Mixed distance shuttle runs are a great way to improve your conditioning level.  If done properly, they can be much more efficient and effective than other kinds of cardiovascular training, and certainly are better than distance running, jogging or any kind of machine-based cardio.

Mixed distance shuttle runs should be an integral part of any team sport athlete’s training regimen, but the rest of us can benefit from utilizing this method of training, as well.  Rather than repeatedly running fixed distance shuttles, for instance a 60-yard shuttle utilizing a 15-yard course completed 4 times, a mixed distance shuttle workout consists of shuttles of different distances in the same workout.

A few weeks ago I posted an item about a 120-yard run.  Mixed distance shuttles are a great compliment to the 120-yard run workout.

Don’t try this workout if you haven’t been sprinting, running shuttles or doing agility drills, as it is a challenging high-intensity workout.  You have to be able to run at full effort for the duration of the shuttle, not just stroll or trot.  If you don’t run the shuttle at full – okay I’ll cut you a break – or near full effort, you won’t be getting the most out of the workout.  Now, I am prone to a bit of exaggeration and over-emphasize certain elements to get my point across, but it really is for your own good. I will admit that you can get a lot out of this workout if you start working at a substantially-less-than-full effort, but I admit to this only if you promise to progress and push yourself as you the workout gets easier.

Okay, so here’s your basic mixed distance shuttle run workout, 12 shuttles and a 1000-yard total distance.  Remember it’s a shuttle run, so you run the distance up and back to complete one shuttle. I’ve put the total yards run per shuttle in parenthesis for you.

  • Run 10 (20y), 20 (40y), 30 (60y), 40 (80y) yards, for a total of 200 yards.
  • Run 10 (20y), 15 (30y), 25 (50y), 40 (80y), 60 (120y) for a total of 300 yards.
  • Run 70 (140y), 80 (160y) 100 (200y) for a total of 500 yards.

Just as important as working hard, it’s vital that you have proper rest periods in between shuttles.  In the business we call it the “work-to-rest ratio,” and we determine the appropriate rest in response to a given effort.  More precisely, for every second of work¸ there is an appropriate amount of rest.  For beginners trying the mixed distance shuttle run workout for the first time, the work to rest ratio should be as high as 1:8.

For the sports teams and competitive athletes that I work with the ratio can be as low as 1:3.  For regular folks like you and me, completing this workout with a 1:5 work-to-rest is great, providing the work is done at full to near-full effort.  Jogging 20-yards and back in 12 seconds and resting for a minute before continuing doesn’t cut it.

This workout can serve as the starting point for you and you can make up your own shuttle combinations.  Mix the distances up in any way you wish and even use a mixed work-to-rest ratio, as well.  For the shorter shuttle you can use a lower work-to-rest and use a higher ratio for the longer shuttles.  There is no limit to the ways you can used mixed distance shuttle runs to improve your fitness and capability level.

After you’ve completed the first level of the HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com Conditioning Gauntlet for men, give level 2 a try.

If you’ve been around the site you should know that I don’t care if how much someone can bench press or if they do Zottman curls. The scale can’t measure a person’s fitness level and weight loss isn’t an indication of improvement of any kind.  Performance and capability rules the day and is what matters when measuring the success of a fitness program and a person’s progress.

I have developed a “Conditioning Gauntlet” that I use with clients and kids on the teams I coach, and have guidelines for both men and women.  The Gauntlet is split into 2 sections.  The first section consists of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, 60-yard shuttle runs and the broad jump and the second section consists of the split jerk, squat, military press, dead lift and snatch.

There are no body building exercises – did I mention that Zottman curls don’t matter? – and as a matter of fact, there aren’t any weight lifting exercises.

There are 2 levels for each section that reflect difficulty and conditioning level.

Here’s level 2 of the HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com Conditioning Gauntlet for men.

  • Pull-ups – 1 set of 15 repetitions
  • Push-ups – 1 set of 75 repetitions
  • Sit-ups – 1 set of 70 repetitions
  • Broad jump – 9 feet (best of 3 jumps)
  • 60-yard shuttle runs – complete 12 in 12 seconds (or under) each taking 48 seconds rest in between shuttles

If you can do any one of these tasks you’re probably in pretty good shape, especially the shuttle runs.  However, being able complete these level 2 tasks consecutively, means you are in fantastic shape.

Just as you would do before any training session, allow plenty of time to warm up.  Do a set of each “event” and give yourself no more than 3-minutes in between exercises before running the Gauntlet.  You cannot try to complete this test until you have worked on these events and completed level 1 of the Gauntlet.  The shuttle runs alone are much more than most people can handle.

Level 2 of the HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com Conditioning Gauntlet for men provides an accurate measure of your fitness level and anyone who can complete this test is in fantastic shape, no matter what the numbers on the scale say.

If you make exercise a regular part of your daily routine it’s only natural that you’d want to continue to do so. However, use the occasion of getting away from home as an opportunity to change your exercise routine.

When you spend a lot of time exercising – at a gym, at home, distance running or biking – use vacation as a time to throw yourself a change up and do something different.  Our bodies adapt to stimulus quite easily, so to use a completely different exercise program for a week or two is a great way to avoid mental and physical training plateaus.

