8 Weeks to the Best Physical Conditioning of Your Life

8 Weeks to the Best Physical Conditioning of Your Life

Lifting heavy weights, throwing more and more pounds on the bar, being as big as possible, that’s all that matters right?

What about conditioning? Do you even think about conditioning?

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Does it matter if your goal is to get jacked and strong? Yes, it matters!

Conditioning is much more than breaking a sweat and trying to lose some weight. Which, let’s face it, losing weight and getting ripped is more of a diet/eating issue anyway.

No, conditioning is about way more.

Specifically, more energy, better recovery and the ability to keep working at a high level of intensity – it’s the ability to go heavy, go hard and not have to take 20 minutes before the heart returns to normal and the sweat isn’t dripping so hard it looks like you’ve showered.

Some call it general physical preparedness or GPP, some call it conditioning and others, well others call it just being in shape.

The Best Conditioning?

Sprinting!

My go-to for high level, effective conditioning is always sprinting. Why?

I’m glad you asked…

I’ll quickly reel off 9 reasons for you right now:

  1. Sprints increase anabolic hormones – meaning better body composition and muscle growth.
  2. Sprints burn fat – more effectively than traditional cardio, without the negative impact on muscle mass that more traditional cardio typically shows.
  3. Sprints improve heart health – Studies have shown a decrease in chronic inflammation, improved heart function and better arterial structure in the heart after a period of time training sprint intervals.
  4. Sprints increase work capacity and endurance – Sprints require the body to use energy more effectively, improving maximal oxygen intake and improving time before fatigue.
  5. Sprints improve mental health and brain function – This is not just sprinting, but all exercise. However, sprints have been shown to decrease inflammation in the brain and improve hormone balance to a higher and quicker degree than a lot of other training options.
  6. Sprints are the epitome of time Efficient Training – I know with my own training and with the guys I coach. Sprint sessions are the most time efficient by quite a big leap. A typical gym session could be an hour plus, but a sprint session with warm-up, hard work sets and cool down can be done in 15 – 30 minutes. If it takes longer, then the intensity isn’t high enough.
  7. Sprints build toughness – There is no way around it, sprinting is hard. You’re pushing yourself, panting for air and feeling the struggle with each stride. Getting out and doing it, pushing yourself on through the suck is building an important, overlooked trait – mental tenacity and toughness.
  8. Sprints are the perfect excuse to get outside – Training outdoors is so overlooked in today’s training, but the benefits are far too vast to name in such a small space. Trust me when I say, you’ll feel better when you take your training outdoors.
  9. Sprints make you a badass – They just do.

One thing to remember though with sprinting is that you’re not trying to break world records, nor are you trying out for the NFL. Your focus is to better your conditioning so that you look better, feel better, recover quicker and perform better in your lifts or sport.

So, don’t go out there like a mad person and injure yourself… Push the pace, but be smart about it.

Sprinting

Some More Considerations

Always Submaximal

Always leave something in the tank. Remember the goal. You’re sprinting for conditioning and the benefits that come with it and not for competition.

Sprinters know the difference in intensity. Training at 70, 80 and 90% is a gigantic difference than the 100% used during a competition.

Staying within your 70, 80 and 90 percent range will encourage you to stay more relaxed, run with fluidity and give you less chance of getting hurt during the process.

Warm-up Properly

Sprinting is tough on the body and will require a solid warm-up beforehand. Think of it as hitting a 90% max deadlift with no warm-up prior.

Perform some mobility drills. Jog some short lengths. Perform a few running drills – high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas and power skips. Finally, hit some warm-up sprints building up in intensity ready for the work ahead. Don’t rush through the warm-up and take plenty of time between each. Warm-up the mind, raise the internal temperature, and ready the muscles.

No Treadmills

C’mon, a treadmill?

No.

One, treadmills tend to have a top speed of around 12 miles per hour. Elite sprinters reach close to 30 miles per hour over 100 meters! And yes, you and I aren’t elite, but why limit yourself to 12 miles an hour as the top speed you can ever achieve?

Secondly, getting outside has far too many benefits for me to list briefly here. Trust me when I say that it will do you a world of good getting to a field or track and getting in your sprints outdoors.

Thirdly, the treadmill isn’t actually your friend. Remember, you’re not actually moving. With each stride in a regular sprint, you’ll drag the floor behind you, propelling you forward. The treadmill belt is moving in that direction for you taking away your hip extension requirements.

Falling Start

I’m not a fan of the casual sprinter starting from a dead stop. Doing so, I feel, puts too much force and shock on the musculature, joints, and ligaments during the first few strides.

