Episode # 23

How to Improve Power & Aerobic Endurance Simultaneously

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Released on August 6, 2015

In this weeks episode, Joe sheds some light on how to train for rugby, MMA, soccer and other “mixed” energy system sports.

During the first half of the episode, Joe discusses the different periodization models and the benefits of each. He then reveals how to train for power & aerobic endurance SIMULTANEOUSLY without causing interference or negative effects.

[HINT: It IS possible to improve your power and aerobic endurance….IF you know what you’re doing!]

While listening to the podcast you will learn:

  • The difference between conjugate periodization & linear periodization and the benefits of each
  • Guidelines for when you should use a conjugate model vs. a linear model and vice versa
  • The biggest mistake coaches make when training athletes from “mixed” energy system sports (If you’re doing this, you’re killing your athlete’s gains!)
  • Why you should limit lactic-acid-producing circuits for the majority of your training cycle
  • The most over-looked component of training athletes from mixed energy system sports
  • The reason why aerobic endurance and alactic sprint abilities ARE compatible with each other (The answer may surprise you.)
  • The best way to organize your training week when you need to improve both power & aerobic capacity

All this plus MUCH more! 


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  1. I read numerous articles and watched several videos trying to learn about this, leaving more confused than when I began each time. Thanks for the ‘nerdy’ podcast, really shed a lot of light on the topic. 2 questions I still have:

    What do you consider to be moderate intensity exercise that we need to reduce/avoid in Charlie Francis’ system? Would that be work with bodybuilding parameters?

    Would you classify 12+ rep range as low intensity work?

  2. Every single episode has been such a great listen, but this one is a standout, Joe just makes the energy system topic so much easier to understand.
    Thanks Joe

  3. Hi Joe, I’ve listened to this episode a number of times(it is great!!).

    Using an MMA athlete as an example …in the case of High and Low days, how would one maybe apporach it when the athlete does High strength work in the AM (so here we’d be using ATP-PC and/or the glycolytic systems) and then in the PM of the same day they have sparring at a somewhat high level(which will make use of all 3 energy systems).

    From a recovery point of view, while they may have a 24 hr break between the high strength work, what about the fact the sparring was at a high level . I be inclined to think this would affect the athlete’s overall recovery and may affect their performance come the next high day, possibly they may need more than a 24hr recovery window ??

    In saying that I’d be worried about having High strength work one day followed by High sparring the next day as I’d be concerned about the athlete’s ability to recover overall …maybe

    Would love to hear any thoughts/ opinions on this.

    thanks…lovin the podcasts

  4. It took me a while to catch up to all your podcasts Joe but so worth it! I wanted to know how I could incorporate your “west side for skinny bastards” template with the high low approach, could the repitition day be performed on a “low” day?

  5. Hey Coach,
    First i just wanted to say i love your show and appreciate all the info you are willing to give out. I haven’t missed an episode yet. This show applied really well to the Spartan Super I just ran. When I signed up I was at a loss for how to train for it. Previously I had been doing mostly barbell strength work. And your podcast showed me that I could keep that (at a lower weekly volume) and throw in lower intensity “cardio.” The mix of high and low days allowed me training both energy systems. Come race day I felt fresh enough for all the running and powerful enough for the obstacles. Thanks for the insight! Also I really appreciated the podcast on the Olympic lifts. As a guy who has taken months to learn them, I totally understand that for athletes there are many more efficient ways to train for that explosive power. As my dad would say Keep It Simple Stupid. Take care! -Josh

  6. Hi Joe, this episode was my favorite so far, I really enjoyed how you dove into the fibers a bit more of the topic. The practical knowledge and application makes me want to go test out ideas/concepts on myself and the people I help.


  7. Hi Joe,
    I really enjoyed this one, it’s probably one of my favourite so far (behind Jill Miller’s interview). I’m really glad you did an episode focusing on programming, because I’m always interested to see how different coaches skin that cat. I’ve got every one of your DVDs on my shelf, but I rarely get to hear your thoughts on program-design beyond the fact that you like a Westside template. In fact, if you and Smitty did a DVD just on programming I think there’d be a lot of guys who’d be super interested.

    This episode was actually really good timing for me, because last weekend we had an MMA gym move into our S&C facility, so it looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time working with fighters.
    I completely agree on the point about the majority of strength coaches just turning their session into another 3x5min beatdown. That is the LAST thing a fighter needs, particularly if he’s in camp.

    That’s why I loved your take on Crossfit a few episodes ago. Crossfit always wants to sell itself as the perfect training for athletes, despite the fact that it’s a horrible substitution for a proper S&C program.
    A lot of SOF units were earlier adopters of Crossfit because of the way that they sold it as ‘training for the unknown’. Of course most operators have since dumped it. I was a huge fan of it originally, but what I found out on my first deployment was that although I had the fastest Fran time in my team, I wasn’t actually the fittest where it counted: out on the ground. I talked about this in an article for Zach Even-Esh, where even though combat is more random than most sports, concentrating on the big lifts for strength, jump & medball training for power, and sprints & prowler for conditioning got much better results on my later deployments than perfecting my double-under and bar muscle-up technique.

    Thanks again for everything you do, and P.S loved the upper-back episode.

