Conditioning for Novices | Mark Rippetoe Conditioning for Novices | Mark Rippetoe

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Thread: Conditioning for Novices | Mark Rippetoe

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    Default Conditioning for Novices | Mark Rippetoe

    • starting strength seminar august 2022
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    • starting strength seminar december 2022
    You guys need to get a big misconception out of your heads: you cannot run your belly off. The media has proven to you over the past 2 years that everything they say is a baldfaced lie.

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    I think this article omits the most important part of this subject, which is how to train for endurance whilst simultaneously training for strength in the most productive way.

    I think today most of the people you're 'narrowcasting' to have accepted that diet controls bodyweight, and that a conditioning adaptation competes with a strength adaptation because recovery resources are finite and will serve one or the other. Of course there's value in re-stating these truths, but I think there's much more value in saying other things about conditioning. Starting Strength in general should address the topic of conditioning more often and in more detail - Jonathan Sullivan's lecture on conditioning and energy systems from 2017 is a good example of the kind of content which we could do with more of.

    The reason for this is that a lot of people who come across the programme (including me) are already playing a sport and aren't going to abandon it completely for six months or more to do a novice linear progression by the book with no conditioning whatsoever. Here we're not talking about people who just need to be stronger and healthier in everyday life, for whom their ability to run a seven-minute mile with no training means they should ignore conditioning altogether, at least temporarily. Instead we're talking about people who are competitive athletes in some sense (perhaps even in the most restricted sense that they just want to go out and compete every now and then in local amateur events and do reasonably well).

    The key questions here - which I have never seen addressed by SS in any form - are these: what kind of conditioning is least disruptive for strength training? And how can you schedule a conditioning and strength training programme so that they interfere with each other as little as possible?

    Sullivan's lecture mentioned above makes the case that HIIT is a more comprehensive form of conditioning because more of the body's energy systems are taxed and to a greater extent, so you get more bang for your buck than doing long, slow distance (LSD). Applying that to my sport, rowing, suggests that the average amateur club rower spends far too much time doing LSD, which is a very popular training modality on the rowing machine, and not enough time doing HIIT (particularly early in the season), given that the races they aim to compete in tend to be 6-7-minute regatta sprints, or 15-20-minute time trials at most. But, of course, HIIT is highly productive because it's highly stressful, and at some point that stress is going to interfere with your progress in strength training regardless of how well you try to recover.

    If I am rowing whilst strength training, then I am going to be doing some conditioning. Even if I am young, male, genetically gifted, sleeping 8 hours each night, and eating 8,000 calories and 200g of protein a day, optimising my training is still an important thing to do, and this is something I think you or SS in general should weigh in on because there is clearly some expertise amongst you (at least in Dr Sullivan if not in others) in this field. You have already told us in great detail how to optimise recovery for strength training. Now, how do we optimise our conditioning such that we minimise its impact on our strength training whilst still getting the benefits? I know that strength training will make me a faster rower. I also know that I need to condition myself on the rowing machine or in the boat, because rowing is an endurance sport and ultimately it takes more than the strength adaptation alone to be successful. And the reality of the situation is that, whether for a novice or an elite athlete, both the conditioning and the strength training are going to happen together

    So, is intensive HIIT (e.g. 500m/1m:30-45s sprints) great rowing conditioning, but a substantially worse interference with strength training than LSD (e.g. 3x30 minutes continuous paddling with 30-60s breaks to drink water)? If you're going to 'do cardio on your off days,' should you move to advanced novice programming earlier to avoid getting stuck with your lifts? How quickly can you recover from HIIT compared with a Squat/Bench/Deadlift NLP workout if you're a novice with both? If you've been rowing for years and are well-conditioned but have never strength trained, how different should your training look when compared with someone who is going to take up rowing and strength training for the first time simultaneously? Furthermore, since increasing your bodyweight affects your power-to-weight ratio in the boat, how should you strike the balance between eating enough to recover and adapt from all this training whilst not gaining so much bodyfat that your weight-adjusted scores on the rowing machine start falling behind your weaker but lighter squadmates?

    I think a discussion about this is worth podcast episode dedicated to it, because it's extremely important to anyone who wants to seriously integrate effective strength training into his sport, particularly an endurance sport which requires serious conditioning, and because it's a complex topic about combining two very different kinds of training modalities which I think almost no one properly understands.

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    From the article:

    You, on the other hand, are a young man who can run and work hard by virtue of having not accumulated the injuries that prevent me from doing it. And since you're young, you can run 7-minute miles without having to train for it. Since you can already do the activities that “conditioning” is supposed to prepare you for, without have to take valuable recovery resources away from your strength training, running etc. accomplishes nothing other than preventing your optimal acquisition of strength.

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    Since you can already do the activities that “conditioning” is supposed to prepare you for,
    I can't win my regional rowing regatta without conditioning to prepare for it. Maybe I also can't win it without effective strength training either, but what's certain is that I need the conditioning either way. And so does everyone else competing in an endurance sport. That's the main premise of my post - some people are going to do conditioning whilst attempting an NLP, those people have good reasons for doing so, and they shouldn't be ignored or equated with the non-sport-playing public who need to be stronger but should not be running with the aim of losing weight.

