MMA Cardio – Part 4
Last week, we learned in MMA Cardio Part 3 that every fighter’s cardio program should have two basic elements: standard aerobic work and complex training. The question is when should a fighter be doing each of these, how much, and how long? Before we get into that, we have to recognize the fact that fighters should have two different types of training – between camp and during camp.
If you look at other professional sports that have defined competitive seasons, they have different types of (strength and conditioning) programs they use. For instance, take American football. The competitive season starts in early September, and lasts through the end of the year (possibly later depending on how far a team goes into the playoffs). Training camp, preseason, and such starts a few weeks before that – roughly the end of July.
So everything from the end of July until the end of the year would be considered “in-season” for a football player. The rest of the time would be considered “off-season”. As such, a football player would do one type of strength training “off-season” and a different type “in-season”.
This is because a football player has different goals for each time of year. It’s during the “off-season” workouts that a football player would concentrate on getting in better shape. Losing fat or gaining muscle (if need be). Getting stronger. Converting more strength into power. Building more work capacity. Bringing up any physical weaknesses. Doing rehab work for any persistent conditions or injuries.
Toward the end of the “off-season”, a football player would want to start focusing on conditioning and specific energy systems work to finish getting in shape for the season.
During “in-season” training, a football player wouldn’t be concerned with getting stronger or faster or putting on/losing weight. If he hasn’t done it by that point, then he’s too late – it’s not gonna happen. Instead, “in-season” work should be focused on prehab. Injury prevention. Helping players recover between games. Maintaining strength, power, and conditioning built up during the “off-season” for the duration of the season.
The fight game is much different, though. First of all, fighters don’t have a competitive season, and can fight at any time during the year. Also, they don’t have a ‘season’ per se, but rather compete only on one night and that’s it.
More often than not, a fighter’s training camp is looked at as the time in which he not only gets ready for the fight, but gets in shape as well. While some fighters make it a point to stay in shape between camps, many do not. As a result, they end up having a lot of work in front of them during camp.
However, this is the wrong approach.
Remember back to our football example. We said that training camp and preseason was still considered “in-season”. Then take a look at what “in-season” training should accomplish.
Now compare that to fighters. What you see is that fighters end up trying to accomplish “off-season” goals when they should be doing “in-season” training. And this is a bad prescription as “in-season” should be focused totally on fight training (skills work) and augmenting that – not getting into better shape.
A fighter should already be coming into camp in shape, then maintaining that shape during camp, and adapting it specifically to fight skills work.
The biggest reason for this is that S&C work that gets you in shape (as opposed S&C work that has prehab, injury prevention, and maintenance as the goal) is MUCH harder and takes a much bigger toll on the body. It’s harder to recover from physically, meaning the body can be at greater risk of getting hurt. And because it’s more intense, the CNS (central nervous system) takes a bigger beating.
When a fighter combines this with the increased rigors that skills work presents in training camp, you’ve got a potential train wreck on your hand.
That’s why the hardest strength work should actually be done BETWEEN fights – not during camp. Once a fighter gets to camp, they should go into maintenance mode.
Between fight camps is when a fighter should be doing intense complex training 2-3x/week. At the same time, MFD style aerobic cardio should be done another 2-3x/week as well.
Once a fighter gets to camp, complexes should all be but dropped, because of the demand they put on the body. Complexes train a multitude of physical qualities, but those qualities can and will all be maintained via other activities during camp. MFD work can be maintained as long as the intensity of it doesn’t interfere with CNS recovery from all the other work being done. If it is, then simple long, slow, distance roadwork will have to suffice.
Really, a fighter should just be doing a minimal of intense cardio, anyway. If a fighter needs extra cardio work (especially intense cardio work), then more and more of it should be focused on intense skills work – hitting the mitts, heavy bag work, grappling, etc.
This will not only improve a fighter’s skills, but improve cardio as well, as there’s no way to do those activities without getting a significant cardio workout in.
Next week, we’ll take a look at how the ‘regular guy’ would implement all this into a workout if he wasn’t doing any actual fight training right now, but still wanted to be in ‘fighting shape’.
Looking for a program that *real* fighters would do? Want to be in *real* fighting shape? Then contact Wiggy via www.workingclassfitness.com .