T Nation

Balancing conditioning and strength training

I know Jim says weighted vest walking, hill sprints or prowler pushes have to be apart of your workout. I’m limited on time. I have 60-90 min on 3-4 days per week. My question is should I reduce my assistance lifts to allow for 15-30 min at the end of my workout for weighted vest walking or change my 531 workout to 2 days per week to allow me more time for conditioning? Here’s a little info about me: 40 yr old,205#, currently on my 15th cycle of 531 without missing a single week. Started on BBB but currently doing pyramid.
Begining maxes. Current maxes
BP- 5x205. 6x250
Sq- 5x275. 3x370
DL- 3x275. 6x370
PR- 1x135. 1x175
Looking for a little guidance. I want to do it all but time is limited.
Thanks in advance for the help.

I have had similar issues in the past. I recommend sticking to some variation of 531 (I like BBB) and doing some interval work for conditioning. I set a treadmill to a slight incline and do 10 minutes of the following:

  1. Sprint 30 seconds
  2. Jump on the side rails and rest for 30 seconds

Do that for 10 minutes minimum. Sometimes I do 20 minutes if I’m feeling ambitious. I do it everyday after my strength training. You can do this type of interval training with literally anything. I’ve done 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off with lifting atlas stones, prowler pushing and loaded carries as well.

Another option I’ve used is simply squeezing a set of 100 jump rope jumps in between work sets of strength exercises, but I’ve found that option hurts your efforts on the big lifts… IMO

What is your primary goal?

That should guide you in answering this question.

If your goal is to be a competitive PL or BB…get all of the lifting in.

If your goal is to be a “fit guy that lifts weights and looks pretty strong” perhaps it’ll be ok to cut a workout or two short and get some conditioning in.

I think Jim has written a couple of 2-day and 3-day lifting templates if you desire to devote a full day to conditioning.

Another option might be doing 1 day of hill sprints totally separate from your lifting.

I could get my 5-3-1 lifting and 15-20 minutes of hard conditioning in 90 minutes - maybe not BBB but definitely some of the more dense templates like the “triumvirate.” etc. Two per week is a solid way too.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’m going to push harder to finish my strength training , so I can get 10-20 minutes of some conditioning work in. I mean sprints at 30 sec then walk 30 sec is a simple high intensity concept and can be done anywhere. It’s time for me to quit whining about time and push my ass to be better tomorrow then I am today.

If its important, make time for it. Simple as that.

I recently found that my cardio sessions were falling off, so I posted a thread on it a while back. The answer was to evaluate why it was the first thing to fall off my programme - so one thing I tried to incorporate was ‘cario as assistance’.

I basically took the approach outlined in

I would basically do my 531 main lift, followed by the circuit and if I felt fine, some additional assistance (curls, ab work etc.). I would aim to achieve between 5 and 8 sets (10-20 minutes) depending on how I felt and how ‘hard’ I wanted to go. It is easier to go hard for 5 sets than for 8.

My circuits were as follows:
Bench Day: 8xPush Press (50kg); 6x20m farmers carry (2x20kg); 8 Pull ups. Repeat

Squat Day: 20m Tyre drag* backwards; 4x30m Sprints (straight into the sprint from drag); 20m Tyre push* forwards; 16x Walking Plank (8 each side)

Press Day: 8xFloor Press (70kg); 25xKB Swing (24kg); 8x Snatch Grip Hi-pull (40kg)

Deadlift Day: 15x Goblet Squat (24kg KB); 40m Farmers carry with 5xshrug every 5 steps; 15 Push ups.

Did I enjoy it - Yes.
Did I get some additional conditioning in - Yes.
Did it negatively affect my 531 lifts - No.
Was it the best thing to do - Unknown

I don’t know if what I did was correct, but for a 6 week cycle (ending this week), it has been an interesting way to change up the assistance training and get some conditioning training in. I don’t know if anyone else would recommend it though …

You could just do your assistance work in a circuit fashion and have that be your conditioning. For instance on Press day you could do a circuit of chins, dips, mountain climbers and burpees. On deadlift day you could do a circuit of KB swings, walking lunges, DB rows, and curls. It will get your heart rate up and you’ll be working the movements you need to do to improve whatever you need to improve. Hell, on squat day you could just do high rep squats or BBB 5x10 with a minute rest between sets. The prowler has nothing on high rep squats. There are limitless possibilities if you use your imagination.

I’ve been doing either sprint intervals or farmer’s/waiter’s/suitcase carries and DB swing complexes as conditioning at the end of my workout, at least 3 of 4 workouts. It takes 10 minutes and can be done at the gym at the end of my workouts.