Conditioning is a word that is used a lot in the fitness industry but what does it really mean to have conditioning? There are those that are ripped from strength conditioning, marathon runners have to go through a type of stamina conditioning and then there is the conditioning that is necessary for fighters and martial artists.
Conditioning can come off as this hard core concept of hard work and training to build your body up so it can perform or endure what the sport demands of it.
And it's true.
However, that is not the whole picture of what it means to be a conditioned athlete. Building your body and it's performance potentials is only the outcome associated to having "great conditioning".
The other half of the definition of conditioning is more about the discipline, the standard and the values that you adopt.
"Great conditioning" is the result of adopting and integrating habits, standards and values that slowly, over time changes and transforms the conditions of the body.
Conditioning is not so much about building yourself up but rather more about adopting a specific way of being that will serve you in the long run which is beneficial for the performance and execution of the skills in a given sport or physical activity.
So, how do you integrate a great conditioning ritual? One that will meet your athletic needs based on the sport or physical activity of your choice?
A good place to start is by looking at where your values are placed in your sport. By looking at the components that you already have a natural inclination to favour and value, then you have a platform where you can design for yourself a discipline that you are more than likely to commit to.
If for example you naturally favour cardio, then use that as a base to develop a discipline to condition, not only great cardio but also as a way to condition better form, more strength and greater endurance doing the activity that is the source of cardio. It's also a great way to develop secondary attributes. If, for instance you typically rely on jogging for cardio but you would like to develop another physical skill or work on some upper body, than you might consider cardio boxing. Or you might want to develop better foot co-ordination and do some skip rope.
By focusing on what you already prefer, you are much more likely to build on it and develop a discipline and from a place of discipline is where conditioning can flow from the best.
Also, using discipline is a powerful way to predispose yourself to growth and improvement in a specific skill or attribute. Once you have established a discipline on a particular practice, then it's only a matter of pushing yourself and upping the ante in order to improve and refine that conditioning.
Let me leave with one final thought, and that is, when thinking in terms of the type of conditioning you feel you may need for whatever fitness goal that you have, think about what habits you need to adopt and how you need to be in the process of the training rather than what you need to do to reach and achieve a goal to finally arrive at. Chances are that when you arrive at that goal, in order to maintain it, you will need to sustain the conditioning by maintaining the practice that got you there in the first place.
Conditioning is a process.