To compete with the best, you have to be in the absolute best shape you can be. Increasing your level of conditioning will help you maintain a high level of play, especially at the end of games. The better conditioned you are as an athlete, inevitably you will win more games.
However, doing a few haphazard sprints, or, worse, jogging, won't do you much good. You need a conditioning program designed to challenge your energy systems to run, jump, sprint and perform explosive skills over and over again. And conditioning can actually reduce your chance of injury.
The conditioning workouts below should be completed after a speed and lifting session or just a speed session with lifting on another day.
1. Interval/Tempo Runs
Goal: Distance or Heart Rate
Sprinting intervals can be completed for distance or for a target heart rate. The sport you're training for will dictate the length of each interval. Time spent at "game speed" is how long you should train in a particular heart rate zone or time period.
This style of conditioning is particularly beneficial for building an aerobic base to withstand increased intensities of training.
When training using intervals, you specifically want to focus on Maximal Aerobic Speed (M.A.S.). So when performing intervals, intensity is greater than time.
2. Movement Circuit (Heart Rate/Time or technical failure)
Goals: Reinforce proper movement patterns and increase overall fitness level.
This should be used as a last resort when programming conditioning. If you are training 5-6 day per week, this can be a solid addition. If your sport requires you to run, interval running is the better option.
Proper training phases are important pieces of a conditioning program. At the beginning of training, start with slower intervals and work up to training short full sprints. Perform each workout twice per week and do each phase for 3-4 weeks.
Phase 1: Aerobic Development (Oxidative) – Tempo Runs - 40-Yard Sprints for 10 minutes. Walk back to the starting line.
Phase 2: Alactic Capacity – Shuttles 150 yards x 4 or 300 yards x 4
90 seconds rest
1:3-5 Work: Rest
Phase 3: Alactic Power ("Sport-Specific") – Short sprints 6-7 seconds
1:5-10 Work: Rest
Repeat for 10-20 reps
Sample Times for Sports/Positions
Here are some sample conditioning workouts and times broken down by sport and position.
Photo Credit: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/iStock/Thinkstock