Another conditioning perspective.

Here is some input on sport specific conditioning (mainly for MMA). I ran across a thread on the UG and thought it would go well here.

This is simly a philosophy I have seen work well, not the be all and end all for conditioning. Nor is it the only way to condition... but it is a step in the right direction and will work well if you have a competition coming up.

Hope you find it useful.

For myself and the guys I train, it depends what event we are training for.

I have found that long distance running doesnt translate very well as a conditioning mechanism for fighting sports.

I am not concerned with how long / far you can run or how well you perform after 1 hr of physical activity. For MMA I am concerned with how much effort you can put out for 3 rounds @ 5 minutes with a one minute break. I am concerned with how well you can perform and move @ 85 - 95 % of your maximum heart rate over 5 minutes and how low you can get your heart rate during the 1 minute recovery period.

For example I would train someone by having them lift heavy objects and do sport specific movements & sprints @ a heart rate of about 175 - 190 BPM for 5 minutes. They are in good shape (depending on the person) when, in the 1 minute rest period, they can get their heart rate back down to about 130 - 140 BPM.

I think a great example was the UFC 65 / Jeff Monson video that was out recently on Spike. His training was almost identical to the type of trianing I run people through in preperation for fights. It is amazing how effective pushing cars is!

"1) Regarding dropping your heart rate to about 130-140 after 1 minute, are your tracking that with a heart rate monitor so that at the end of the minute that's what the digital readout tells you (as opposed to counting for the last 10 seconds and multiplying by 6, or something like that)?"

I use either one... they both work fine. I use the numbers as benchmarks only. It doesn't have to be exact, just consistant. (consistant = tracking the same way each time so you can see improvement or decline)

"2) And where do you like the heartbeat to be after 30-seconds?"

I have never tracked that

"3) And do you & your guys do any interval sprints? Personally I like to do four 2-minute treadmill runs at 10 MPH with an incline of 1. I'll rest 30 seconds between each 2-minute "round" or "sprint". I'll do this to warm my muscles up before I get into the weights/plyo stuff."

Interval training works remarkably well and we work this into our training alot. I like to build it around the round structure we are competing in though. Most our fights are 3 x 4 minute rounds. So we sprint for 10 to 25 seconds / jog for 30 seconds and do this for 4 minutes / rest 1 minute / repeat..

I build EVERYTHING around the round structure for 2 reasons.

1) It gets you in shape for maximum output for the appropriate period of time.

2) Knowledge... by the time you fight, you've done at least 40 - 50 excruciating rounds (of conditioning, you have probably done alot more of sparring / grappling / drilling etc)of say 4 minutes. These rounds allow you to understand more accutely what your body is capable of 2 / 3 / & 4 minutes into round 1, 2, & 3.

My theory has always been, why do more? If you are fighting for 4 minutes... who really cares what you can do for 5 and 6 minutes? & more importantly... in order to go 5 - 6 minutes are you holding back a bit in minutes 1 - 4?

On a side note, taking a light day here and there and simply going for a long run can be a very good thing. There is no doubt that running distances will help improve cardiovascular fitness and increase O2 carrying capactiy... so its not like its a bad thing.

I am getting really long winded but I love this stuff so FRAT for some of you.

One addittional philosophy that you see play out in Monsons training, that I have always really thought to be important is taxing all elements of strength at one time. Example: Muscle power & stamina as well as cardiovascular power and stamina. If you thnk about it... this is exactly what happens in a fight. That is why things like pushing trucks then sprinting then lifting heavy things that are hard to hold onto (Tires / bags of concrete / throwing dummies etc) then leaping then deadlifting 300 - 400 lbs works so well. It incorporates all elements of conditioning and / or exhaustion.

"Roll2 I would have to say that is a good indicator... recovery in the one minute.. Would you say you can achieve the same time training with windsprints for 5 then recover?"

Yes and no. You can get into great shape... but I would also want to incorporate something to tax my muscular strength too. We have days when all we do is interval sprinting... but I wouldn't soley rely on it for my total conditioning program.

"All I am doing right now is establishing my base... hence the distance running at 130-140 avg. bpm. I'm gonna check out the Monson footage. I know how to train my body to go long distances but this year I would like to be more rounded. Should help with my BJJ as well I would think :)"

Probably not a bad approach.

Does shameless plug:

Liddell has some conditioning tapes that we made that have really good information on them. I was disappointed with the way some of it came together (I would have liked less talking, less saying "mmm kay", and more intensity) but I wasnt' given much time to prepare for them. But the philosophies and information is really good. They have actually gotten really good reveiws. They are pretty cheap and you can get them @ Island video.

ends shameless plug

Fight gone bad?


Crossfit has a workout called fight gone bad.

What does Chuck show on his conditioning tapes?

"Crossfit has a workout called fight gone bad."

Thanks... I really like crossfit.

