Fighting Series – Getting Ready to Get Fit to Fight

So I want to talk generally about training for martial arts but before getting into specifics I want to outline and qualify a few things. Firstly, I am not going to get into the physiology and science of training…I am happy to do that after if people would like me to but I don’t think it’s the best use of my time. The best way to do that if you are interested though is for me to point you in the right direction to get after it yourself because most of it is a matter of just reading up. Personally I have never stopped reading and never stopped studying either. I did yet another unit of advanced exercise physiology and neuroscience last semester and I was bored beyond believe talking about it and writing about it ‘academically’…it is boring as hell and I would much rather write and talk with you about the practical and real life implications of the material in question. I figure that we can define some terms and talk about the components of strength and conditioning along with some of the ‘traditional’ ways in which people approach there physical preparedness for martial arts.

One of the problems that some people have when they are considering the topic of strength and conditioning is that they don’t really know what they are looking at when they are looking at displays of what they think of as ‘fitness’. When some people say a particular athlete is ‘fit’ some people are talking about the appearance of their physique…and even then some people are saying they are ‘fit’ because they are super lean and yet others because the athlete in question is jakt. Some people think of fitness as speed and power and yet others as endurance. So we need to ensure that we are properly defining the terms. I always get people asking me ‘How can I improve my fitness?’ and what they are after is always some attribute on the athletic spectrum with power on one end and endurance on the other and with things like speed, anaerobic power and repeatability along with strength in between. Sometimes what they are after is improvements in EVERYTHING which is fine as well.

To save some time and so people can bail on this post now if I’ve already bored the hell out of them…I will get to the ‘take home’ points right up front:

1. You can’t improve everything at once.

2. You need to ensure you are focussing and prioritising the attributes that are going to give you the greatest returns with regards performance in your chosen martial art.

More on these take home points later.

So where to start….that’s simple.

Fitness Assessment

“If you are not assessing you are guessing.” – Someone awesome (Years Ago)

Put simply if you aren’t testing and measuring then you have no way of monitoring the effects of any intervention (training or training alterations) you put in place. Winning fights is not a way to measure the ‘effectiveness’ of your training…winning fights is how you measure the effectiveness of your fighting. You can be a bad athlete and a great fighter and vice versa.

So what comes first with regards fitness assessment.

Mobility and Stability

This is always where I start because it has by far the biggest impact on your overall performance.

I am planning to delve into all this area as with the others I outline here in detail but to start this series I just really want to give you an overview of where I am coming from.

If your mobility and stability is appropriate (again…I will define this in detail in later posts) then your chances of acquiring a chronic injury are almost non existent. Your chances of acquiring an acute injury are also greatly reduced…for sure freak accidents are unavoidable in contact sports but having appropriate mobility and stability will pretty much reduce your chance of injury to just that…freak accidents.

Here’s a really simple and easily repeatable test of functional mobility.

You can do it regularly and video it and monitor your progress.

Speed, Agility and Fitness Testing

This is what I think comes next because when it comes to martial arts…strength and power is great but if you are unprepared to ‘go the distance’ then your chances of being able to use your strength and power are severely limited. The spider test has always been my ‘go to’ test in this regard. I think for martial arts it’s hard to find a more economical test…in that you can test lots of attributes individually but this is a test that stresses all your attributes simultaneously. The spider test is 6 x 30 seconds efforts with 30 seconds recovery between efforts…the fastest and most agile get the furthest on the first effort and the fittest athletes get the biggest total. This test gives you both fantastic objective and subjective data.

This is a video of me discussing fitness testing

Here is a video of a GAA player doing a modified spider test…probably the most appropriate fitness test for martial arts.

Here is a video of some Camogie players doing a traditional spider test

Here is a full description of the test….this is a pretty exciting video…you might want to get some popcorn

Strength, Power and Muscular Endurance

Here is a video description of basic testing.

Then below you will find a video outlining my thoughts and rationales for testing and testing methodologies.

Lower Body

Standing Broad Jump – I think this test is easier to administer and more reliable than a vertical jump.

Bodyweight Squat – Your body weight rounded up to the nearest 5kg and done to a depth below parallel for repetitions.

1RM or 3RM – Squat, Deadlift or TrapBar Deadlift – I’ve traditionally done 2 different tests. A 1RM trapbar deadlift at the beginning and end of each training cycle and a 3RM squat test mid cycle.

Upper Body

Push Ups – Repetitions in 60 seconds.

Inverted Rows – Repetitions in 60 seconds.

Bench Press –  Your body weight rounded up to the nearest 5kg and done for repetitions.

Pull Ups – Done for repetitions.

