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.



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