Saturday, May 1, 2010

Train for work capacity within a certain timeframe

Performing timed sets with a clock / timer will provide a more effective workout than one that is paced by reps and sets. Timed sets offer more than just the development of your strength endurance. It can be applied to specific strength workouts as well.

This style of workout helps you discover ease within your workout, as you pace yourself with the clock /timer you will learn to relax whilst under tension, expending only the energy that is needed, making you more efficient in physical endeavours. It is also an extremely effective means of training your focus and attention. I also use it as a means of motivation, for example; instead of doing 3 sets of 20 pushups, I rather do the maximum amount of pushups I can perform in 60 seconds. If I did the exercise using the set method, I would rest after 20 push ups and then resume when I felt fresher. By utilizing the timed set method I accomplish the following:

• More reps
• Faster pace
• Better motivation
• Create metabolic disturbance, which improves my fitness

Use it in your MMA / BJJ workouts as well – 90 seconds of Bodylock escapes instead of 10 counted escapes. You’ll feel the difference!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Combat conditioning warm up

It isn’t the mountain ahead to climb that wears you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.
Muhammad Ali

Stand up Active Warm up
Y squat to stretch to Y squat
Internal and external arm shoulder swings
Single leg lean forward – keep leg and back straight
Rope skipping
Shadow boxing – no full extension of joints - maintain good form

Combat Gymnastics
Double Leg Bridge
Single Leg Bridge
Superman – 4 point post to 2 point post
Gorilla crawls
Lateral chimp shuffles
Spider crawls
Plank side crawls
Flat prone – forward body pulls
Bridge to shrimps – left and right
Bridge to shrimp to turtle position to forward roll – repeat on other side
Combat gymnastics - freestyle
Scorpion – prone, foot arcs to opposite hand
Iron cross – supine, leg to opposite hand
Rollover to v-sit/ butterfly/inside hurdler stretch

Body weight exercises for sport specific movements

I have listed several exercises and movements that can be used in training, please inquire with a competent qualified trainer on the correct movement bio-mechanics and application for your particluar sport or fitness programme.

Before you start:
1. Set attainable goals.
2. Pay attention to any injuries.
3. Keep a record of your training programme.
4. Warm up properly and stretch after the session
5. Start slowly with progressive resistance and levers to condition and prepare the muscular and skeletal system.

Bio motor Locomotive agility
 Jog to run – forward, backwards and sidewards
 Skip to Power skip
 Side shuttles
 Single leg jumps - forward, backwards and side wards

Mobility, Agility and Power
 Partner jumps – jump over / crawl under. Progress to raising hips higher or adjust sequence, for e.g. 2 x jumps / 1 x crawl under.
 Single leg reactive hops - forward, backwards and sidewards

Upper Body Strength
 Elbow stabilization push ups – forward and backward rolling action
 Elbow stabilization to core side control
 Elbow stabilization to shoulder press lock out
 Push up plank position endurance hold
 T – stability Roll
 Box step ups
 Push ups with elevated legs
 Push ups with single leg abduction
 Push ups to T-stability roll
 Push up to T-stability on one leg
 Push ups to Cobra – progress to using one leg
 Partner base (kneeling on one leg) – Double / Single arm push up
 Partner base (partner in plank position). Frontal and perpendicular configuration with staggered hand position. Advanced progression would be both hands on the head.

Lower body strength
 Squats – traditional and staggered
 Single leg squats – all planes of motion
 Lunges (NB: keep ear, shoulder, hip and trailing knee in alignment). All planes of motion to provide variety and specificity to your training, e.g., lunge to floor pick up.

 Shoulder Pike Press – from dog stretch position.
 Progress to bench and stability ball

 Recline pull with bars/ropes /TRX. Variation change lever arm with single leg extended position and grip variation.
 Partner Recline Pulls. Progress from arms on leg, isometric hold off leg, Alternating arm rowing.

One Arm Row
 Off staggered stance – partner squats and holds.

Metabolic Run
Condition the athlete to meet the sports energy requirements
 Short sprints
 Shuttles

Metabolic strength and power
Leg crank circuit – 60 to 90sec in duration, specify to sport requirements. Utilizing lunges, squats, split jumps, mountain climbing and jump squats.
 Example: lunges x 20
 Squats with staggered stance x 20
 Split jumps x 10
 Jump squats x 10

Squat thrust and jump squat thrust circuit
 Squat thrust x 10
 Squat thrust + push ups x 10
 Squat thrust + push ups + jump x 8

Total body strength
 Stability Ball prone plank on two balls

Total Body Power
 Squat thrusts
 Squat thrusts - with ball
 Squat thrusts with jump
 Squat thrusts, push ups with jumps

Lower Body Power
 Power skips
 Wall acceleration run at 50° angle
 Partner jumps – jump over / crawl under
 Squat jumps
 Box jumps
 Alternating split jumps (TEST: incorporate only after athlete is able to perform 20 lunges with ease)
 Skater – bringing opposite leg across mid line
 Bounding

