strength and conditioning

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Let’s face it, the world of strength and conditioning is not for the faint-hearted. It demands more than just showing up; it calls for a relentless pursuit of discipline and effort. Whether you’re lifting at dawn or sprinting under the moonlight, every drop of sweat tells a story of ambition, resilience, and transformation.

Gone are the days when strength and conditioning training was seen as being exclusive to bodybuilders or professional athletes. Now, it serves as a staple for everyone striving to surpass their boundaries and break new ground in living a healthier life.

This guide was been developed not for the athlete, but for the average person to help you get into the arena of strength training and conditioning to enhance your understanding and proficiency so you can live a healthier and more capable life. 

It focuses on giving you the information you need to jump right into planning and training, improve your capability to oversee your strength training and conditioning routines, and offer essential insights to boost your effectiveness in the realm of functional fitness and strength and conditioning.

This isn’t about becoming another number in an ever-growing fitness craze; it’s about building yourself into the capable man you were created by God to be. To lead, encourage, perform, and be an example for others to follow.

An Overview of Strength Training and Conditioning

Man Carrying Barbell, how to calculate your macros strength and conditioning

Certain core concepts underpin the entire field of strength training and conditioning. Progression stands as a fundamental principle, emphasizing the importance of choosing exercises, weights, and sequences that perfectly match an athlete’s current level and sport-specific demands.

Another key tenet is specificity; the body adapts specifically to the type of exercise performed. 

Additionally, supervision plays a critical role in this process, varying in form based on different situations and needs. 

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These principles guide how athletes, or everyday people, should approach their training plans to maximize effectiveness and ensure safety. Understanding these foundational ideas is crucial for anyone looking to improve their physical performance through strength training and conditioning.

Let’s explore the fundamental concepts of training, including some essential definitions and principles.


Training helps a person perform their best by improving different skills like physical strength, technique, strategy, mindset, and knowledge. It’s more than just getting stronger; it’s about matching the training to what the person can do now and what they’re naturally capable of. In the end, how well someone does is based on these tailored factors.


Volume measures the total work done in your workout. For strength training, it’s calculated by multiplying sets and reps for an exercise. Runners define volume as the total distance they run. Essentially, it quantifies your training load regardless of the activity type.


Intensity refers to the level of difficulty or effort in an exercise. For runners, it’s about how fast they go. In strength training, it relates to the amount of weight or resistance used. 

Essentially, intensity measures how hard you’re working out which can be intensified by utilizing the best pre-workout supplements.

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Volume-load combines volume and intensity, typically calculated by multiplying sets, repetitions, and the weight or resistance used.


Frequency refers to the planned number of training sessions per day, week, month, etc.

Principles of Strength and Conditioning Training

These are the basic principles that drive any strength and conditioning regimen.

10 Lb Rogue Weight Plate Near People Gathered strength and conditioning

Principle of Individuality

Every person reacts differently to the same exercise routine due to a variety of factors including biological and training age, gender, body size, shape, and past injuries. 

For instance, consider a college athlete who shares his workout plan with his younger brother in high school. Despite following the regimen diligently, the younger sibling is let down by the outcomes. While several aspects could influence these results, the disparity in their biological and training ages likely plays a significant role. 

This highlights how individual differences can significantly impact one’s response to an identical training program.

Principle of Specificity

Training adaptations in individuals are tailored to the specific muscle groups being worked, the exercise intensity, its metabolic demands, and particular movements or activities. To master a skill or activity, it’s crucial to practice with correct body mechanics for proper technique. 

For instance, a 100-meter sprinter wouldn’t prepare by jogging three miles at a low pace; instead, they’d focus on short-distance sprints at maximum intensity. This targeted approach ensures that training is efficient and effective for the desired outcome, highlighting the importance of specificity in workout regimens.

Principle of Overload

To achieve specific training goals, it’s essential to push the body beyond its current capabilities by introducing a higher level of stress or resistance than it’s used to. This concept, known as progressive overload, drives improvement through various means such as increasing weight loads, altering terrain, or adding complexity to movements and is very common in hypertrophy training.

