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Extreme conditioning programs

This is an excerpt from Designing Resistance Training Programs 4th Edition eBook by Steven J. Fleck & William J. Kraemer.

Extreme conditioning programs are high-volume, short-rest-period, multi-exercise programs, many of which have become very popular (e.g., CrossFit, Insanity, Gym Jones). Additionally, these programs typically have a high training frequency; some are performed five or six days per week. Some include a large number of multijoint exercises, variations of the Olympic lifts, as well as interval training and plyometrics. Because of the variety of extreme conditioning programs, there is no representative training session. However, a typical session consists of 10 repetitions of squat, bench press, and deadlift performed in a circuit fashion followed by successive sets in which the number of repetitions per set decreases by one until only one repetition per set is performed. The resistance used is 80% of 1RM. Although lifters can rest between exercises, the goal is to perform the circuits with as little rest as possible between exercises.

Positive aspects of these types of programs are that they reduce body fat and increase local muscular endurance as a result of high volume (Bergeron et al. 2011). Negative aspects, also due to high volume, include deterioration of exercise technique resulting in fatigue, possible overuse injuries, and acute injuries. Exertional rhabdomyolysis (see box 6.5) and overreaching and overtraining are also concerns (Bergeron et al. 2011). To avoid these potential problems, trainers should individualize strength conditioning programs and increase volume, intensity, and frequency slowly to allow physiological adaptations to take place. Programs should also be periodized and sufficient rest allowed between sessions so that recovery takes place.

Learn more about Designing Resistance Training Programs, Fourth Edition.