One rule I have with any athlete I work with, irrespective of the sport: Your workout should be harder than what you experience in the game. You should not lose due to conditioning. If an opponent has more skill, that’s another thing.
If you never experience anything physically harder in live competition than you do in training, your body will never be ready for whatever you may face in competition.
Conversely, the majority of what occurs in athletic conditioning today seems to be high intensity efforts with incomplete recovery. This actually makes sense since it will mimic live competition in many sports where you rarely – outside of track and field events – have the luxury of complete and proper recovery before the next big effort is required.
Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
The problem starts when all you do is train with high intensity and incomplete recovery. This leads to poor quality. And when that’s how you train most of the time, it is what your body learns. And what your body learns becomes what you do automatically.
To train with high intensity and high quality, we need to spend some time training as hard as we can yet still be performing well and build a little extra recovery in between the exercises. However, we are also going to do high volume so you teach your body high quality and develop higher nervous system control of muscles.
Normally high volume and high intensity have an inverse relationship – you can’t have both. But if you manipulate the duration of the effort and recovery between sets, you can do both. The key is to not make the intensity high enough to fully exhaust yourself.
Why does this work?
Your nerves tell your muscles what to do. Your biggest motor units only work when they are challenged enough to need to BUT they drop out after approximately 10 seconds. If you keep pushing at your highest level for longer than this, your quality starts to nosedive. (Note: a motor unit = a motor nerve plus all the fibers it controls)
The first key is to recruit and fatigue the highest number of motor units. This trains the nerves and muscles to fire quickly and fire with a lot of power.
The next key is to accelerate the movements as fast as possible.
Let’s Get To It
We will use the “landmine” to illustrate an effective and fun exercise pairing using this method. The pairing allows you to perform two challenging moves at maximum intensity while getting enough rest to keep you performing at a high level on all sets. In fact, for the first few sets, you will likely feel like the rest is “too long” as you’ll be itching to explode into the next set. Don’t.
The work interval is 12 seconds and the recovery is 25 seconds. And you’ll superset the exercises 8-10 times. There is nothing magical about this work-to-rest combination as I have used 10 seconds work with 30 seconds rest effectively as well. However, the general idea that you work for approximately 10 seconds and recover considerably longer than that – but not so long as to fully recover – is essential to get right when using this type of training.
Landmine Athletic Conditioning Pair:
- Alternating Explosive Overhead Press
- Crossover Squat-Thrust
8-10 sets, Work:Rest (12sec:25sec)
Note:Exercise #2 could be swapped out for something like Jump Squats if the goal was more true explosiveness. The Crossover Squat-Thrust provides an agility challenge along with an asymmetrical getting up and down movement mimicking what commonly happens when you get knocked off your feet in sport.
Use this combo either at the beginning of a workout (after movement prep), or put together 3-4 exercise pairings for a full workout using this method.
Better Every Day Wrap-Up
Try this and it will be like few workouts you have done. You will work very hard yet still feel very good while you know you are getting challenged. You are teaching your body to move with explosive quality – a winning combination for just about anything.