At the beach, leave your sneakers and distance running mentality at home, and do sprints and/or shuttle runs barefoot in the sand.  Throw in some calisthenics and you have an almost endless supply of vacation workout options.  If possible, take a pair of dumbbells or two, a Kettlebell or other piece of training gear and mix a few basic exercises in with sprint/agility drills on the sand, and you’ll probably get a better workout than you are used to.

The key is to stay out of the gym, whether you’re going to a rental house or resort, take a break from the indoor, traditional structured workouts whenever possible.  Certainly there’s nothing wrong with exercising while on vacation, and looking forward to doing so, but don’t let exercise dominate your plans while vacationing.

Taking time off from regular exercise when healthy is a good thing and in the long run helps progress and is important for recovery.  Time off from exercise because of an illness or injury does not offer the same benefits.  If you don’t take a break from training a couple of times per year you’ll have a greater chance of suffering from overtraining syndrome, mental burn-out or injury, which sets you back.

Well-timed breaks from your regular exercise routine will not set you back, but will help you progress.  So next time you go on vacation, give your regular workout routine a vacation, as well.

Level 2 of the HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com Conditioning Gauntlet can serve as a real challenge for even the fittest women.

Last month I posted an item detailing the first level of a conditioning test that I use with both my athletes and regular clients. If you’ve tried it and aced it, or looked at it and thought it was too easy for you, level 2 of the gauntlet is worth of your consideration.

Regular visitors to the site should know I don’t believe in using the scale as a measure of a person’s fitness and don’t care how much someone weighs. Weight loss is a bogus way to measure “improvements” in a person’s fitness level.

For professional or college athletes, competitive weekend warriors or gym rats performance and capability is what rules the day and is all that matters when measuring the success of a fitness program.

The “Conditioning Gauntlet” I use with my clients and kids on my team is split into 2 sections; the section one consists of pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, 60-yard shuttle runs and the broad jump, the section two consists of the split jerk, squat, military press, dead lift and snatch.

I use different guidelines for men and women, and there are 2 levels for each section that reflect difficulty and conditioning level.

Here’s level 2 of the HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com Conditioning Gauntlet for women.

  • Pull-ups – 1 set of 7 repetitions
  • Push-ups – 1 set of 40 repetitions
  • Sit-ups – 1 set of 65 repetitions
  • Broad jump – 7 feet, 8 inches (best of 3 jumps)
  • 60-yard shuttle runs – complete 12 in 14 seconds (or under) each taking 46 seconds rest in between shuttles

No doubt about it, if you are able to perform any of these tasks you are in very good shape.  However, anyone woman, of any age, who can complete these tasks consecutively, is in phenomenal shape, and can be considered a stud!

If you’ve taken a shot at the first level you know how you need to prepare; allow plenty of time for a general warm up, do an abbreviated set of each “event” and give yourself no more than 3-minutes in between exercises.

And please do not try to complete this test if you haven’t completed the first level of the gauntlet and until you have actually worked on these events.  The shuttle runs aren’t for newbies – even for people who do regular cardiovascular exercise.  Unless you’ve worked on running full-effort shuttles you should not try this test.

The HealthAndFitnessAdvice.com Conditioning Gauntlet provides an accurate measure of your fitness level and if you can complete this test – regardless of what the scale says – you are in top-level shape.

Shuttle runs are a great method of high-intensity cardiovascular exercise and are the most efficient and effective way to improve your fitness level.

For years athletes have been using shuttle runs to improve their conditioning level, as this kind of conditioning reproduces conditions that athletes contend with during competition.  Regardless of what sport you play, and especially if you aren’t active in athletics, shuttle runs give you the most bang for your exercise buck.

Shuttle runs can be performed just about anyplace providing you have at least a 10-12 yard area of relatively flat, even space.  These conditioning drills can be done inside, in your yard, at the beach, on a basketball court and – of course – on a lined field.  I’ve done them in hallways in schools, at the water’s edge by the ocean, on tennis courts and in my backyard, driveway and the street in front of my house.

The set-up is simple; pace of 8-15-yards and mark the area so you are aware of the start and finish line.  You don’t need to use cones, especially if you are doing the shuttles on a lined field, but can use anything from sticks, to disposable drinking cups and lines in the sand.

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To perform the shuttles you sprint to each line, making sure one of your feet gets to the “line,” and use a side-shuffle step to change directions. Complete 4 “laps” of this course.  So if you’ve paced off 15-yards, run this course 4 times and you will have covered 60-yards. You don’t want to run past the line, slow down too early or get to the line and have to stop and completely turn around in order to change directions.

For as long as it takes you to complete the shuttle, your rest period should be 3 times as long.  So if it takes you 15-seconds to complete a 60-yard shuttle (a pretty good time if you’ve never done this before) you can rest for 45-seconds before starting your next set.  Following this formula, you can get a complete cardiovascular workout completed in 8-10 minutes.

Shuttle runs are a versatile, effective and efficient method of cardiovascular training that everyone can take advantage of.