Cardio VS Conditioning

Written by LeeAnn Hriniak


September 14, 2021

Cardio Vs Conditioning

You have likely heard both of these terms thrown around and wondered what the difference is and if one is better than the other.

Well, the good news is that there isn’t a huge difference between the two, and the definition of what “better” is for you, will actually be the determining factor in which one you should focus on.

Let’s break down what both really mean.


The term “cardio” is actually short for cardiovascular, which is a system of the body responsible for using blood to transport nutrients and oxygen to all parts of the body and to carry deoxygenated blood back to the lungs.

So, we can categorize any movement patterns that accomplish this can be defined as cardio.

Does it get your heart pumping, lungs breathing, and increase your overall body temperature at all? Cardio. Pretty simple right?


If we look at the word in a simple way, we can say it means to condition. To condition means to have a significant influence on and to bring to a desirable state.

With this in mind, you can technically condition a LOT of different fitness aspects, including your cardiovascular capacity! So it is not that conditioning is necessarily something different than cardio, but a more defined subset of it.

Conditioning was originally introduced as a term for athletes who were using different types of force and tactics to bring their performance to a more desirable state.

You may have thought that specific movements might define the difference between these two terms. There are two specific things that can help you categorize which type of training you are doing: Intensity and Intention


By definition, conditioning holds a desired measurable outcome better than the previous. In its nature, the intensity must increase each time for the outcome to become better. Therefore, conditioning is different from cardio because the intensity matters.

With the goals, objectives and intentions of performance being different, the demand on the body you use to execute movements will be different.


We’ve talked a lot about intention in previous blog posts. To help better understand cardio versus conditioning, understanding what the intention of the movement is can really help.

If your intention is simply to move and stay healthy, this isn’t, by definition, a performance goal where there is an increasing measurable outcome.
On the contrary, if you are working to achieve a specific speed, distance, time, weight combination in any motor pattern, you could define that you are conditioning that pattern.

Now that you understand the slight variation in definitions between cardio and conditioning, you may want to consider altering your exercise routine or training plan to include specific goal oriented conditioning.

Not sure how? Here at NexT, we offer Small Group Training for just that. In order to get a better outcome, we need to be pushed, disciplined and have the consistency necessary to do so. Our Small Group Training service helps you do just that in a fun and safe environment.

Get signed up today!

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