Two Aerobic Conditioning Methods That Won't Compromise Strength & Hypertrophy GainsJan 06, 2023
If you've read any of my conditioning articles you're probably well aware that I'm a huge proponent of using aerobic work to bridge the gap between our main strength sessions. This has cascade effects such as improving recoverability, work capacity and keeping stress levels at bay (improving your ability to handle stress over time.)
If you have better aerobic fitness your ability to bring more oxygen and nutrients to skeletal muscle (we develop more capillaries which are like having more roads to reach more surface area) will be higher.
Recovery and repair need oxygen and nutrients to fuel that process. Someone who has more roads can cover more ground faster and improve the whole muscle function.
By having more capillaries “roads” there is a higher ability for waste products (such as lactate) to leave muscle and not impair the recovery process. The whole goal is better delivery and better clearance.
More aerobic fitness also means more mitochondria and therefore more factories to process the oxygen to generate more energy for repair.
Here are the two primary methods I use to develop aerobic fitness for my clients.
The Interference Effect
I know you might be thinking, "will this work interfere with my strength and hypertrophy gains!?"
The short answer is yes if you go outside of the recommended guidelines.
What you're referring to is the interference effect. The interference effect, in essence, states that a combination of both strength & conditioning gains results in diminishing returns and while this is certainly true under the right circumstances there is a lot more to this picture.
Truth be told, I've never experienced this with Conjugate Method, but keep in mind that the Conjugate Method relies on lower-intensity modalities as the basis of its conditioning work (sled work and loaded carries.)
And even when I added methods like mixed modality work and the cardiac output method to form CXC back in 2015, I've still did NOT see this phenomenon take place, but here's why.
There are various studies on concurrent programming and whether or not the interference effect is a limiting factor.
A key component to NOT having your conditioning bleed into your strength & hypertrophy gains is twofold:
1. The dose needs to be monitored, optimal being between 2-3x per week x 30-50 minutes.
2. The level of intensity needs to be monitored - too close to one's VO2 max will indeed result in an interference effect - optimal being under 80% of one's V02 Max.
Long story short, when aerobic training is used correctly it can actually aid both performance and lean tissue gains - more aerobic fitness also means more mitochondria and therefore more factories to process the oxygen to generate more energy for repair.
Cardiac Output Method
- 30-60 minutes of steady-state conditioning
- Heart-rate 60-70% for the duration (or using the Maffeton Method of 180 - your age for more aerobically trained individuals)
- Exercise Selection: Cyclical
- Sample Programming:
Minute 1: 45s Jog
Minute 2: 45s Air Bike
Minute 3: 45s Jump Rope
Minute 4: 45s Rotational Ball Slams
Mixed Modality Conditioning
- 20-30 Minutes Conditioning
- Heart-rate 70-80% of max
- Exercise Selection: Cyclical & Kettlebell Complexes
- Work/Rest: 1:1 - 1:3
- Sample Programming
5 Rounds of:
KB Complex of: 5 Double KB Swings + 5 Double KB Cleans + 5 DB KB Thrusters
Air Bike x 12 Calories
Rest 2:00 or until HR comes down to 110
Aerobic conditioning was the game-changer myself and many of my clients were missing back when in my early days as a coach. The old adage if I knew then what I know now rings true here - I had zero clue why I struggled to recover in and outside of my training sessions and couldn't figure out why my strength levels didn't necessarily translate the way I wanted them to. Now my aerobic work takes as much priority as my strength sessions and the gains I experience are better than ever! Thanks for reading & watching!
Learn How To Program Both Strength & Conditioning Optimally here.