Here’s an article for those who want to improve their ‘conditioning’ to a decent level with minimum effort. You don’t need much strength, a strong base of endurance nor complicated techniques to be able to do this.
I don’t like complicated stuff. I don’t like regimens with 69 exercises for each muscle group with a precise 4-2-4 cadence done with 64.2% of your 6RM. Sure, programming is important, especially in advanced athletes, but sometimes you are better off by keeping things simple. I also carry an unbridled hate towards anything that resembles cardio, so when I do it, I want to get it over with as quickly as possible.
You want to feel more energetic and increase overall endurance? Well, I guess you could do complicated interval training on a bicycle until you fall off from boredom, or run for hours until you fuck up your knees. You could do a thousand things that would improve your conditioning tremendously, but once again: I like to keep things as simple as possible, so I decided to make up a very basic protocol with two-handed kettlebell swings that notably improved my conditioning (does that word even mean anything anymore?). I needed less rest between sets during workouts, I felt like my recovery was a lot better (less aches and pains) and I felt like I had more energy during the day. Ladies, take heed: my ass also felt like I could break bricks on it. I also experienced for the first time in my life what it feels like when your ass muscles are so sore that sitting on a hard surface is an
aggravating experience by itself.
What did I do? Just this:
- Grab a light kettlebell and do 150 swings in as few sets as you can. Keep rest between sets at a bare minimum. Maybe 30 seconds max if you’re struggling.
- If you can do all 150 swings in one set, progress to a heavier kettlebell for the following workout. If you can’t do them in one set, strive to do better every subsequent workout.
- Do it two or three times a week, either after a workout or (what I did) on off-days or several hours away from your strength training (don’t forget your warmup).
That’s it. The whole protocol, each ‘workout’ taking up maybe 3 to 7 minutes in most cases, maybe up to 10 if you include a short, proper warm up. I have no idea how easy the gains from this protocol will keep coming if you do it for a longer period of time, but I worked up to 115 swings with a 32kg (72lbs) kettlebell in 5 weeks or so. (For reference: I believe my max olympic squat was a little over 150kg/330lbs at the time) After those 115 swings, I lay breathless on my bed for a few minutes, contemplating whether the pearly gates of heaven were hovering in front of me or it was just sweat oozing through my eyelashes.
Give it a try and let me know if you notice any interesting results. This simple protocol should keep you occupied and give you good results for at least a good few weeks.