Joint-Friendly Conditioning, Part 2: A Few Examples

In Part I I briefly discussed how the majority of conditioning programs people undergo – be it for fat loss or athletic performance – often aren’t the most “joint-friendly” by nature and have the potential to provide an unfortunately high risk:reward ratio.

As a quick recap, here are two lists (albeit noninclusive lists) one has for improving their aerobic or anaerobic energy systems, that will be much more joint-friendly and reduce the risk of injury during the process :

Beginner —> Intermediate

1) Loaded Carries
2) Sled Pushing/Pulling/Dragging
3) Jumping Jacks
4) Medicine Ball Work (primarily in the sagittal plane to start)
5) Airdyne Bike
6) Low-Level + Low-Repetition Bodyweight Drills
7) Dynamic Mobility Work

 Intermediate —> Advanced

1) Loaded Carries
2) Sled Pushing/Pulling/Dragging
3) Jumping Jacks
4) Medicine Ball Work (all planes of motion)
5) Airdyne Bike
6) Low-level + low-repetition bodyweight drills
7) Dynamic mobility work
8 ) Crawls
9) KB Swings
10) Burpees. Maybe.
11) Sledge Swings
12)  Hill Sprints
13)  Jump Rope
14) BB & KB Complexes
15) Low-Load Push/Pull/Hinge/Squat Patterns

Here are just a few examples on how one could utilize these options to create a sound conditioning workout.

Cardiac Output Circuits

These will improve your aerobic system by augmenting how much blood your heart can pump with each beat. The end result will be a lower resting heart rate (strong indicator of your overall “fitness”) and greater efficiency of your cardiovascular system in general.

Perform the following in circuit fashion, keeping your heart rate roughly in the 120-150bpm range. Many people like to get way too crazy with these and push their heart rates through the roof (due to all the rage of high intensity training). Resist this urge, and take a moment to rest if your heart rate shoots above the desired range.

Pick one circuit and perform it for anywhere from 25-60 minutes.

Cardiac Output Circuit #1 (Day 1)

A1) SA KB (or DB) Suitcase Carry x :45/side
A2) Bear Crawl x 30-40yds
A3)  BW Pushup x10
A4) Hands-elevated Yoga Plex x4/side
A5) BW Split Squat x8/side
A6) Walking Spiderman w/OH Reach to Hip Lift
A7) Jumping Jacks x25
A8) Medicine Ball Overhead Slam x8-12

Cardiac Output Circuit #2 (Day 2)

A1) KB (or DB) Goblet Carry x :45
A2) KB Swing x10
A3) TRX Inverted Row x8-10
A4) Tiger Crawl x20-40yds
A5) Prowler Backward Drag x30-40yds
A6) SA KB Bottom-Up Overhead Carry x20yds/side
A7) Medicine Ball Facing Side Throw x8/side
A8) Sledge Swings into Tire x8/side

As you can see, the sky is the limit with what you can do with these. Extremely effective, versatile, fun, and, most importantly, easy on the joints. Ideally these would be performed on “off days,” or roughly 5-8 hours outside of your normal resistance training window.

These will do wonders for helping your body’s ability to dissipate delayed-onset muscle soreness, improving insulin sensitivity and capillary density (thus promoting blood flow and nutrient delivery), enhancing general physical preparedness, and aiding your psychological well-being to boot.

For those who simply hate dedicating anything more than ten minutes to conditioning, you could do something as simple as adding a “finisher” to the end of your weight training session. Pick 3-4 exercises, say, SA KB Racked Carry (x :30/side), Medicine Ball Cyclone Slam (x8/side), Sled Push (x30yds) and Jumping Jacks (x25) and do 2-4 rounds of it.

These won’t have the same effect as the cardiac output methods listed above, but hey, something is better than nothing right.

And that’s it. This is really just the tip of the iceberg regarding conditioning, but hopefully it at least gets you started thinking about ways you can achieve that “cardio” effect without having to bang your joints on a run or some crazy jumping fest.