Simple 8-Week Barbell and Bike Conditioning Program

TAGS: Plates, Joe Schillero, programming, strength and conditioning, cardio, box squat, bike, bench, strength, deadlift, barbell


There are various times in training where you may want to switch things up and work on improving your overall work capacity and conditioning and address weak points in some ways that differ from how you train normally. This may be after a meet, when you want a break from your normal training specificity, or when you just want to work on feeling like you can do more barbell work without having to stop and catch your breath every five seconds.

There are endless ways to improve your work capacity and conditioning, ranging from simple and boring to complex and creative. Something creative can provide you a nice mental break from your normal training, but get too creative and all of a sudden, your workouts are taking way too long, or the movements aren’t safe to be doing with fatigue.

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I created this simple eight-week program as a way to change things up and push yourself while not being so complicated you have to think about a million things. Sometimes we just need something different and simple to get some momentum going, and my hope is that this program can do that for you (and provide a solid base to go back into a normal training cycle).

Technically, all you need to do the program is a barbell (and plates), an exercise bike (Airdyne is ideal, but any bike will work), a box for squatting, and a bench for lying down on.

For the deadlift conditioning, I personally recommend using a trap bar if you have access to one because it allows you to push more reps with less risk for injury. If you don’t have a trap bar, then I recommend doing sumo deadlifts or just making you’re paying extra close attention to your conventional technique to ensure you don’t start to break down. Following the instructions below should help you do choose weights that will help ensure this.

A couple of considerations for this program:

  • Box squatting: I recommend squatting at parallel or slightly below. Your specific goals can help determine this (remember, this isn’t for pre-competition because of an obvious lack of specificity).
  • Deadlift conditioning: Week 1, start your first set of 5 with an easy weight (RPE 6 out of 10). That way, you can build up with good technique over the course of the eight weeks. Ideally, you’ll be beating your Week 1 through 4 times and/or increasing to around 10 to 12 total sets by the end of the program.
  • Overall considerations for all movements:
    • This program is designed to help build conditioning and work capacity while addressing some common weak points in a simple off-season manner.
    • Follow the RPE instructions and don’t push weights heavier than they are supposed to be. If you follow the program correctly, total fatigue will accumulate, so you’ll want to leave room for progress.
    • Don’t skip movements or cut time, sets, or slack. The totality of work is where the benefit is, so removing things will damage the plan.
    • Be sure to take these eight weeks to focus on recovery (sleep, proper nutrition/fueling, mental health, etc.).

(Click on images below for a clearer view.) 

barbell bike week 1

barbell bike week 2

barbell bike week 3

barbell bike week 4

barbell bike week 5

barbell bike week 6

barbell bike week 7

barbell bike week 8


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