Strength AND conditioning, can you do both?
Everyone these days in the industry calls themselves and strength and conditioning coachs but in truth we are much better at getting you strong than we are at getting you conditioned.
You can't just add any conditioning work into a strength programme as one can compete with the other instead of complimenting it. Similarly, adding conditioning work in won't necessarily turn you from He-man into Stan Laurel (those under 40 might not get this comparison!)
1st of all you need to decide what is most important to you, strength or conditioning and do this first. There is no point in doing a load of conditioning work at the start and then expecting to hit PB's when you do go and lift. Again, if you want to run a marathon then running should be your primary. This is where energy comes into play. The way you train impacts the way in which your body utilises energy. It takes a lot of energy just to get you through the day, never mind for training to get bigger, stronger, fitter or leaner. Spend it wisely, you only have a certain amount in the day to play around with. DOING MORE IS NOT NECESSARILY BETTER.
To develop strength and power you need to:
1. Improve CNS neural drive to the muscles for more fibre recruitment.
2. Increase muscle size for greater force.
3. Greater sympathetic nervous system activation for more hormone release.
4. Build better technique.
This is done through quality over quantity lifting, heavy and explosive over loads of reps. Max and dynamic effort and plyometrics improve the nervous system and these rely on the anaerobic energy system while steady-state cardio relies on the aerobic system. Doing this can confuse your body.
So, sticking to anaerobic work, things like sled dragging, tempo lifts, tempo intervals, explosive movements and high intensity continuous training are great accompaniments to strength training to maintain or improve conditioning. They can even help with strength and power by increasing blood flow into tired muscles.
Depending on fitness levels, you need to organise your training properly. Beginners can do conditioning work at the end of a workout. Moderate level trainees are best off leaving 4-6 hours between doing strength and conditioning work and high level trainees do best when they separate these into different days.
This is because as your fitness improves, it requires more and more energy be devoted to both the training session and the recovery that takes place after.
So prioritise your training goals, look at what is your primary aim and work this the hardest. This way, you will achieve what you want the most.