Tip #2 – Train from General to Specific
When I start with my fighters, I like to start training them 12 weeks out from a fight. Actually, the further from a fight you can start, the better, but generally you sign a fight 2-4 months away, so 12 weeks is typical.
At the beginning, we focus on the most general exercises: the big compound movements like Squats and Bench Presses and cardio drills like running or cycling. As the fight nears, the training gets more specific: volume of the general work decreases while intensity increases and the focus shifts towards exercises and workouts that more mimic what is going to happen inside the Octagon.
This is most apparent with respect to how we train cardio.
For cardio, running and stationary cycling (or other cyclic methods) are the focus from 8-12 weeks out, which then changes to circuits of increasing complexity from 8 weeks out until the fight, with less time and energy spent on cyclic cardio.
MMA sparring is also increased in both intensity and volume, so when the fight actually happens, the fighter has been through much, much worse and the fight will feel like a rewards for all that hard work.
And that’s exactly what it is, when a fighter has trained properly.
If you’re not a fighter, this tip can help you by giving you by giving you a structure that you can use to include variety in your training, keeping your body adapting and workouts fun.
Tip #3 – Use this POWERFUL Interval Training Method
It’s not Tabata’s. It’s not HIIT.
It will help you go the distance, building a strong heart and lungs to fuel your muscles with blood and oxygen.
If anything, you could call it MIIT, for “medium intensity interval training”. But a more accurate (and scientific) term is “Anaerobic Threshold Training”. In layman’s terms, the Anaerobic Threshold is the level of work output that you can sustain before fatigue sets in.
It is the best predictor of performance, far superior to the more common VO2 Max. And Threshold Intervals are the most powerful way to increase this important fitness characteristic.
Here’s how you do them, using a treadmill as an example:
- Warmup for 5 minutes, working up to a light jog
- Walk for 1 minute
- Start your first interval at a pace that is hard but you can maintain for 4 minutes
- Walk for 2 minutes
- If you found you could go harder, increase the speed by a couple of points (8.0 – 8.4 mph) and go again for 4 minutes
- Walk for 2 minutes and repeat for a total of 3-5 intervals per workout
There’s another key to making this work: breathing easy and relaxed throughout the hard interval, trying to breathe through your nose the whole time.
When you fight, you want to minimize the amount of breathing you do through your mouth, because if you get punched and your jaw is open, your jaw might get broken. Nose breathing also improves function of your diaphragm, which helps you get bigger, deeper breaths.
Use Threshold Intervals twice per week, adding time to your work interval up to 6 minutes and watch your conditioning go sky-high after 4 weeks. Now you may be thinking, “Sure, you train UFC fighters. But I just want to look good, so is this stuff important for me?”
My answer to you is a resounding YES.
If you want to look like an MMA fighter, follow these tips and your performance will increase and your body will get cut up as a natural side effect of your training.
Your training will take on a whole new dimension, so you’ll actually ENJOY working in and of itself, instead of just enjoying the way it makes your body look.
Plus, when you focus on performance, you are FORCED to take care of movement pattern problems that might otherwise result in an injury, helping you stay healthier and keeping you in the game longer.
This is important for long-term adherence and if you want to look good and maintain it, performance is the way to battle the inevitable decline that happens naturally as your body ages, testosterone and metabolism decline and you get older by FORCING you to keep your body tuned up a like a new car just off the lot.
The fact is that if you can do more in 10 years than you can right now, which is what will happen with a performance-first focus, your body will literally be younger then than it is now. And I think that’s just awesome. Don’t you?