Experiences you have when you’re young are extremely influential and have the power to shape the way you think and feel about certain things; take “fitness conditioning” for example. Ask just about anyone what they think when they hear “conditioning” and chances are, most people will have feelings of dread, worry, and fear, thanks to wind sprints, killers, and the high school mile run. Shiver. Because of these experiences, people have misconceptions of what “conditioning” is all about. So lucky for you, we’re breaking down all of the information you need to know, plus providing you with the perfect full-body conditioning workout that will jumpstart and restore your relationship with conditioning so you can become stronger and more comfortable with this training method.
What is Conditioning?
Contrary to popular belief, conditioning is more than what seems like never-ending cardio. While it does involve endurance, it also involves building strength, speed, agility, mobility and even stretching, too. Its function isn’t only to develop a strong heart and lungs, but to build an all-around solid foundation that will allow you to work harder and perform better in your workouts, for longer periods of time and with the proper form. To get the full benefit, you should incorporate conditioning training into your fitness routine 2-3 times per week. This could be strength training, HIIT training, circuits, or strictly cardio sessions.
What Are the Benefits of Conditioning?
Help preventing injuries. Accidents can happen, but you are more likely to make a huge mistake during exercise when you’re fatigued and are no longer focused on having proper form—especially when lifting heavy weights. By having a good foundation, you are limiting the chances of injury to muscles, ligaments, tendons, and even joints and bones.
Increased performance. Like mentioned previously, when your body is properly conditioned, it allows you to execute each movement with good form, resulting in more power and speed. More power and speed = better performance = better results. Enough said.
Boosted metabolism. Conditioning work is great exercise! Typically, the workouts are higher intensity, which means increased heart rate. When your heart rate spikes, so does your metabolism, which helps burn calories and fat.
Ultimate Conditioning Workout
Time: 60 minutes
Equipment: Dumbbells, Barbell, Resistance Bands, and Bench
Muscle Groups: Upper Body, Lower Body, Core
If you’re looking for a workout that has leg exercises, back exercises, arm exercises, and core all in one, look no further! These compound exercises will work all of the muscles in each muscle group, and will have you feeling great for the week (or even weeks) ahead.
For this workout, you’ll perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions for each exercise, resting 60 seconds between sets. Use as much weight as you like, as long as you can complete all reps with proper form. If the weight is too easy, slightly increase it. If it’s too hard, slightly decrease it. Easy enough, right? Let’s get to it!
Anterior Lateral Lunge
Lunges are a staple in any leg workout, as they’re a great way to build muscles and increase your heart rate. For this movement, you’ll need a pair of dumbbells.
- Stand upright with your feet hip-width apart, holding the dumbbells at your sides, with your arms straight and shoulder blades back.
- Take a big step forward and laterally with your left leg, lowering your body down toward the floor and leaning your torso slightly forward. You should aim to form a 90-degree angle with your left knee, and your right foot should stay flat on the ground.
- Push down on the heel of your left foot, and return your left leg to start position.
Complete all reps on one side before switching to your right leg.
In order to do this movement, you’ll need to have access to a cable pulley system, or be able to safely anchor two resistance bands across from each other. This will target your upper body muscles, including your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings.
- Stand upright holding one handle with your arm straight out in front and the other at your shoulder with your elbow bent. Your right foot will be resting up on your ball/toes, and you should have a slight bend in both knees.
- If your right leg is back, you will press your right hand forward, as you simultaneously pull your left hand to your chest. Pull your right hand back, and push your left hand back in front; this is two reps.
- Press and pull in a straight line from your shoulders.
Complete all reps each way before switching sides so that your left leg is back.
Foot Up Split Squat
You’ve probably done this move typically only on leg days, but we’re going to change that! In order to do this move, you will need a step, bench, or box.
- Stand upright with the toes of your right foot on a box behind you with your arms by your sides.
