Strong and fit. You don't want to be all show and no go. Or all go and no show.
Strength endurance training is an important part of any strength training program. Here we will look at the most effective conditioning methods for strength and general physical fitness. There are other kinds of conditioning like steady-state cardio and muscle endurance but we will save that for another page.
We will look at some of the most popular conditioning methods and some of the more unconventional ways to get in great shape by improving your General Physical Preparedness. (GPP)
I don’t know about you but I don’t like to be out of breath when I walk up and down a flight of stairs. A decent conditioning level is beneficial for weightlifting, sports, competition, general fitness, and well-being. Whether your goals are powerlifting, Olympic Weightlifting, strongman competition, or bodybuilding, conditioning has an important role in your program.
First, we will look at conventional methods of strength endurance training including: hill sprints, the prowler, drag sled, and stadium stair running. Each method is effective and used by some of the strongest athletes in the world.
Run up a hill as fast as you can, walk back down, and do it again. Do anywhere from 10 to 30 of them. Hill sprints tax the lungs, legs, mind, and will. Your legs will grow stronger and you will get faster. Your heart will pump efficiently. You will be in great shape.
If you haven’t done these before, start slow, maybe do 3-5 sprints after properly warming up, and see where you stand. Build up over the next few sessions and set some goals.
The size of the hill doesn’t matter. You will know if you are being challenged enough. If you can do more than 30 hill sprints, the hill is too small. Start with once a week and see how you recover for your strength training sessions before adding more.
This type of strength endurance training is more efficient at maintaining muscle than slower steady-state cardio. Each have their place, but a session or two of hill sprints can work wonders for your overall conditioning levels and for building muscle in much less time.
This strength and conditioning tool is one of Jim Wendler’s favorites. (1,000 lb squatter and author of the 531 strength program)
Originally used by football lineman for strength and power, the prowler is a fantastic tool for strength endurance training. The prowler is a great workout for the legs, glutes, heart and lungs. This tool is also beneficial for recovery, getting blood into the muscles and causes minimal soreness the next day.
You can push and pull, grip the bars high or low, working your posterior chain, upper back, grip, and heart. It is quite versatile and can be used on grass or pavement. The prowler is also portable, and for those who are short on cash there is a cheaper version called the ‘econo prowler’ that is just as effective for your conditioning needs.
Similar to the prowler, sled dragging can be used to pull, sprint, and walk with added weight. It’s a great tool for recovery from heavy weightlifting sessions, building muscle, and assisting the main lifts. It’s quite versatile as you can drag with ankles, midsection, pull high or low, work the upper and lower back, legs, and core muscles.
Stadium Stair Running
Stadium stairs are like hill sprints in that they require no extra equipment and are easy to learn. If you have done them you know they are anything but easy to endure though. You will get out of breath, legs will feel heavy and rubbery and you will want to quit. They work the heart, lungs and legs and complement a strength training program well.
Running stadium stairs and hill sprints can impact weightlifting sessions if done the day before lower body lifting. I try to do them a day after lower body training. If you are new to running stairs there will be a period of adjustment. Allow some time for recovery, and start with a few light sessions to let your body adapt.
Pick One and Get it Done
Strength endurance training is an excellent way to get in better physical shape, work on weak areas, get some recovery work, and build muscle. It doesn’t matter which method you choose to supplement your strength training program. Try them all and pick one.
See how your body responds to one session a week and go from there. Even if your goals are purely strength, you should have some form of conditioning work in your routine.
If you are short on cash and can’t afford any extra equipment you can do hill sprints or stadium stairs. If you like to try conditioning tools, the prowler and dragging sled are some of the best options available.
Maybe you don’t want to be bothered by having to lug around extra equipment, and can’t find a good hill or stairs. You could do some treadmill incline sprints, metabolic resistance training, or Crossfit.
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