You have worked extremely hard on your conditioning. Whether it manifests in your ability to hold a lower base interval, complete a difficult hike, or play with your grandkids for an hour without being gassed, conditioning is important.
Right now, you might be experiencing a bit of panic, as your normal means of conditioning has gone out the window. Pools have closed. Parks are off-limits. Beaches are (supposed to be) ghost towns. You might think all is lost when it comes to maintaining your conditioning.
Take a step back, take a breath, and see what other options are out there. While your normal means of conditioning might be on hold, you can still maintain and even progress your performance in this training category. Once we get this pandemic under control and life starts to return to normal, don't forget these tips during your next business trip, injury, or major life event.
This is a great way to make your strength training impact your conditioning. Start by picking two exercises and grab a stopwatch. For simplicity's sake, let's use a bodyweight squat and a dropdown push-up. Next, pick a repetition amount for each exercise. I like picking one repetition amount that will take me about 40 seconds to complete and the other one to take me about 20 seconds to complete.
Start your stopwatch. Complete 25 bodyweight squats. If this takes you 40 seconds to complete, you get 20 seconds of rest before starting the next exercise. Once the next minute starts, complete six dropdown push-ups with a three second lower to the bottom. Follow the same rest format as the bodyweight squats. Complete five sets of each exercise. This comes out to 10 minutes of training with a running clock.
During this process, your heart rate will stay elevated throughout and even slightly after the 10 minutes is complete. This is a fantastic way to work on your quality of movement as well. In sport, we love the athlete that makes the tough look graceful. During this training session, focus on your form as fatigue builds. Make the tough look graceful!
find a hill
Hill sprints are one of the best conditioning tools on the market. The uphill slope decreases the force you feel with each stride, compared to the flat ground or a decline. This is great if you struggle with discomfort due to running or jumping. Find a hill that is about 20 yards long. If you do not have a hill of this size, adjust the repetitions to equal 20 yards of work for each sprint.
Complete circuit #1 three times. Rest 3:00 between rounds.
Complete circuit #2 three times. Rest 3:00 between rounds.
Use that piece of cardio equipment that you currently use as a hanging rack for your clothes.
You might love swimming but you might only have access to a rower (or elliptical, treadmill, etc..) right now. While it is not directly what you love, it can still help you maintain preparedness for when you can return to your beloved sport. Think of it as a means to an end.
When I schedule training for an athlete that travels a lot due to work, we often use a different means to keep conditioning intact. In hotel gyms, this means hopping on a stationary bike, a rower, or a treadmill usually.
In the swimming realm, I have stumbled upon a trend with the 250-meter row and the 500-meter row. When working with a swim team in Oregon, I had the athletes complete a 250 or 500-meter row for time to measure output capabilities. If the athletes identified the 100 (yd) freestyle as one of their key events, I had them complete a 250-meter row. If they identified with the 200 (yd) freestyle more, I had them complete a 500-meter row.
While I wanted to see how well their energy systems functioned, I quickly noticed that the row times matched up almost identically to their 100 and 200 freestyle swim times. This makes sense from a physiology standpoint as the same energy systems are at play.
When digging deeper into the numbers, some swimmers were slightly faster on the rower compared to their swimming times. I discussed this with the coach and found out that they were swimmers who were newer to the sport. This meant that their capacity was greater than their technique capabilities in the water. While they should continue to strive for better fitness, we hypothesized that their time improvements would instantly unlock with better technique.
On the other end of the spectrum, swimmers who were slower at the row compared to their swimming times had technique abilities that exceeded their capacity. We hypothesized that increasing their fitness would be the main route to time improvement. Obviously, the swimmers would always strive for technique improvements, but this painted a clearer picture of needs.
If you have access to a rower, take the test and see where you end up! Comment on this blog with your row time versus your swim time!
If you end up within a second of your swimming times, you are even with your technique and output capabilities. If you are slower on the rower compared to your swim time, your fitness might be holding you back. If you are faster on the rower compared to your swim time, I recommend reaching out to Abbie over at Swim Like A. Fish to get your technique dialed in!
While this rowing data is just currently a trend, I have seen it reproduce at the age group, college, and masters level over the past four years. If anyone has the means to complete a scientific study on this, I would love to jump in and help!
If you do not have access to a rower or want a training idea, I love cardio ladders. A cardio ladder will work multiple energy systems and have a different feel based on the equipment you utilize to complete. You can even complete this in a walk/run format outside!
Complete two rounds of the following circuit. Complete an easy pace for 5:00 between rounds.
20 seconds FAST, 20 seconds EZ
30 seconds FAST, 30 seconds EZ
40 seconds FAST, 40 seconds EZ
50 seconds FAST, 50 seconds EZ
60 seconds FAST, 60 seconds EZ
50 seconds FAST, 10 seconds EZ
40 seconds FAST, 20 seconds EZ
30 seconds FAST, 30 seconds EZ
20 seconds FAST, 40 seconds EZ
The diminished rest at the turn will ramp things up quickly and you will need to focus on your form throughout this ladder. When I say "FAST" above, try to hold an 8-9/10 effort. When I say "EZ" above, this should be a 3-4/10 effort.
Implement one or all of these strategies to keep your conditioning at its peak. This way you can return to your sports activity at your best. You can also bookmark these tips for your next schedule alteration related to a business trip, injury, or major life event.
Do you need help with your strength? I have put together two bodyweight training sessions that you can complete in the comfort of your own living room!
You can keep moving forward during this time! Do what you can with what you have and reach out if you need a hand.
Coach Bo's blog
Here you will find posts about the topics that come up during the journey to your best performance!