Promises promises promises

I thought I’d better get start on making good my promises regarding what I’d get done this weekend.

Rather than making separate posts I’ll just keep coming back and update this post.

Saturday Morning Session

We had a coaching, management and executive training session this morning.

I learnt a great deal this morning about politics and branches of government…and the fact that Smythy’s authority exceeds all of them.

Pottsy & I trained together…well sort of…he ran and I rowed while he ran and complained while he walked…Brophy did his rehab and Smythy modified his session to suit his needs…he still owes me 70 inverted rows and 10x150m on the rower.

Treadmill – 300m Sprint/100m Walk by 10
50 KB Squats
50 KB Rows (each arm)
100 Push Ups
Treadmill – 300m Sprint/100m Walk by 8
50 KB Reverse Lunges (each side)
50 KB Press (each arm)
100 Hanging Leg Raises
Treadmill – 300m Sprint/100m Walk by 6

Lessons learned…the 2nd block in this session is too hard compared to the first…the blocks are timed…the first block we did 5/5/10 and finished it in 11 minutes. The second block we went 5/5/10 as well but in reality it is obviously 10/10/10 and in took FOREVER so from now on I think if and when we do this session I’ll halve the lunges and presses.

Physical Preparation for MMA
This is all the preamble…as usual…written off the top of my head…I am really looking forward to getting involved in this sport for lots of reasons. Some of which are as follows…the first being…there are endless ways to skin this cat. There are lots of different fighting styles that can win the day. I know people will have endless opinions on what is best and what is worst. I was told this week that Brazilian Jujitsu is the only way to go and that may be all well and good but I’ve a feeling that a BJJ exponent experiences getting punched in the face much the same as everyone else does. I can also remember when strikers were top of the heap…and when wrestlers had their day…and when Muay Thai was the way to go. I’m not going to make this a piece about the ever changing face of MMA because if it is an area that you are interested in I’m sure you are as aware as I am of how the sport has evolved. Styles have dominated…fighters have studied and learned how to exploit the best of these styles and also how to counter them.
Every athlete fighting has strengths and weakness both technically and physically. As I said…I’m not going to talk about the technical side because that isn’t my area…but the physical side I’ve been giving a lot of thought to. I also wanted to preface this by saying that I’ve been trying to avoid as best I can reading or seeing anything ‘out there’ on strength and conditioning for fighters. I don’t want to see what other people are doing or have done and modify it. So a lot of what I might have to say…may be completely off the mark…the thing is…like all of my programs…I’m going to do it myself first…to see how my body reacts…then I will try it on others and see how they respond. Coaching is always a process on refinement…sometimes it requires a complete overhaul of your thinking but that is rarely the case. So as I said…the first thing I like about it is that it is a sport open to all styles of fighting. It also caters for all different physical styles of fighter as well you see a lot of very different shapes and sizes fighting.

What I’ve Seen So Far
Like I said before…I’ve tried to avoid seeing to much on training..seeing some has been unavoidable though. I won’t get into critiquing what I’ve seen so far but I do want to make some observations. I’ve seen a lot of ‘gassed out’ and exhausted fighters throwing punches and kicks that couldn’t knock and old lady over…well maybe an old lady…you know what I mean. I don’t think anyone would argue with me when I say that fighting is a skill…would they? They wouldn’t argue with me that being a winning fighter is maybe 90% technique and 10% conditioning…or something along those line? Well what other sport would you deliberately practice crap technique and execution? It looks pretty stupid to me. I already know what people are going to say. They’ll say that they are training that way because that’s what happens in a fight…that you have to be able to throw kicks and strikes when you are tired because that’s when it is important…well that is just stupid. Having a good ‘kick’ at the end of a marathon or 10K is important as well when you are racing….I can bet you any money that you want that no runner trains their ‘kick’ or does their speed work when they are exhausted because…that’s what racing is like or that’s because that’s what it’ll be like in a race. I could give you endless examples like this….all I am saying is that a lot of the fight training stuff I have seen so far…looks dumb to me…I’ve never seen anyone get better at a skill or improve their technique by practising it poorly. I know that one of the other things people are going to say is that…this is what has always been done and it has always worked in the past…and then I could give you a heap of examples of stuff in different sports that were always the ‘tried and tested’ way of getting things done…right up until a much better way came along.

