The weeks leading up to a tournament can be a bit overwhelming.
Practices get more intense, cutting weight, nervous energy, etc.
Life can get a little crazy to say the least!
It is important that the coaches take the time to help each athlete prepare physically and mentally for the upcoming event.
3-4 weeks out
At this point, hopefully the athlete has been training consistently for months. Consistent practice and training builds momentum, timing, control and lays the foundation for more intense work. A month out from a big tournament, its important to fine tune your skill set, stay healthy and maintain strength and power leading into the competition.
- Keep the Intensity under control – maintain strength, increase specific power endurance.
- Keep the athlete healthy – Warm Up with mobility, activation and simple bodyweight drills.
- Fire up the nervous system – Small Doses of Agility, Plyometrics or throwing drills.
- Maintain Strength – Keep it simple. Pick stuff up, squat, lunge, push, pull and carry.
- Improve Power Endurance – Improve your ability to repeat explosive efforts.
- Nothing New – This is not the time to try new things. Fine tune the things you’ve been working on for awhile.
- Reduce the Volume – What are the demands of the upcoming event?
If the match is three, 5 minute rounds, then train for three, intense five minute rounds.
Grinding too much at this point can easily lead to overtraining, a poor performance and/or injury.
As we get closer to the fight, the volume (amount of work) should reduce to allow our body to recover.
Last Round of Testing
4 Weeks Out…time to do your last round of performance testing.
Here are a few suggested tests:
Broad Jump – Athlete completes one jump for maximum distance. All jumps are 2 foot take off and landing with the measurement going from the start line to the heal on landing. 7-8ft is average for males, 9 ft is good, 10ft+ is elite.
Max Pull Ups – For this challenge, you can use the grip of your choice: overhand, underhand, or a neutral grip with palms facing each other, which some people may find more favorable to their joints. As long as you come to a full extension at the bottom of every rep and make sure your chin goes above the bar without any uncertainty at the top of every rep, you’re good to go.
1 Minute Sprint – Run, Versaclimber, Airdyne or similar…work your butt off for one minute and see how far you can get. How does this to compare to previous tests 3-6 weeks back? 6 months or more?
1 Minute Recovery – After you perform the 1 Minute sprint, measure your heart rate at the end of the sprint and then again 1 minute later. This is a great test to use consistently throughout the year. Excellent way to gauge the fitness level of any athlete and how well they are prepared for competition.
Max Heart rate – One minute rested HR = _____________.
- <10 = extreme caution
- 11-20 = Low
- 21-40 = Good
- 41-50 = Excellent
- 50 = Fit Athlete
Sled Shuttle – 10ON, 10OFF, 10 rounds. Measure output (distance covered) 30 yards, 50% of one rep back squat max. How well can you repeat this explosive effort?
Last 3-4 Weeks of Workouts
Explosive Repeats – Sport specific repeated bursts to expand anaerobic capacity. Drills should be performed at max effort and speed. 5-15 seconds ON, 5-30 seconds OFF for desired time. 2-5 drills per workout. Choose an explosive drill, like sled sprints, 5 yard side shuffles, split squat jumps, rope sidewinders or similar.
Sample Progression for a 15 minute MMA Fight
- 4 weeks out – 10sec ON, 20sec OFF x 10 rounds, 3 drills.
- 3 weeks out – 10sec ON, 16sec OFF x 10 rounds, 3 drills.
- 2 weeks out – 10sec ON, 12sec OFF x 10 rounds, 3 drills.
Max Effort – Maintain the strength, reduced volume, probably once or twice per week max. Use exercises that you’ve been performing for awhile and are completely comfortable performing at max effort. Typically some sort of squat, hinge, push, pull and carry are performed for 3-5 reps per set, 2-3 sets of each exercise. Intensity is high, volume is reduced to allow recovery.