"What does Chuck show on his conditioning tapes?"

the basic premis to sport specific taining

roll2win - loved a lot of your ideas - especially the training for correct PACE for a 5 minute fight. in boxing, pro rounds are 3 min, amateur are 2. i was blown away by how many old coaches refused to let guys train the way they fight (even if we were going to the nationals). it obviously hurt a lot of guys, who were just "turning it up" when the bell rang. it was an obvious advantage when foreign fighters fought americans - the russians and cubans paced themselves much better. my coach came from the old soviet program, so he always trained us right for the contest we were in.

building around the round structure, and a lot of your others ideas and exercises were also great.

however the only time i have ever found that "long distance running didn't translate that well as a conditioning method in fighting sports" is on the internet and in abstract theory.

i'm not talking about marathons here, but usually they run longer than the event itself. in fact, running has been the most common and successful conditioning theme in the history of combat sports, and has produced more champions than any other method. yes, this is contrary to a lot of theories floating around. but we adapt our theories to our facts, not our facts to our theories.

i use a lot of similar methods to yours, with great success. but my best conditioning always seems to come when i'm also mixing a lot running with my other conditioning.

gladiator, do you think that it's more of a mental toughness thing with long distance runs though, keeping going when you think you can't give any more?

i don't know exactly why, i just know that it has in fact worked very well for every champion i've heard about. and i've tried prepping for fights both using it and not using it (i wasn't sitting on my ass, i was actually just experimenting with different methods, including a lot of round based intensive cardio somewhat similar to the above). my cardio always felt better when i kept a fair amount of medium distance running. to be clear, i actually DO use some methods similar to the works well for me in addition to running, not instead of. however, the core of my training tends to be very sport specific motions - and the most sport specific work for fighting, wrestling and hitting things tends to be...fighting, wrestling and hitting things. lots of rolling, wrestling, light sparring, bagwork, shadowboxing, drills etc. it's so basic people forget about it. running and other cardio is stuff i do when i don't have anyone to roll with (after everyone else has left the gym, morning training, and some weekends).

cockneyeblue, the only plausible theory i've read for WHY running has been so effective for so many athletes is actually the opposite of what you said. the writer stated that he had compared different forms of cardio training and had concluded that running had the lowest PERCEIVED exertion level (compared to the actual work being performed) of any exercise he could find. basicly, you could put yourself through some brutal basic training style routine, with all the exercises that suck to do, and feel you really pushed yourself. meanwhile, the guy who went running did more actual cardio than you did with less effort. the idea is that running is such a natural motion that it's easier to push yourself harder than other exercises.

a lot of things that are good for you are really hard to do. but don't think that just because it's hard to do it's the best thing for you. i had a personal trainer tell me about this incredible training program he had for fighters. he said "it's an amazing routine, i made this fighter puke within 15 minutes" with a big smile. he hadn't once brought up whether this training program would actually work better than other methods. the mere fact that it was miserable was good enough for him. i've got a lot ways to make myself miserable. i could hit myself in the leg with a hammer for 2 hours, and i guarantee it would hurt worse than any leg exercise i could do. that doesn't mean it works better, it just means its more uncomfortable.

this is known as the "hammerhead" philosophy of personal training. don't be a Hammerhead!

BTW - not to mention too many names, but Hammerhead's fighter was then beaten by Lance Everson (former Mass Destriction champ). the saddest part was that hammerhead was actually an above average personal trainer and a very skilled jiu jitsu guy. he understood the athletic attributes needed by fighter, and his program was based on real training principles - "this for the muscular endurance a fighter needs, this for core strength, this for anaerobic cardio" etc. looked great on paper.

unfortunately, hammerhead's fighter was a striker (mostly JKD and thai boxing, legit skills) and lance was a wrestler. what does a striker need to be able to do to beat a wrestler? either stop the takedown, or be able to fight off his back. the guy would have been much better off if hammerhead had simply done a lot of rolling with him every morning and taught him some bottom-game jiu jitsu. rolling is great sport specific cardio, that also develops a lot of other athletic attributes and skills a fighter needs. predictably, he spent almost the whole fight getting a GnP from lance. not only did he need an exercise that would build the skills and attributes to survive a wrestler, i absolutely guarantee that his real world "fight cardio" would have been better from basing his cardio off of something as sport specific as active rolling, than doing these kind of exercises.

the exercises were actually good, solid exercises. but in MMA, you don't want a good program, you want the BEST program. if you're training something good, but your opponents training program is better, you're in trouble.

to clarify - the fighter's went to his main training gym in the evenings. the personal trainer had his own small gym (some kind of franchise), and he volunteered to do the guys morning pre-fight conditioning. he did in fact have mats there and occasionally had people go there and roll.

"On a side note, taking a light day here and there and simply going for a long run can be a very good thing. There is no doubt that running distances will help improve cardiovascular fitness and increase O2 carrying capactiy... so its not like its a bad thing."

GG... very good input... thanks!

Your typical 20-30 minute run does not take much out of you and is good to incorporate for, among other things, recovery purposes.

But yes, many get too caught up with the fancy stuff and forget to actually fight train as Gannon said. Most of my intense style cardio is done when on the weeks I work nights and don't have anyone to spar with, hit pads with, etc. I'll do bag work, xfit style circuits, and the normal jog. When I work days, I'll train with the guys. If I'm injured, I can maintain cardio in the ways listed above without hard sparring, and also still work technique.


I wrote an article a couple months ago for the CrossFit Journal on how the guys down at Team Quest SoCal train -- they incorporate the round system, similar to Fight Gone Bad, except with Pride length rounds if Dan is training.

They also incorporate sport specific movements into the training instead of the standard Fight Gone Bad movements. The cornerman, in this case Ryan Parsons, calls out when to switch to different exercises and therefore can direct the intensity of the workout since different exercises have inherently different intensities. It keeps the fighters on their toes, since they're not switching on the minute, but when the cornerman tells them to -- it also trains them to listen for that voice and respond to it quickly.

good info by the above. there are good personal trainers for MMA, guys who really know the game, like Kenflo's conditioning coach (known here as Vermonter). however, there are many personal trainers who would be better for their fighters if they just learned to hold focus mits and shoot a double.