So what does this all mean
Well to start with…I think that in fighting when all other things are equal strength wins. More importantly a very particular component of strength wins…that being power. People talk a lot about having a ‘big engine’, being able to ‘go the distance’ and not ‘gassing out’. The thing is like in other sports I don’t think a lot of people actually no what they are looking at when they see it. One of the things that I hear a lot in Rugby Union and or Gaelic Football particularly is that this or that player isn’t ‘fit’ enough and that they need to ‘run’ more…this is bullshit…if that were the case…Rugby Union and Gaelic Football would be full of endurance and cross country runners…and it clearly isn’t. In both these sports it is repetitive bouts explosive speed and acceleration…along with constant expressions of strength and power…it isn’t for lack of ‘fitness’ that these things are unable to be reproduced on the field…it is the inability to recover between bouts that is lacking…that being the case you need a very different training approach than just running. It is the same with fight training…last Monday I was doing a submission wrestling session…the drill was simple…in pairs one partner was laying on their back on the mat…the other partner was in a dominant side control position. The object of the drill was that the person that was on their back had to either pull guard (get their legs between them and the person on toop of them), roll the person on top of them over or get onto there knees. At one stage I was working with some poor bastard that I had 25kg on and for 2 minutes I held him pinned to his back…I didn’t let him pull guard, roll me off or get to his knees. Now we didn’t move more than a foot from where we started the drill and if you were filming it you would have seen little more than leg movement…I would guess from years of experience that our heart rates would have been around 180bpm at the end of 2 minutes and we were both breathing like we had just finished a 3km race. The thing is…we didn’t actually go anywhere and running a 3km race would be as good a preparation for what we did as playing a game of chess. Yes, both 2minutes of wrestling and a 3km race will get your heart rate to 180bpm….but for completely different reasons. Now this is not to say that there is no place from ‘road work’ in MMA training or fight training in general…because there is…it is just that I don’t think that road work is doing for MMA artists what they think it is. I think ‘general conditioning’ work is good…until I get my body fat down and by extension my weight…I’ll be doing mine on the bike and predominantly the rower. I won’t be doing this though because I think it will get me fit for fighting…because I don’t think it does…and I can give you plenty of examples of why this doesn’t work…it is the same reason that the best 1500m swimmers don’t win middle distance races on the track…the same reason that the best road cyclists don’t win marathons…and why the best marathon runners don’t win anything else…not even the girl…because they are skinny little bastards…actually that isn’t the reason…it is specificity.

What I try to do with these players is generally the same…whether it be agility runs, straight out standing start or rolling start sprints, integrated skills drill, mixed training (eg. push ups and sprints)or whatever the training modality is I try to make the training interval long enough to be taxing but short enough that it allows the work to be done very close to whatever could be achieved in a max effort and the recovery period to be long enough so that the work in the next interval is of equally high quality. The way I manipulate the training after that is to either increase the duration of the work interval, decrease the rest period or increase the volume of work done. Rarely if ever will I alter two of these elements in the same session.

I am going to approach my ‘off mat’ MMA conditioning the same way. I am going to look to keep the quality of my work near the maximum of my capacity…as such at the moment I will be keeping the work interval duration quite short, the rest intervals quite long and the volume relatively low. Then as I improve and adapt I will start manipulating these variables. I will go into more detail of how I am actually going to monitor and assess this as I get more and more into it but I already have some ideas of exactly how I am going to measure all these things.

But first…I am going to have a full screening done myself…and I know people will say…if I was any good as a coach I would be able to work out all the things that are wrong with me and fix them. People will say that because people are idiots. I can use a calculator and read the tax laws if I wanted to as well but when it comes time to do my taxes I pay a professional. I could do all the servicing on my motorcycle as well…but when it needs to be done…I pay a professional. I know a fair bit about nutrition as well…but I will get professional to help me because that’s what professionals do. They recognise their strengths and weaknesses. I am going to take care of the piece of the puzzle that I know. I am going to get my screening and deal with any issues that arise from that. I am going to get help with my nutrition to start dropping my body fat in a controlled and measured way. I am going to get Barry to coach me with regard to my fight technique…we’ll work out a style of MMA that maximises my strength and minimises my weakness. I will then work out what I need to do strength and conditioning wise to compliment the style of fighting that suits me best.