HICT – This is a great concept that we learned from Joel Jamieson. Dragging Chains, Rope Pulls , resisted Versaclimber, Spin bike or similar. 30-60 minutes of work total. 5-20 minutes per drill. 20-30 reps per minute (under anaerobic threshold), using 2-10 minutes rest between drills. Because the movements you use for HICT are so intense, you’re recruiting fast twitch muscle fibers, but because you are doing repetitions so infrequently, you don’t fatigue.
Restorative – Since most of your workouts are probably a bit more intense, we need to balance that out to stay healthy, recover and feel good. Mobility work, movement drills, light runs, swimming or other low impact work to get the blood flowing and speed recovery. Its good to move around, but keep the intensity and volume low. These types of workouts are great to do after an intense session.
Forget the diet fads.
Drink lots of water and eat good, quality vegetables, proteins, fats and carbohydrates 80-90% of the time.
7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep is one of the most basic ways to reset our minds and help our body recover.
Last couple weeks…
Cut the Resistance – This depends on the competition and the athlete, but typically, we’ll cut the volume of resistance training 10-14 days out from competition to allow the athlete to recover. Now, if we are talking about a weekly wrestling tournament, this may not apply, but for a big event, 1-4 times per year, we would recommend adjusting accordingly.
Skill Specific – As we reduce the volume of resistance work, we’ll change our focus to sport specific drills to fine tune and work on your game plan. This helps prepare the mind and body for the specific demands of the upcoming event.
Weight Cut – At this point, you should be within striking distance of making weight. We don’t recommend waiting until the last minute, fasting and dropping all kinds of water weight. Eat good, quality foods 80-90% of the time and your life will be much easier.
Recover – As the intensity and volume of your sessions goes down, you should use this opportunity to increase the amount of restorative work that you are performing. This will help your body heal up, give your mind a break and allow you to be as close to 100% as possible on fight day. Massage, contrast showers, hot baths and other recovery techniques can be added to speed the recovery process.
Eliminate Distractions – Leading up to a big event, you have enough to think about, so do your best to eliminate unnecessary distractions. No need for extra stress at this point. Boil it down to the basics and focus on the task at hand. The majority of your thoughts and actions should be guided toward your goal right now. Get your mind and body right, so you can perform up to your potential.
Relax – Everybody is a little different, but its important to discover what relaxes YOU and keep your mind relaxed. Breathing techniques, meditation, walking outside, playing cards, hanging out with good friends/family or other relaxing activities are good ways to stay calm, cool and collected leading up to a big event.
Resting Heart Rate – take a resting heart rate reading every morning, before getting out of bed.
1 minute recovery between rounds – After rolling live, take your heart rate and then rest for 1 minute and repeat the test. How well did you recover in 1 minute?
Performance #s – broad jump, vert. A simple vertical jump test can tell you a lot about an athlete’s recovery.
Sleep – How are you sleeping? Having trouble or getting 7-9 hours of good sleep?
Using Tech – heart rate monitors, Omegawave or other tests can help give you some insight on how well the athlete is recovering during training and throughout the week.
Everyone reacts to training and life differently. Training, workouts, work, family and other life stresses have an effect on all of us. Your specific situation will determine the methods used for recovering between sessions and leading up to competition.
If you are feeling irritable, restless, not sleeping well and stressed out…you might want to try:
- Eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, pre-workout, etc.
- Try taking some B- Vitamins
- Cold Showers in the morning
- Light, low intensity skill or conditioning work.
If you are feeling fatigued, tired, not able to sleep, have a low libido, decreased motivation or similar, you may want to try:
- Eating more healthy proteins and fats
- Taking more Vitamin C
- Using Contrast Showers – 3 minutes HOT, 1 minute COLD, for 3 rounds.
- Dry Sauna, alternated with short, cold shower rinse.
- Intense, deep tissue massage.
Over time, you will learn how your body responds and hopefully develop a routine that works for you. Training, workouts, nutrition and recovery will all improve over time, and you’ll know exactly what you need to do leading up to a big event. That way, you can relax and focus on the task at hand…performing well and enjoying the experience.