So after all this talk about conditioning, and even methods of conditioning I want to simply discuss strategies of how to incorporate it during your training. This way you can remain in the best shape of your life.
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All this to say it needs to be appropriately timed. The biggest mistake I see is people realizing their out of shape and then going all out right away. This is a recipe for quick and easy burnout.
So here are some simple guidelines to follow for athletes no matter what time of year.
"I said it's simple not easy" - Dan John
Immediately after the season - Rest, active recovery, foam roll, stretch, do mobilities. But take a couple weeks off and just decompress.
Off Season Training pt. 1 - We call this the General Preparation Phase (GPP) in the biz. At this point you should just focus on movement and strength. Making sure that you reinforce the base that you should have already created by now.
Conditioning during this time should be on off days and should be low level. Cardiac Capacity is a great method to use. As it will help active recovery, and help reinforce your base of the aerobic energy system.
Off Season Training pt. 2 - In this portion of the GPP start to think about maintaining movement and strength but now we're building more athleticism; power, speed, quickness, etc.
Conditioning again should be on off days, but can be 4 to 6 hours after a training session, and now you're going to up the intensity. Strategies like Hill Sprints or Sled Pushes are great during this time. Just don't overdo it with how much and how often you train, and make sure you allow yourself to rest on occasion.
Pre Season Training - Everything now should be at maintenance mode. If you've been training right all qualities and skills should be higher then when the off season started. By now you're starting to practice with the team and you've moved in to what is called the "Specific Preparation Phase (SPP).
Your conditioning should be on "lighter days" or "off days" if you have it, focusing even more now on sports specific type training/work to rest intervals.
i.e.) Football Players
- Hill Sprints 8 to 10 seconds
- Rest 30seconds between reps
- Repeat for 6 to 8 reps per set
- Rest 4 to 5 minutes per set
- 4 to 5 sets per workout
If you notice the work to rest ratio of this example mimics that of an actual football game. While it won't be as long lasting as an actual game it does help get your body ready for the demands of the season.
In-season Training - Intensity should be kept low with a premium on recovery. At this point you should be full blown maintenance mode. There's nothing wrong with movement and strength training but don't expect any personal records. Depending on how often you play, you don't need more than 1 light strength training session a week, emphasis on light. Focus on movement and don't go crazy.
Conditioning should be very low level cardiac capacity, and similar to the GPP phases. Maintaining a heart rate between 120 to 130 for no more than 45minutes. The numbers are somewhat arbitrary but the key is to feel fresh.
So there you have it, conditioning and training for all year round to keep you at the best and safest for the longest. I hope you've enjoyed this series on conditioning and I hope I've helped make sense of everything.
As I mentioned, the biggest mistake we make with conditioning is thinking the best way to do so is go all out. It really takes a lot more and isn't so cut and dry; when done right you will see major improvements, especially in competition.