Showing by doing rather than crapping on endlessly
What I am going to do is to is what I always try to do with the blog…show you what I do…rather than just talk about it or make it up as others seem to do. So I am going to pick two players. One that needs to put on some lean muscle mass and one that need to lose some excess body fat. I’ll outline below what I think the individual issues are for each of them then detail their actual program.

In Season Fat Loss for Rugby Players
In short…this is primarily about nutrition. What we’ll also do is to change the emphasis of their training off the pitch to increase the actual amount of work done.

In Season Hypertrophy for Rugby Players
This is also dependent primarily on nutrition but also managing training loads and frequency.

As I said…I was originally going to just write about this but on reflection I thought it might be better to actually show you what I do. So instead of crapping on today…I’ll crap on endlessly over the next couple of weeks about this instead.

Fictitious Client Progress
If you are interested I’m sure you can find reference to Ian throughout the blog…the latest update you’ll find here. I asked him to tell me how he was getting on. Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Will,

Comments on the transition program below…I hope it is what you were looking for. If you’re thinking of posting it on your blog you might want to trim it for brevity.

My immediate goal is to gain structural integrity of the shoulder complex…so I liked the inclusion of scap prehab stuff. It seems so simple now…two exercises per session…couple of sets of moderate reps…and I was good to go.

Performing the prehab stuff before the compound exercises of bench press, pushups and pullups worked very well for me. I felt I was able to groove the movement and control of the scapula before the main movements…I remembered your comments in Dublin about initiating the scap movement first in the lat pulldown and chest supported scap shrug.

After an indifferent and sporadic training history over the last 18 months I liked the volume of work…it felt good to be putting in some effort. It is surprising how motivated you can be when following a program that has been specifically written for you. Each session took 80-90 minutes but as my work rate improves I would expect rest periods to shorten…especially in supersets…and overall session time to shorten.

I liked the hip mobility stuff like overs & unders & hurdle steps. It is something I had done a couple of years ago or so and had neglected to use them again.

I also really liked the modified pushup…a new exercise to me. It seemed to target a lot of things and I would to keep this as a mainstay in the future

I’ve never been one for doing much direct core work…not sure why…probably because my lower back always gave out before the abs…but the ab wheel rollouts, bridging and modified rollouts have paid off. Until
3 weeks ago my best ab wheel rollout was something like 3 sets of 8, 8, 6 reps…yesterday I did 3 sets of 12 and the first 2 sets felt very comfortable..and it had been 3 weeks since I last did them.

Hate is a string word but a couple of things didn’t seem to work for me.
Hip popup’s…I really struggled to feel this in the glutes…indeed my glutes just feel numb most of the time since I spend 60-70 of my time sat on my arse working…and I do wonder just how much use I make of them in deads and squats.

Natural reverse hypers were new to me and felt very uncomfortable. I bought some wood and built a platform that I could use in the power rack to do these…however the compression of my upper body as I lay face down and the pressure on my lower back as I raised my legs meant that instead of 3 sets of 12 I did 3 sets of 4, 3 and 3.

Overall I did wonder how a transition program would be different from any other program…but I guess the range of exercises, their priority and the movements tackled gave some clues…and I did get a sense of this being something of a foundation that could be built on.

Onwards and upwards.



5 thoughts on “Promises promises promises

  1. I love to run and run for the hell of it. None of my fighters run regularly and if they did, I’d get them to stop and save themselves for their next session. Last weekend I did 3 distances with them, 3,2 and 1k runs but it was more for teamwork, a bit of healthy competition and to get them outside for once. (we’re an indoors bunch). That was the first time I’ve ever had running in a programme, the time/benefit ratio is too low unless it’s for weight control.

    I’m interested to see what you come up with in the coming weeks. Although I reckon it’ll change once you do a few more classes.

    Also, my first boxing coach told me 10% skill, 90% fitness. I think I should get you and him in a room he was old skool.

  2. Got a boner from your post about fight training . . . awesome!

    I’m so looking forward to trying out some of your ideas.

    btw, So you’ve never heard the fighting expression . . .

    Conditioning is your best weapon.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like the ways fighter’s try and develop their conditioning. It seems so inefficient and sometimes counter productive.

    That being said, I suspect you’ll get a greater respect for actual ‘ring conditioning’ once you start sparring.


