For starters I don’t want to sound like I’m trying to nitpick with the semantics here, but I want to point out the difference between conditioning and general cardio. Sure leisurely cardio is definitely a form of conditioning, but then there is a type of conditioning that you can structure to have a major impact on your fitness game.
Interval based cardio with a structured and systematic approach to acquiring a high level of conditioning is the way to go if you’re looking to prepare yourself for a specific purpose, or to condition yourself in a way that is truly impactful. This is where we move from general cardio to purposeful conditioning. Keep on reading to understand where I’m going with this.
Seek The Challenge
When it comes to purposeful conditioning that can yield high results you want to challenge both your mind and your body. That’s right, in my world the mental and physical aspects of human function are NOT mutually exclusive. The two must be honed together which is something that is very neglected in today’s world.
The key to elevating the conditioning side of your fitness program is making sure to challenge yourself both mentally and physically. In my most humble and professional opinion when attacking your conditioning you should be highly focused on what you’re doing. If you’re not then you’re not mastering your body…period.
Elevate Your Conditioning
1. Perform Sprint Variations: Sprinting in and of itself is a skillful type of conditioning. If a sprint is performed at a high level then you can count on the fact that you are going to be focused on the task at hand. Performing a standard 30, 40, or 50 yard sprint in a straight line on flat surface is great, but once you have a handle on this start varying your sprinting ability.
Variations may include hill sprints, sprinting intervals after executing a lift, or sprinting type drills such as agility ladder, or cone drills. The point is that there are other ways to continue to progress and challenge your sprinting ability. Here’s an example of conserving space with some lateral high knee sprints on the agility ladder.
2. Engage In Skillful Performance Drills: This may also include sprinting, but it isn’t limited to sprinting. Once again we want to perform drills that include movement, coordination, and skill. We want to force ourselves to focus on the task at hand.
By putting this into practice we sharpen our mental and physical skills to perform in a more cohesive manner. This can be done by hammering out some jump rope, by tackling some coordinated footwork drills, or by engaging in some specific medicine ball circuits. The options can be catered to more specific purposes, but the variations are virtually limitless.
The point here is to enhance coordination and skill which will in turn yield a higher benefit due to the higher level of mental and physical demand required to execute each drill. The key to elevating your conditioning is making sure to strive for greater efficiency. It involves more than just blindly going through the motions.
3. Load For Greater Impact: When looking to elevate your conditioning further the next step involves enhanced loading. This can be done a number of ways. If you’re digging in to do some drags or pushes it may involve a weighted sled. If we want to intensify our sprint work without further sacrificing more space it may involve a weighted vest.
Case in point check out the before and after look on my face after performing a series of agility ladder sprint variations for 20 straight minutes. The before and after expression on my face speaks volumes, but at the same time I can tell you that loading with one of these weighted vest will drastically enhance the results of your fitness and conditioning program.
Loading can be some sort of resistance that simply intensifies the usual conditioning task. If we are used to jumping rope then perhaps we can us a weighted rope, or weighted vest while jumping. The key to loading intelligently is making sure that we do so without compromising our ability to continue perform the task at a proficient level.
The concept of elevating our conditioning is rather simple in terms of what adjustments need to be made to enhance the challenge of what we’re doing. The first step is to start by getting proficient at sprinting and then varying the sprinting drills from there.
Once here we can also participate in other more skillful related conditioning drills and then finally we can load to further intensify what we’re doing. Progressions should be practical, but effective. The key is to always look for ways to improve conditioning while striving for greater coordination and skill.
What are you doing to elevate your conditioning? Please post up in the comments below. Stay strong. Be better. Train smart.
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