Anyone that knows me well knows I love to lift heavy weights; I have never been much of a traditional cardio gal. Grinding away on a hamster wheel endlessly bores the hell out of me. Does that mean conditioning is not important and can be neglected? Well. . . that always circles back to what are you training for?
If you’re a power lifter it won’t be necessary to engage in as much conditioning as if you’re a CrossFit competitor. If it’s GPP (general physical preparedness) aka “getting in shape and improving health” you’re after or just looking better naked and having some semblance of athletic prowess you shouldn’t neglect it either.
With regards to “cardio” or conditioning the volume, mode, intensity and frequency are variables to consider dependent upon the goals at hand. We’ll focus on the goals of getting in shape and looking good (building muscle while maintaining less body fat) for today. So, how to make it more enjoyable? One of my favorite conditioning tools is the prowler/sled. You can push it, pull it, power walk or sprint with it.
It allows one to be outside which is an enjoyable switch from lifting inside the gym. It embraces the elements and makes one capable of performing in them; I don’t see how anyone can work out in air conditioning. Shudder.
A couple of my favorite prowler/sled workouts are:
Push/pull: push the prowler/sled 25 yards and pull it back 25 yards, rest 60 s between rounds or long enough to catch your breath.
Recovery: use a light load, walk with it for 100 m, then pull it backwards for 100 m; this one’s not a race. Go at a pace you can sustain for 30-35 minutes without getting completely out of breath. That’s not the goal for recovery
Prowler sprints: my personal favorite; load it up with a weight you can sprint with (that means balls to the wall) for about 25 yards. Take 90 sec rest between and repeat 7-10 times. Small doses here, a little of that type of effort goes a long way.
Pushes & Swings: using a moderate load push the prowler 25 yds down and 25 yds back, immediately knock out 25 swings; rest long enough to catch your breath and repeat 4-6 more times.
Prowler Power walking (for recovery): with a light load walk pushing the prowler 100 m, reverse direction and power walk pulling the prowler. Switch back and forth for 20 minutes or around 1 mile.
Just starting out: build your stamina gradually; some prowlers alone weigh between 50 – 70#, add to that less than forgiving concrete and the prowler alone will be sufficient. When it starts to get easy, add weight. The lighter sleds weigh in at around 25# and should be loaded.
If you’ve never used the prowler it’s well worth investing in one; take it outside, breathe heavy and sweat it out for a more primally satisfying “cardio” experience.