  3. Barry Oglesby said…
    I love to run and run for the hell of it. None of my fighters run regularly and if they did, I’d get them to stop and save themselves for their next session. Last weekend I did 3 distances with them, 3,2 and 1k runs but it was more for teamwork, a bit of healthy competition and to get them outside for once. (we’re an indoors bunch). That was the first time I’ve ever had running in a programme, the time/benefit ratio is too low unless it’s for weight control.
    Like I said…I will end up doing some running…both of the steady state and interval variety as part of my training. The point I was trying to make that I think that a lot of fighters aren’t getting from ‘road work’ what they actually think they are. I think that road work is more applicable to boxing than it is to MMA.

    What I am going to do is to make ‘fight drills’ the major part of my conditioning. Keep the quality of those drills really high and manipulate the work intervals, rest periods and quantity of work systematically over time.

    For example…I’m going to try to set 20 second personal bests for drills…as in maximum number of reps in 20 seconds…take the ‘jump and sprawl’ drill in video on the blog. I’m going to see how many reps I can do in 20 seconds…then I am going to make sure that my rest periods between intervals are long enough to allow me to stay with a rep or two of my best effort…the first thing I will do is to increase the work periods first to 30 seconds, then 40 seconds and so on as I develop the ability to maintain my rep cadence while keeping the rest periods the same…I will do this until I can do 60 second work intervals…like I said I’m going to develop what I think are appropriate conditioning drills…I will film the drill at regular time intervals and we’ll see what happens. In short what I want to try and do is to make sure that anything and everything I do in my ‘off mat’ conditioning is of really high quality…if that means less quantity and longer rest periods to begin with…so be it.

    I’m interested to see what you come up with in the coming weeks. Although I reckon it’ll change once you do a few more classes.
    You are absolutely spot on. I’m positive that will be the case. Every session I do gives me new ideas about what I need to do with regard to my ‘off mat’ strength and conditioning.

    Also, my first boxing coach told me 10% skill, 90% fitness. I think I should get you and him in a room he was old skool.
    Yeah…I’ve hear that too. It was bullshit when I first heard it and it is still bullshit now. Coaches tell you that because they want you to work harder…but I’ve seen hugely skilful and unfit guys make absolute ‘shows’ of less talented yet fitter athletes in every sport in which I’ve ever been involved. It is just a bullshit throw away line.

    kira said…
    Got a boner from your post about fight training . . . awesome!
    That’s good…I’m glad I make you mentally erect.

    I’m so looking forward to trying out some of your ideas.
    Me too…the more feedback I get I think the better. As a coach your data pool is key.

    btw, So you’ve never heard the fighting expression…

    Conditioning is your best weapon.
    Yes…but all the conditioning in the world doesn’t help you though if the bell goes and you walk onto a massive right hand now does it.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t like the ways fighter’s try and develop their conditioning. It seems so inefficient and sometimes counter productive.
    Like I said…I’m trying to avoid looking at what is currently done…I’m sure there’ll be a certain amount of reinventing the wheel on my behalf and that’s fine. I want to work out what I think works best.

    That being said, I suspect you’ll get a greater respect for actual ‘ring conditioning’ once you start sparring.
    I agree. My point being that I think a lot of the stuff that I think fighters do to improve that…doesn’t do as much as they think. I am actually going to try and spend as much time sparring as I can. I just want to improve my conditioning as fast as I can so I can get as much out of sparring as possible. The first thing I need to do to improve my fitness is to ditch some fat so I will target that over the next couple of weeks as a priority. It is going to take me a while to get my work sorted out to enable me to train like I want to but I’m working on that.

    Sami said…
    Wordy post. Good post. Echoes my thoughts on effective conditioning training for fighting.
    Good…you’re obviously quite brilliant.

  4. hi will some impressive playing of the internets by yourself has lead me to ask some questions.
    firstly when you use these blocks of strength conditioing what affect/s are you seeing over more traditional strength then cardio separate. I guess the big benefits are time and learning to work hard with resistance.
    Second when you gave ian those blocks of hundred reps are they groove technique or for something else entirely?
    lastly for this post when you say you like to try everything on yourself 1st how strict are you with this rule. It almost seems impossible that one could see all of the strength and conditioning worlds offers in one lifetime, so do you bend this rule or just look at specific conditions that you are most likely to encounter?

    Thanks as always for your time and access.

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