T Nation

Cardio & Speed



Over the summer I am training for basketball. I am looking to get bigger, stronger, and faster. I already have a 3-day fullbody lifting program. I now need a speed(running) program to do on my non-lifting days.

My running program is work in progress right now. This is what i basically have.

Tues- cardio/endurance
thur- sprint/interval
sat- metobolic

I read somewhere that running for long amounts of times makes you slower.

Will my cardio/endurance affect my sprint times?

I was planning on doing heavy cardio(1 mile, rest, 1 mile, rest, 30 minutes running) on tuesday. Light/moderate( 30 minutes running) on monday and friday.

Will doing so screw up my speed?

If someone would like to give me a sample basketball conditioning workout, I would really appreciate it.

Please help me out. Thanks.


Big fella, my personal thoughts on the matter are that distance running for explosive sports is a waste o' time, indeed, is counter-productive.

Distance running has nothing to do with your sport, so don't bother with it. Your Tuesday routine is on the right track, depending on what exactly you are doing. I am currently training college volleyball players and am incorporating a High Intensity Interval Training protocol with them.

Dan John has an excellent article on this (sometimes referred to as "Tabata Protocol" after the guy who started it) and I have posted a workout under the "firefighter's combat" thread. Take a look at both and let me know what you think.

BTW, the quickness and anaerobic capacity for the v'ballers is noticeable after two weeks of this.



I just wanted to second what was stated above.

Long distance running will provide little to no benefit to your sport.


Quick question: Have you ever practiced Tabata? If so, how did you find it for your sport?


define long distance. How much is too long?


Something that you might want to try is the Charlie Francis Training System. It consists of 2-3 days of sprints with full recovery (you have to train fast to run fast) and 2-3 days of tempo running. I have sort of modified this to get ready for football season using my 3 liftng days as anaerobic conditioning (to combine my CNS stressors) and using my two "off days" to get in some tempo runs to help with conditiong and to aid in recvoery (at most 800yds in total volume).

In any amount I would certianly ditch the mile runs, they are not useful for speed/power sports. A much better way to train the aerobic system is through tempo runs.


For your sport? I would think anything over 400 meters, IMHO.

Think of it this way: the overall number of steps you run in basketball may TOTAL the equivalent of a long distance run. We all know that is not how the game is played.

It is played in short, intense spurts, with some slack time in between when the whistle blows. The stoppage of time in basketball gives you, maybe, 7-10 seconds to recover. Then, on to another burst of short, but intense activity, which is again followed by another stoppage, whether a simple inbound, or perhaps a longer delay for a free throw or timeout. Again, you have a down time for some recovery. The Ref then blows his whistle and the ball is inbounded for the cycle to repeat itself again, and again, and again.

This is how you should TRAIN your body. Intense activity=>short break=>intense activity=>short break. This is what "training" is all about: your body, on a sub-conscious level will expect this type of environment and respond accordingly.

If you run long distance in preparation for basketball, your aerobic capacity will be fine, but your anaerobic capacity/recovery will suck. Your time will be better spent working on speed and quickness drills, developing a better vertical, free throw shooting, starting and stopping drills, change of direction drills.

Some food for thought



what are tempo runs?


Follow CT's "Running Man" protocol, or try the Westside for Skinny Bastards 2 GPP/sprinting plan.


teedog hit this one out of the park!


I just read CT's article. I adjusted it for me a little. here is what I am planning on doing. Please critique it.

Mon:15 minute run, rest 20 minutes, 15 minute run

400m x 3, 120 seconds of rest inbetween.
40 yd x 4, 20 second rest times
60 yd x 3, 25 second rest time
80 yd x 3, 30 second rest time
100 yd x 2,35 second rest time
200m x 2, 60 second rest times

wed: nothing

thurs:400m x 2, 120 seconds of rest
40 yd x 4, 20 second rest times
60 yd x 2, 25 second rest time
80 yd x 2, 30 second rest time
100 yd x 2,35 second rest time
200m x 2, 60 second rest times
Do all distances above 2 times(try to beat personal record) Full recovery inbetween

Fri: 15 minute run, rest 20 minutes, 15 minute run.

sat: suicides, latteral slides, other agillity and speed drills

sun: off

(I will decrease rest times as I advance)

I am also doing a full body split on monday, wednesday, and friday.

Will my running program be overtraining?
What should I change?


