With the constant evolution of combat sports and the constantly improving skill sets of fighters, strength and conditioning has become an integral component of a fighter’s repertoire for success. Traditional strength and conditioning has consisted of a few sets of bench presses and curls and a jog but research is revolutionizing this component of training. Below are five common frequently seen in regards to strength & conditioning and the accompanying tips may be useful in avoiding injuries and compromised performance.
1. Lack of maximal strength training
The development of maximal strength requires an athlete to train with weights close to their 1 repetition maximum, (doing sets of 1-6 reps with the most weight you can lift with good technique) and taking longer rest periods (2-4 minutes). While combat athletes often like to keep moving, these longer rests are necessary to develop this capacity. Choose a few basic lifts for upper and lower body (squats, deadlifts, lunges, pull ups, presses, etc) to incorporate into your strength & conditioning program.
2. Misapplication of Plyometrics
Plyometrics training will produce increases in speed and power but their implementation into a training program must be done so appropriately. Like maximal strength training, high intensity plyometric exercises require longer rest periods (60 seconds to several minutes) to avoid injury and maintain a high power output. In addition, high impact exercises such as depth jumps are potentially dangerous without careful and progressive development of jumping ability through lower intensity methods. Plyometric training requires a through warm up and the beginning of the workout.
3. Drastic Weight Cuts
While there is no doubt that a proper weight cut can give an athlete an advantage, excessive or poorly planned cuts can hinder an athlete’s ability to perform. Cutting significant weight the day before weigh-ins may actually hurt rather than help. Preferably, weight should be cut gradually with proper diet and reductions in body fat, with the last few pounds coming off at the end.
4. Excessive Non-Specific Cardiovascular Conditioning
It is important to realize that combat sports require explosive anaerobic endurance interspersed with less intense aerobic recovery periods. Developing high levels of aerobic and anaerobic fitness without sacrificing our power can be achieved with various interval-training protocols, higher intensity workloads interspersed with either complete rest or lower intensity exercise. Also, it is important to use conditioning tools that stress both the upper and lower body musculature, to condition the entire body.
5. Always Training the Abdominals Lying Down
While there is definitely a benefit to training abdominals on the floor, especially for ground based fighters, it is also important to do standing core exercises for the greatest carryover to striking, clinching or (standing) grappling situations. Only training your core on the ground will not have the functional carryover to all your athletic needs as a combat athlete. The addition of medicine balls drills, cable & elastic band exercises, standing dumbbell & kettle bell lifts and other upright, core intensive activities will take your functional strength & power to new levels.