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Aerobic Conditioning for the Tactical Athlete

Kosta Telegadas
Sep 14, 2023

Aerobic conditioning is an essential aspect of any fitness routine. It helps improve cardiovascular health, endurance, and overall fitness levels. There are various methods to incorporate aerobic conditioning into your workouts, but in this article, we will focus on five of the most popular ones: LSD, AMRAPs, EMOMs, RFT, and Interval training. Specifically, we'll discuss how coaches can incorporate these into the tactical setting. 


LSD, or Long Slow Distance, is a training method by which the aerobic capacity is built by challenging the body’s aerobic energy systems. This training mainly focuses on methods such as running, biking, rowing, skiing, etc. Most aerobic adaptations made will be made in Zone 2 and Zone 3 heart rate zones. This is due to the ability to sustain longer bouts of effort ranging from 15-30 minutes depending on fitness level.



Training Benefit


50% – 60%

Warmup / Recovery


60% – 70%

Base Fitness


70% – 80%

Aerobic Endurance


80% – 90%

Anaerobic Capacity


90% – 100%

Speed Training



AMRAP, or As Many Rounds As Possible, is another effective aerobic conditioning method. With AMRAPs, you set a specific time limit and aim to complete as many rounds of a given exercise or circuit as possible within that time frame. AMRAPs are fantastic for building endurance and pushing your limits. They allow you to track your progress over time by comparing the number of rounds completed in each session.


EMOM, or Every Minute on the Minute, is a training method that involves performing a specific exercise or set of exercises at the start of every minute for a predetermined duration. This method challenges both your cardiovascular endurance and your ability to recover quickly between sets. EMOMs are great for improving aerobic capacity and can be adapted to suit different fitness levels by adjusting the exercise difficulty or the number of repetitions.


RFT, or Rounds for Time, is a method where you perform a specific number of rounds of a workout as quickly as possible. The goal is to complete the workout in the shortest amount of time while maintaining proper form. Your objective is to complete all 5 rounds as fast as you can. RFT workouts are intense and require a high level of cardiovascular fitness. They are excellent for improving speed, endurance, and mental toughness.

Interval Training

Interval Training, also known as interval cardio is a training method that alternates between periods of high-intensity exercise and periods of active recovery. It is a popular and effective way to improve cardiovascular fitness, burn calories, and boost metabolism. The basic principle of cardio interval training is to perform short bursts of intense exercise, pushing your heart rate close to its maximum capacity, followed by active recovery periods where you lower the intensity to allow your heart rate to come down before the next high-intensity interval. For this article, we are looking at the most intensive variations with a higher load. A great example would be loading up a sled and pushing it for a distance on a turf field detailed in the examples later in this article.

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Which Methods Are More Intensive?

Ranking the 5 methods from least intensive to most intensive:

  1. Interval training (Most intensive)
  2. Rounds for time
  3. Every minute of the minute
  4. As many Rounds as possible
  5. Long slow distance (Least intensive)

These rankings help coaches pair more intensive aerobic conditioning with days that have increased intensity relative to the phase of training the tactical athletes are in.

The rankings are determined by the amount of intensity that can be utilized and the duration of time that the movements can be utilized before needing rest. Please note that there are many ways to program each of the methods so that said method can be ranked as more intense. However, my athletes have always gotten the best results by following this structure of most intensive vs least intensive.

Examples of Each Method

Example 1: Long Slow Distance (LSD) – 20 minutes, Zone 2 - Zone 3 cardio, Assault Bike

Example 2: As Many Rounds As Possible (AMRAP) - 15 minutes total

Movement 1: 5 push-ups to row

Movement 2: 10 Walking Lunges (5 on each leg)

Movement 3: 30-sec plank

Movement 4: 10 cal ski erg

Example 3: Every Minute on the Minute- 16 minutes total

Minute 1: 8 KB Swings

Minutes 2: 10 Lat Pulldowns

Minute 3: 10 Cal Assault bike

Minute 4: 10 Cal Rower

Repeat the circuit 4 times for a total of 16 minutes 

Example 4: Rounds For Time (RFT) - 5 rounds for time

Complete 10 box jumps, 10 push-ups, 10 sled explosive rows, and 10 ski cal

Example 5: Cardio Intervals

Sled Push – 30 sec on/30 sec off x 8 rounds

Coaching Note:

By incorporating these different methods into your training routine, you can keep your workouts challenging and exciting while improving your aerobic capacity. Remember to start with appropriate difficulty levels and gradually increase the intensity as your fitness improves.


In summary, aerobic conditioning is crucial for overall fitness, and there are various methods to incorporate it into your workouts. LSD, EMOMs, AMRAPs, RFT, & Cardio Intervals are five effective and popular methods that can help improve your cardiovascular endurance. By understanding and utilizing these methods, you can take your tactical conditioning to new heights. Please use these methods so you can stay ready for the mission at hand instead of having to get ready!

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