Conditioning When the Weather Stinks
I like being "in shape." When the other option is "a fat turdthat smells like ranch dressing," I think it's clear to even thethickest tongues what side you should want to be on.
I also like doing some pretty stupid conditioning challenges.Not only are they fun, they also force me to dig deeper and go to aplace, mentally and physically, that's probably illegal in moststates above the Mason/Dixon line.
But like anything in the fitness and strength world, we have atendency to swing the pendulum abruptly and rarely does it stay inthe middle. From diets (seriously people, stop the madness) tofitness trends, extremes rule. And for some very obvious reasons,the madness that is Xtreme Conditioning has recently reared itsred-faced head.
For the average person, this is fine as they rarely stick toanything in the fitness world for very long – a couple of runs, afew squats, and a skinned shin on a box jump and they're gone.
But for people with actual goals, conditioning doesn't have tobe balls out. Just like you don't max out everyday (at least mostof us don't), you don't have to "max out" on conditioning everyday. Yet it's absolutely amazing what happens when one performsgood, consistent work.
The methods below are great for people that want to getstronger, have limited time, and find themselves stuck to indoorconditioning. Each of these examples can be done for three to sixweeks. The latter is more than enough time to get your ass intoshape – maybe not in shape to play four quarters of non-platoonfootball, but much better shape than you came in.
Just remember that these workouts don't have to leave you deador (even worse) with your friend filming and timing you so you canpost/brag about it on a message board.
Note: Where you want to end (your goal) is going to bedetermined 100% on where you start, which is something you'lldetermine. Take some accountability and raise yourexpectations.
Jump Rope Circuit
Jumping rope is probably the easiest, cheapest, and most spaceefficient way to condition. Unfortunately, it also has a drawback:shin splints. The amount of jump roping you have to do to get anysort of conditioning is high enough that your shins will suffer, sothe best way around this is to combine your weight work(specifically your assistance work) with jumpingrope.
There are a couple of ways to do this but the most effective isalso the simplest – for every set of assistance work you do,perform 1 "set" of rope jumping. Do not jump rope between yourfirst two exercises of your workout.
Here's a sample:
Main Exercise: Squat
Supplemental Exercise: Leg Press
Perform the above two exercises as normal. For assistance work, let's say that you're doing three assistance exercises – lunges, hanging leg raises, and kettlebell swings. For simplicity sake, say you're doing 3 sets of each exercise. Here's how the rest of your workout would look:
Lunge: 6 reps/leg
Jump Rope: Double-leg, 100 jumps
Hanging Leg Raise: 15 reps
Jump Rope: Single-leg, 50 jumps per leg (100 total)
Kettlebell Swing: 15 reps
Jump Rope: High knee "sprint," 50 jumps
Repeat the above circuit three times. The rest between the exercises and jumping rope is going to be largely based on your conditioning level.
Also, the less weight you use on your assistance lifts, the lessyou can rest (and vice versa). There's no exact or proper restperiod and you don't need to kill yourself – there's no gold medalfor the winner of the Jump Rope Circuit.
The number of jumps you do (and the style) will also depend onyour skill level with the rope. One thing I've learned aboutjumping rope is that a little bit of practice goes a long way. Thiscircuit may leave you frustrated the first couple times withbruises on the back of your head, but you'll be fine after a fewweeks of practice.
I always get asked about what kind of jump rope to use – I haveone that I got at Wal-Mart. It's a jump rope. Don't make this anyharder than it is.
This is an old way of getting in shape, although I'm not quitesure if anyone still uses it anymore. Like the Jump Rope Circuit,we keep the strength work intact – we never want to sacrificegetting stronger for being a Burpee Queen.
The key to doing this is to keep a "normal" pace during thebike/treadmill work. You don't need to be doing a sprint or ridingthe bike in such a way that your arms and head resemble a coked-outRay Charles.
