Conditioning

On off days from strength workouts, we encourage our clients to do conditioning. This will help aid in changing your metabolism, making you more efficient at burning body fat as fuel and increasing your overall fitness and work capacity.  Not to mention, it will help burn more calories and create a negative energy balance for the day.

We like our clients to use a heart rate monitor, so you have a way of measuring the intensity of your workout. Heart rate is directly related to the intensity of exercise. Wearing one will also give you a ballpark of how many calories you burned.  There are heart rate training zones that correspond to different energy systems in your body, and you may find 5 zone and 3 zone methods.  We like to keep it simple with 3 zones.

Here’s how to calculate your zones:

Zone 1: Recovery

(65%-75%)

[(HR max – HR rest) x .65] + HR rest

[(HR max – HR rest) x .75] + HR rest

RPE 4-6

Breathing heavy but can carry a conversation. Feels like you could continue for hours.

Zone 2: Anaerobic Threshold

(76%-85%)

[(HR max – HR rest) x .76] + HR rest

[(HR max – HR rest) x .85] + HR rest

RPE 7-8

On the verge of becoming uncomfortable, but you can still speak.

Zone 3: Peak Interval

(86%-95%)

[(HR max – HR rest) x .86] + HR rest

[(HR max – HR rest) x .95] + HR rest

RPE 9-10

Uncomfortable, unable to carry a conversation. Feels difficult to maintain for long.

So you must first obtain a resting heart rate, do this when you first wake up and you’re still lying down in bed. Wear your heart rate monitor and take the lowest value you see within a minute.  This is the heart rate reserve method, which we find to be better than the typical 220-age.  Your max heart rate is still 220-age in this equation.

Rating of Perceived Exertion, or RPE for short, is just a scale of 1 to 10 that corresponds with each zone. You can use this if you choose not to use a heart rate monitor.

Conditioning can be done in a number of ways. A great way to workout hard, but in a safe way is the airdyne. This bike has you seated upright with good posture, and uses your arms and legs so you can get to a higher intensity. Many people are not capable of running or jogging without potentially injuring themselves to get into zones 2 and 3, so this is a great method.  You can also walk briskly on a treadmill with a varying incline to get your heart rate up into higher zones.  Rowing machines are another great option. And of course you can use an elliptical, stair mill, or other equipment you have access to. If you are able to run, you can go outside if you prefer. Hills are great for getting your heart rate into higher zones as well.

If you don’t have access to any of the equipment listed above, you can also choose 3-4 body weight exercises, done for time in a circuit with the same work to rest intervals. If you need help with this, we can pick exercises appropriate for you.

With our strength training programming, we use 4 phases, and each lasts 3-4 weeks. Here are examples of what the conditioning workouts for each phase look like:

Phase 1

Workout Total Time Warm-Up Sets Work Rest
1 30 min 1 30 min / Z1  –
2 20 min 1 20 min / Z1  –
3

Phase 2

Workout Total Time Warm-Up Sets Work Rest
1 15 min 3 min / Z1 3 2 min / Z2 2 min / Z1
2 15 min 3 min / Z1 2 3 min / Z2 3 min / Z1
3 30 min+ 1 30 min+ / Z1  –

Phase 3

Workout Total Time Warm-Up Sets Work Rest
1 15 min 3 min / Z1 8 30 sec / Z3 1 min / Z1
2 15 min 3 min / Z1 4 1 min / Z3 2 min / Z1
3 30 min 1 30 min+ / Z1  –

Phase 4

Workout Total Time Warm-Up Sets Work Rest
1 11 min 3 min / Z1 10 15 sec / Z3 30 sec / Z1
2 15 min 3 min / Z1 4 1.5 min / Z3 1.5 min / Z1
3 30 min 1 30 min+ / Z1  –

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