While some of the terms listed above all may be somewhat interchangeable, they all refer to our ability to challenge our bodies and keep going. That being said, the dynamics of most physical endeavors, with exception of possibly distance running, cycling, etc., are generally that of a variable and non-constant state. We perform short to medium bouts of maximal effort followed by either complete or active recovery. The goal then is for each of these repeated efforts to be at the same, if not higher, performance level than the previous with as little drop off as possible. The ability to outlast your opponent while sustaining as close to peak levels of strength, power, quickness, speed, etc. is essential to victory in any closely matched competition.
We most often refer to this quality as endurance, with the word “endure” being derivate of the Latin word “indurare”, which means to harden. Webster’s dictionary defines endurance as “to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding” and “to continue in the same state”.
Let’s look at the verbiage a little closer. “Without yielding” suggests that there is a psychological component, which is absolutely a major contributing factor. I teach my athletes that conditioning is “the ability to become comfortable being uncomfortable”.
This requires a level of mental toughness to withstand discomfort, and we often will cease mentally far before our physical limitations. Whenever we finish a tough conditioning drill I will ask the athletes, “who can give me 10 more of those?” At this point I get dirty looks, mumbling under the breath and a general “are you crazy???” vibe. I then continue to say that “in the trunk of my car I have a briefcase with a million dollars cash (I’m absolutely lying) for anyone that can do 20 more, who is in???” Hands now come off the knees and shoot up in the air. How is it all of sudden that you couldn’t do another single rep and now you can do 20 more? You didn’t all of sudden change into a superhero physically, you simply changed your mindset.
That being said, I think all conditioning drills should have two primary components:
1-Some level of competitiveness
2-Some type of quality control variable
The best method I have found to suit both of these needs is what I call the 10% Rule.
Here is how it works:
-Perform any drill at high effort and note the performance (Distance travelled, time/reps completed, etc.) The parameters of this drill should mimic at least somewhat the variables you will encounter in your sport.
-Rest for a designated period of time. This can be a rest to work ratio of as much as 8 to 1 or as little as 1 to 1, again depending on the demands of the sport, as well as what phase of your conditioning program and competitive season you are in.
-Repeat the drill and your performance must now come within 10% of your last performance. After tinkering with this percentage over the years, I have found anecdotically that 10% is the sweet spot for best results. If you don’t come within 10%, go home – workout done. Repeat until you can’t keep your performance level within 10% of your last rep.
-Remember that the goal is not how long you can do something, but how long you can do something well.
Here are 3 examples:
Track workout (Distances can be revised based on your sport or events)
-After a proper warmup, perform a 400m sprint.
-For easy math, let’s say you complete it in 60 seconds (A decent male high school sprinter’s time)
-You can then rest for 2-8 minutes, depending again on the variables listed above
-Your next 400m sprint must be less than 66 seconds to continue the workout (60 x 10%=6+60=66)
-Repeat until you can’t get keep under 110% of your last sprint (Not your first sprint)
-This is based on distance, not time. Load bodyweight onto the Prowler and push from the high handles.
-Mark the distance traveled in 10 seconds. Repeat as shown above.
-The next rep should be within 10% of the distance traveled in the last. Good distance for high school male athletes is 20-25 yards in 10 seconds. If you went 20 yards (60 feet), you must go at least 54 feet in your next rep. (60ft x 10%=6ft, 60-6=54ft)
Check out the video here:
-You can also use this method for local muscular endurance or work capacity in a given lift, as shown here in our old video for Speed Bench:
As explained in the Speed Bench video, we look to gain improvement in one or more of the following variables from one workout to the next:
1. Improved performance in any or all individual reps
2. Decreased rest time
3. Increased total output across all repetitions
The 10% Rule can be applied to just about any modality or drill so be creative, just make sure it makes sense for your fitness goals, track your numbers and make it competitive!!!