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  • Strength good, conditioning bad. Help.

    Hey all. I'm getting sort of irritated at how slowly my conditioning is improving, and how quickly it goes away if I take time off from working out. For me, strength comes really quickly, I put on muscle fast, and I have constant strength gains. But my conditioning is either not improving, or improving at a snail's pace. I'm constantly winded while doing most metcons. My muscles start burning really quickly when doing repetitive movement. I'm good at 1-rep maxes, or small sets of heavy weight with lots of rest; but when I have to keep moving the bar (or my body, or whatever), it all falls apart. For instance: I can jerk 110 in sets of three, but the other day, doing 7 reps of a bear complex at 55lb, I had to drop the bar after five reps. My muscles just BURN really soon into the workout and I start failing.

    I took two weeks off from crossfit for the Christmas holidays (wasn't my choice, they didn't have classes), and the past two weeks back have been hard. I'm SO tired and wiped while doing the metcons. My strength has not suffered at all; I'm still lifting the same. But my ability to endure and keep going is just shot, and it improves soooooooo slowly. And I'm impatient.

    So, my question: why is this? And how do I make it better? Should I throw in more tabatas? Run? Do fast sets of high reps at a light weight? I'm really happy with my strength training and where I'm at there, but really annoyed that I have to stop and suck wind every few minutes in metcons, and that my muscles burn so quickly.

  • #2
    What event are you training your conditioning for?

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    • #3
      I used to worry about this topic, until I ran across this Mark Rippetoe article...

      T NATION | Conditioning is a Sham

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      • #4
        Improve your weakness is the order of the day here! Less heavy compound, more machines and dumbells and lots of reps and volume. Start out gradually and build up on reps and sets shortening of rest periods etc. Good luck!...
        "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

        - Schopenhauer

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        • #5
          What event are you training your conditioning for?
          Life.

          I used to worry about this topic, until I ran across this Mark Rippetoe article...

          T NATION | Conditioning is a Sham
          Very interesting article. Gave me a lot to chew on. I'm basically in agreement that I shouldn't add more work to my regimen, because I'll be shooting myself in the foot strength-wise. But it's still pretty frustrating to be sucking wind so much.

          Although--this morning during the metcon I experimented with just staying in motion the whole time, taking no rest, even if I was totally gasping for breath. It actually worked out pretty okay; I did really well in the workout and didn't die or anything. I felt the same amount of tired in the end. This indicates to me that rest periods aren't actually helping me, and that part of my problem is all in my head, that I'm unwilling to push through pain/heavy breathing.

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          • #6
            Unless you are a strength athlete, power-lifter or NFL line-back, I wouldn't listen much to the macho bullshit from Rippetoe! I have tried both world, and believe me, from a fitness perspective a conditioned athlete gives a much better "feel good" effect than being only an unconditioned strength athlete. Your symptoms of out of breath seem to be similar to "bonking" due to glycogen depletion, or you could be slightly out of iron in your blood (anemia)...
            "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

            - Schopenhauer

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
              Unless you are a strength athlete, power-lifter or NFL line-back, I wouldn't listen much to the macho bullshit from Rippetoe! I have tried both world, and believe me, from a fitness perspective a conditioned athlete gives a much better "feel good" effect than being only an unconditioned strength athlete. Your symptoms of out of breath seem to be similar to "bonking" due to glycogen depletion, or you could be slightly out of iron in your blood (anemia)...
              ...did you even read the article? From HIS fitness perspective, being strong turns what for some people is an all-out effort to do one rep, INTO an endurance exercise. Would you call someone who can spend a day loading 150-200 70lb bales of hay "poorly conditioned" because he or she runs a bad 5 minute mile time?

              EDIT: although it is worth pointing out that Rip's article is mostly talking about untrained individuals, which the OP does not seem to be.

              But I think the point still stands. Add weight to your primary lifts, and eventually what you lift now is just a warmup.
              Last edited by boomingno; 01-21-2013, 12:48 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by boomingno View Post
                ...did you even read the article? From HIS fitness perspective, being strong turns what for some people is an all-out effort to do one rep, INTO an endurance exercise. Would you call someone who can spend a day loading 150-200 70lb bales of hay "poorly conditioned" because he or she runs a bad 5 minute mile time?
                Yes, the heyball argument is pure sophistery, and "stength" is relative to exactly what you are training for, with little or no carry over effect. Starting Strength is a beginners program similar to what I did at the age of 15 but it is not necessary for conditioned fitness nor for muscle volume, but obviously Rippetoe is some kind of a modern guru...
                "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                - Schopenhauer

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by boomingno View Post
                  EDIT: although it is worth pointing out that Rip's article is mostly talking about untrained individuals, which the OP does not seem to be.
                  As an untrained individual you will develop strength and muscle volume on almost any sensible weight program. It is not a bad idea starting your lifting carrier with the heavy compunds, but it is not the only way, and don't let that type of training hold your back, if what you really need is more stength conditioning. So many gymrats in my gym are held back by only focusing on strength numbers, instead of building up more reps, sets and training days. Especially if your goals are general fitness...
                  "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                  - Schopenhauer

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Rip's article is fantastic, for untrained individuals. The basic premise is that you get more from basic strength work than you will from any other form of training. IIRC, the guy who wrote "Building the Gymnastic Body" had a similar philosophy, insisting that no technical work be done by his athletes until certain strength standards can be met. The two of them have different standards for baseline strength, and different ways to achieve it, but the concept is similar. They go for the most benefit from the least amount of time, the biggest bang for the buck.

