Many people want to try and build up strength quickly; consider the options, get strong fast, or get strong slow: which seems more appealing? To increase your ability in strength training you need to perform repetitions in a sufficient amount - enough to allow the body to learn how to perform the exercises in a skillful coordinated way. There is a problem though - if you cannot do many repetitions in the first place, it will take you a lot longer to increase your strength. So how do you get a great enough repetition volume to allow you to get better quicker? Consider ladder training.

1) Ladder Conditioning: The concept of ladder conditioning is quite simple. You start your activity/exercise by doing one repetition, then rest. Follow this by doing two repetitions and rest again. Each time, you increase the exercise by one repetition: the rest intervals should be just enough to allow you to complete the next "rung" of the ladder. When you cannot complete the next rung, rest a few minutes then start from the bottom and try again. This style of training allows you to increase your repetition volume. An example is as follows:

Perform 1 rep of the given exercise
Rest a few seconds
Perform 2 reps of the given exercise
Rest a few seconds
Perform 3 reps of the given exercise
Rest a few seconds
Perform 4 reps of given exercise
Rest a few seconds etc.

"In a normal workout, our neophyte trainee may manage for example an initial set of 7 pull ups, a second set of 5 and a final set of 3 to give him/her a total workout volume of 15 reps. More volume (repeated efforts) is required to improve the skill of the pull up but insufficient strength makes this a difficult task.

Using our previous trainee as an example again, our beginner client manages to ladder up to 5 reps in the first set - giving a rep total for that set of 15 (which is normally the total for their whole work out.)
After 90 seconds rest, they perform ladders again and reach a high of 4 reps - giving a rep total of 10 reps and on their final set managed 3 reps giving a rep total for that set of 6 reps.

So, in total, our trainee will have completed 31 reps of pull ups - 16 reps more than they could normally have achieved!"

2) Horizontal Ladder Conditioning: This is a simple variation of the ladder conditioning that spans a longer time frame; sometimes used for more drastic results for those starting from minimal prior ability. Whereas normally the rungs are spaced within one period, they are in this case spread over an extended time frame. An example of this is a variation on one of the "How to get to X push-ups in Y Weeks!" type workout.

EXAMPLE
Day One: 5 reps every ten minutes for two hours.
Day Two: 10 reps every ten minutes for two hours.
Day Three: 15 reps every ten minutes for two hours.
Day Four: 20 reps every ten minutes for two hours.
Day Five: Rest
Day Six: 20 reps every ten minutes for two hours.
Day Seven: 25 reps every ten minutes for two hours. Etc.

Rest when required, you will know. The day after the rest, do the same number of reps as the previous day. In regular ladder conditioning you would repeat the ladder in multiple sets throughout a time period, increasing the repetition volume each time; this repeats over days and days, gradually building up to reaching the higher rungs. In horizontal ladder training there is a definitive goal; a certain rung to be reached each day.

There are other variations that you can come up with: experiment and have some fun.

1 comments and questions

  1. Patrik // 24/6/09 13:26  

    how do u do Ladder Conditioning?
    I found how to do Horizontal Ladder Conditioning but i didnt find how to do Ladder Conditioning.
    :D