- Drop your body down toward the floor, bending at your hips and knees and leaning your torso slightly forward. Note: if your left knee extends beyond your toes of your left foot when squatting, or if your right knee touches the ground, step your foot further away from the box.
- Push off your front foot to return to the start position.
Complete all reps with the same foot on the box before switching to the other side.
Alternating Step Up
This move combines strength, endurance, and coordination all in one! For this exercise, you will need a step, bench, or box.
- Stand upright with your left leg on a box with your arms at your sides.There should be little to no bend in your right knee.
- Push off the top foot and drive up with your arms, coming up off the step and switching your feet in the air.
- Land with your right foot on the step, your left leg should be on the ground.
This exercise will target your shoulders, while working a few other back muscles, such as the traps, and your latissimus dorsi, which is one of the largest muscles in your back. For this, you will need a cable machine, or resistance bands.
- Stand upright, with your feet shoulder-width apart, and hold the handle in your left hand at your right hip.
- Pull the handle diagonally across your body, until you can’t pull anymore. At this point, you will finish the movement by pushing the handle to the sky to extend your arm. Slowly lower the handle back to starting position.
Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side. Be sure to keep your shoulders back and your shoulder blades engaged for maximum results.
This is another common exercise found in leg workouts, and it can be done on a step or box. If you’re uncomfortable, or can’t quite keep your balance, this can be done from the ground. To make this more challenging, try holding a dumbbell in each hand of however much weight you’d like.
- Stand on your toes on the edge of a step, with dumbbells at your sides. You should place your feet hip-width apart, or for more stability, place your feet shoulder-width apart. Roll your shoulders back and pinch your shoulder blades to keep good posture.
- Drop your heels down as far as you can.
- Raise your heels coming up onto your toes again as high as you can.
Equipment Sub: Plates, Kettlebells, Bar
Get ready to blast your core muscles with this move! While we recommend using a cable machine or resistance band, this can also be performed with a dumbbell.
- Stand upright facing to one side, holding a handle in both hands at hip level with your arms straight. Place your feet shoulder-width apart (or place feet hip-width if that’s more comfortable).
- Without bending your arms, twist from your torso and pull the cable from the side of your right leg across your body to your opposite shoulder.
- Move through your hips and shoulders, not your arms.
- Try to pinch your shoulder blades the entire movement to engage your back muscles, like your latissimus dorsi.
Complete all reps on one side before switching to the other side.
Rear Delt Fly
This movement is commonly found in back workouts and can help you sculpt your upper back muscles, shoulders, and even your erector spinae (muscles around your spine). If you’re someone who doesn’t like pull-ups, or you don’t have access to a bar for pull-ups, then this is a great alternative.
- Bend over at the waist holding dumbbells with your arms straight and palms facing in, your feet hip-width apart, and left and right leg straight.
- Raise the dumbbells up and outward to shoulder height, keeping your back flat. Pinch your shoulder blades here for maximum results.
- Bend your elbows slightly as you lift, if necessary.
Equipment Sub: Plates
Forearms are common muscles that people forget to work out, and they’re important! For this movement, you will need a bar of some kind.
- Sit with your forearms on your thighs, holding a barbell out in front of your left and right knees, with your palms up and your wrists extended. Drop the bar into your finger tips, so that your wrists are fully extended.
- Flex at the wrists, raising the barbell up as high as possible, and then return to the starting position.
Equipment Sub: Dumbbells
Get ready to work your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back all at once! This move is a great low-impact option from those who suffer from lower back pain, but still want to do back workouts. Plus, it requires virtually no equipment—except a bench—so this is a perfect move for any beginner back workout.
- Lie face-down on a bench, hanging your lower body off the bench with your toes touching the ground.
- Raise your lower body up until your whole body is straight.
- Your left and right leg should raise and lower in-sync, as you try to have straight legs the entire time.
- Hold onto the top of the bench to assist you.
There you go! You crushed a conditioning workout. Well done!