The Hardest Conditioning Circuit I've Ever Done - The Litvinov Workout

Variations of the Litvinov Workout are the hardest, short duration conditioning circuits I've ever done. What is it you ask? Well, here it is...

Lift a heavy compound movement for multiple reps, then sprint 50-400m. Repeat 2-3 times. Sounds simple right? Go try it. I'll wait.

Brutal, right? Legs feel like sand and lungs are on fire? Same here. Now lets get in to it.

Here's the short history. Sergey Litvinov was a two-time Russian Olympic Medalist. He likely would have won another one, but the Russians boycotted the Olympics in 1984, right in the middle of his prime. Regardless, he still won Gold in 1988 and his Hammer Throw record is 3rd all time.

Dan John, a well-known strength and conditioning coach, specifically in track and field, noted his conditioning methods and in particular, one brutal workout.

8x Front Squat @ 405 lbs., then immediately...

400m Sprint in 75 seconds

Rest, and repeat for three total rounds of this circuit.

From there, this is where Dan John started playing around with variations. Different exercises, different distances, different rep schemes, but the structure of the training session didn't change much. A compound lift for multiple reps, followed by a sprint.

What is a compound lift you ask? A lift that uses multiple muscle groups and joint to perform the exercise. Think any variation of the Squat, Deadlift, Cleans, Push Press, Bench Press, etc.

For the Litvinov workouts, I like to use compound lifts which place a demand on the lower body. I also like to use a heavier weight and higher reps outside of the normal parameters of the traditional strength building set/rep scheme.

Bottom line - your legs on those first few steps of run should feel like you have a small child clutching to both legs.

This conditioning circuit can be modified to just about any non-endurance based sport or profession.

Here are a few examples:

Football/Rugby

  • 4-5 Rounds
  • Heavy Sled Push or Pull for 10m
  • All Out Sprint 50 Yards
  • Walk Back to Sled 

Basketball/Lacrosse

  • 4-5 Rounds
  • 5x Squat Jumps with 25 lbs Dumbbell in each Hand
  • All Out Sprint for Length of Court or Field
  • Jog Back to Start 

Military

  • 4-5 Rounds
  • 10x Buddy Squats (Fireman Carry Position)
  • 15 meter sprint
  • Burpee
  • 15 meter sprint
  • Burpee
  • 15 meter sprint
  • Jog Back to Start and Repeat 4-5 Times

Fire/Rescue

  • 4-5 Rounds
  • 8x Deadlift @ 70% 1RM
  • 2 Story Stair Sprint
  • Walk back down

General Purpose Athlete Conditioning

New or Untrained Athlete

  • 3 Rounds
  • 10x Sandbag Squat
  • 100m Sprint/Hard Run
  • Walk Back to Start 

Moderately Trained Athlete

  • 4 Rounds
  • 8x Back Squat @ 95lbs (Female)/135 lbs. (Male)
  • Sprint 200m (100m Down, 100m back to start point)
  • Rest 30 sec. Repeat 3 times.

Advanced Athlete

  • 5 Rounds
  • 5x Back Squat @ 155 (Female)/225 lbs (Male)
  • Sprint 400m (200m down, 200 back)
  • Rest 30 sec.

The beauty in these workouts is the simplicity. You don't need a bunch of equipment. Just something heavy to lift and some space to sprint.

If you're short on space, you can implement 40ft Shuttle Runs, but start slow with these. Because the lift may make you feel a bit wobbly, the deceleration and cutting can get sloppy - a prime opportunity for injury. Because of this, I highly recommend using straight line running.

Enjoy!

-Charlie