What is Conditioning?

by Joel Jamieson

Conditioning is a topic often talked about but rarely explained in simple terms. There’s far too much confusion about what conditioning really is. In this episode of 8WeeksOut U, I’ll give you an easy way to understand what conditioning really is and how it relates to power output and performance.

Conditioning and Maximum Sustainable Power

As you cans see from the graph in the video, conditioning is most easily described as a measure of your maximum sustainable power output across a given duration. The more power you’re able to maintain throughout an event, the higher your conditioning level is.

Within this, it’s important to consider that there is an inverse relationship between the maximum sustainable power and the duration. In other words, the longer the event, the lower the level of maxium sustainable power will be.

Compare the power output of a marathon runner to that of a 400m runner, for example. Or look at the power output that a Weightlifter can generate compared to a cyclist. Even though the amount of power that a professional cyclist is incredibly impressive, it’s ten fold lower than what gets generated in the Snatch.

The Power-Duration Relationship

Aside from the duration of the event, the other major factor that affects what level of maximum sustainable power is possible is the work to rest ratio. Again, the shorter the rest periods and the longer the work periods, the lower the MSP will be.

Whenever there are very short work periods and long rest periods, this allows for higher levels of power to be repeated over and over again because there is more time for the body to recover from the high work rate and high contributions of anaerobic energy.

Next time I’ll be expanding more on this concept by discussiong the Anaerobic Power Reserve, an incredibly important concept to understand if you want to get at the heart of conditioning and how it relates to power output.

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