Single and combined modes of conditioning for general fitness.
Training a single mode and combined mode both come with benefits and disadvantages but before making a choice of which to choose I’ll explain the difference. A single mode is either a bike, run, swim, row etc, in other words, you select a single discipline and perform your workout out on that piece of kit. A mixed mode is a combination of anything from, running, lifting weights kettlebell, body weight etc. this is something you are probably a bit more familiar with from the internet, our gym and what's currently on trend at the moment. Both single and combined modes have their good points and bad points and it’s understanding those good points and bad points which will make, making that choice a little bit easier. Firstly Single mode, the benefit to the single mode is that it’s super easy to monitor progression and training zones which you can easily read from a digital display etc. Personally, I prefer single mode, mainly because of the reasons I just mentioned, it’s easy to monitor my pace over a period of time or distance on a single workout, which in turn allows me to monitor progression over an entire programme. The downside is that most people who like a single mode, often do it as a hobby which if you don’t follow a suitable strength training programme can lead to overtraining particular muscle groups, which can turn into a chronic injury. Also, a single mode isn't always that fun and requires a decent amount of self-motivation to get it done especially if the single mode hasn't got a very good workout planned. A good go-to for me is 3 minutes easyish pace then 3 minutes medium and 3 minutes hard then cycle that round again and ideally another time, but I like to get 2 in. The pace is varied which keeps me interested and the leg and lung burn doesn't last too long either so it's a great go-to workout for me.
A combined mode is your circuit style training which has had a current rebranding of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) the benefit to this is, you can choose from a wide range of modes, such as body weight, kettlebells, barbells, running, rowing, skipping etc. It’s a fun way of training and strap a heart rate monitor on you can really monitor training intensity with regards to heart rate, plus you can really add to your skill set in terms of how to handle kettlebells etc, also the choices of what you can do is pretty much endless making workouts more interesting. The downside is that with a combined approach it’s very easy to stick with something you are comfortable with and you need to have an idea of how to actually put a workout together or you can run the risk of really overworking a particular muscle group. An example of this is from a workout from Gym Jones who are the guys behind the cast of 300. They put together a workout that consisted of deadlifts and cleans with the logic one is a powerlifting movement (deadlift) and the other an Olympic movement but failed to realise that both are dominant on the hip hinge meaning the lower back had a lot of work to do!! combine this with high weight and high reps will equal some pretty painful spinal erectors in the days to follow, meaning you can't train as effectively for the next day or so. This example of poor workout design is a risk of a combined mode but is easily avoided by sticking to hip, knee, push, pull, trunk dominant rule which is what we stick too, but I’ll delve into this at a later date.
Ideally a combination of mixed and single is optimal as both can really help the other, the aerobic gains from a single mode can really crossover into combined mode as it’ll allow you to recover quicker between intervals intervals, likewise a mixture of modes can really reduce the risk of overuse and bring some fun into training. If you are currently doing a lot of mixed try adding in some single mode, likewise if you just do single discipline then bring in some mixed. Play around with your ratios too for example out of 3 sessions do 2 single and 1 mixed or 2 mixed and 1 single.
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