Peak performance: benefits of conditioning


Justin Su

Jadan McDermott (11), Norman Garcia (12), and Will Park (12) work out at the weight room. Conditioning is a vital part of an athlete’s training.

by Justin Su, Sports Columnist

For water polo, it’s Tabatas. Tennis? Liners. Basketball? Suicides. Wrestling? The Hallway.

The last half hour of practice that athletes dread the most approaches quickly: conditioning time. It seems so pointless—the sprints and the miles all leave you exhausted.

“Can’t we just work on technique?” your body begs as you follow your coach’s orders and doggedly run laps. Each breath comes out harder than the previous as you think to yourself, “I never have to run this much in actual games. What’s the point of all this running?”

Although athletes know that conditioning exercises are very important, they may not know why. According to the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), the purpose of conditioning is not to mimic game conditions, but rather to work out the muscles so that they do not tear under strain and to reduce the chance of sports injuries. As an athlete’s body is analogous to a machine, conditioning can be compared to maintaining a machine.
As athletes, we can familiarize our bodies with the athletic motions we have to perform during games and loosen our muscles at the same time, significantly decreasing the chances of injury.

The more we practice while we are tired, the better our bodies can perform in a game under those conditions. By practicing while beset by fatigue, we will be more familiar with our bodies’ limits and be ready to perform under those conditions.

We usually find that our performance deteriorates as the game clock ticks down, so being well-conditioned will give us an edge to win by outlasting and outperforming our opponents. I certainly find this to be true, as seeing my opponent more tired gives me the motivation necessary to strike when he is weak. By being in better shape than our opponents, we can demoralize the opposing team. After all, how can they not be disheartened watching us hop, skip and jump when they’re barely able to move themselves.

“Personally I don’t like it, but I believe it is necessary to get better; For football, it is the strongest guy that wins, because a 200 pound guy can destroy a 170 pounder easily, so it’s all about getting bigger, faster, and stronger,” said senior football player Saketh Gurram. “It’s like studying for a test. You want to get a good grade, but you won’t get the good grade unless you study for it. Conditioning is like the studying part of testing.”

Lastly, doing conditioning exercises can help you keep fat off your body as well as help keep your body looking good, as many conditioning exercises are geared toward repetition and burn calories and fat quickly. According to, exercises like circuit training and heavy calisthenics can burn almost 500 calories an hour.

Conditioning exercises are undoubtedly boring and extremely tiring, but the benefits to you as an athlete and to your body is immense. So, next time your coach starts the conditioning drills, turn that frown upside down.

This piece was originally published in the pages of The Winged Post on March 28, 2017.