For instance, an athlete aiming to enhance their vertical jump needs to focus on boosting strength and power. This can be achieved by incorporating exercises like hang cleans for three sets of five reps each. 

However, the weight chosen must allow for excellent technique at the intended lifting speed. If the selected weight is too heavy and hampers velocity, then the targeted training adaptation won’t be effectively reached.

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Principle of Progression

To consistently improve in a specific activity or skill, it’s crucial to gradually increase the training stimulus. This means finding the right balance and timing for escalating the challenge. 

Overloading too quickly can lead to poor form, incorrect muscle activation, and injuries. Conversely, if the overload is too gradual, there might be little to no improvement. It’s also essential to incorporate rest and recovery into this progression because constant intense training without adequate recovery can cause chronic fatigue, diminished performance, and even injuries. 

Take an athlete at the start of their training regimen as an example: initially managing three sets of ten reps with 135lbs may be challenging. However, as they train regularly and adapt to this load, it becomes easier – signaling a need for increased weight. 

So, the following week they might move up to lifting 145lbs until they can complete all ten reps with proper form again. 

This is referred to as Progressive Overload and this method of progressively overloading muscles is key for enhancing athletic performance and building more muscle mass.

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Principle of Diminishing Returns

Performance improvements are closely linked to an individual’s training experience. Novices to structured training programs can witness substantial initial gains, while seasoned athletes will see smaller increments over more extended periods. 

As one approaches their genetic ceiling, achieving further performance enhancements becomes increasingly challenging. The strategy then shifts to targeting specific weaknesses for improvement. 

For instance, a new athlete embarking on a new training regimen might see their gains soar within the first year. However, as they persist in their training over the next three years, elevating those gains in performance or muscle growth represents a far more remarkable and strenuous achievement compared to the initial gains experienced in year one.

Principle of Reversibility

When an individual stops their training regimen for a prolonged period, they can’t sustain their performance levels. The progress made will gradually revert to the baseline. 

For instance, those who take a break from their workout routines will experience detraining. This decline in performance is directly linked to muscle inactivity leading to atrophy due to lack of use and regular training. 

Essentially, without regular training, muscles weaken and athletic abilities diminish over time.

The principles of training serve as a compass for your decision-making, steering you toward achieving your fitness goals. These guidelines simplify the many potential training strategies you’ll come across by forecasting their effectiveness and direction. 

Additionally, an essential facet of strength and conditioning involves leveraging appropriate training plans in a structured way. By adhering to these principles, you can streamline your focus and enhance the efficiency of your training approach.

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Strength and Conditioning Training Plan Structure

This section delves into the essentials of crafting solid strength training and conditioning programs. It has guidelines that professional strength and conditioning coaches use to effectively prepare athletes to improve performance. 

However, these principles aren’t just for athletes; they can be adapted to anyone’s fitness goals. A well-structured program is crucial for optimal preparation, whether you’re aiming for athletic performance or personal fitness milestones.

Strength and conditioning programs not only enhance athletic performance but also reduce injury risks while instilling solid weightlifting and resistance training fundamentals. 

By building a strong foundation in the fundamentals, athletes are better equipped for more sophisticated strength and conditioning routines down the road, also ensuring they’re well-prepared to elevate their performance safely and effectively.

Structuring Training Programs

Over the past six decades, training theory has evolved and professional coaches use strategic planning known as “periodization”. Periodization breaks down training into distinct phases or “periods,” which are organized in a cyclical manner. 

This structure ensures that various elements of the training regimen are systematically revisited and integrated into an overall system. Most, if not all, legitimate long-term training plans you encounter will utilize periodization.

What is Periodization?

Periodized Training leverages the principles of overload and adaptation. It involves progressively challenging the body, followed by recovery periods, enabling athletes to incrementally enhance their fitness levels over time.