                    I'm not much beyond untrained, but due to the nature of my fitness tests, I have to do endurance work, and I have to do it regularly, because my endurance fades so much faster than strength. I can do a handful of 1-arm pushups, but I'd probably struggle to hit 60 regular pushups for my fitness test if I took it tomorrow. A few months ago I was hitting 75-80. I don't know of any way around it but to grind out reps (shooting for 2k/month, about 100 per weekday right now) consistently in the next few months leading up to my next test. (Meanwhile I am working on increasing my max strength with a lifting program, but that isn't upping my pushup numbers yet.)

                    For some reason, I don't have these issues with situps or the 2-mile run- I'm maxing or very close to maxing for both of those events.
                    Last edited by jfreaksho; 01-21-2013, 03:18 PM.

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                    • #11
                      You lose endurance quickly... and it's a lot of work to keep up.

                      For me, it's a lousy return on time invested so I do a weekly hill sprint session and that provides me with more than enough endurance for "life".

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Gorbag View Post
                        As an untrained individual you will develop strength and muscle volume on almost any sensible weight program. It is not a bad idea starting your lifting carrier with the heavy compunds, but it is not the only way, and don't let that type of training hold your back, if what you really need is more stength conditioning. So many gymrats in my gym are held back by only focusing on strength numbers, instead of building up more reps, sets and training days. Especially if your goals are general fitness...
                        If your goal is to be as strong as possible in the most efficient way possible, heavy compound lifts are indeed the only way. I assure you if you took a group of people A, and made them do heavy squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and overhead presses, and fed them accordingly, vs group of people B that did whatever else, group A would always come out stronger. The lifts for group A are basic human movements that allow one to lift the most weight, thus allowing you to get stronger in the most efficient way known.

                        If you want conditioning, no one says you shouldn't do it. Rippetoe's point is that for the average person, the best way towards general fitness, as you call it, is strength. Once strength is at an acceptable level, conditioning can be added in as necessary.

                        I'm also not sure why you mention "building more reps, sets, and training days"? More reps just means working on stamina. More sets? For what? If you're doing a volume training day, as an intermediate lifter, sure, otherwise, what's the general purpose? If it's like more reps, then you're just talking about stamina. More days? Not for heavy lifting. Proper recovery is paramount.

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                        • #13
                          quikky,

                          Heavy squats, deads, and bench make you stronger in those lift, but they will not help you much if we measure "strenght" in a gymnastic movement or pullups! I have seen lifters that are very strong in deadlifts, but that cant pull themselves up in a chin-up bar, less in gymnastic rings, just to illustrate that "strength" is relative to the movements you are doing. Try to let the biggest squatter in your gym perform a one leg squat if he have not trained it, he probably can't do any!

                          I am not against heavy compound lift, and I do them regulary, but they are not the only way, and sometimes it may be a good idea to cycle them, or take them out for a period.

                          More reps, sets and in general more volume give a larger protein and energy turn-over, and if you eat enough you will build more muscle that way, it will also train your body to store more glycogen and water inside your muscle. Basically you need all reps intervalls from below 5 to over 20, but everything depends on your goals, if you just want to have impressive 1 RM in deadlifts, then you must train for that, and stay away from high rep work...
                          "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                          - Schopenhauer

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                          • #14
                            Lots of good stuff being thrown around, but none of it really answers my question. Any ideas on how to increase my ability to move quickly for 10-20 minutes without stopping? Call it stamina, endurance, conditioning, ability to ignore burning pain, whatever--I want to stop having to rest in the middle of metcons.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                              Lots of good stuff being thrown around, but none of it really answers my question. Any ideas on how to increase my ability to move quickly for 10-20 minutes without stopping? Call it stamina, endurance, conditioning, ability to ignore burning pain, whatever--I want to stop having to rest in the middle of metcons.
                              Be careful with how you integrate heavy lifting. Hard metcons and heavy lifting are tough to mix, especially if you don't eat enough to promote good recovery. How often do you lift heavy and how often do you do your metcons? Also, what do the typical metcons look like, is it typical CrossFit WOD style workout? Lastly, if you don't mind sharing, what are your strength numbers for the core lifts?

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