Coach’s Tips: Planning Out Your Weekly Training Schedule

 By PJ Nestler

One of the biggest mistakes I see when I first start working with a fighter is planning out their weekly training schedule and almost every single fighter I've worked with has made the same mistake until they have somebody who kind of helps them understand how to lay these practices out and structure everything properly.

Let's use MMA as an example.  

Wrestling MMA, strength and conditioning, BJJ, Spurring, Strength and conditioning and that's morning practices and then at night we've got mit work,  running, etc. If you look at the intensity in all these activities, usually the mornings are high intensity and then maybe the afternoons are a lower intensity technical work.

The first thing that stands out to me there is at least one high intensity practice every day. 

What happens here is high intensity every single day doesn't allow our body to recover, even if it's a different type of work out, they end up with nervous system fatigue, muscular fatigue and they end up beat up by the time they get to Thursday, Friday they are so beat up and over trained, that they don't get anything out of these last three days. They are simply pushing themselves further into over training. We've seen tons of fighters getting hurt, pull out of fights and they don't understand why that stuff is happening because they think they planned this out.

Usually the first thing I do when I have an athlete come in, is they fill out a training schedule that looks like this and they map out low intensity, high intensity and moderate intensity practices and then I help them structure it.

We map this stuff out, their weekly training schedule would look more like this:

  • Monday morning - Wrestling (High Intensity)
  • Monday night - Strength and Conditioning (High Intensity)
  • Tuesday morning - BJJ or  other Technical Work (Moderate Intensity)
  • Tuesday night - OFF or LSD, long, slow, distance cardio. (Low Intensity)
  • Wednesday morning - Thai Pad Work, technical. (Low-Moderate Intensity)
  • Wednesday night  - Strength and Conditioning
  • Thursday morning - BJJ (Moderate Intensity)
  • Thursday night - OFF or Technical Work
  • Friday morning - Sparring (High Intensity)
  • Friday evening - Strength and Conditioning
  • Saturday/Sunday - OFF

Now as we map this out, Sunday is usually always an off day, recovering and rest day, recovery rest day. We've got wrestling, this is pretty high intensity wrestling, sparring. Then we've got strength and conditioning, another high intensity session. BJJ technical work is moderate intensity. It's not super low because there is a little bit of drilling and kind of BJJ spurring but it's not super super high intensity and then long slow distance cardio work, very very low intensity. Muay thai pad work, again low intensity, low to moderate.

Strength and conditioning on Wednesdays is more of an aerobic capacity or a recovery day for us, just depending on really what they need and where we're at in camp. So again low intensity. So I'm going to put an L next to low. We'll call that M for moderate. This is low, this is moderate, this is low, if they do anything, then high, high and then off.

We only have 2 major high intensity days in the week.

They are big time wrestling day in the morning, they have big time sparring day in the morning and those are when we do our high intensity strengthening conditioning work.  Now I'd like to have it spaced out like that because that allows recovery if you see here.  Low intensity, so they are still getting some great technical work in here but they are also allowing their nervous system and their body to recover.

*Note: If they had to get a higher intensity day in here on Wednesday, they could do that because we've got a recovery day in between based on their training schedule they do more of a moderate intensity day there. And then moderate here. It's because these two moderate days are in between here, then we keep this one moderate as well. If they want to go low and low, we could go really high intensity on Wednesday as well depending on their recovery.

Spacing these sessions out like that allows us to get the most out of our sessions and allows your body to recover throughout the week. We like to do high intensity on the same day, we'll give them a lot of 6 to 7 hour of break in between these sessions. This break allows them to recover. I like doing strength and conditioning in the afternoon, so that even if they come out a little beat up and fatigued, we're not taking away from their technical skilled work, which is the most important part. I'd rather the strength and conditioning is affected then the technical skilled work is affected by the strength work.

Having this kind of high/low sequencing allows that proper recovery, keeps my guys fresher for a lot longer and minimizes injuries.

We don't have a lot of injuries with our fighters during camp or even outside of camp and just keeps them fresh and then make sure that we maximize what they are getting out of all these sessions because if they are fatigued going into this Friday sparring, which is arguably one of the most important sessions in the week and the highest risk of them getting hurt and they go in that fatigued and already beat up. They are not going to get anything out of that and most likely they are going to over train and they're going to get hurt.

Coach PJ is a sports performance professional with an unparalleled passion to be the best, in order to have the greatest impact on those he services. During his 10 year career he has worked with athletes in many capacities ranging from coaching high school football, NCAA Division 1 Strength & Conditioning, to his current role as Director of multiple high performance training centers in Southern California.


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