I would change everything. I've got a lot of experience training high-level basketball players, and 95% of the time, the single-best thing they can do in the off-season to improve is to get rid of 90% of their running (including most sprinting and gameplay).



Tempo runs are sub-maximal runs done on your low intensity days. You pick a total meters/yardage distance that you are going to do for the day. I typcially stick to 1000yds or less (I'm an olinemen), you might be able to hand a little bit more depending on your endurance level. You take the total yardage (let's stick with 1000 yds) and decide a distance that you are going to run the total yardage on. Today I did all of my runs in 50yd incraments. The key to these runs is to run them at 75% or lower of your best time. Running at this pace does not tax your CNS and actually assists in recovery from higher intensity work. After you do your "semi-sprint" you rest 30-60s (depending on your fitness level) and then you do another one until the total volume is reached.

Charlie states that doing these not only helps with recovery from high intensity days, but that it develops your aerobic capacity in a much more effiecent manner than long distance running which will allow speed and power athletes to improve recovery rates between intense bouts of exercise (i.e. a basketball play).


I practice Tabata two times a week as double kettlebell cleans.

I have found it very beneficial in core stabilization and overall "explosive" work.

I also like it as a active recovery / metabolism booster on my lighter days and as a pre-carb load workout. I'll throw in a Tabata workout at the beginning of the 24-48 hour carb-load.

Also found it very effective in training cardio recovery. I have noticed significant improvement in recovery from a hill sprint or pursuit.


like interval training?


how is your conditioning right now? can you play a whole game of basketball, full court, and not be dead tiered at the end? are you gasping for air/ heavily fatigued if you play a long time?

If so, then longer distances might not be too bad. they will improve endurance, and let you keep moving and pressuring your opponents.

HOWEVER, thew will hurt your quickness if you are already lean and somewhat quick. on the other hand, if you need to lose some substantial body fat, then the drop in weight from distance running will help make you faster. also, untrained individuals will probably see benefits in speed from just about anything. Im assuming you are not untrained. If you are Very quick, but dont have any staying power, then distance running might be helpful for that as well.

this topic is just too broad to give an answer like "cardio will make you slow"

Basketball requires a lot of physical qualities. endurance is one, explosive power is another. Make sure your program balances all the aspects of the game and put more emphasis on the weaker points.

best of luck.


Baller, yea they are interval sprints. They are just done at a pace much slower than what I think of when I hear interval sprints so I refer to them as tempos. I would save your interval sprints (like what Defranco outlines in his article) for the high intensity days (on days you lift) and do tempos to help with recovery.


Days I lift? Can I do them on the days after I lift? I will be too tired to do intervals after or before lifting.

I was thinking of this

mon:15 minute run, rest, 15 minute run
I will also lift on monday

Tue: Sprints. Try to beat times. Not interval. Full recovery sprints.

wed: Lift

Thurs: Interval sprints

Friday: Tempo runs
I will also lift on friday.

Sat: Sprints(same as monday)
Agility and quickness drills(ladder, suicides, etc.)

sun: rest

How does that look?


Baller, I am still not sure why you want to spend 30 minutes on Monday running, especially since Monday is a lift day. Further, why workout 6 days per week when you can get the same strength and conditioning benefits in 3? It is all about working smarter, not harder or more often.

My recommendation:
1) follow the lifting protocol your coach gave you: Whatever exercises, 3x/week, just don't take excessive rest between sets/exercises, not more than 30 seconds, preferrably less;

2) on those days, and ONLY those days, follow the lifting with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). You only need to complete ONE workout of HIIT per day to get maximum benefit. Here is all I would do if I were you: get 2-10lbs dumbells. Take one in each hand. Take a step for a deep lunge, keeping the dumbells at your side. As you stand, perform a front shoulder raise with both dumbells. Lower the dumbells as you take your next step and repeat. Do this as many times, in control and with good form, as you can for 20 seconds. Rest for precisely 10 seconds. This constitutes one set. Repeat for a total of 8 sets. You will be amazed at your heart rate and the amount of sweat.

Your anaerobic capacity will improve far better than running for 15 minutes x2.

Further, your body will get to recover on the off days and taking the weekend off will get you ready for another intense week of exercise. You will come back from the summer in far better shape than anyone else.

I have several other HIIT routines, with rsistance or not, that you can perform if you wish. I am currently developing an incredible vertical jump program for b'ballers and v'ballers. Should be published by Sept/Oct.

All the best this summer. Any questions, don't hesitate to ask.



Listen to EC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!