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BendtheBar 12-18-2012 09:16 AM

Conditioning is a Sham
T NATION | Conditioning is a Sham

Conditioning is a Sham by Mark Rippetoe



There's simply no better way to increase your work capacity than increasing your ability to produce force. If your primary interest is being more effective at moving yourself and/or submaximal or maximal loads more efficiently, training for strength contributes much more to your goal than training for endurance.

The reason for this should be obvious. Maximal loads are your 1RMs in the basic lifts. For a 200-pound male of average height, a 1.75x bodyweight squat, a 2x bodyweight deadlift, and a .75x bodyweight press constitute a well-developed strength base.

Although this isn't considered "strong" by competitive lifters, it represents a level of strength that's attainable by 95% of male trainees in a few short months of reasonably efficient training on the lifts. More importantly, it makes commonly encountered submaximal tasks much easier repetitively, and this is what we mean by "work capacity."


This is the most important thing to understand: strength is the most general of all athletic adaptations. All other physical capacities, such as power (a guy with a 400-pound deadlift cleans more than a guy with a 150-pound deadlift), even balance and coordination depend on the production of force within the physical environment. If strength improves, all other capacities improve with it, to varying degrees.

For a person who's not strong, time spent getting stronger returns more improvement in all measures of physical capacity than time spent specifically developing any of the other derivative capacities that so many exercise programs consist of.

This is especially significant when you consider that it just doesn't take very long to substantially increase your strength.

This may surprise some of you who think that all people must do conditioning to be fit. And I agree that past a certain point in the development of strength, some Prowler work on a regular basis is beneficial, but remember, we're talking about novices, people with no strength base, and for whom a strength base improves all aspects of performance.

The Prowler is the finest conditioning device ever invented, I assure you. Nothing else approaches its effectiveness. But for these people, barbell training works better. Getting their squat up profoundly affects their Prowler capacity, but pushing the Prowler doesn't have the potential to build strength the way barbell training obviously does. The Prowler interferes with a novice's recovery from strength training, and again, strength is by far the more useful adaptation.

So the Prowler and all other conditioning activities can wait until after the strength base is developed. It only takes a few months to get much stronger, unless you fuck up and interfere with the process by losing sight of the priority.

BendtheBar 12-18-2012 09:17 AM

Build the bases. Build the bases.

Everything else is a distraction.

bruteforce 12-18-2012 09:22 AM

I love it.

Off Road 12-18-2012 09:32 AM

I think more in terms of prioritizing your goals. Since it's more difficult to build strength and endurance at the same time you need to find what's most beneficial to you at the present time. Like Ripp said, strength will benefit you most until a base is built. But, that doesn't mean you have to give up on conditioning, you just have to minimize it's importance for a while. A couple of moderate sessions a week won't be enough to derail your strength goals and will benefit you in many more ways; enjoyment, recovery, and forming a healthy habit. Walking, hiking, calisthenics, and playing a fun/active game like basketball with your friends are some great choices.

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