7 Tips to Becoming a Better Fighter

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Helio Gracie

Longevity is the most important thing.

Even more important than scores, times, weights, and competitions?

Yup, because if you’re injured, broken and battered, you’re out.

Finding a healthy balance in your training schedule will help you grow faster, avoid pitfalls and become a better athlete.  Below are 7 tips that will help you train more efficiently and avoid common mistakes.  Read them, discuss with your coaches, create a schedule, stick to it, and you will blow past the competition over time.

Train once or twice per day

Make a plan of attack and stick to it.  MMA requires a variety of skills and I watch athletes bounce from gym to gym all week, trying to solidify their skills.  Although I respect their willingness to learn, training more than twice per day almost always leads to injury, over training or burn out.  Your body and mind can only handle so much, so you must find a healthy balance in your training that allows you to be consistent over time.

If you train 2Xs per day, 6 days per week, 48 weeks out of the year, you will have done 576 sessions!

That’s basically 4 focused, 12 week bursts of effort, with a week off afterwards.

mma fighter

 

Maybe you fought, competed or simply took a vacation.

576 sessions will improve any fighter’s skill, strength and conditioning and the week off will help you mentally and physically.

Plus, you’ll have 4 mini vacations that you can look forward to every year!

Unfortunately, many fighters train too much and believe that more is better.

They will train 3 or 4 times per day, they eat poorly, don’t get enough sleep and grind themselves into exhaustion.  From my experience, this usually leads to them getting sick, struggling with injuries, and becoming inconsistent.  This hurts them mentally and physically.

Stick to a realistic workout schedule…training 1-2 times per day.

You will be more alert, absorb more during practice, perform at a higher level and stay consistent for longer periods of time.

Performance Ranch

Control and Measure the Intensity and Volume of Each Session

While this may be common knowledge to some, this is one of the most common and abused mistakes that I see regularly.  Guys want to train hard, I get it.  But none of us are invincible.  Planning and using appropriate intensities throughout the week is essential, if you want to improve.

Here are some basic guidelines…

High Intensity Activities (sparring, sprinting, heavy lifts) should be done in short duration.

Low Intensity Activities (drilling, movement, road work, etc) can be done for longer periods of time.

The reason why this is so important, is so our bodies can keep up.  Spar everyday, lift heavy, sprint, do plyometrics…if this is all you do, and you have a “more is better” mentality, odds are you will end up broken. We can eat right, sleep, take the right supplements, and use recovery techniques, but if training volume and intensity are out of whack, the athlete will suffer.

Keep it simple.  Work hard, rest, repeat.

mma fighter

 

Warm up

How many guys do you know that consistently show up late?  Showing up late usually means that they miss warming up and jump right into the fire.

While warming up isn’t always the most exciting part of a workout, it is one of the most important.  A good warm up prepares the body and mind for the work it is about to do.  Stiff joints and muscles loosen up, capillaries and lungs open, body temperature increases and more.  These things might seem insignificant, but they will increase performance and decrease the chances of stupid injuries.

We typically spend 5-10 minutes foam rolling or similar. 5-10 minutes dynamic warm up, moving and opening up the body.  5-10 minutes getting the heart rate up (crawling, running, speed ladders, etc)

breathing drillBreath deeply everyday

Breathing correctly is often overlooked, but proper breathing can make you stronger, increase stamina and reduce stress faster than anything.  Bruce Lee, Rickson Gracie and most other elite martial artists use breath as a foundation for the rest of their movement.  Some techniques help prepare your body for battle, while others calm the mind and reduce the heart rate.  While it may seem weird to some, I believe that this can be a valuable piece of an athletes training schedule.  Perfect to use during training, between sessions, in the morning, at night or on off days.  Check out this article, from our friends at Innovative Results:

11 Breathing Techniques to Help Reduce Stress, Clam Your Mind and Relax Your Body

Eat Good Quality Food

Food is fuel.  It can nourish our bodies or it can also be poison.  If you get this part right, you will thrive, perform and feel better everyday.  If you fight the change, you will struggle with weight, never have energy and not recover properly between workouts.  Get it right.

Here’s some suggestions on improving your eating habits:

MMA Nutrition to Improve Body Composition and Maximize Injury Recovery In Between Fights

MMA Nutrition Tips When Athletes Are Training Twice-a-Day

mma_nutrition_guide_a

Take a day or two off every week

Our bodies and minds need a break.

Time off allows us to reset, replenish and prepare.

Go outside, spend time with loved ones, walking the dog, see a movie or do something that takes your mind off of work, training, etc.  Well planned days off help you properly deal with grueling training schedules and stay consistent over time.  Find some healthy hobbies or activities that take your mind somewhere else and do them regularly.

Pass on the night life

Nothing good comes from bars and clubs.  Believe me, I spent the majority of my twenties running around Chicago, causing trouble, chasing tail and acting like a fool.  You waste money, destroy your body, lose sleep and create unnecessary drama in your life.   If you want to develop as an athlete and compete at the highest levels, you cannot fall into this trap.

Want to improve as an athlete?

Find better ways to spend your time off.

 

Lots of fighters and other combat athletes get overwhelmed by everything they need to do.  This nervous energy leads to over training and it eventually hurts their progress.  Taking the time to create a plan and then executing it consistently will help you develop over time.  This consistency will snow ball into mental and physical momentum that will overwhelm your competition.  They will start calling you lucky, but you’ll know that it was simply consistent effort over time.

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