1RM Bench Press – Everyone wants to know….how much do you bench.

3RM Pull Ups – Weighted pull ups.


So that’s Fitness Assessment outlined. Firstly, you need to assess your mobility and stability and look for any areas of weakness or imbalance. Secondly, I think you need to assess your speed, agility and endurance and a modified 30/30 test is a great way to do that. Thirdly, you need to assess your power, strength and muscular endurance and again look for areas of weakness and imbalance.




Valor 3

I neglected to post these up previously.

This is Connor’s fight. The surface gave me nightmares….it was just like the Cage Contender surface I fought and lost on.

This is Rob’s fight.

I think I actually get more satisfaction from seeing my training partners do well than I do from doing well and winning myself.

It’s never ending

I have a few things to update today so I thought I would put them all in a single post.

Firstly and most importantly…I tested today…as you all know…it’s all about me.

Strength Testing
Back in the olden days I posted this.

On the 15th of May I tested and these were my results:
Bench – 140kg
Pull Ups – 9 reps
Push Ups – 39 reps
Inverted Rows – 21 reps
Trap Bar Deadlift – 180kg

I wasn’t to disappointed with this…as I was really just getting back into training. I went on to detail my training program and my diet…my diet has been pretty stable asides from a couple of major blow out. I also predicted/stated that my goals for the 1st of July were the following:

Bench – 150kg
Pull Ups -12 reps
Push Ups – 50 reps
Inverted Rows – 30 reps
Trap Bar Deadlift – 200kg

Well as usual…I’m full of shit…I didn’t test yesterday because work got in the way…but I did test today and my results were as follows:

Bench – 160kg
Pull Ups -15 reps
Push Ups – 50 reps
Inverted Rows – 30 reps
Trap Bar Deadlift – 220kg

Pleased with this…did it reasonably easily on the bench and the trap bar…the pull ups were a surprise and the push ups and inverted rows I just punched out my targets. Onwards and upwards from here…pleased with how things are progressing.

I forgot…I also did 18 reps at 100kg on the bench and did 3 pull ups in the X-vest weighing in at 150.5kg’s (me+36.6kg).

In other news
Garrett was really annoyed about me sticking up those snatch videos the other day…I think everyone knew what was going to happen after I found that out.

That 9th Attempt was a PB so it’s not all bad.

Some Actual Coaching
This is from Manuel Buitrago who works at Supreme Sports Performance.

He technically has a ‘D’ path on the bar in these vids (whereas his last vids had an ‘A’ path and) so hes jumping back as a result. I dont particularly care for it but in both vids, he ends up in the same position above the knee, meaning hes still cutting things early and not reaching full extension.

Whatever bar path he chooses will depend on what feels more comfortable for him, but whats messing him up is cutting his pull. He also needs to step out more on his front leg more when jerking.

If I had to choose, Id take the top series because he loads the hamstrings, stays flat footed longer, and doesnt launch the bar out as much. He still needs to arch his back more, stop using his arms, and be more patient.

If hes going to deadlift first to trace the bar path, thats cool but he needs to know that the bar should start to brush an inch or two below wherever it lies at his thighs at standing.

One mans struggle against the force of gravity

I thought I would throw these up…as usual I don’t pick all the ‘best’ videos of the day…I don’t just post up all the ‘highlights’. I try to post ‘real’ videos…so there are misses…there’s less than perfect form…because that’s reality and because I think blogs and websites that are just full of highlights are disingenuous. So today I thought I would put up this series of Garrett’s. I do this for a number of reasons:
1. Because Garrett hurt himself…and I always find that funny.
2. Because he hurt himself and sacked up and got the lift on his next attempt.
3. Because after getting the lift he allowed Jonny and I to goad him into taking another attempt…which he got.

Some Actual Coaching
This is from Manuel Buitrago who works at Supreme Sports Performance.

The reason this kid is missing most of these lifts is because hes whipping the bar out due to his weight being too much on the toes on most attempts (as you can see via the bar path in the pics below).

Ironically on his 2nd attempt, he had a better weight distribution but he still cuts his pull above the knee (and never reaches a full extension). You can compare the difference between he and I, but even if he stayed over the bar longer, he would still have lost most of those lifts because his weight was too far fwd.

You can see the difference between his 3rd and 4th pic (where he failed) vs his 5th and 6th pic (where he made it). Again, hes still cutting the pull but his weight is further back despite the same start position.

So make sure you sit back a little more, and wait over the bar longer (btw I know I suck at photoshop):

The Kid

A mixed bag of an update…

Firstly, I got totally pwned on the internet…my post about the Fitness forum on boards got posted over there…and I got slated. The funny thing is that just about everything I said in my post was essentially backed up by what happened there. A small minority of posters stuck it to me repeatedly, thousands viewed the thread and remained silent and the only emails I got were people offering me ‘back story’ on the people involved and those laughing at my attempts at trying to be reasonable and to defend myself.