To counteract this and also to aid in proper running mechanics, I opt for a falling start.

The falling start is exactly how it sounds – you fall forward.

You’ll want to begin at your starting position, standing tall, arms relaxed by your sides with feet hip-width apart.

Now, you’ll fall forward as far as possible. You want to lean forward on the balls of your feet. So far that you would face plant if you didn’t catch yourself with a stride. This is a critical step in achieving the angle and momentum required for a powerful, safer sprint start.

You want to fall as if you’re frozen in a plank position. So don’t bend at the waist.

As you catch yourself, drive hard out of the fall, maintaining the forward lean.

Be aggressive with your arms, driving your elbows forwards and backward hard.

Sprint Mechanics

Working from head down:

Head and Face

  • Face relaxed.
  • Head upright and in line with the rest of the body.
  • Eyes fixated on where you’re sprinting to.

Shoulders

  • Shoulders down, relaxed and kept square.

Arms

  • Held at roughly 90 degrees throughout.
  • Arms will drive aggressively.
  • On the back, elbows are pulled back as far as possible.
  • At the front, the hand stops around shoulder level.
  • The harder the arms pump, the faster your legs drive.
  • The higher the elbow reaches at the back, the higher the front knee will drive.

Hips and Core

  • Envision yourself being pulled upwards by a string attached to the top of your head. Doing so will achieve the correct hip height required.
  • A strong brace in the trunk is needed to ensure you keep your hips in the right place and not collapsing on impact with each stride.

Knees

  • Drive your knees forward and up high with your strides. Doing so will generate more power, encourage you to take longer strides and cover more distance with each.

Feet

  • When the foot is about to impact with the ground, pull the toes up towards the shins so that your foot is horizontal. You want to land on the mid/ball of your foot, with the foot directly under the body, not out in front.
  • Imagine yourself ripping the floor behind you hard with each stride.

Heels

  • You want your heels to come up off the floor and move in a big arc towards the butt. You want to imagine flicking your heel into your butt before traveling through to the front of the stride.

Let’s Get Sprinting

Hopefully, you’re fired up to add some conditioning, namely some sprinting into your training.

Let’s look at how we can set-up an 8-week sprint conditioning program.

Obviously, the name of the game is improvement and progression. With that in mind, the workouts naturally become more challenging as the program goes on.

The sessions included will have a little variety too. We’re doing so to maximize the benefits of sprinting and keep things fun and intense.

This program is to be used outside of your heavy session days and is set up for two days a week.

The same session will be done on day one and two. Each week, the session will change.

Consider day one to be the taster, and then when repeated on day two you can really push the pace and intensity.

Week One –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 10 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 5 sets of 100 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 10 sets of 10 yards – Again, the walk back is your rest

Week Two –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 10 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 8 sets of 20 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 6 sets of 40 yards – Roughly 2x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 4 sets of 80 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 2 sets of 100 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest

Week Three –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 10 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 8 sets of 20 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 6 sets of 100 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 5 Half Gassers – Sprint across a football field, sideline to sideline and immediately back to where you started for 106 yards. Rest one minute and go again for the prescribed reps.

Week Four –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 10 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 9 sets of 20 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 8 sets of 30 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 4 sets of 200 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest

Week Five –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 12 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 8 sets of 100 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 10 sets of 20 yards – Roughly 2x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest

Week Six –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 12 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 10 sets of 20 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 8 sets of 40 yards – Roughly 2x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 6 sets of 80 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 2 sets of 100 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest

Week Seven –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 12 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 12 sets of 20 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 10 sets of 100 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 5 Half Gassers – Sprint across a football field, sideline to sideline and immediately back to where you started for 106 yards. Rest one minute and go again for the prescribed reps.

Week Eight –

*Warm-up with:

- Some jogging, high knees, butt kicks, side steps, cariocas, power skips and some sprints ramping up in intensity.

  • 10 sets of 10 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 10 sets of 20 yards – The walk back is your rest
  • 10 sets of 40 yards – Roughly 2x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest
  • 4 sets of 200 yards – Roughly 3x the time it took you to sprint the distance is your rest

Closing Thoughts

As of writing this, I’m currently deep into this routine.

My conditioning has improved immensely, I’ve dropped a little weight and fat and I’m excited about each session to get outside and push the pace.

As a word of warning, you may find yourself a little sore after some of the first weeks, especially in the hammies, glutes, and abs, but you’ll adapt and grow.

The usual applies. Focus on a solid recovery. Sleep well. Eat well. Mobilize and move well.

I hope this program finds you outside, getting fitter, leaner and meaner!

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