Adding Conditioning Work To Your Strength Program

Posted by on Dec 4, 2012 in Articles | 211 comments

For many people the transition from a pure strength program to a program that incorporates more conditioning while still building strength can be difficult in the early stages.  Once you have run a strength program past the novice phase and begin intermediate programming it may be time to begin adding a couple days of conditioning work in addition to your intermediate strength work.  What, when, and how you add this conditioning will be somewhat dependent on the strength program you are running and your goals but there are generally a few rules you will want to follow.

1.  Add conditioning work slowly.  Just as you would not start a strength program after 6 months of sitting on your ass with a 5×5 squat session at 90% intensity, your first jump into conditioning after months of a pure strength program should not be 8 x 200m sprints at 90-100% effort.  Add conditioning work slowly over a few weeks.  Start with a light session the first week and slowly increase the intensity and add sessions over the next several weeks.

2.  Think about your conditioning work and how it fits with your established strength program.  This is pretty easy to do but it’s one of the biggest mistakes I see.  At no point should an earlier conditioning workout cause your strength work to suffer later in the week.  You would not use heavy farmers walks the day before a heavy deadlift session.  Your grip and upper back may be fatigued the next day causing your strength work to suffer.  A good way to avoid such mistakes is to use your conditioning work as assistance exercises for your strength work.  Lets say your strength work on Monday is volume squats, bench, and deadlifts.  You will not touch these lifts again minus a couple back off sets until Friday.  Proper conditioning work may consist of a few short rounds of prowler pushes, close grip pushups and heavy double KB swings (low reps, short fast rounds, with rest intervals) the same day as your volume work or maybe the next day.  Let your conditioning work for your strength program not against it.

3.  More is not better.  Like everything else we do in the gym, focus on quality over quantity.  If you structure your conditioning correctly and you really put in the effort there’s no reason that most if not all of your conditioning needs as a power athlete cannot be handled in 2 maybe three sessions a week.  In most cases with proper structure and intensity 2 sessions are more than enough.

4.  Start slow and gradually increase the work load.  You will need to make adjustments as you phase in conditioning work.  Give your body time to adapt slowly.  Some changes may need to be made.  You may need to eat more, you may need to eat different macro nutrient ratios, you may need more rest, more water, or any number of things that you should be paying attention to over the first few weeks as you begin new work.

In the last several years we have developed more than a handful of conditioning circuits that we like to use for our strength athletes.  I’ll list a few and if you want to fit them into your strength program where they make sense you can.  Let us know what you think and if you have any you like to use we would love to hear them.  It’s easy to get in a rut with conditioning work so its nice to share some ideas that have worked for you.



5 rounds w/2 minutes rest

50m Prowler push

10 close grip plyo push-ups

12 Double KB Swings


Prowler push for recovery

3 rounds of:

3 minutes on 3 minutes off with a light to moderate load


5 rounds w/1minute rest of

50m prowler push

1 x 25m bear crawl

1 x rope climb (substitute strict chins)


5 rounds w/2 minute rest

50m prowler push

50m farmers walk


10 x 100m sprints on Concept 2 rower with 1 minute rest intervals


Row one minute one minute off for 20 minutes.  3K meter goal at the end of 20 minutes (CF Football)


10 rounds of:

Heavy prowler push for distance w/complete rest between intervals.  Load with a weight you can only move for 30-40 feet.  Once you can no longer move the sled stop and rest, compete 10 rounds.


5 rounds of:

25m prowler push

10 sledge strikes each side

30 heavy bag strikes

1 minute rest between rounds


Prowler push, one minute on, one minute off for ten rounds.  Goal is max weight moved for all ten rounds.  Once weight goes on the prowler it cannot come off.  (this one is particularly interesting)


Tabata series

Ball slams

Row for Cal

Ball slams


5 rounds w/2 minute rest of:

25m Heavy Prowler push

max set of chinups


With an 8 minute running clock complete:

one 500m row sprint

then AMRAP with remaining time of:

3 burpees

6 box jumps

9 KB swings



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