We’ve been locked down for 3 weeks now. In that time we’ve seen an explosion in home workouts. It’s been great to see so many people getting up and moving!
But what should we be aiming for from these workouts?
- To get sweaty?
- To feel exhausted?
- To ache for days after?
- To get strong?
- To lose weight?
Surely the aim in a global pandemic should be to improve the way our body functions? To improve the way we move? To boost our ability to work with oxygen? To improve resiliency to viral infection? To have more gas in the tank in case we need it? To still look and feel good?
If this is sounding appealing, you’ll be pleased to know this is all easily achievable if you embark on a programme that prioritises CONDITIONING.
But what is Conditioning and why is it so important to everybody?
I think when most people think of workouts they think of lifting weights or performing gruelling high intensity workouts. Let me tell you now, they are not the only way to train to improve your conditioning or your health, especially in a lockdown. At this point, if you haven’t read my articles on exercise and covid19 and why anyone can workout you out, not everyone can make you better, please feel free to do so, they will explain a lot.
Conditioning quite simply is your actual ability to perform in your chosen sport or in life. More specifically it is your ability to maximally sustain power output in whatever activity you choose to do.
If you are a grandparent who is able to play hide and seek with the grandkids all day long without feeling tired, you are well conditioned in that activity!
If on the other hand, you need to sit down after just 20 minutes, you need to improve your conditioning!
Now let’s take another example:
If you are a 10k athlete who always flags in the second half of the race, you need to improve your ability to produce or sustain more power in the final 5k. You need better conditioning.
If you are a rugby player who can only smash your opponents and keep up with play in the first half, the chances are, you don’t need more strength, you need better conditioning.
You see, improving your level of conditioning will have a profoundly positive effect on your health and on your performance, no matter who you are.
So what is Conditioning?
Conditioning is your actual ability to produce power. It is different to fitness as fitness only represents your potential to perform. It is entirely possible to have a high level of fitness yet still have poor conditioning. This is because fitness is general in nature. It is not specific. Meaning you can have a high level of fitness in the gym with regards to biking, lifting weight etc but if your sport requires you to run, then all of this fitness in the gym may not completely transfer into your running performance. Put simply, you have not conditioned yourself to RUN with your fitness training.
Now this does not mean that your fitness training was a complete waste of time. As with the weight training you will have improved strength and with the cycling you will have improved your cardiorespiratory fitness. Both of which will positively transfer into running in many respects.
The problem is (and this is where the vast majority of people faulter!) that fitness is only ONE component of good conditioning! Good conditioning is the COMBINATION of 3 factors:
- Energy Systems (Fitness)
- Movement Capacity
I think it’s fair to say most of us have seen athletes looking bemused during post event interviews as they try to explain a poor performance. Usually it consists of excuses relating to injury or they might say something like:
“I don’t know what happened, I felt great in training, my fitness was good so I just don’t know!”
Well the answer all boils down to conditioning. That athlete might have placed too much of a premium on fitness without fully preparing mentally in terms of getting ready for the mental pressure of the occasion. Perhaps their tactical preparations were wide of the mark. Additionally they might not have placed any emphasis on how well their body can freely move without having to compensate. All too often people opt to simply to get their fitness stats up in their training. The problem with this is, anyone can look great on paper and as impressive as that is, it is still only one third of the equation! Life and sport as we know it, isn’t played out on paper either.
And THAT is the problem with just crunching weights and performing endless high intensity interval workouts. They are only one part of an equation to a much bigger picture!
Conditioning is so, so much more than that! And when done properly, guess what!? You’ll get better at lifting weights and you’ll get better in your high intensity intervals!
Because it all boils down to ENERGY.
- If your fitness improves, your potential to manage energy improves.
- If you improve your body’s ability for movement, you reduce unwanted energy expenditure through improved movement efficiency
- If your mental capacity improves you are better equipped to handle stress and manage energy.
All of these 3 factors combined means BETTER CONDITIONING.
The better conditioned you are, the better you are able to manage energy.
The better you manage energy, the better your maximal sustainable power output!
If you can increase and sustain your power, you can go harder for longer and RECOVER to go again!
In LIFE and in SPORT.
It doesn’t matter who you are, if you’re better conditioned:
- You can keep up with your grandkids, for longer.
- You can finish the race STRONG
- You can smash your opponents for 80 minutes instead of just 40.
And here’s a BIG ONE:
You can ward of illness and disease and live for LONGER.
THIS is why we you should be prioritising CONDITIONING in the lockdown! More to the point this is WHY WE ALL should be prioritising conditioning in the lockdown.
So now you understand the why’s all that are left are the HOWS. I know this all might sound complicated but don’t worry, this is the easy part! Good conditioning should not and need not be complicated! In PART 2 I’m going to break down how you should approach conditioning into 4 simple stages:
- The Best Conditioning Methods to perform in lockdown
- The Conditioning Day
- The Conditioning Week
- The Conditioning Block
I’m going to give you the best conditioning methods that can be performed at home that we regularly use at Tier 1 Training and Rehabilitation Systems. You’re then going to learn how to use them, what days to perform them and how to track your progress. I’m then going to give you my own personal conditioning programme that I’ve been using since day 1 of the lockdown so you can see how it all works!
See you in Part 2!