I believe that it’s extremely important to have a well developed aerobic system in order to recover acutely (during a workout/game) and chronically (the day following an intense training session/game). Having said this, it becomes extremely important to improve the athletes G.P.P. (General Physical Preparedness) during the off-season.
How do you improve your G.P.P. or conditioning?
There’s many different methods I have utilized with my athletes throughout the past few off-seasons. NONE of which are named long distance running or max-effort sprinting with incomplete recovery – two extremely popular conditioning methods that are used by sport coaches around the world.
Here’s some better options that you can use in place of your current conditioning workouts. All of the methods/workouts listed below are extremely challenging and will not only enhance your G.P.P. but improve other important aspects of your game!
Movement/Mobility Circuit Workouts
Movement workouts are a great way to improve aerobic capacity. In addition, these workouts are also fantastic for enhancing recovery, improving movement quality, core stability, shoulder health and much more!
The video below is an example of a full-body mobility circuit workout I used with LA Dodgers OF, Chris Roller last off-season (2018-2019). The purpose of implementing this with Chris was to enhance recovery following a high demanding CNS day (day prior), improve hip mobility/stability, shoulder health (scapular upward rotation/scapular stability), core stability, drive some lat length, and train his glutes/hamstrings.
Hill sprints are a fantastic way to improve acceleration mechanics, force application, work capacity, athleticism, body composition and much more! What I really like about hill sprints for conditioning purposes is that the hill acts as a form a resistance (think of it like a loaded sprint). You’re CNS will not be taxed as much as something like a max-effort sprint. This makes it fantastic for conditioning purposes in my opinion as you can keep the rest periods relatively short.
Here’s a sample hill workout you can utilize in your training:
Hill Sprint Workout #1 A1. Hill Sprint 20 sprints x 10 yards/sprint Rest: EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute) Every Minute on the Minute - Right before you perform your first hill sprint start your stop watch. When the clock hits 1 minute you will begin your next hill sprint
Full-Body Body Sled Workouts
The sled is a fantastic tool to not only improve full body strength, but also to enhance an athletes G.P.P. There’s zero eccentric stress associated with any exercise shown below so you’re not going to be sore from these movements. With that being said, you can utilize the sled and all the variations shown below multiple times per week. Here’s a full lower body sled walking workout I implemented with Washington Nationals Catcher, Tres Barrera last off-season (2018-2019) with the purpose of enhancing recovery following a high demanding CNS day (day prior).
Lower Body Sled Workout: A1. Upright Sled Walk x 300 total yards B1. Lateral Cross-Over Step Sled Walk x 150 yards/side (300 total) C1. Backward Sled Walk x 150 total yards
In addition to this workout, you can also incorporate upper body movements with the sled. Below, I included a sample full-body sled workout you can utilize in your training!
Full-Body Sled Workout: A1. Upright Sled Walk x 300 total yards B1. Lateral Crossover Step Sled Walk x 150 yards/side C1. Backwards Sled Walk x 150 total yards D1. Rows x 150 total yards E1. Chest Press x 150 total yards
Sled/Prowler Push Sprints
Not only is the prowler a fantastic piece of equipment to improve unilateral lower body strength, acceleration mechanics, ankle dorsiflexion and hip mobility but it’s also a great tool for improving work capacity/G.P.P. Here’s a sample conditioning workout you can use with the prowler:
Sample Prowler/Sled Push Sprint Workouts W/45 LB plate on each side of sled Week 1: 10 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Week 2: 12 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Week 3: 15 Sled Push Sprints x 30 yards - Rest: EMOM Week 4: 20 Sled Push Sprints x 20 yards - Rest: EMOM Rest Periods: Every Minute on the Minute - Right before you perform your first prowler sprint start your stop watch. When the clock hits 1 minute you will begin your next sled sprint
Battling Rope Circuits
Over the past year I’ve been implementing more rope circuits/intervals with my athletes and they’ve done a great job at promoting tons of blood flow, and enhancing recovery following outings as well as training sessions. In addition, the ropes are also great for adding more volume to the athletes upper back and shoulders which I feel has improved overall shoulder health.
To make the battling ropes more challenging you can manipulate your rest periods. Here’s a sample battling rope circuit you can implement in your training:
Battling Rope Circuit 3-5 Rounds x 20 reps of each exercise - Rest: 90 sec after each round A1. Bent-Over Y Slams x 20 reps A2. Jumping Jacks x 20 reps A3. Bent-Over T Slams x 20 reps A4. Dynamic No-Money x 20 reps A5. Big Alternating Waves x 10/side
Sled Resisted Sprints
Very similar to sled push sprints and hill sprints the weight on the sled slows the overall speed of the sprint down. You will not be able to sprint as fast as if you were unloaded. You’re nervous system will not be taxed as much as something like a max-effort sprint. This makes it fantastic for conditioning purposes in my opinion as you can manipulate the rest periods without compromising technique etc.
Here’s a simple, yet effective workout you utilize with the sled:
Sled Resisted (45 LB on the sled) Sprint Workout: A1. Sled Loaded Sprint 10 sprints x 30 yards each sprint Rest: 90 seconds
Tempo runs involve drills where the athletes are operating at or slightly below 75% of their maximum sprinting speed. The total distance the athlete will cover is anywhere from 40-100 yards and rest periods need to be adjusted accordingly based off the total distance covered for the effort. Here’s some common rest period guidelines that I’ve used for my athletes in the past:
General Rest Period Guidelines for Tempo Runs 100-Yard Tempo Runs: 40-50 seconds rest 80-Yard Tempo Runs: 30-40 seconds rest 60-Yard Tempo Runs: 20-30 seconds rest 50-Yard Tempo Runs: 15-20 seconds rest 40-Yard Tempo Runs: 10-15 seconds rest
Another important point to keep in mind with tempo runs is that they should NOT induce fatigue. If they are you’re not taking enough rest following each effort.
Escalating Density Training
Escalating density training is a form of training that can be used early in the off-season to enhance the aerobic system to recover more efficiently (acutely and chronically), improve tissue resiliency, muscular hypertrophy, and strength. Below I included a workout that I recently used with Los Angeles Dodgers OF, Chris Roller in the early stages of his off-season prep.
Series 1 - 15 minutes total time trying to get as many total reps of each exercise as possible A1. Alt. Dumbbell Reverse Lunge A2. Feet-Elevated Yoga Push-Up Series 2 - 12 minutes total time trying to get as many total reps of each exercise as possible B1. Single-Leg Dumbbell RDL B2. Feet-Elevated Barbell Inverted Row
I hope this article was able to provide you some value! If this article was helpful to you share it with friends so they can benefit as well. Thank you for your help and support! -Alex