These days strength & conditioning is very much a buzz term or becoming a generic label within the fitness industry – when asked what type of training you do, it is not surprising to get the reply, ‘I do strength and conditioning’. I think this misses the point massively and sells the practice of strength and conditioning way too short (obviously!).
Here at SDSC we take the time to assess individuals and constantly observe their movement and progress and make the adjustments needed to help them reach – and surpass their targets and goals.
The sessions here are not a bootcamp or a circuit class, we have an aim at the start of the session and a plan within each block / cycle of training. Based upon this plan we make adjustments to the next cycle and keep moving forward. There are plenty of examples of folks in here making progress years after starting.
This is something that should be the bedrock of any S&C protocol – (injury prevention aside!) a training plan that provides appropriate progressions, tailored to the individual that satisfies a long term plan. It is not ‘just’ a workout.
With the above in mind (and that topic really deserves a whole article by itself) I thought I would explain a little more about what goes on in our conditioning classes.
First up, what is conditioning?
A quick google search will provide the following answers…
The process of training to become physically fit by a regimen of exercise, diet and rest – merriam-webster
Exercise and practice to build the body up for either improved normal performance, as in physical therapy or in preparation for sports performance – medicine.net
When it comes to conditioning or Energy Systems Work, my own philosophies and guidelines come from James Fitzgerald’s teachings on the subject in his Program Design Module and these prescriptions would be extremely similar to those of Joel Jamieson’s – whom I have implemented in the past when training professional MMA fighters and Judo and Jiu Jitsu athletes.
For the most part, the movements that we use at SDSC during the conditioning sessions are not complex or of a high technical requirement (for example, you would never see snatches ‘for time’ in our programming).
There are numerous reasons for this but the main one is injury prevention. The easier or more predictable the movement is under pressure and accumulating fatigue, the less risk of injury and this is always priority within an S&C program. Movements that have a measurable and predictable turnover rep to rep and that the individual has demonstrated with sufficient technique prior to ‘pressure testing’ the movement in a workout are ideal.
(* this does not take into account sports specific movements as this is outside the scope of this article )
Various work / rest ratios, reps and sets will be determined based upon which energy system needs to be improved and also depending on the demands of a specific sport, if applicable.
It would be quite normal to see a lot of the conditioning classes within SDSC being performed using the rowing machines or the assaultbikes as they fit into the above criteria. They have a fairly predictable movement pattern and are more tangible to measure not only due to the consoles on each machine but also do to the limited amount of variables within these movements.
Depending on the day, the objective of the workouts can vary – for instance for an aerobic or recovery session, the individual would be required to move at a slower more sustained pace (concentric dominant movements being used to steer clear of DOMS on subsequent training days) and certain numbers will be measured here such as stroke rate or rpm and on other days where a more intense effort would be required, watts or 500m split may be measured instead.
Both workouts, although using the same tools can cause a very different response and in turn adaptation. Again, this is outside the scope of this article but depending on the individuals start point (level of fitness) and goals, it is not enough to just jump into the class and go hell for leather and then ‘see what happens’.
I hope this gives folks a small insight into the conditioning sessions in the gym and also explain some of the why’s behind our programming and philosophy – and the fact that we measure and assess frequently, which means that regardless of starting point, we will find the appropriate conditioning level for you!