Periodization consists of three types of cycles:

  • A macrocycle refers to your yearly plan or training season as a whole.
  • A mesocycle refers to a particular training block within that annual plan like the strength or agility phase.
  • A microcycle refers to the smallest unit within a mesocycle which is usually 1-3 weeks of training.

By structuring your long-term training plan with specific cycles in mind, you can ensure that you’re building and recovering adequately for optimal adaptation. 

What many fail to do is to stick to their plan, or training at all, which causes them to lose any progress like we mentioned.

Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID Principle) 

The SAID principle is a cornerstone concept in strength training and conditioning, emphasizing that the body adapts specifically to the demands placed upon it.

It can guide you in crafting training programs that send clear signals to your body about how it should adapt, focusing on specific adaptations resulting from targeted exercises. 

Essentially, this principle tells you that for effective development in any area, your training must be meticulously aligned with the exact outcomes you aim to achieve.


Annual Plan/Macrocycle 

The macrocycle encompasses the entire year/season of training, integrating all stages of a periodization plan like the endurance, intensity, agility, competition, and recovery phases, over 52 weeks. This long-term view enables strategic planning for your performance or fitness goals

For instance, if you’re aiming for peak performance for a specific competition or goal one year away, you can pinpoint that on your calendar and build your training plan backward from that date to ensure an optimal approach to meet that goal/event. 

Also, this approach allows for the scheduling of multiple key events throughout the year with plans for reaching peak fitness at each. 

Since it’s such a long time (or is it?), you can expect to adjust your macrocycle as the year progresses to accommodate changes in your life or objectives. This flexibility is crucial in ensuring that your annual training plan remains effective and aligned with your evolving goals.


A mesocycle is a specific training phase within your macrocycle designed to focus on particular goals such as improving strength, endurance, agility, or intensity. These phases can also be tailored for competition or sport-specific preparation. 

Typically lasting 4 to 6 weeks, mesocycles often follow 28-day schedules. For instance, an athlete might adopt a 23/5 pattern in a 28-day mesocycle—this involves engaging in intense training for 23 days followed by a five-day period of recovery and lighter lifting intensity known as a de-load week.

If you’re uncertain about which schedule suits you best, starting with the shorter 21-day cycle is advisable until you feel prepared to tackle the more demanding challenge of the longer cycle. 

However, if fatigue becomes an issue during a longer cycle’s routine consider switching back to the shorter one for additional rest time. You can also learn more about recovery here.


A microcycle represents the shortest planning phase in training, spanning one to a few weeks. It’s during this brief period that we can first observe stable adaptations emerging. 

Generally, it takes around a week of consistent training for the body to start adapting – altering its chemistry, biomechanics, and skills in response to the demands placed on it. This smallest unit of planning is crucial for initiating change and adaptation in an athlete’s regimen.

Training Session

A training session, or workout, kicks off with a warm-up and is followed by sport-specific or strength and conditioning exercises, and wraps up with a cool-down. 

However, one session alone has minimal impact on an athlete’s adaptation. It’s the accumulation of roughly a week’s worth of training sessions (microcycle) that compels the athlete to adjust to new demands. This structured approach ensures gradual improvement and adaptation over time, emphasizing the importance of consistent effort rather than isolated workouts.

Key Thoughts When Starting A Strength and Conditioning Program

So what actually goes into a good strength and conditioning program? That depends on you and your goals.

Are you a serious athlete needing specific guidance or training needs?

Are you an average Joe just looking to improve your overall fitness levels and improve movement?

That being said, what you actually do is very specific to your needs, goals, and limitations but let’s look into the different variables that a functional fitness or strength and conditioning program will include starting with mindset.

A Change of Mindset

It’s time to revolutionize your approach to fitness by embracing a holistic perspective. Forget the outdated method of isolating muscle groups until exhaustion. Instead, envision your body as an interconnected system, functioning seamlessly in unison. 

Consider the elite conditioning of military special forces, tactical police units, and professional athletes. Their rigorous duties demand not just strength but also resilience and endurance — carrying heavy gear for long hours under intense stress necessitates a robust physique capable of withstanding such challenges. 

