Coach D shifts from strength training to conditioning this week as he and his intrepid co-host Trent cover the basics of implementing conditioning into a training program. Beginning with an overview of the three basic energy pathways of the body, Darin walks through various ways of training each of the energy pathways and the most effective approaches.
Strength training, yet again, plays an important role in developing a base of conditioning. Heavy compound movements in the five rep range and below, as described in Episodes 2 and 3, rely primarily on the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways, that is, the high-power, short duration (anaerobic) pathways which supply large amounts of ATP to the muscle cells. Importantly, intense bouts of training in these pathways upregulates or ramps up the aerobic (oxidative) pathway as the body prepares for the possibility for longer duration exercise. Thus, strength training alone actually improves your conditioning or “cardio,” without having to do traditional “cardio” or conditioning workouts. And it makes sense — your heart doesn’t just take a break when you squat a heavy set of five.
Nevertheless, conditioning as such plays an important role in any serious training program after the novice strength training phase. In general, we like short, intense bouts of exercise (sometimes called High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT) without a lot of eccentric loading, which can lead to undue soreness. Equipment such as the prowler or plate-loaded sleds, the C2 rower, and the airdyne bike are good choices. In the absence of equipment, circuits of bodyweight movements like chin-ups, burpees, and push-ups can be done. Unless there is a sport-specific need, we do not recommend long, slow distance (LSD) for Master’s trainees. If you compete as a long-distance runner, you need to train with LSD, sure, but if you are not, the conditioning benefits are limited and the risk of overuse injuries are high compared to HIIT.
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