    Put this another way: since SS is so effective, and so simple, it should be the strength training programme of choice for everyone, including those participating in sport. In other words, average amateur athletes are not such a special population that the NLP should not apply to them, correct? But as they're doing regular conditioning, and not for a silly purpose for which they'd be better off not doing it at all, they do bring extra considerations into the construction of the optimal training programme, primarily because recovery is finite.

    without have to take valuable recovery resources away from your strength training, running etc. accomplishes nothing other than preventing your optimal acquisition of strength.
    If what I said just above was my premise, then this is precisely my question: given some of us are going to be conditioning whilst attempting an NLP, and some of us quite intensively because we're doing it for competitive purposes, what is the best way to structure our training - in terms of scheduling, modalities, and so on - such that we still get as much value out of our strength training as we can? How much needs to be sacrificed to strike an optimal balance? How much longer should we expect our lifting progress to take than if we were doing no conditioning? And there are many more questions besides.

    This is an enormous and important topic, because huge numbers of people being coached in a sport are told to do some combination of strength training and conditioning work, but precious few people understand how to do both effectively at the same time. You've already addressed how ineffective most strength training (whether it's 'functional training' or whatever) prescribed by sports coaches is, so lay that to one side. What you haven't had a proper article/discussion/podcast about is the more fundamental question of how to optimally approach the combination of strength and conditioning in the first place, given that many people will and should do a combination of the two.

    You know that a competitive athlete in a sport, even if he's just a weekend amateur, is different from someone who is wasting his time running around his neighbourhood for the sake of losing weight with no competitive end in mind. I know SS has more to say than just: 'anyone already playing a sport should stop doing so altogether until they have completed their novice strength training and progressed to intermediate training.' I just wish you'd say it because I think it would be worth hearing.

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    Strength and Conditioning - Conditioning and Strength | Mark Rippetoe

    The Two-Factor Model of Sports Performance | Mark Rippetoe

    Soccer is another sport that is normally approached in a way that doesn’t make much sense. With a demanding array of field skills and complex strategy, along with a grueling physical game, the training/practice paradigm is in full operation here. Practice, beyond that which is necessary to teach kids basic ball handling, takes place on the field. This is, interestingly enough, called “soccer practice” here in the US. Training for the strength component of soccer is important too, especially for the prevention of the all-too-common injuries to ACLs that occur with a higher frequency in this sport than any other sport in the world. It should consist of squats, deadlifts, presses, and bench presses, just like it should for all other athletes in all other sports.

    Training for soccer also must involve a conditioning component, since the game is long and involves running and sprinting. But soccer practice is also long, and involves running and sprinting, and games are usually weekly during season, if not more frequently. Both practice and performance therefore have a profound training effect for the conditioning aspect of the game that makes non-practice conditioning either unnecessary or counterproductive. For soccer, some aspects of training and practice can be successfully combined, and they should be – if done correctly, it saves time and prevents overtraining.
    Were you going to stop rowing while you did your strength training progression? Don't do that. You're already adapted to rowing, so start with 2 barbell workouts a week, then add a 3rd when you know you can eat and sleep enough to get recovered.

    You want this to be complicated, I know. It isn't.

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    I don't want it to be complicated. I want it to be treated systematically from first principles in the way that you've treated strength training systematically. I'm frustrated after spending years in a sport and seeing most coaches who haven't got a clue what they're talking about and simply regurgitating popular wisdom they've heard or trying to replicate some kind of advanced training programme they've heard the top universities or National training centres doing. Having dedicated a few years to coaching myself, I'm embarrassed that I only really know how to to coach the technique of the rowing stroke, a basic introduction to SS (I'm not claiming to be capable of passing the SSC exam or close to it), and some elementary physiology for endurance training.

    I've read both the articles you linked before, more than once, and I've listened to you talk about the points you make in them in other videos and in other contexts as well. They're important articles, obviously relevant, but they don't cover what I'm saying needs covering.

    Elsewhere amongst your publicly available material, Dr Sullivan has distilled some of the physiological research literature on conditioning modalities down to some useful lectures which I can use to improve my own rowing training as well as my ability to coach others. Baraki and Feigenbaum also put out some helpful material whilst they were working with you. This is great, but it's sporadic and incomplete. There might be a book in this, maybe for Sullivan or someone else to write. But as things stand I get the impression there's enough accumulated knowledge and experience within SS to dedicate at least an article or something to this topic, and it's worth doing. Again, it's not necessarily complicated, but as you know that doesn't mean it's obvious. Strength training took two books out of you and Andy Baker to lay out from first principles. Even if there's not enough in this particular area for a third, there's more in it than a few short forum replies.

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    Is this your question?

    You have already told us in great detail how to optimise recovery for strength training. Now, how do we optimise our conditioning such that we minimise its impact on our strength training whilst still getting the benefits?

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    I'd condense it into one sentence as follows:

    With the aim of athletic competition in mind, how should you best train for strength and endurance such that the two kinds of training interfere with each other as little as possible and you obtain maximal value from each?

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    Practice your sport, and train for strength on as close a schedule to the novice model as you can hold.

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    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by MWM View Post
    I'd condense it into one sentence as follows:

    With the aim of athletic competition in mind, how should you best train for strength and endurance such that the two kinds of training interfere with each other as little as possible and you obtain maximal value from each?
    I have a question, what makes you think that doing so much conditioning that it interferes with your NLP is necessary to win your 6/7 minutes competition? Or even 15/20? As Rip said, you already know how to row. Just keep practicing whatever you need to practice, and get stronger in the meantime.
    And this applies to pretty much any sport that is not entirely based on endurance I would imagine (aka marathons).
    Why would you waste time and energy doing HIIT with exercises similar to the movement of the sport instead of using that time and energy to simply get stronger on your NLP and then display that strength in the sport?

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