It was always a challenge, how do you build great strength but also have great conditioning too? I remember after my college basketball days were over, I only focused on how strong I could get. Having loved being competitive, it was great to compete with myself and still have a goal. I got to some pretty solid numbers in the gym and felt good about the strength gains I made. However, one day I decided to play some indoor basketball at my gym.
I was doing what I thought was some decent conditioning at the end of my workouts. The standing theory was that if you did too much conditioning you would lose your strength gains so I was limiting how much conditioning I would perform. Feeling confident, I went into the basketball game wondering how all the strength I gained would have transferred over to what was my favorite sport. In about 10 minutes I got a pretty harsh lesson.
After a few times up and down the court, cutting, trying to be agile, I was EXHAUSTED!!!! It quickly became apparent to me that it didn’t really matter how strong I was, my conditioning was so poor that I couldn’t be much use to my teammates. Being honest, it didn’t feel great knowing that I felt really strong in the gym, but that I would be breathing hard with rather low level tasks in life. The lesson was a good one because I wanted to find balance.
The obvious mistake that I could have made was go too far to the other side and focus all on conditioning. Balance isn’t something fitness is known well for because the science is true, you can’t have super high levels of strength AND endurance. There is a big asterisk to this statement though. This would be absolutely true for someone who wanted to compete in a powerlifting competition or run a marathon. However, the reality is 99% of us are not such high level athletes that this would be actually impactful. We can achieve strength and conditioning (which also includes building lean muscle) by being smarter in our training (btw, successful powerlifters know some conditioning is actually helpful to their strength and great marathon runners know getting stronger can help them endure).
How do we do it? I love two methods to really help build workouts that develop better strength and conditioning.
MRT: Metabolic Resistance Training
Almost ten years ago I got to get to know renown strength coach, Robert Dos Remedios (and his MRT program with us HERE and don’t miss our buy one get one FREE DVRT workout program sale). Over the years, “Coach Dos”, has really helped me re-think some BIG ideas. One of the biggest is what he calls MRT or Metabolic Resistance Training. Coach Dos knew what I had learned which was strength and conditioning can make for a powerful combination. Working with SO many athletes (including professional and Olympic) over the past 30 years, Coach Dos knows optimizing time is crucial and strength training can combine both elements. The obvious answer became using circuit and HIIT training (high intensity interval training).
What Coach Dos saw was a problem with both. Typically in both circuit and HIIT workouts people didn’t build any strength. In the case of circuit training, people chose a lot of reps of 10+ and the exercises didn’t create a big stimulus to the body. When it came to HIIT, he saw how people didn’t pay attention to the science of HIIT and often forgot the intensity part!
When it comes to intensity terminology and definition, when you work more towards a maximum effort that is considered high intensity. For example, if you ran as hard as possible for 50 meters or 800 meters the 50 meters would be considered more intense even though you may feel more tired from the 800. The reason is that your speed would be higher for the shorter distance and that would make it more high intensity (yes, you can have high and low intensity in these distances too, but hopefully you get the point).
How does this relate to HIIT? Many people start off with a protocol like 30 seconds on and 30 second off. As it comes time to progress many people will do something like 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest. That does make you tired, but due to the longer work interval and the shorter rest, your intensity actually drops a lot. So, while counterintuitive we actually want to decrease our work and increase our rest over time so we can increase the load and push the intensity. For example…
-Instead of decreasing rest while increasing work, MRT does the opposite. Rest is where the “good stuff” of HIIT workouts actually occurs. The hormones that stimulate fat loss and better conditioning can only happen when we have time to recover. So, Coach Dos recommends the following interval protocols (work/rest).
15:45 (aim for 6-8 reps)
20:40 (aim for 8-10 reps)
30:30 (aim for 10-15 reps)
60:60 (great for carries, battle ropes, and other types of training that have a longer duration type of training)
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A long, long time ago I used to seek strength through barbells, dumbbells with bodybuilding techniques. Well, that may work for some but for me I was slowly getting burnt out from this mundane form of training and ready to walk away from the fitness industry. ——— They say when the student is ready the teacher appears. This was so true for DVRT. I would never have been open to using sandbags in my workouts because I would simply think it gimmicky and useless because in order to be strong you have load up the barbell. However, as mentioned, this form of training was weighing me down and becoming lackluster. ——— DVRT has turned me around and shed a light on the darkness of fitness creating an excitement again for the industry with its endless information and progressions! I am “all in,” and have been for over 6 years, implementing this system in our programs at @fitnesslyingdown and in my own programming.
DVRT Master, Cory Cripe shows a great circuit HIIT workout where you can use these concepts rather easily and see their power.
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Coach Robin Paget shows some great 30:30 options
Every Minute On The Minute
A second favorite method of mine that allows strength and conditioning are EMOMs (every minute on the minute) workouts. The concept here is you pick a circuit that focus on movement patterns and integrating as much of the body at once. Exercises like squats, presses, rows, etc. that are typically slower in movement are done for 5-8 repetitions. Drills like kettlebell swings, DVRT shoveling, and others can be done for 8-12 reps.
You start a timer and if you performed 6 reps of front loaded squats and it took you 25 seconds to complete, you would rest 35 seconds until the next exercise. If that next exercise was push presses and you performed 6 reps, but it took you 30 seconds, then you get to rest for 30 seconds and so on. Typically these workouts are 15-20 minutes in length and you accumulate fatigue quickly if you don’t construct the workout well. If an exercise is taking you LONGER than 30 seconds to complete you either need to reduce the reps, the weight, or complexity of the movement.
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Strength coach Martin Adame, gives us a great example of how to use an EMOM workout with DVRT. Being strong and having the endurance to do so many things in life should be the goal for most of us. The best part is it doesn’t have to be overly complicated or super time consuming, typically it is the opposite. However, we do have to be thoughtful about what we are trying to accomplish and how to do it better.
Last few days to get ANY DVRT Workout program and get a second of equal or less for FREE! That means our great DVRT HIIT Workouts HERE and so much more, just use code “bogo”. Also our Ultimate Sandbags and Water Bags are 20% off with code “save20” HERE
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EMOMS are one of my favorite protocols. They are: 1. Time efficient 2. Organized 3. Simple (not easy) 4. Effective —— EMOM stands for Every Minute On the Minute. 1. Set a timer for 60 seconds 2. Prescribe a volume of work 3. Finish that volume within that 60 second time frame 4. Earn your rest What this means is, if it takes 20 seconds to complete the work, 40seconds of rest are earned. A 10 seconds work period earns x5 the rest(50seconds) etc. —— EMOMS can however turn ugly. It’s not uncommon to see EMOM’s programmed where the rest is much less in proportion to the work. The problem with negative rest is, the inability to express full potential and work bouts turning sloppy. —— In order to make EMOM’s better, positive rest must be seen as an ally. Being well rested results in exhibiting quality work. Thus, making training sessions more efficient. Remember, it’s not quantity it’s quality. —— Reps guide for positive rest: 1. x4-6 roughly 15 seconds of work 2. x7-10 roughly 20 seconds of work 3. x11-15 roughly 30seconds of work —— EMOM 1. Clean x5 2. USB Drag x8 3. Max Lunge x8(R) 4. Max Lunge x8(L) 5. Lateral Row x4(R)(L) total 8 per min. 6. Rotational Press x4(R)(L) total 8 per min. 7. Drop GM x4(R)(L) total 8 per min