Over the last few years we have been pelted with thousands of posts, articles, books and lectures on “sport specific training”. I want to take a minute to hash out some of my ideas on this subject. Of course, a lot of “my ideas” come from studying other people’s theories and putting them to practice. (“Theory To Practice” I even stole that from Keith Norris. Theory To Practice ) after all, we are the sum of all the people who influence us and our experiences.
The basis for doing extra-curricular training is to somehow make ourselves super-human; to gain an edge over our opponent through scientifically superior methods. We are striving to work “smarter not harder”.
There is always room to improve our physical strengths, coordination, endurance and skill set. I’m not opposed to finding new ways of doing this, in fact, this is my mission for the most part; to find the fastest and most efficient ways to improve and build a fighter from the ground up.
I often use examples of my music days and how my journey to become proficient at lead guitar playing parallels my search for skill building methods in martial arts. An example would be doing specific exercises to strengthen your fingers without playing any actual music or practicing scales and arpeggios over and over to improve your speed.
Of course we have to prepare in so many ways to train our muscles, nerves, bones and brains to be ready to fight but we need balance in our schedule. We lift weights and run miles, ride the Aerodyne and roll our shins; anything to build the machine! We use tools like punching bags and focus mitts to drill one particular combination at a time which we need to gain the muscle memory to pull it off in the ring but nothing beats sparing and fighting to make you a better fighter and get you into fight shape.
Next I’ll give you 3 reasons why doing “sport specific training is a good idea and 3 reasons why its not. Make sure to weigh these variables as you put together your training camp.
3 Reasons why it IS a good idea to incorporate “sport specific training”:
1. Overuse injuries: If you are punching bags or jumping and kicking pads for thousands of reps or in the case of a sport like football hitting the tackle dummy a billion times, the chance for repetitive stress injuries goes up substantially.
2. Pre-hab: Doing loaded stop and start as well as rotation and anti-rotation type training not to mention strength training can prepare you for unexpected, violent movements and lessen the damage caused by these events. You can also correct imbalances like those caused by being in your stance for hours and turning your punches and kicks out always the same way.
3. The over-load principle: Doing something like adding weight to the body, hands and feet while shadow boxing as well as wearing an elevation mask or doing under-water running can add load to your cardiovascular system training and cause an over-compensation effect to give you an advantage in endurance.
Here are some great trainers who have worked out fantastic programs to improve the fitness of fighters:
3 Reasons why its not a good idea:
1. Time limitations: You have a limit to the amount of time in a day so training your skills as part of your conditioning work will kill the proverbial “two birds”. If you have 5 hours per day to train, BJJ, Boxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling you aint got time to do no Crossfit!
2. Risk of injury: Any strength or power lifting exercise has the potential to cause injury. Even doing ladder drills or aqua fit can have their hazards! The lead up to a fight is fraught with perils and you have already won that contest if you make it to the ring.
3. The best reason: Nothing approximates the sport like the sport and nothing prepares you to do a particular movement like actually doing it.