by Geoffrey Chiu
Author The S&C Handbook for Combat Sports
With the growth of fight organizations such as the UFC and One Championship, MMA and other combat sports are evolving as fast as ever. Many athletes are looking to become the next big thing in fight sports, becoming the best martial artist and athlete they can be.
As combat sports evolve, so must strength and conditioning training to adapt to the needs of the athletes: chaotic schedules, frequent injuries and fatigue/career burn out. How we manage these as S&C coaches will make or break the fighter. Dedicated strength & conditioning training extremely important for fighters, it keeps them strong, powerful, robust, well-conditioned and injury-free.
Here are 7 tried-and-trusted tips you can implement to your to make your workouts for MMA, boxing, BJJ and Muay Thai more effective.
- To better track recovery, use both objective and subjective measurements. Objective data like morning rest heart rate and subjective data such as rate of perceived exertion used in conjunction will give you a more holistic picture of recovery outside of the gym.
- Avoid training in “No Man’s Land” such as CrossFit workouts and metabolic conditioning circuits. This type of training has no real direction and may take away energy from that fighter that could be better spent on skills training and technique development.
- When it comes to decreasing risk of injuries, improving shoulder health and strength for combat sport athletes. Utilize closed-chain pushing exercises like weighted push-ups and barbell overhead presses that allow the scapula to move freely. Not only do my fighters less front shoulder pain, they see improvements in grappling and striking performance overtime.
- Most of the time, training sessions can be categorized as “high” or “low” sessions. High sessions take 48-72 hours to recover from, while low sessions take around 24 hours to recover from. This knowledge can be used to refine any athlete’s weekly training schedule.
- A fighter’s individual style should be considered when developing an S&C program. However, ensure that you are preparing them for the sport’s demands before addressing the details of their individual needs. Check for normative data to see how their strength and endurance stack up to athletes of the same level.
- Alongside volume and intensity, cognitive load can also be considered when assessing the impact or demands of a training session. Cognitive load refers to the amount of mental information the athlete is processing. This load increases if the incoming information is complex, novel and/or unpredictable.
- To create more effective and reliable programs, most of your training regimen should consist of exercises that build the capacities of your athlete. Basic single and multi-joint exercises to keep the fighter healthy and strong for all scenarios and conditioning protocols to improve their aerobic energy system that will transfer to all facets of their fight-endurance.
And there you have it, 7 tips that you can implement right away to your combat sports training sessions and programming to improve performance. Good news for you, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of more training methodologies and philosophies you can use to enhance the way you train and plan combat sports training.
In fact, I’ve written a trusty ebook on this exact topic.
“The Strength & Conditioning Handbook for Combat Sports” is a valuable resource that includes 10 chapters packed full of proven methods and strategies to help coaches & athletes build more effective workouts. Here are what some industry professionals have to say:
“This ebook is a great starting point for skills coaches, S&C coaches and athletes looking to make sense of a clouded industry” – Chris Miah, Professional MMA fighter, S&C Coach.
“ I think Geoffrey has done a really good job of collecting relevant information and breaking it down! Geoffrey lays down the blueprint of actual applicable information for both a coach and a fighter!” – Andrew Hardwick, BJJ Competitor, S&C Coach
“If you are a novice coach wanting to work with combat athletes, a martial arts head coach or an experienced S&C coach, this handbook is a brilliant resource that offers genuine value for money” – Daniel Iaciofano, Combat Sports S&C Coach to Professional Boxers & Olympic Level Grapplers