I have always tried to keep it simple and succinct when giving advice on how to get into shape or maintain conditioning levels. I’ve compiled a list of Conditioning Tips that are absolutely pertinent to training.
Here’s what competing at the high school and collegiate level cross-country/track & field and then coaching/directing high level fitness programs have taught me when encouraging myself or others to develop or maintain conditioning levels:
Change your Clothes
I know, this sounds very odd. However, my high school coach used to preach this to us and it actually works! I can still hear him now. He would say that when you’re supposed to work out and you’re procrastinating or wavering, “simply change your clothes and put on your running sneakers, shorts, etc. and you will feel compelled to go work out.”
We call it “flipping the switch!”, and as odd as it sounds, he was 100% correct. Every single time I do this, it works! I find myself walking around in my workout gear and feeling lazy or silly for not actually working out, so then I go work out. Try it, I bet it works for you too!
It’s extremely important to check in with some sort of expert before you begin a new conditioning program so that you are starting off safely and appropriately. Everyone has different goals and therefore you really want to generate a program that is tailored to your goals, body type, and current fitness/conditioning level.
If you are able to view our attached video clips, our Strength and Conditioning Coach talks about how important it is to have a program designed specifically for you. It is also critical to be able to utilize assessments (generally each week) to determine how far you are advancing related to your goals and workout prescriptions.
Having a conditioning expert or coach to check in with can also generate some much needed motivation and can usually help prevent over-use and injuries.
Routines and Schedules
This can be a “make-it or break-it” type of organizer for those wanting to begin or improve their fitness level. It is very important to set up a routine or scheduled time to work out for the upcoming week. A schedule will really encourage you to carve out the time needed to get a comprehensive workout in.
I typically tell students and adults that you can get a workout in from anywhere to 30-60 minutes if you plan properly. Setting up a time and day to workout is paramount for forward progress.
For example, I would typically schedule my workouts similar to: Tuesday 4-5pm, Thursday 5-6pm, Saturday 9am-10am, and Sunday 9am-10am. If someone were to simply schedule those 4 days to work out and not assign a specific time I have noticed that the workout typically gets bumped when more “important” or fun things pop up. Try specific scheduling for two weeks and see if it helps you to garner better results.
Workout Partners and Workout Groups
These might seem very similar but they are different enough to receive their own mention. A workout partner or buddy is a specific person who you commit to work out with a certain number of times a week.
This can be so helpful as it links you to a schedule time and a particular person who is counting on you to show up so you both can work out together. I have a friend at work, we try to work out 3 times a week, and I can honestly say that if we didn’t commit to those times, I probably would miss many sessions due to being tired, too busy, etc.
Regarding workout groups, these can be lifesavers too. See what two of our football players have to say about workout groups and partners in the video.
Often times, you’re joining a club or form a club of your own and commit to meeting a few times per week to get the heart pumping. This is a great motivator as you feel connected to this “team” and you typically feel obligated to attend the session. It’s also nice to have multiple people different levels all working out at the same time so you have friends all around you during workouts. Workout partners and workout Groups can be a valuable tool to keeping you on the fitness continuum.
Goals, Recording Keeping and Rewards
As our Conditioning Coach mentions in the short video clip, goals are extremely important to everyone who is looking to get into or stay in shape. They are a fantastic way to monitor your progress and ideally inspire you to keep moving forward. Whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle mass, improving your fitness capacity, etc., it is imperative to have short-term goals (weekly) and long-term goals to help you assess where you are currently and how much progress you are making.
Who doesn’t get excited when they’ve lost that pound, gained that indicated bench press weight, or reached an intended fitness heart rate or running time? Rewarding yourself every now and again for achieving some of these goals is encouraged too! No matter how you choose to do it, setting goals and recording them can be helpful and inspiring to achieving your intended fitness level.
So, here is what I have compiled as a high school and college athlete and a Head Coach/Director for almost 25 years. As you can see from the attached videos, our student-athletes here at Milford High School utilize and believe in these 5 fitness tips as they feel that these specific tips help them get into and stay in top shape. We try to offer as much specificity, organization, and professional support as we can during the school year and summers to help our students, student-athletes, and staff/community to embrace maintaining a fitness level that works for them.
How about you and your community? What works for you, your team, or your school? Thanks for checking in and let us know what you think…