Metabolic conditioning is all the rage these days. Whether it's P90x, Insanity or whatever. It seems like the more something is going to beat you down the better it is.
Well, it’s not.
Metabolic conditioning, High intensity interval training, High intensity cardio, whatever you want to call it is really effective when done with the right intent and application. Too little and no effect, too much and debilitation for days and probable injury, not the desired effect.
My favorite analogy for using the appropriate amount of conditioning is: “if it only takes 2 aspirin to cure your headache, then why take the whole bottle”?
Here's a few tips to help you get the most from your conditioning sessions.
Tip #1: Use some kind of progression - If you are a distance runner, you don’t do a marathon on your first day training. The same thing applies to high intensity conditioning. Whether it's a circuit, complex or whatever format you're using push hard for a short period of time the allow yourself to rest sufficiently before hitting another round. As you get more accustomed to this type of training, you’ll be able to decrease your rest, increase your work and still do great.
Tip #2: Use good technique - this may seem like a no brainer but when you’re in the middle of cranking out a hurricane and you feel like your heart is in your throat, your muscles are getting tired then it’s easy to start letting sloppy reps begin. For your safety and the effectiveness of your workout, NO SLOP!
Tip #3: Sprint - In your conditioning sessions, do some sort of sprint. When it comes to fat loss and improving your cardio fitness sprinting rules! If you have room and don't have any mobility/joint problems, then sprint! Some other ways that you can sprint are prowler pushes, sled drags, agility ladders and treadmills. If you don’t have room, then run in place…really fast!
Tip #4: Don’t get confused - Make sure you don’t turn your conditioning sessions into a strength session. You want to be able to move fast to hit the proper energy systems. Use light enough loads that allow you to move fast and powerfully but aren’t going to make you sore, but will get your heart rate up. With whatever exercise you’ve chosen, move as fast as your good technique will carry you.
Tip #5: Be Consistent - Get 2 to 3 conditioning sessions a week, every week! If you don't you lose your cardio conditioning pretty quickly. Strength coach Mark Rippetoe likened cardio to a one night stand vs. strength which is like a committed relationship. So make sure you keep nurturing your relationship with conditioning!