Core and Balance
 Core Programme to include: sit ups, scissor kicks, V-ups (balance on shoulder – raise legs), Pike ups off mat.
 Back emphasis – Superman, Elbow stabilization
 T-ups with hand on ball

Anterior reaches – for balance, stability of hips and control of movement around the spine. Applied also to enhance deceleration mechanics and locomotion in general.
 Progress from parallel stance to staggered and then to single leg
 Speed, multi-direction reaching is added to increase difficulty
 Overhead reaches with extended arms, for sports utilizing general overhead mechanics.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Conditioning for the real world

Recently I was reading an article on the supposed weakness of the Springboks rugby front row; the author of this story through discussion with the wise men of rugby felt that the team lacked the grizzled men of the country, players like Hempies du Toit and Tommy Laubscher who never stepped into a modern gym but had extraordinary strength. Simon Shaw the British and Irish lions lock also believes that too many modern players spend a lot of time bulking up in the gym but lacked essential strength, conditioning and toughness. Matt Hughes of mixed martial arts UFC fame is another who has exceptional strength not gained from a gym routine. The common denominator of these athletes is how they gained their strength – through tireless hours of working on the farm; lifting bags of animal feed, driving fencing poles into the ground and herding livestock, far removed from the 10 rep / 3 set gym programme.

Consider the physical factors athletes require:
• Strength
• Power
• Balance and agility
• Flexibility
• Endurance

Are body building gym programmes able to enhance the above bio-motor abilities? Today many athletic programmes and professional sports team use body building machines and protocol to condition athletes. Unfortunately the strength gained translates poorly unto the field of play. Consider that most gym machines require no activation of postural muscles and minimal activation of stabilizers. For example; other than rowing I cannot think of any other sport where the participant sits during his event, so why is the rugby player or MMA athelete sitting if he plans to exercise his shoulders or back? Will he be seated when performing in the field of play or competition? The seated row or shoulder press machine was built for the body builder and purchased by gym owners to utilize as much of the gym floor as possible; more machines in a squared metre with more paying members utilizing the equipment means a better profit margin.

Am I advocating that you give notice to your gym? Not at all, but rather if you are training in a gym, train functionally with a meaningful work capacity measured by time rather than reps and sets. Bring in balance and agility into your workout and allow for a power session within your routine. In other words train as if you were working on the farm; short sprints to herd animals into their pens, followed quickly by explosive lifts as you lift bales of straw and finish off with walking with heavy containers of milk on each hand. How do you do this in the gym?

In the studio – 2 min of continuous shuttles
Clean and press barbell – 30 seconds
Farmers walk with heavy dumbbells - 1 min

Repeat for 5 rounds – conditioning for the real world!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

16 minutes of conditioning using Tabata sequence

I can wholeheartedly recommend the Tabata protocol for fitness gains if you are already training two to three times a week in regular BJJ or MMA classes and are in need of some extra supplementary training. The reason for this is that the demands of sparring and rolling are between 3 to 5 minutes per round, the effort of one cycle in the Tabata protocol is four minutes of intensive interval training. This translates better than say a regular gym programme of 20 minutes of cardio followed by body building type strength work consisting of a certain amount of sets and reps per exercise.

Credit for this simple and powerful training method belongs to its namesake, Dr. Izumi Tabata and a team of researchers from the National Institute of Fitness and Sports in Tokyo, Japan. Their groundbreaking 1996 study, published in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise provided documented evidence concerning the dramatic physiological benefits of high-intensity intermittent training. After just 6 weeks of testing, Dr. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity in his subjects, along with a 14% increase in their ability to consume oxygen (V02Max). These results were witnessed in already physically fit athletes. The conclusion was that just four minutes of Tabata interval training could do more to boost aerobic and anaerobic capacity than an hour of endurance exercise. The sequence is 20 seconds of high intensity effort followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeat for 8 sets.

Starting off
I recommend an adaptive period to allow your body to condition itself for the demands to be placed on it later. I have chosen four exercises that will target the major muscles of the body, if whilst doing the exercises and your body starts fatiguing (and it will!), don’t stop – hold the posture and continue slowly. You can use a wall clock or you can purchase the GYMBOSS interval stop watch at You want to build up to 32 cycles nonstop which will only take 16 minutes, truly a case of less is more!

First week - one cycle of 8 exercises / two to three times per week
• 2 sets of push ups
• 2 sets of ab/core exercises
• 2 sets of burpees
• 2 sets of pull ups
Second week – two cycles of 16 exercises / two to three times per week
• 3 sets of push ups
• 5 sets of ab/core exercise
• 5 sets of burpees
• 3 sets of pull ups
Third week – three cycles of 24 exercises / two to three times per week
• 4 sets of push ups
• 8 sets of ab/core exercise
• 8 sets of burpees
• 4 sets of pull ups
Forth week – 4 cycles of 32 exercises / two to three times per week
• 8 sets of push ups
• 8 sets of ab/core exercise
• 8 sets of burpees
• 8 sets of pull ups

Getting bored? … Using the same adaptive conditioning method as set out above. Bring in Olympic clean, press and snatch movements, invest time and money in learning about kettlebells, TRX suspension trainers and sand bags.