Shift your focus towards training that encompasses diverse training variables and increased performance levels rather than just larger muscle size (which you’ll achieve as a byproduct anyway). Recognize your body as an integrated unit rather than disjointed parts for this type of training. 

By adopting this comprehensive strategy, you’ll unlock true strength and conditioning with functional fitness that has practical application in preparing yourself for any physical demand so you can perform with agility and power all while improving performance as well as prevent injury by tackling your body’s weak links.

Addressing Weaknesses

In the realm of traditional lifting, several common weaknesses can hinder strength development and overall lift performance. While this list isn’t exhaustive, it highlights key areas that often go overlooked but have a significant impact on enhancing other lifts. 

  • The posterior chain is often frequently neglected. This group includes muscles along the body’s backside – notably the traps, posterior delts, entire back musculature, lumbar region, glutes, and hamstrings. Many lifters tend to focus on what they see in the mirror: chest, biceps, and quads. However, neglecting the posterior chain can lead to imbalances; for instance, overly developed pecs paired with weak lats may cause rounded shoulders. Similarly, underdeveloped hamstrings and glutes can limit quad growth and squat performance. 
  • Overhead pressing is another area where many fall short. Full-range overhead presses are seldom seen in gyms today despite their importance for shoulder stability and strength across various exercises like bench presses and rows. 
  • Core stabilization also suffers due to an overreliance on machines and seated workouts leading to weak core muscles. A robust core is essential for lower back support during heavy lifts. Moreover, limited lower body range of motion—such as performing partial squats—can stunt muscle development since full ranges strengthen muscles more comprehensively. 
  • Unilateral training imbalances are another concern; relying too heavily on machines or bilateral movements can lead to uneven strength distribution across limbs which not only risks injury but could also mean noticeable differences in power from one side to another. Incorporating unilateral exercises helps build balanced strength effectively. 
  • Lastly comes bodyweight training—a skill less common among those who primarily use machine-based workouts including plate-loaded equipment—to develop real-world functional strength requires mastering control over one’s own body weight especially concerning core strengthening exercises. 

Addressing these commonly overlooked aspects of training will provide a more holistic approach to achieving comprehensive strength gains by ensuring no critical muscle group or function gets left behind. That’s why a lot of methods include plyometrics in their programs.

Training Variables For An Effective Functional Strength and Conditioning Program

For your journey towards a functionally fit physique, you’ll engage with several key training variables. While each training session will mostly incorporate all elements, your training will most likely emphasize one specific variable as the primary focus for a given day or mesocycle depending on how you structure your plan.

  • Strength: To build raw strength, you’ll focus on low-rep exercises and compound movements, carefully managing the volume of work for optimal results.
  • Hypertrophy: Some exercises are designed specifically for building muscle mass. By increasing the size of muscle fibers, these moves not only enhance other aspects of your training but also contribute to a more impressive physical appearance.
  • Muscular Endurance: Muscle endurance, a key but frequently underestimated element of fitness, not only enhances functionality but also plays a significant role in promoting fat loss.
  • Power: Efficiently and deliberately moving weights, or your own body weight, is crucial for enhancing performance in various physical activities.
  • Cardiovascular Endurance: Everyone’s favorite part of training😅. While I am a fan of extended cardiovascular performance, you can do less of the usual low-intensity steady-state (LISS) cardio workouts and embrace high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Exercises like the prowler push and hill sprint drills are more effective and intense.
  • Speed and Agility: Boosting your body’s capacity for quick acceleration and incorporating sprint intervals can significantly aid in fat reduction. Improving agility helps you swiftly and precisely change direction, leveraging your body weight effectively. Additionally, it acts as an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise.
  • Prehab: Incorporating dynamic warm-ups, stretching, and foam rolling is crucial for preparing the body for exercise. This not only boosts blood flow and performance but also plays a key role in injury prevention, ensuring long-term physical health.
  • Range of Motion and Flexibility: To enhance flexibility, it’s crucial to incorporate stretching at the end of every workout session and ensure you’re performing each exercise through its full range of motion. This approach maximizes muscle stretch, leading to better contraction and strength gains with fewer injuries.

