Depending on what your fitness goals are, i.e get bigger, leaner, stronger or faster, you would approach conditioning in a slightly different way.
The concept of conditioning stems from the scientific approach to the physical training of professional athletes, who would have their training programmed in specific phases.
Pro athletes would typically have periods of specific focus for their training, for instance, the off-season wouldn’t mean- no training, but rather active rest during which time training is mostly used as a form of therapy or to address smaller issues in order to prevent future injuries.
The Pre-season phase is when athletes would start training in ways that would prepare them for competition and increasingly simulate the conditions which they would experience during competition. For instance they might need to develop the ability to keep running at full pace to catch one more pass, or to out sprint a defender, or to kick up to one more gear on the last lap of the race, even if they have already spent all their energy already, just trying to stay in the game. Conditioning, therefore, has the specific goal of preparing the athlete for the competition. Of course, in-season, athletes would be training in the same way, but with the extra consideration of competition days, that would mean that training sessions may be shorter or less often, but never any less intense.
So, conditioning training for you, the hardcore home athlete would mean you that you train in such a way to get your body in the condition you want it to be. That is from an appearance and ability point of view. In other words, train to reduce body fat and increase muscle tone and size.
For this I suggest….you guessed it, that you do this with bodyweight training. Because once you’ve increased your pull-up count to 25 in one set and you can do more push-ups than there are TV channels to flip through without needing to take a break, you may still want to look more like lean and mean athlete rather than a bar room brawler. While there is nothing wrong with looking like you can finish a full draught you hold in your one hand while holding a full keg of beer a meter off the floor in the other hand, but that’s not what I’m into and I take it neither are you.
What should you be doing then?
I believe there is simply no better way to get you fit and lean than training with high-intensity intervals or HIIT for short. The modality I prefer is to running sprints up a hill or steps and doing burpees. Of course, when I say I prefer this kind of training, it’s not in the same way that I prefer drinking good coffee over a cup of acid, it’s because sprinting and doing burpees in maximum effort intervals are so very effective for improving your body condition.
One more thought on conditioning for home athletes like us is that we don’t have specific periods of off-time and competition time instead, we want to be in a permanent state of fitness, ready to take on any physical challenge that we come across. So we need to be focussing on conditioning and gains throughout our training programs by making sure that every workout has included an element that is specifically focused on each fitness goal that we have.