At Freedom Leisure we operate many centres across the UK, and we are super proud that unlike many gyms, our weights areas are used by everyone.

Why? Because we like to encourage all our members, whoever they are, to get involved with Strength & Conditioning training – because it delivers really great results!

While it may once have only been the domain of professional sports men and women this is certainly no longer the case.

Five years ago, you wouldn’t have walked into a leisure centre or mainstream gym and seen strength kit with average gym-goers doing Strength & Conditioning training but now it’s completely standard and according to many, the best way to get a better body!

But we are not saying that Strength & Conditioning is new, completely the opposite in fact – it is deep routed in history and backed by years and years of extensive science, research and practice. However, it only broke through from being the training of elite athletes about ten years ago, trickling down into sport and making it to the gym and general fitness about 3-5 years ago.

So, what is Strength & Conditioning training?

Well as the name suggests it has two elements: Strength and Conditioning.

But first a very brief history to help you understand why….

Back in the 1960s and 1970s sports scientist in the Soviet Union started to develop and practice a more structured and formalised system for the improvement of their athletes and they were way ahead of the rest of the world, realising that to get better at your sport you had to do more than just participate in that sport, i.e. footballers only playing football and runners only running. In the USA the idea of the Strength & Conditioning coaching also started to develop in sports such as American Football and Basketball and both the Soviets, and after them the Americans, realised that getting stronger and fitter enhanced performance on the field or track – kind of obvious now when you think about it but not so much back then!

This practice quickly swept across the professional sports of other nations when they realised how effective it was, with Seb Coe’s trainer (also his dad) being one of the first to start using it in the UK. As an engineer he got it... instead of just running he started his son Strength & Conditioning training because being stronger and fitter made him a better runner. These days, long distance runners like Mo Farah have extensive Strength & Conditioning programmes.

After the pro sports industry adopted Strength & Conditioning training it didn’t take long for the health and fitness industry to understand that actually, lifting weights to become stronger isn’t only about training for specific sports objectives, but that actually it is a really good way of training for the sport of life!

Strength & Conditioning makes the bodies of everyday people stronger, fitter and less injury prone – oh and with one really good side effect … it looks good too!

So back to the ‘what’…

The ‘strength’ element is simply training to get stronger.

In the past lifting weights in a gym was mainly done purely in order to get bigger and as a result tended to be done, in the majority, by men.

However, as the fundamentals of Strength & Conditioning trickled down into the mainstream and the success of new types of workouts such as HIIT, CrossFit and functional training all also made an appearance – the weights area is now no longer the habitat of just big, beefy, muscly men!


And as more people realised that long periods of cardio may not be the best way to lose body fat and improve their body, and that lifting weights needn’t result in them looking like the hulk, women and men are now lifting weights side-by-side.


Strength & Conditioning is simply a great way to improve your body by losing body fat and defining muscle at the same time – without spending hours plodding away on a cross trainer. Strength & Conditioning is about maximum return for your input in a short period of time, with a structured approach to training.


After all, it was originally about time-poor athletes getting the best results possible in a short, off season window - so why shouldn't us mere mortals do the same?

Many women and some men too, used to worry that lifting weights could make them look too muscly but this isn’t the case with Strength & Conditioning.  Focussing on low repetitions at a higher weight builds long-length strength fibres and doesn’t bulk.  Plus, the types of lifts carried out in Strength & Conditioning are large compound lifts such as squats and pull-ups and these types of total-body workouts are nothing like the large volume workouts with multiple exercises per body part which became so popular in gyms due to the influence of bodybuilding.

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with bodybuilding if that’s your goal and doing it will indeed bulk and grow muscles, but this is certainly not the case with Strength & Conditioning training – so worry not.

On to the second element of Strength & Conditioning… ‘Conditioning’.

This is the bit that for sports men and women is about improving your “condition” or your fitness if you like. It meant that not only did they have the strength to help them in the track and field but the condition too, they were fitter and it’s the bit that for everyday people also works nicely to improve health and fitness.

Now that Strength & Conditioning has arrived in gyms and that more people are slowly realising that it is a super-efficient way to change your body fairly quickly, it has inevitably become popular, helping it to become “trendy”, but unlike other trends and fitness fads, we are certain that it is here to stay, and this is why we really want to actively work to encourage all our gym users to give it a try.

If you need any further convincing, here are a few of the key benefits recapped:

  • If you train for performance you will inadvertently drop body fat, increase strength, 'tone' and get more conditioned.
  • Train like an athlete, and you will be on your way to getting that athletic look.
  • It is a really measurable way to train and see progression – if you are lifting more weight on the bar or completing the conditioning quicker, you are getting stronger and fitter. These types of goals are extremely tangible and measurable and are also more motivating, way better than the scales!
  • Your training will have structure and you will be getting the most “bang for your buck”, rather than taking a random approach of generalised gym training.
  • It is about building strength but also resilience and injury prevention.

Finally, it’s not scary, it’s not difficult (well all exercise has to be a little difficult, or else it won’t achieve anything) and it REALLY can be done by absolutely anyone!

Feeling intrigued? Keen to find out more or give Strength & Conditioning a go?

Feeling intrigued? Keen to find out more or give Strength & Conditioning a go?

Simply chat to any of our fitness staff team members and they can help you.