Two weeks ago, I competed in my fourth powerlifting, my first in the 72kg weight class. On paper, it was my second best showing (by Wilks), but in reality, it was roughest.
I only went 1/3 for my squat and for my bench, and it wasn’t a strength issue. My second attempts were both weights I had hit before, several times, but my conditioning was terrible, and it showed.
What is conditioning? It is just training to be fit. It could be running, pushing a sled, using a rower, etc. The goal is to get your heart rate up, again and again, so that over time, you adapt, and the work is not so strenuous anymore.
In powerlifting, you have to do each lift three times. You have 5-10 minutes between each attempt, so your conditioning doesn’t have to be that good.
Mine, however, was so bad that 5-10 minutes was not enough time for me to recover. I did much better on the deadlift, but that’s because there was a 30 minute break between the bench and the deadlift. I can’t count on that break to be there every time, so I need to make conditioning work a priority.
Why should the Average Person care about conditioning?
Your goal can be to get stronger, get bigger, get leaner, doesn’t matter. Any goal will be easier to achieve if you have good conditioning.
Let’s say you have an hour to workout before you go to work in the morning. In that time, you can only do 12 work sets. If you ever need more than 12 sets to improve, you will have to work out more days each week.
If, however, you improve your conditioning, such that you can do 15 sets in the same hour, then you can increase your training volume without adding more workout days.
This will give you more free time and will make it easier for you to recover from your workouts.
What am I doing to fix my lack of conditioning?
A few things. I started running again, 3 days a week, 20-30 minutes at a time, nothing too crazy, but I’m improving quickly. I also am doing Pavel’s Simple and Sinister, and I started using giant sets in my training.
A giant set, is basically a short circuit. Instead of doing your exercises one at a time, you do them in rounds and take a break in between rounds.
E.g. My Monday’s look like
- Bulgarian Split Squats
- Box Jumps
- Ab Wheel
I do three rounds, and this takes me 10-15 minutes. If I did each exercise on it’s own, it would take me at least 30 minutes.
I will need more than two weeks to see how helpful this additional work is, but I expect that I will be in much better shape when I return to the platform. I may have been knocked down, but I am never out.