“We need to condition them” exclaimed person A as he talked to me about some of the athletes that we train. Conditioning is important I retorted however if isn’t placed on the foundation of proper movement and strength, it will not last. Conditioning is like money that is easily earned it comes pretty easy , quickly and doesn’t last very long. Yet it seems to be the emphasis of the fitness world, to the harm of the trainee. In fact a very smart man is quoted as saying “the problem with the fitness world is that we do not do strength and conditioning, but conditioning and more conditioning!”

As you know from my last two week’s posts that training should be a process involving proper movement and strength and other important factors. Now don’t get me wrong I am not anti-conditioning, in fact conditioning should be the inevitable outgrowth of strength. It should carry over or translate your strength into everyday activities and sports. True conditioning develops off of your strength. We all know the guy who is very strong, but can’t do crap with his strength because he gets winded easily when it comes to long activities. This post will teach you how to avoid that pitfall once you have spent enough time on strength.

ConditioningBefore we get into how to condition we must first understand what it is and what it is not. The online dictionary gives us this definition:

1. a process of changing behavior by rewarding or punishing a subject each time an action is performed.
2. Also called classical conditioning. a process in which a previously neutral stimulus comes to evoke a specific response by being repeatedly paired with another stimulus that evokes the response.

So we see that conditioning is the response of the brain and body to the stimulus of work placed upon it. In other words we adapt to the hard work of conditioning training. In order to develop a better work capacity than what we have right now we will need to follow the rules of conditioning:

1. You must overload and create reasonable fatigue
2. You must do this at least three times a week to improve and two to maintain
3. As with any type of training, you must get your rest and proper nutrition to progress.

If you miss any of these points you will probably end up getting no-where fast and feeling like Ziggy would, where the whole world is against him.
.You must overload and create reasonable fatigue:
We all can probably think back to a time when something may have been difficult for us to do. It could have been a job that you did involving manual labor that when you were done with your day you were”wiped out.” Then around a few weeks or so you weren’t as bad and were actually able to do things when you got finished. In essence you became conditioned to your job. You had the overload and then through consistent work and recovery you adjusted to it. This is the way it goes with our work capacity training, you must overload, rest recover and do it again which leads me to point two.

2. You must do this at least three times a week to improve and two to maintain:
Now let’s say you only work this job once a week and then it becomes challenging again, what happens is you fell victim to the” law of disuse.“Basically you weren’t doing the activity frequently enough for your brain to hold onto the adaptations that it adjusted to previously. The lesson here is that you must be consistent in your efforts to condition and to maintain conditioning. One of the ways that you can do that is to keep intelligently training for some kind of goal or event that will require a good work ability. Also if you want to maintain you will have two get at least two non-consecutive days to train at least what you have adjusted to.

3. As with any type of training, you must get your rest and proper nutrition to progress.
As with any type of training, conditioning puts a demand on your resources and they need to recover. The whole point of rest is not for “mamby pamby wus” to feel better. But to regain the ability to work hard enough to break through your threshold or to advance your conditioning. If you continually beat yourself down without a plan then you will experience the law of diminishing returns and actually get worse and not better! So rest and get better and not just tired! In addition to your rest you will want to eat whole foods and drink lots of water to aid in your recovery process.

Now that you are aware of the steps that are necessary to condition, let’s get into how to condition and what a good program will look like.

Once again in order to condition we must break through our threshold each session.  So our loading and effort needs to be sufficient to do that. For example if you are doing kettlebell swings, you will want to:
A. Go up in weight
B. Lessen your rest period
C. Add-on reps to your workout.
At any point you can utilize any one of these principles in your training or do as you need by what you have access to.

So make sure that you have adequate movement, then get strong. Afterwords you then will want to condition your self as you need. So get to work and start to get the body and health that you want!

If you want some workouts that will help you condition we do them here on this blog every week, your Killing It With Kettlebells SJ workout of the week. Subscribe to this blog to receive them in your inbox every Tuesday.

  1. […] How To Choose A Training Program Part 4: Conditioning February 14, 2014 […]


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