  8. Joe.
    ?Thanks and congratulations. You are doing an excellent job with your podcast and with your new page. You really know how to keep motivating us in a very unique way and I want to thank you because your program is now a very important part of my week and also of my team. I’m starting as a coach and with every single episode you are helping me to address the most important principles that truly makes the difference from being good and being excellent. I love how you are building every Thursday the foundation of a real and achievable Industrial Strength by incorporating a wide variety of topics that are not allways physical. My favorites were 9, 10 and 22. By far you are the best.
    Greetings from Mexico

  9. Brock in HK,
    I usually keep it simple and go with 180 minus your age. I use that number as the “top end” of the Heart Rate that you don’t want to go over. For example: I’m 40, so 180 – 40 = 140. So if I’m going to train aerobically I try to stay in the 130-140 range.
    As far as DURATION is concerned, that depends on the athlete and the situation…it can range from 15min to an hour. Just remember, your aerobic work does NOT have to be “steady state”. In fact, 99% of the time I prefer the aerobic work to be done interval style, ie, tempo runs or prowler tempos, strength circuits, etc.

  10. Awesome podcast! Very practical, applicable material. Also loved the podcast on training for 40+ dudes.

    Question on the “low” days: what heart rate are you targeting and for how long do you recommend to be in that zone to develop the aerobic base? Is it like a Maffetone type aerobic workout (180 minus age +/-) or do you have other parameters?

  11. Hi Joe, great podcast, really enjoyed it. Would you ever look at doing your Max Effort Upper Body day on a low CNS day? As it is not as stressful on the CNS as sprinting, jumping or lower body lifting.

  12. Excellent show Joe. It helped clear up some questions that I had about energy system training and the conjugate method. Thanks so much for the great info every week. Haven’t missed a show yet since you started!

  13. Cant imagine you calling this a boring podcast… Best one so far! Keep m coming those boring podcasts 🙂

    All the best form the Netherlands

  14. Joe,

    Fantastic podcast. don’t worry about it being “entertaining enough.” The content was on point and extremely enlightening. We all love the information and would prefer that over fitness fluff. Loved the podcast, keep it up!

  15. Great show Joe. What about in season training. For jiujitsu/wrestling, we spar about 4 times a week. How would you organize training around this? There really is no offseason. And do you think lifting 2 times a week is enough?

  16. Joe,
    Once again you delivered complex subject matter in a simple way. You have a gift. If I could follow it any one can! One request can we get George D back on the show soon!!!

  17. Jerome – My answer to your question is “it depends”.
    Sometimes I have my guys sprint before max-effort squats, and sometimes we do our sprints on separate days from our squats. There are many different ways to organize your training. (It all depends on many different factors.) The one thing I want to be clear on is that you do NOT have to do ALL your “high CNS” activities on the same day. You may be incorporating “high CNS stressors” such as sprints, jumps, med ball throws and max-effort lifting into your program – but they do not all have to be performed every “high” day.
    You may like to perform some sprints before you lift. That’s fine. Just make sure you’re keeping the sprints short (10-20 yards/meters) and you’re allowing for full recovery between sets. You also want to keep the sprint volume on the low end if you’re sprinting and lifting in the same session.

    Another option is to separate your sprints and lifting. For example: Monday may be a sprint workout where you don’t do any lifting. (This would still be considered a “high” day.)
    Wednesday may be a max-effort Lower Body lift where you don’t perform any sprints. (This would still be considered a “high” day as well)…

    Hopefully this cleared some things up for you?

  18. Joe, first off I really appreciate you addressing this topic as its something that a) I believe really suits my needs “to always be ready” as a police officer; and b) I’ve been “battling” with the endurance / strength subject for a while – over the past year I’ve change my training a fair bit with a goal of trying out for my forces version of ‘swat’…since tryoutss consist of a very intense obstacle course, max pushups, situps, pullups, fastest 1.5 mile, and plently of other running / endurance stuff, I’ve received advise such as: drop lifting weights and just focus on running and high intensity bodyweight circuits.. but dropping the weights just could not be an option for me. This leads me to my question: do u have a conjugate template that would be suitable to improve both strength and aerobic endurance? I haven’t seen what SB911 looks like, but is that something that could potentially be used with those goals in mind? Or some tweaks to your previous WS4SB templates?? Thanks again for addressing this topic and re-affirming my decision not to stop lifting and just focus on conditioning, and that both can be improved at once!!

  19. Coach great podcast you answered all my questions, and I loved and need more of the nerd cast.

  20. Hey Joe!

    Awesome episode! For what populations or sports would alactic training, like the battle ropes, etc. you mentioned, be good for?

    Maybe this isn’t your wheelhouse, but I’d love your thoughts on training endurance athletes who are also want be healthy, jacked, and strong. Is there a way to combine these 2 goals?

    Thanks for all you do Joe!


  21. Joe – I don’t know how you consistently produce better shows each and every week but I’m sure glad U do!!! Another amazing show on a very interesting topic. U couldn’t have explained this complicated subject any better. I agree with the rest of the comments – keep the nerdy shows coming. I can listen to you talk training all day. Thanks for all U do sir.

  22. I too would love more “nerdy” podcasts from you coach D! This may be the best episode yet. Don’t worry about being too nerdy you are a naturally entertaining gent so your shows will always be entertaining regardless of the content. Case in point – your epic definition of periodization 🙂
    The amount of content your willing to share for free blows my mind every week. For that i thank u.
    Cant wait until next thurs!!

  23. Amazing podcast, there’s plenty information out there on how to train particular energy systems but this is by far the best piece of advice on how to out it together I’ve seen to date. Great info on what athlete’s and coach’s time is best spent.

  24. Great podcast we need more “nerdy” ones just like this.

    My only question involves the “high day CNS training” if I run the conjugate system and it’s max effort lower body day, are you personally having the athletes perform Sprints before max effort Squat? And if so what’s the typical volume.

    Thanks Jerome

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