Metabolic Power Training For MMA by Alwyn Cosgrove

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I came from a competitive martial arts background—Tae-kwon-do and kickboxing. In our world, we were more interested in learning how to hit harder, faster, and for longer. We used the weight room solely as a means to improve our end goal, never as an end in itself. Those of you involved in fighting sports or training other athletes know what I mean. It’s not always about improving max strength. It’s about max results. So while Dave lives in his world, we need to live in ours.

This program is not about building a 700-pound bench press. It’s far from it. This program is about using the weight room for conditioning.

Before we get into the actual exercise prescription, I should point out that I still believe that maximal strength levels should be achieved prior to endurance or energy system development. My theory is this. When we are talking about endurance, we are talking about power endurance or speed endurance or strength endurance. If we haven’t built up appreciable levels of power, speed, or strength, what the hell are we trying to endure? A low level of power? A low level of speed?

Conditioning coach, Mike Boyle, once pointed out that, “It is significantly easier to get an explosive athlete ‘in shape’ than it is to make an ‘in shape’ athlete explosive. The first will take weeks and the second may take years.”

Based on the results to the recent EFS survey, you guys want to hear more about mixed martial arts. Fighting sports are pretty unique because they are the only activity where your sole goal is generally to render your opponent unable to continue. No matter how far behind a fighter is there is always the hope that one perfectly delivered strike will knock out an opponent, thereby winning the battle. Sport combat is perhaps the ONLY activity whereby one of the participants can be hopelessly outclassed and even further behind. Yet, at a stroke, win. Decisively.

In this article, I’m going to combine conditioning in the weight room with MMA training. However this advice could easily be utilized in other sports.

Endurance training

Traditionally, endurance training for combat sports of mixed martial arts has looked something like this:

A) Run

B) Repeat

C) See A.

This is an effective approach if we think of competitive fighting as an aerobic dependent event. But it’s not. We are dealing with repetitive, albeit sub-maximal power movements, which running does not replicate too well. Traditionally, power athletes have overtrained their aerobic system to prepare for their anaerobic power sport. So doing long distance work for anaerobic athletes can often make “joggers” out of “jumpers.” Let’s not build endurance at the expense of the power and strength components that we have taken so long to build up.

What about sprinting? While, again, it’s effective, some conditioning coaches use sprint training as their sole method of energy system development (ESD). This is at best a short-sighted approach. It is not uncommon to see well-conditioned fighters who have used sprint based ESD fatigue rapidly in hard matches. This is because although their cardio system is well-conditioned, the effect of lactic acid on their localized muscle groups is devastating. If we do not condition the muscle groups themselves to handle high levels of lactate, the cardio system will feel fine, but that area will lock up and shut down. Kickboxers call this “heavy legs.” Motocross athletes experience the same phenomenon but call it “arm pump.” This is where, despite feeling fine, the forearms become so pumped up and unable to move that the rider is toast anyway! And besides—no one wants to run!

I can’t say I blame them. No one I’ve ever met likes running, except runners. And no matter what they tell you, they don’t like it either. The commercials that have the hot chick running along the beach with her dog smiling are lies. All of the runners I see on my drive to work are miserable old fat bastards who look like they hate life. The only other runners I see are my running sport athletes who are getting the crap beat out of them doing agility or conditioning with me. And they don’t like it either—trust me.

So what’s a good way to improve metabolic power or do interval training without running? You can do it in the weight room (can you hear Dave getting pissed?) using a method of lifting called complexes. Now, I’m not the first person to ever use complexes. But after talking to my colleague, Robert Dos Remedios (the strength coach at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, California), we felt the need to define the term.

Complexes are performing two or more exercises in a sequence with the same load. You complete all of your reps with one movement first and then complete all of your reps with the next movement. For example, when combining a squat with an overhead press, perform five reps of squats first and then five reps of overhead presses without dropping the bar.

Seriously, this type of exercise demands a ton of work from the body. Here’s another example. At the end of both of the dynamic effort days (or twice a week if you are using a different programming option), the fighters perform one of the following complexes:

Complex one

 

  • Deadlift, 6 reps
  • Romanian deadlift, 6 reps
  • Bent over row, 6 reps
  • Power clean, 6 reps
  • Front squat, 6 reps
  • Push press, 6 reps
  • Back squat, 6 reps
  • Good morning, 6 reps

 

Complex two

 

  • Snatch grip deadlift, 6 reps
  • Snatch pull, 6 reps
  • Upright row, 6 reps
  • Power snatch, 6 reps
  • Reverse lunge, 6 reps each leg
  • Push jerk, 6 reps
  • Jump squat, 6 reps

That’s eight exercises at six reps each. Each rep is performed with good control and flows directly into the next exercise without rest. At about two seconds per rep, this complex should only take about 96 seconds. The key is to just keep the bar moving.

After each complex, we rest for 90 seconds and repeat for four complexes. The entire “interval training” program, as described, will take about twelve minutes.

Week 1: 4 circuits X 6 reps, 90 seconds rest

Week 2: 4 circuits X 6 reps, 75 seconds rest

Week 3: 4 circuits X 6 reps, 60 seconds rest

Week 4: 4 circuits X 6 reps, 45 seconds rest

Week 5: 5 circuits X 6 reps, 90 seconds rest

Week 6: 5 circuits X 6 reps, 75 seconds rest

Don’t underestimate this type of training. Complexes can be grueling. This eight movement complex times six reps has a total volume of 48 reps per set! At only 100 pounds on the bar, that comes out to 4800 pounds of total work per set. So in terms of density, we’re looking at over twenty thousand pounds of total work in, by week four, less than ten minutes.

That will help melt the fat off the body without having to resort to lighter weights in the workouts or be seen pounding the pavement. It will reap its rewards when the fighter steps into the ring. Even if the fighters are not using any type of strength program, this routine will really help to condition their bodies to handle the high levels of lactate that will be produced in a fight. It is an excellent fat loss tool for any athlete needing to preserve muscle and strength while dropping fat.

But to keep Dave happy—if you’re in his presence, do these complexes outside of the weight room! I can’t be held responsible otherwise.

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Alwyn Cosgrove is a Tae kwon-do international champion. He has utilized his personal experience as an athlete and combined it with the advanced theories of European sports science and the principles of modern strength and conditioning systems. He has worked with a wide variety of clientele including several Olympic and national level athletes, five world champions, and professionals in a multitude of sports such as boxing, martial arts, soccer, ice skating, football, fencing, triathlon, rugby, bodybuilding, dance, and fitness competition. For more information, visit Alwyn’s website at: http://www.alwyncosgrove.com.

Elite Fitness Systems strives to be a recognized leader in the strength training industry by providing the highest quality strength training products and services while providing the highest level of customer service in the industry. For the best training equipment, information, and accessories, visit us at www.EliteFTS.com.









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Submitted by DMorgan on Fri, 10/05/2007 - 2:45pm.

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