Conditioning and Tabata

Don’t let yourself go this holiday break, instead try a Conditioning or Tabata workout if you’re strapped for time or gym access.

Conditioning is fun and challenging. It’s not your traditional cardio, or even high intensity interval training for that matter. Conditioning can be done mostly anywhere!

When I’m feeling bored with my high intensity interval training, I change it up to a conditioning routine. For example, I’ve done Kettlebell Conditioning in which for 20-30 seconds I do as many kettlebell swings as I can, then take a few breaths and repeat until my 10 minute timer goes off. You wouldn’t believe the workout you get! And just like that I’ve competed a ‘cardio’ session!

T-Nation said it best in this Body Conditioning article. The article explains how conditioning work can be done with ropes, sprinting (all variations), jump roping, medicine ball throws and sled work. Or in my case, you can always use a kettlebell to get that conditioning workout in.

Something similar to Conditioning is doing Tabata. If you’re really strapped for time, doing Tabata will be your best friend.  Tabata is about 4 minutes total workout time–so no excuse here! You perform 20 seconds of intense training, 10 seconds of rest for 8 sets totaling 4 minutes. I suggest downloading a Tabata timer app for your smartphone for easy timekeeping. My fitness idol, Erin Stern, has this great video demonstrating Tabata workout.

Don’t get discouraged by the intensity. You have it in you to do this workout and so much more!

This type of ‘cardio’ will melt that body fat right off! Don’t waste your time on that treadmill, instead chose a conditioning program that you’ll enjoy! You will de-stress while battling those ropes or pushing that sled, or as in the wise words of TNation Predator Conditioning on Heavy Bag work, “Beat it like it’s wearing an Affliction T-shirt.”



I will start by saying I’m no runner.

Let’s go back in time…I remember 3rd grade gym class, the coach made us run a mile. I ran ‘so fast’ that I tripped on my own feet and scabbed my knee right through my jeans; this of course made me afraid of lap running for the rest of my short elementary career. I dreaded every year when the gym teacher would make us run laps. I would see that most of my classmates were excited to race each other while I would think, “Oh, my sides are going to hurt.” You see my point, from early on, I hated distance running, and I still do.

I did however, as a kid, love-love-love, to play tag and soccer. You might ask, “Isn’t there a lot of running involved?” Why YES, yes there is! Both Tag and Soccer are intense running activities. But if you think about it, it’s not straight distance running. There are short stops/rest then bursts of all out running. And, that my friends is called sprinting.

Aside from the myriad of research that shows that sprint running is the best form of ‘cardio’ for fat loss and is a great addition for muscle building, sprints are very time effective. All you need is 15-30 minutes and you’re done. You can sprint at the track, on a hill, or on stairs; all great variations.

So if you don’t enjoy distance running, try sprinting. For me,  I need something to chase (ball), chase after me (tag), or know that I will be able to rest shorty (sprints).

So if you’re up for it, find a track field and do the following:

As a warm up, jog for 2 laps, and then do some dynamic stretching, then jog another two laps.

Run about 80% of max effort for 100m, rest 2 minutes

100m all out, rest 4 minutes, repeat 5-6 times.

Cool down with some static stretching

If you have a good set of stairs with at least 2-3 flights in it or more do the following:

Warm up with some dynamic stretching for 3-5 minutes. Run up the stairs all-out and walk down, rest 30 seconds. Repeat for 10-12 sets. Cool down with some static stretching.

Hills sprints are great for the tushy, so find a large hill. Start your workout with some dynamic stretching and with a easy warmup jog up the hill. Then you…

Run up the hill as fast as you can for about 20-30 seconds. Then you walk it down (about 45-60seconds) which is your rest. Immediately repeat for 10-12 sets. Cool down with some static stretching.

If you like it, try sprinting for about 2-3 times a week. It alone is a great way to lose fat, but combined with strength training, results are simply outstanding! It has changed the way I look at when doing I do “cardio,” I actually enjoy it now. I like to take my speed time and try to beat it at every session. I have seen the shape of my legs  change; they are now, more shapely-leaner and stronger. My vertical jump has improved and I feel and look more athletic. Sprinting has also helped me when I played co-ed indoor soccer. I am able to keep up with the running, and chase the ball at full speed. And, it surprisingly helps build some abs! You get the point, sprinting is the full-package when it comes to getting more bang for your buck. So give it a try! You’ll get a great workout out of it!