08 Jan Superhuman Conditioning Kickstart
Even if you’re not a competitive athlete or an actual superhero, a little bit of conditioning a few times per week can make a huge impact on your health and fitness. It’s been shown to improve memory and mood while reducing inflammation and your risk of disease. Not to mention it also aids in burning body fat and bolstering your ability to recover from exercise in general.
The protocols below shouldn’t take you longer than 10-15 minutes and are designed to be tacked onto the end of a resistance-based workout as a finisher.
If you prefer, you can also perform them on a separate day.
Either way, getting in at least 30-40 minutes of cardio each week, will help you build a cardiovascular base. If and when you’re ready to get more serious about conditioning, measuring your heart rate and longer, more organized bouts of training will be the way to go.
For now, be sure to choose a form of conditioning that fits your personal preferences as well as your body.
If you routinely have issues with the hips and low back, rowing and kettlebell swings may not be good choices for you personally, even if they are quite physiologically efficient. Similarly, if you are experiencing shoulder or elbow issues, battle ropes are probably not a good idea.
Don’t sweat your choice too much because the best conditioning modality is the one that actually gets done consistently.
Whether you’re pushing or pulling, there’s no denying that sled work is some of the most efficient conditioning around. I recommend a 10 second work period followed by 50 seconds of rest. This way you can just push the sled every minute on the minute for all 10-15 minutes. Focus on increasing speed and/or duration before adding additional load.
A great finisher for leg day, there’s not any other exercise quite like a swing. When it comes to kettlebell swings, you can choose to count reps, but I find the classic setup of 30 seconds work followed by 30 second rest does the job quite well for most. Look to increase the total duration or reps before you increase weight.
Rowing Machine (Ergometer)
The rowing machine (also known as an ergometer or just erg) is demanding due to the amount of muscles involved and lends itself well to shorter workouts. Once again, a protocol of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off works very well. Alternatively, you can try 1 minute on and two minutes off and focus on working the rest interval down to 1 minute by shortening it a bit each week.
Battle ropes are pretty straightforward and intense if you’re doing them correctly. For this reason, they usually lend themselves best to a classic interval setup. Try 20 seconds on, 40 seconds off, so you can just start on the minute every minute. There are a lot of possible variations for battle ropes, so be sure to get some variety in there to keep things interesting.
Sprinting is an intense activity, especially if it’s not something you do regularly. Sprinting at an incline will clean up your acceleration mechanics a bit and limit your top speed compared to sprinting on flat ground which means that why it’s still hard as hell, recovery for your joints will probably be a bit smoother.
When it comes to sprinting aim for a duration of 20-30 seconds. Be sure to rest as long as you need in order for your heart rate to drop and allow you to feel like you can run at full speed again. When you’re first starting out, this may take as long as 3 minutes, but will shorten over time and is a key signifier of improved conditioning. Net as many intervals as you can in the allotted time.
Cardio Machine Intervals
If your gym doesn’t have much in terms of conditioning options, you can always make good use of standard cardio machines whether it be the treadmill, stationary bicycle, or elliptical. Approach these like you would sprints, with a goal of 20-30 seconds of exertion followed by just enough rest to catch your breath and lessen your heart rate. Raising the resistance on relevant machines can be a good idea and help you not to look like a cracked out hamster running on a wheel.
If you’re curious to see how this style of conditioning fits into a program worthy of a super(hero) results, click here and I’ll send you my free Superhero Physique Cheatsheet along with some brief, helpful emails.