Barry chimed in on the same thread and was slated as well. Thankfully it wasn’t all negative and we did get a lot of support…which was great. See the thing is…I don’t mind being slated, I don’t mind people criticising and or bagging me….the thing is I just want it to be correct.

You need to go check it out for yourselves if you are board. Be waned…only go and have a look at this if you are really bored.

To those of you who sent me emails…of support…abuse about wasting my time…or humorous ‘back story’ thank you all and keep up the good work.

Saturday Night was a Fantastic night for Informed Performance MMA
If you want more back story go and check out the post Barry’s blog.

I’ll post the fights here because I thought they were all brilliant for different reasons.

That guys leg has got to be hanging off him this morning.

So glad I don’t have to spar with Amanda

Oh my God…I can’t believe that little ginger freak walked out that song…so brave.

Now…that was some of the worst camera work I’ve ever seen…but that’s what happens when the cameraman is too busy watching the fights to film them…I’m sure you get the idea though.

My Training
A few people have been emailing me about my training…mainly regarding the fact that they don’t really believe I’m doing any. I am…. truly I am.
The template is still the same as I outlined in my previous update.

Today went as follows:
Warmed up on the rower…did a couple of kilometres.
Then did some hip mobility work.
Front Squatted – As I said before…I haven’t squatted at all for a couple of years…so the last few weeks have been interesting to say the least. I’ve been struggling to find the bottom of my squats…it hasn’t been a strength thing…my mobility has really been letting me down. I did 60kg for 5 reps, 70kg for 5 reps, 80kg for 5 reps, 90kg for 5 reps, 100kg for 3 reps, 110kg for 1 rep, 120kg for 1 rep, 130kg for 1 rep and 140kg for 1 rep then 5 sets of 5 reps at 70kg.
Here are the 120kg, 130kg and 140kg squats.

Dumbbell RDL’s – 3 sets of 12 reps with 50kg
Bridging – 5 sets of 45 seconds with 20kg’s on my arse.
Pull Ups – 5 sets of 8 reps…was really happy with this…nice, smooth and really controlled reps.
Push Ups – 3 sets of 60 seconds max push ups…went 40, 37 and 33…I was completely spent.

Torque Holds – 3 sets of 30second with 80lbs on each side.
Single Arm Tricep Extensions – 5 sets of 8 reps

One of the criticisms on that thread on boards…was that my videos were crap and my athletes form was poor. The thing is…this is true…the point being though that they get better. That’s the idea…I put these up because they are not great…but like my athletes…they’ll get better. We’ll see in a couple of months.

So that was it… tomorrow…deadlifting and benching then conditioning work the day after. Will be repeating this right up until I test on the 1st of July to see how it’s all working out for me.

Informed Performance – The Gym and The Blog
Firstly, I am REALLY happy with the new gym…every time I stand inside it I can see exactly what it will be and that is all kinds of awesome. The BOM, Barry and myself are going to write and post to give people a better idea of what Informed Performance is going to be all about. So if you have any questions feel free to drop me an email and we’ll address them specifically. Also, we have a Facebook page for the gym for those of you that are interested…you’ll find it here if you are into that sort of thing.
Secondly, the blog…I just want to prepare you…there is lots of work going on behind the scenes…thankfully very little of which has anything to do with me. This blog will remain….but it will just be more of a place for me to piss and moan, make fun of people and make new enemies. The Informed Performance blog/website will be a cumulative effort of all the staff at IP rather than just me and will have a clearer focus on training and instruction specially regarding the way the we go about our work.

A Little Garrett Update
If you bothered reading that stupid thread on boards you’ll see that I was also ridiculed for using Garrett as an ‘example’ on my blog…the inference was that I was being ‘dishonest’ because Garrett has another coach. The thing that people just don’t get is that ALL the athletes that train with me have ANOTHER coach. I am a strength and conditioning coach…I am not an Olympic lifting coach, I am not a rugby coach, I am not a Gaelic Football coach, I am not a Hurling coach, I am not a sprints, middle distance or distance running coach, I am not a tennis coach, not a basketball or hockey coach, I am not a soccer or handball coach…I AM A STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING coach….what bit of this are people too thick to understand? As I said in the thread…do people really think that all these athletes come to me because of my winning personality? Any way…Garrett has an excellent coach…but he comes and practices with me. I’m not sure what the problem with that is?

Here are a series of lifts from this evening: