Finishing your workouts with a conditioning circuit is a great way to get the most out of your time in the weight room. A quick workout finisher can dramatically improve your metabolic conditioning, a critical aspect of the endurance you need for sports. It also burns a serious amount of calories, helping you shed fat if that's your goal.
Workout finishers can take many different forms to challenge your body in different ways. Typically, they are quick and efficient, leaving you sweating with your heart pumping through your chest in very little time.
It's really a no-brainer to add to your training, whether you're focusing on strength and power, or just general fitness.
Todd Durkin, owner of Fitness Quest 10 and trainer to dozens of NFL players, has his athletes and clients perform the workout finishers below. He structures them in intervals, as challenges, or a combination of both.
You can perform many types of interval workouts. A popular method is the Tabata protocol, which only takes four minutes. Regardless of the method, the goal is to challenge your body at a high intensity for brief periods of time to improve your energy systems. Short rests are interspersed between sets to allow for a brief recovery before performing another high-intensity set. This type of training has been shown to efficiently improve both anaerobic and aerobic endurance, and burn calories even after your workout is over.
Challenges inherently cause you to push your body to the limit. If the challenge calls for you to perform as many reps as possible within a set amount of time, you'll want to do as many as you can. And next time you accept the challenge, you'll want to beat your previous result. Who wants to lose, even if it's to yourself?
While you're competing in a challenge, you're actually improving your conditioning, because you're pushing out of your comfort zone. This type of finisher is especially valuable if you have difficulty getting motivated to work hard at the end of a training session.
Choose one finisher to perform at the end of each workout for a conditioning boost, and consistently vary your selection.
3-Exercise Strength and Endurance Challenge
Durkin sets this up as a challenge, but it's based on intervals. An easy way to challenge yourself is to perform full-body lifts and/or athletic movements for high reps or long duration. Durkin combines Dumbbell Squats and Shoulder Presses with Skater Plyos to build endurance.
- Dumbbell Squat and Shoulder Press - x 10
- Skater Plyos - x 20
- Repeat for three rounds, resting only as needed.
- Complete the circuit in as little time as possible.
"Who Dat" Challenge
This is one of Durkin's favorite conditioning challenges. It includes three moves: Clean and Press, Burpees and a Shuttle Run. One round alone is extremely challenging—as you can see by the athletes' faces in the video above. Nevertheless, your goal is to perform three rounds in less than six minutes.
- Dumbbell Clean and Press - x 10
- Med Ball Clean and Press - x 10
- Burpees - x 10
- Shuttle Run - x 200 yards (10 yards, 20 yards, 30 yards and 40 yards)
60-Second Burpee Challenge
Burpees are among the most popular (and most brutal) conditioning exercises. Imagine doing Burpees for one minute. Even the fittest athletes struggle with this. "It's mind over matter," Durkin says.
- Perform as many complete Burpees (full Push-Up and Jump) as possible in 60 seconds.
3-Exercise Interval Circuit
This circuit is great because it includes both strength and endurance exercises. Plyo Push-Ups and TRX Rows strengthen your upper body, and a set of Jump Rope spikes your heart rate.
- Plyo Push-Ups - x 10
- TRX Rows (or Pull-Ups) - x 10
- Jump Rope - x 30-50 seconds
- Repeat two to three times, resting for 30 seconds between sets.
Jogging from time to time is perfectly fine. Although athletes mostly perform short and explosive sprints and other skills, they still need an aerobic base. To make a regular jog sport-specific, Durkin advises performing a quick high-intensity, multidirectional circuit every half mile.
- Flex T Carioca - x 50 yards each direction
- Backwards Run - x 50 yards
- Power Skips - x 50 yards
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