Random Thoughts on Conditioning – 9.17.15

Just in the past few days I’ve encountered the unique scenario of presenting two similar trains of thoughts to two different types of populations.

After finishing an in-service for Merrimack College Strength and Conditioning, and one speaking engagement at Cressey Sports Performance, there are some insights that I’ve come away with that I’m going to share with you today.


Cardio? Should I do it? Should I ignore it?

There are two sides to this question:

  1. People don’t include cardiovascular training for the simple fact that many have attached a negative connotation towards doing cardio at any portion of their programming.
  2. If they do include cardio, there is often an overdoing of cardiovascular training (punishment on one end, or the thought of sweating for sweating sake).

Whether you include or exclude cardio, it is often done to prove a point that: 1) You are doing the right thing by not including cardio (often someone may ditch cardio in favor of strength training, and in doing so, improve muscular hypertrophy and strength at a favorable level), or 2) you are doing the right thing by not including cardio (because cardio may diminish your “gains”).

The reality of this situation is that there are several benefits to the inclusion of cardiovascular training. Improving work capacity, improving resting heart rate levels, along with a slew of physiological benefits can be pointed to – in fact there are several other benefits that improve quality of life, from an epidemiological point of view that not many think about that lead to longevity or in some cases the delay of diseases.

On a personal level, I understand that cardiovascular training is important. As a dancer, you need to be able to last several rounds or several hours of dancing in order to compete.


On an anecdotal level, Louie Simmons, a household name in any powerlifter’s domain, has been vocal about how he has utilized sled drags and pulls in order to improve work capacity – for his athletes that primarily compete in only 9 competition lifts (squat, bench, deadlift with 3 attempts a lift).

This is reason enough (for me, anyway) to include cardiovascular training in my programming for my athletes. However, simplistic conclusions aside, I’d consider the act of including cardiovascular training in a little more intelligent of a manner.

If you haven’t included cardiovascular training in quite some time, give this protocol a try for a few weeks:

Phase 1 – Conditioning

1. Low Box Step Ups:

Week 1 = 2 sets of 10min/leg
Week 2 = 3 sets of 10min/leg
Week 3 = 2 sets of 12min/leg
Week 4 = 3 sets of 12min/leg

or this bodyweight circuit:

A1. Bodyweight Reverse Lunge – 5/side
A2. Push Up – 10 reps
A3. Lateral Lunge – 5/side
A4. TRX Row – 10 reps

  • Stay between heart rate of 120-150bpm for both protocols.
  • Perform 2 sets of 10 minutes for either series, and then rest for 2 minutes in between sets.
  • Adjust from week to week by fluctuating the rest time, or weights used.
  • Perform some low level stretching, or low level corrective exercises to gently remind the body what kinds of positions may need loosening up.

If you have been including cardiovascular training in your programming already, give this a shot:

Phase 2 – Conditioning

1. Shuttle Runs – 30 Yards, with resting to the top of the minute. Repeat for 8-10 sets.

or this density training set.

A1. DB Goblet Squat – 8 reps
A2. DB Floor Press – 8 reps
A3. TRX Row – 8 reps

Perform as many sets of these three exercises in 5 minutes. Rest 2 minutes, and then repeat 2 more times.

These are not definitive plans by any means. They are simply to show that there are multiple avenues to achieve the same physiological benefits that cardiovascular training can provide.

The tools that you choose to use (look above) can drive multiple physiological benefits that do not have any negative connotations attached to them. If you choose to negate these items for an emotional or dogmatic reasoning, well then you are left behind in the dust.

As always,

Keep it funky.