What Does A Typical Workout Look Like?

While each day will be different depending on the focus area, this is what a typical training day should include for maximal performance and results.

Person Carrying Black Barbell strength and conditioning

Foam Rolling/Mobility Work

Consider dedicating a few minutes to foam rolling or gently massaging key areas like your hips, quads, hamstrings, lats, and shoulders. Additionally, engaging in basic stretches for your hips and glutes can be beneficial in loosening tight spots before you start your workout routine.

Dynamic Warm-Up

Instead of a slow cardio warm-up, opt for a dynamic one before each workout session. Follow this routine to get your body ready for training.

Do each exercise for 1-2 sets with minimal rest:

Deep Bodyweight Squats20
Lying Ab Windshield Wipers10 (each side)
Walking Lunges (long stride)20 paces
Inverted Rows10
Jump Squats10
Side Lunges10 (each side)

Training Session

This will be the bulk of your workout. Your training focus for the day will dictate what you do but an example can be seen in the sample workout below:

ExerciseWarm-Up SetsWork SetsRest (in seconds)
Barbell Deadlift or Barbell Back Squat3×8-124×5120
Seated Leg Curl or Romanian Deadlift1×124×5120
Superset: Inverted or TRX Row & Plyo Push-Up3×10-1560 after each superset
Superset: Incline Bench Dumbbell Press & Wide-Grip Pull-Up2×124×5-860 after each superset
Superset: Hanging Leg Raise & Planks3×15-20 & 20-30 sec for planksNo rest
3-5 mile Jog at a steady pace

Cooldown/Post Training

Ensure you engage in a thorough stretching routine that targets not just the specific muscles used but also stretches all other muscle groups. It will enhance your overall flexibility and provide a solid wind-down time.

If you want a couple of training plans to follow then be sure to tell me where to send them! They are FREE!

Benefits of Functional Strength and Conditioning Training

In a world where physical preparedness, tactical readiness, and resilience are not just options but necessities for men who believe in self-improvement and survival, functional strength and conditioning training stands out as a cornerstone. 

This approach to fitness is about more than just lifting weights or running miles; it’s about preparing your body to handle real-world physical challenges efficiently. Let’s delve into why incorporating functional strength training into your routine can be a game-changer.

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Enhances Real-World Physical Performance

Functional strength training mimics everyday actions while improving your muscle strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. In its simplest form, it focuses on movements that are essential for daily tasks and emergency situations alike—such as lifting heavy objects safely or sprinting to avoid danger. 

By engaging multiple muscle groups simultaneously through compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, and Olympic lifts, you develop practical skills that enhance overall physical performance and movement quality when it matters most.

Promotes Injury Prevention

A crucial aspect of being ready for anything life throws at you is to prevent injuries while training all your body parts for improved performance. 

Functional strength training improves your core stability—the vital foundation for any movement—thus significantly reducing the risk of injuries during both exercise sessions and everyday activities. 

Strengthening joints through full-body movement patterns helps with preventing injury ensuring they can withstand unexpected stresses during survival scenarios or tactical operations.

Another highly beneficial aspect is that this type of training can drastically enhance movement quality in elderly clients since it is movement-based fitness.


Bolsters Mental Toughness & Discipline

Functional training and conditioning benefits extend beyond physical improvements—it also fortifies mental toughness. 

Pushing through challenging workouts builds a mindset that’s equipped to deal with discomforts head-on—a critical trait in high-stress environments whether on the field or facing life’s unpredictable hurdles.

The discipline developed from regular training translates into other areas of life including adherence to preparedness principles.

  • Versatility: These routines can be adapted easily depending on available resources making them perfect even when access to traditional gym equipment might be limited.
  • Economic Efficiency: Many functional workouts need little equipment, offering a cost-effective method for those aiming to stay fit without spending much.
  • Spiritual Alignment: Individuals merging their Christian beliefs with personal growth, especially in health and fitness, discover that tackling challenges not only strengthens the body but also bolsters spiritual resilience kind of relating to what 1 Timothy 4:8 says.

