The Conditioning Chronicles: The Training Lab

With now less than three weeks to go until my first bodybuilding competition of the year, it’s time to step up the conditioning and get shredded! I’ve called in various favours and asked some people in the biz to blast me, beast me and generally put me through my paces.

As you’ll remember from thefitdog’s post last week, I recently visited The Training Lab (run by Andy McKenzie of Ironmac Fitness) as part of an article I’m writing for Muscle & Fitness magazine. I can’t say too much about the whys and wherefores of the article yet, but I can report back on the session, which most definitely makes it into the conditioning chronicles. In fact, Andy felt that I hadn’t been able to work hard enough on the day of the magazine shoot (due to stops and starts for photos) so invited me back again to experience the session as it was meant to be done…. start to finish, with no stops, no photos, no baby oil and no makeup!

(These photos, however, are from the day of the shoot, in case you think I am in the habit of wearing a full face of make up and a salon tan for everyday training!)

The session was structured by:

– mobilisation and movement prep
– jumps and plyo work
– strength work supersetted with cardio intervals
– a push/pull circuit finisher


And here’s why Andy created it that way. The mobilisation and movement prep is crucial, for obvious reasons. Every training session we do should make us move a little better (whether in our athletic endeavours or in everyday life) and preparing properly by mobilising, strengthening and stabilising the big joints including the hips, shoulders and ankles will allow us to do this.


Jumps and plyo work was done firstly with a 10kg weighted vest (to prepare the movement) and then without the vest (to do the full movement). This approach gradually loads the joints, and once you remove the vest you’ll move faster and develop the neurological system more. It’s a good way to do things if you’re tight for time. Jumps and plyos excite the nervous system and encourage muscular co-ordination. (Vest from Wolverson by the way – who I can highly recommend for all sorts of kit)


The combination of classic strength moves (we did front squats) and cardio intervals (we used a Wattbike for sprints) is a great way to ensure your session works on muscular development and strength but also has a strong cardio benefit (really elevating the heart rate) and encourages a good hormonal response.


Finally, that push/pull circuit allows you to really max out on the effort (it shouldn’t exceed six minutes), crank up the intensity, increase release of growth hormone levels and work harder, achieving more in less time!

Here’s how it went down. It should be noted that, whilst I personally wasn’t sick on the floor, my dog was. Sorry Andy! (Thankfully he’s a dog-lover, although possibly not so enamoured of my actual dog right now!) If you want an explanation of any of the moves, just ask – happy to go into more detail in the comments section…

– mobilisation and movement prep (repeat circuit x 3)
Rear band-pulls
Band rainbows
Band dislocates (much less painful than they sound, in fact I love these now!)
Body weight squats
Reverse lunges
Clock press-ups
“Sternum” pull ups (ie the first element of a pull up, with straight arms)

– jumps and plyo work (this circuit x 3)
“load and explode” jumps with vest on (x 6)
then vest off, and jump over 3 hurdles (there and back)
then straight into 2 minutes Ski-Erg work at 20 seconds effort, 20 seconds rest

– strength work supersetted with cardio intervals (can’t remember how many times – x3 I think!)
Front squat (at about 60% of max) x 8 reps
then straight onto the Wattbike for 2 minutes at 20 seconds effort, 20 seconds rest

– a push/pull circuit finisher
bent-over row using the glute-ham raise (don’t try this unsupervised – or with baby oil all over your knees…. !)
ring dips

Verdict: phew! A really challenging mixture of strength, power, cardio… and elements which pushed me right out of my comfort zone (the jumps and hurdles!)

Thank you Andy and The Training Lab! You can follow Andy on Twitter here and The Training Lab on Facebook here.

The Conditioning Chronicles: The Training Lab is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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