Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Four Ways to Improve Your Conditioning

A balanced training program includes both strength training and conditioning. Yet there are times when you might just want to rally ramp up the cardio aspects of your workouts. Maybe you want to really trim your body fat before going on vacation. Or perhaps you're preparing for some sort of athletic event.

For a good example of the latter, I just have to think back to my certification test to become a martial arts instructor. The test consisted of seven brief but intense rounds of combat, including weapon work, kickboxing, and groundfighting. I knew I'd have to ramp up my conditioning to avoid getting gassed. Do you know the saying, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all?" Well, there's a lot of truth to that. I don't think I've ever seen someone lose an MMA fight or a boxing match because of a lack of strength, while plenty of losses can be blamed on poor conditioning.

So what are the best ways to get in top condition? Here are some my favorites:

Sprint Intervals

Simple but effective. There are many different ways of doing sprints intervals, from the Tabata Protocol to 100-m dashes. My suggestion is to do what works best for you. Craig Ballantyne has a good article discussing the various approaches to interval training that is well-worth reading.

Burpee/Boxing Intervals

I did lots of these to get ready for my certification test. Ross Enamait wrote a great article about combining boxing and burpees for a fantastic conditioning workout. In a nutshell…
Burpee Intervals are one of the best conditioning drills. These intervals consist of Burpees and shadow boxing. For example, you will perform…

* Burpees x 30 seconds

* Shadow box x 30 seconds

* Continue for 2 – 3 minutes

Click here to learn more.

Kettlebell Swings

Another personal favorite. Chris Lopez has a great post on KettlebellWorkouts.com about the effectiveness of kettlebell swings on cardiovascular conditioning. He mentions research that revealed…
Continuous kettlebell swings can impart a metabolic challenge of sufficient intensity to increase Vo2max. Heart rate was substantially higher than Vo2 during kettlebell swings. Kettlebells provide a useful tool with which coaches may improve the cardiorespiratory fitness of their athletes.
My preferred way to do swings is 30/30 style, as in 30-sec of swings followed by 30-sec of rest. I usually do this for about 10-min, but if I'm really trying to improve my conditioning, I'll go for 20 or 30 minutes.

Kettlebell Long Cycle Clean & Jerks

Very popular among competitive kettlebellers, this is also one heck of a conditioning tool.  I recommend checking out Scott Sonnon's excellent tutorial and training plan.


If you're looking to seriously ramp up both your cardio conditioning and your fat burning, give one or several of these techniques a try. You will be impressed by your results!

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