General Health Improvements from Conditioning Training

  • Better heart health: Your ticker gets stronger and happier with regular conditioning sessions.
  • Lung power: Say hello to lungs of steel allowing you to take deeper breaths whether you’re climbing stairs or mountains.
  • Bone density boost: More resistance = tougher bones ready to tackle anything life throws at them (or if you accidentally trip over a rock).

Diving into a robust strength and conditioning program is like giving yourself an upgrade to handle more of what life will throw at you – you’ll see enhanced performance, reduced injuries, and better health overall. Honestly, what’s there not to love about that?

Tailoring one’s workout regime around functionality means every drop of sweat contributes towards building a stronger version capable of not only surviving but thriving in real-life scenarios regardless of what the future holds.

Key Takeaway: 

Strength and conditioning aren’t just gym goals; they’re your ticket to a stronger body, better agility, and an overall health upgrade.

Understanding the Role of Strength and Conditioning Coaches

Not up to taking on all this planning yourself? Strength and conditioning coaches are out there to help you out.

Strength and conditioning coaches are like the unsung heroes behind athletic greatness. Think about it. Every sprint, every last-second goal, there’s a mastermind who’s dedicated themselves to exercise science working in the shadows to make that happen.

Conditioning Coaches Work With Everyone

Strength and conditioning coaches can be found hustling everywhere from high school gyms to professional sports complexes. They work in niche environments to cater to each individual to address their needs from hardcore beasting to elderly client working.

Key Responsibilities and Duties

  • Crafting Champions and Healthier Individuals: A strength and conditioning coach isn’t just designing workouts; they’re fully assessing their clients and sculpting future athletes by focusing on speed, agility, and power.
  • Educating: Part of a conditioning coach’s role lies beyond muscles and sweat and is sharing their knowledge from a hard-earned bachelor’s degree. Proper lifting techniques are only part of their vast expertise.
  • Injury Prevention: A conditioning coach keeps athletes off the bench and regular people able to go to work through careful planning and is highly beneficial to those not sure how to train properly.

To sum up, a strength and conditioning coach plays a pivotal role in molding young talent at a high school or fine-tuning elite athletes. So next time you’re watching your favorite sport remember – someone backstage made sure those athletes were able to perform in top shape.

Key Takeaway: 

Want to look into a strength and conditioning coach? You’re looking at a great opportunity for growth from an expert in the sports science field. See your local gym or visit the NCSA website to find an accredited coach near you.

Wrapping Up Functional Strength and Conditioning With A Cooldown

muscle soreness recovery and muscle growth

After navigating the rugged terrain of strength and conditioning, we find ourselves at a pivotal conclusion, having covered a bird’s eye overview that transcends mere physical exertion—it lays the groundwork for profound development and strength building in both your body, mind, and discipline. 

We’ve dove headfirst into science-backed facts, and emerged on the other side with a clear vision: this isn’t just about pumping iron or clocking miles; it’s about setting a foundation for monumental growth, both physical and mental.

Strength and conditioning is more than just an athlete’s game; it’s everyone’s key to pushing beyond the boundaries they thought were set in stone for themselves.

Benefits? They’re not bonuses; they’re necessities—armor against injury, boosters for performance, and keys to unlock general well-being.

And those program components—the core stability talk wasn’t filler content; it was foundational knowledge critical to building anything worth calling ‘progress’.

We talked about strength and conditioning coaches who don’t just count reps but train the best athletes around as well as the little old lady down the street. Their education will go beyond the textbooks to transform you into an unstoppable force. 

This isn’t where our story ends though; consider this your starting line—a place where ambition meets action. You now hold insights to reshape your reality—one rep at a time. 

Feeling accomplished yet? You should be because today marks the day you begin crafting your success story, step by dedicated step.

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