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The essential lessons to conditioning for powerlifting

Posted by Pascal Landshoeft

Jun 9, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Fit brunette using weights machine for legs at the gym.jpeg

The essential lessons to conditioning for powerlifting

More often than not strength athletes find ways to cut the conditioning out of their daily routine me being the first to admit that I am part of that group. You will find some conditioning options in this article which I found most appealing and better suited when I was training for strength after I refocused from marathon running.

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Sprinting is a tool that most powerlifters and strength athletes abhor like the devil does holy water. Still, they can be a good tool to bring overall conditioning and therefore power output up and to the right. I personally ran three marathons and have a decent 10k best of 37 minutes. What I found best when I am strength training were the exercises which came with my Kbands training package. I would usually make that an extra day of training in the week. This would include for example the cone drill workout

Cone Drill workout

  • 4 Corner Drill
  • Forward Shuffle
  • Pro Agility
  • 123 Cone Drill
  • 3 Cone Drill
  • 40 Yard Dash

For the 4 corner drill, you build a box out of cones in which the athlete is placed. The coach will point to the cone to which the athlete must sprint. While doing this, there are no direct turns allowed so if the cone is behind you, you shuffle back. You do 30 seconds of activity followed by 60 - 90 seconds of rest for 6 to 8 sets.

The forward shuffle places 6 to 10 cones as doubles roughly a normal step apart to form 3 to 5 lines. The athlete starts at the top and shuffles from side to side through the gates to end one repetition with a 10-yard dash. This is done for 6 – 8 repetitions with 60 – 90 seconds rest between.

The pro agility drill puts three cones on the ground in a line. The distance between the cone is roughly a man’s length. The athlete starts facing front at the middle cone, then turns to sprint to one cone and then turns again to sprint the full length of the three cones to finish a rep. Same here is 6 – 8 repetitions with 60 – 90 seconds rest in-between.

The 123 cone drill uses the same setup as the pro agility drill. The difference is that the athlete will stay about a steps length from the middle cone away to begin. He always faces front while the coach points to one of the cones and the athlete runs towards it and shuffles backwards to the beginning position.

For the 3 cone drill, you place three cones into an L shape roughly a man’s length apart. The athlete starts from the first cone to sprint to the second to run there to get back to starting position and then from there run around the second cone to the third passing on the inside to make I back in a half circle to the start. This concludes one repetition and again it is 6 – 8 reps with 60 – 90 seconds rest in-between.

40 yard Dash is simple. Run the distance of 40 yards as quick as possible for 6 – 8 reps with 60 – 90 seconds rest. Done.

Jumping rope

The jumping rope is an underestimated tool in strength training but had a recent revival with the surge of the CrossFit craze. I personally like to fit in 100 double under for time into my warm up whenever I can and space in the gym allows it. If you cannot do double unders yet just do regular jumps. The important bit here is to keep moving for the entire 100 repetitions.


The movie cool running shows you that sledging can keep you fit, strong and explosive. The sledge is a great tool to finish the day after a hard lifting workout and I like to go light with a 60kg sledge (20 sledge plus to 20 kg plates) and just run me to the ground. I won’t give you specifics on distances and time as this can vary greatly based on the gym you train in. Just keep running until you feel like puking. Take a minute rest and repeat for 2 – 4 times until you crawl into the locker room to get changed and leave.


Lifting complexes can also be a nice variation to spice things up, although I personally prefer the sprinting options as they make you move your body faster rather than the barbell as you most likely already did that during your main workout. The idea of a complex is that you pick up the barbell with relatively low weight and then perform 10 – 20 reps of a certain exercise without dropping the bar or stopping move on to the next. For example:

  • 10 Back squats
  • 10 Front squats
  • 10 hang cleans
  • 10 shrugs
  • 10 Romanian deadlifts
  • 10 Reverse bicep curls

High Jumps

This is a must if you want to become more explosive. For my warm up I usually do 21 30 - 40-inch hurdle jumps with three hurdles. Depending on the day I put some closer or wider apart, but never so wide that I must walk in-between to get to the next. Three jumps, run back to the start, three jumps and so further for seven rounds. After that, you should have worked up a sweat just from this. I started this exercise with 10 inches less. 


Zou can do whatever you like to get your body moving if you get it moving. Avoid only pushing the bar for years or it is very likely that you will get stiff and less mobile. That increases your injury risk considerable. The few more minutes on mobility and explosiveness pay their weight in gold when you must grind out a repetition or you get into a disadvantageous position in your daily which would hurt you badly if you lack these attributes.

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Topics: Lift stronger