Here's a sample workout:
Main Exercise: Bench Press
Supplemental Exercise: Weighted Chin-Up
These two exercises are performed with normal rest times, sets, reps, and weight. These are not to be screwed with in the name of "ripped abs."
The assistance lifts and the bike/treadmill will be performed ina circuit fashion. For the sake of this article, let's pick fourexercises. The circuit would look something likethis:
Bodyweight Dips: 20 reps
T-Bar Rows: 12 reps
Face Pulls: 20 reps
Barbell Curls: 10 reps
Bike (or treadmill run): 3-5minutes
Repeat the above circuit 3-5 times.
The rest time between exercises is going to be largely based onyour level of conditioning and the weight used on the exercises.Because you're using this part of your workout primarily forconditioning, I wouldn't get wrapped up in the amount of weightused in the exercise (it's assistance work, after all). Make surethat you're using a full range of motion and don't cheat theexercise because you have some spittle on your lips.
Reminder: The bike/treadmill "effort" should not be "all out."To make this very simple, it should be done at a pace that allowsyou to maintain your thoughts and not be grunting and growling yourway to the nearest garbage can.
This is a great option for people that have access to acommercial gym or have a high-end treadmill in their home.
Note: doing treadmill sprints on a low quality treadmill is notadvised. You will break it.
Years ago, I worked with an individual that lived and died bythe Frappier Treadmill and the whole training system, which at thetime involved doing overspeed treadmill training, the 4-way hipmachine, a supine leg press machine, and doing leg curls with amedicine ball – an amazing training program if you like programsthat aren't good.
Lucky for you, the consumer, all these machines wereconveniently sold as part of their total program.
Anyway, this coach used the Frappier Treadmill system with allhis athletes, including golf, tennis, and soccer players. Athleteswere put inside of a harness (like you would put an injured horseinto water therapy) that dangled from above. If the harness wasn'tused, the coach would manually urge the athlete on the treadmill to"keep the intensity up!"
As you can imagine, the number of athletes that fell whiletrying to keep up with the treadmill was only exceeded by theamount of eye rolling each athlete did while performing the 4-wayhip machine.
It was also good to see golfers being able to showcase theirworld-class top end speed during critical puttingsituations.
Needless to say, this soured me quite a bit on treadmillrunning. However, if you're in a pinch, or in bad weather, thetreadmill isn't a bad option.
Doing sprints on a treadmill is remarkably easy and requiresvery little thought. Here's a step-by-step process:
Step One: Set the speed on treadmill so that you'reperforming a slight jog. Run for "X" amount ofseconds.
Step Two: Rest "Y" amount of seconds. While resting,increase the speed of the treadmill by a few MPH.
Step Three: After resting, doing another set ofsprints on treadmill.
Step Four: Repeat step two.
Once you get to a speed on the treadmill that you're able tomaintain for the chosen sprint duration, perform "Z" amount ofsprints at that speed.
I use the following sprint durations: 10 seconds, 15 seconds,and 20 seconds. These are changed from workout to workout. Forexample, during one workout I'll do 20-30, 10-second sprints.
Generally, I use a 3:1 rest to sprint ratio. So if I did a10-second sprint, I would rest 30 seconds. I always use an inclinewhen doing treadmill sprints as it's easier on myknees.
The rest times are really up to you and will be based on howgood of shape you're in. If this is the first time you've donethem, take a longer rest period and shorten it over the trainingweeks.
The speed of the treadmill will be based on how fast you are andyour conditioning level. I always use the number of carries afootball running back should get as the number of sprints I shoulddo, so no less than 20 sprints per session.
A word of caution: if you feel like you're going to fall off, get off the treadmill.
It's Your Turn
Like most of you, I like pushing the Prowler, pulling the sled,running hills or doing other manly things outside, all in the nameof being stronger and being in better shape. I like revealing mypants-dropping physique, pale skin and hairy chest to my neighbors,all in the name of strength.
But when the snow is covering the hills and my tax dollars can'tpay for snowplows, you either find a way or an excuse. And now thatI've given you a way, you have no excuse.