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Barbell Logic

Jan 6, 2023

What does conditioning for lifters look like? Do you need to do "cardio"? We examine conditioning & cardio for strength athletes. This is a re-release of episode 396.

Conditioning vs Cardio

"Cardio" is a nebulous and negative term, like diet.

I need to go do some "cardio." What's the best "cardio" for fat loss?

The term "cardio" comes from the word cardiovascular as in the cardiovascular system of the heart, lunges, and blood vessels that pumps oxygen and nutrients to your organs.

Conditioning for lifters comes with the implication of a goal. You need to complete conditioning for health, or for your sport, or for general physical preparedness.

Conditioning for Lifters - Fat Loss

Why would a strength athlete include conditioning in his program?

There's generally 3 reasons why someone would consider doing "cardio" or conditioning:

  • Weight loss / fat loss
  • Being "in shape" or general physical preparedness (GPP)
  • Cardiovascular health / energy systems efficiency

Lots of people think they need to do cardio for the first reason, and it's really the worst reason to "do cardio."

Why? Because cleaning up nutrition habits far surpasses the impact of conditioning. Often times, people increase their food intake after cardio, as their appetite increases as well.

This doesn't mean that conditioning cannot help in the calorie burning side of the calorie equation. But it's not the first MED step to take.

Conditioning for Lifters - GPP

People have an intuitive sense of being in or out of shape, and they're not wrong.

This often comes from a suddenly more rigorous physical event, such as a hike or sporting event.

You find yourself out of breath and hating life, and feel out of shape.

This is really recognizing the inefficiency of your energy systems, and that you're cardiovascular systems is delivering oxygen poorly.

Life can throw us unexpected challenges, and being prepared for them is a good thing.

Conditioning for Lifters - Health

As the previous reason started to lead into, conditioning helps improve the efficiency of the body's energy systems: phosphagen, glycolytic, and aerobic.

Training these systems improve your  cardiovascular health and is correlated with longevity and overall health.

Just as stressing the muscles helps improve strength and effects hypertrophy, and these are correlated with health, stressing these energy systems is good for them and for your health.

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