific to your goals, where you are within your season, your body’s limitations or injury history, etc.
In short, have a plan and make sure your plan is designed for you.
If you don’t know how to design a training program, or just want to get better at it, I have some resources for you: