Want To Get in Shape, Build Muscle and Develop Explosive Power? We’ll Show You Exactly How Some of the Best Fighters and Grapplers Prepare for Battle!
Workouts, Programs and Tips for MMA Fighters, Jiu Jitsu Practitioners, Wreslters, Boxers, and Other Combat Athletes
Why Is Strength Training Important for Fighters?
Strength training is very important for any fighter or grappler who is looking to improve their game. Showing up to the gym for practices will only get you so far. The best fighters and grapplers in the world are constantly seeking out new ways to improve their game.
Here at FightCampConditioning.com we will be heavily focusing on the strength training needed to improve your mobility, strength, speed, power, explosiveness, agility and conditioning, but we will always provide some skill specific tips as well. We showcase coaches and programs that are used by some of the best fighters and grapplers in Earth!
Below you will learn more about how to train for fighting and grappling and why strength training for combat is different than training for anything else. You can also check out our weekly training articles or weekly podcast with top coaches, athletes and professionals in the industry.
Why Training for Fighters and Grapplers is Different
Fighters and Grapplers require a wide variety of qualities to perform at their best… Below I want to discuss why a more specialized approach is required outside of the normal bodybuilding training philosophies that most people use.
It’s not a bad thing to do bodybuilding workouts, some training is better than no training, but that approach to training is a far cry from what would be an optimal routine for a fighter or grappler.
The majority of the time these “average” workout plans are used by fighters and grapplers for one of the following reasons:
- They saw it online
- They’re friends or teammates are doing it
- They simply want to look good
- They not sure what to do (lack of knowledge)
- They have a personal trainer designing their training programs who has limited experience or knowledge
All of the above reasons are the most common I come across when consulting with a new athlete.
Now reasons one through four all make logical sense right? Athletes and coaches are doing their best to get in shape and do the right things, so that they can perform. We typically do the stuff that we are familiar with or that we have learned over the years.
Few coaches and athletes have time, or interest, to review and research various aspects of human performance:
- Prioritizing Your Workouts
- Managing Accumulated Stress
- Understanding Strength Qualities
- Adjusting Exercise Variables to Reach Your Goals
- Developing a Coordinated Plan of Attack
- How to Structure a Workout
- Choosing Appropriate Exercises for the Athlete
- Organizing Weekly Training Sessions
- Learning to Recovery Efficiently
- and More!
It is simply way too much to ask of an athlete to train himself.
5 Common Mistakes, When Training Combat Athletes, Include:
1. No Plan of Attack
Ideally one person needs to be in charge of the athletes camp, so they can create a plan of attack, communicate expectations, create a schedule, execute and monitor progress along the way. Taking random bites of information and throwing them together randomly is a recipe for disaster.
Things to Consider When Developing a Plan of Attack:
- Who is the athlete?
- What are they’re strength, weaknesses, etc?
- Who is the opponent?
- What are they’re strengths, weaknesses, etc?
- What is the game plan for the fight?
- What physical demands are needed for that game plan?
A stand up battle will have different technical and physical demands than a wrestling or grappling match.
Once the plan is in place, coaches can coordinate on how to best prepare the athlete for competition.
2. Lack of Communication Between Everyone Involved
Lots of athletes and fans bounce around from gym to gym.
Athletes train with a variety of different coaches. Commonly each coach wants to teach skill, but also tends to blend in their own version of strength or conditioning drills. Coaches want to help prepare the athlete, but typically do a poor job communicating with the rest of the team. Many athletes are sparring, rolling live, wrestling, and doing conditioning at every practice.
Left unchecked, the athlete can end up exhausted, stressed, performing poorly and injured.
3. Not Assessing or Monitoring Athletes
Is the athlete getting better or just tired?
Training can be long, grueling and taxing on the athlete’s mind and body.
More importantly, each athlete is unique and handles stress differently.
In order to improve their performance, its important to get some benchmark numbers before and during camp.
- Is the athlete healthy?
- How is their weight/body fat %?
- How good is their mobility/flexibility?
- Are they strong?
- Are they explosive, fast, and quick?
- Are they in shape? (aerobic, anaerobic?)
If the athlete is struggling with pain, strain or injury, that is priority #1. A good physical therapist, manual therapist or other professional needs to assess, address and communicate the plan with the rest of the team.
A GOOD strength coach can monitor body composition, resting heart rate, mobility, symmetry, strength, power, and conditioning at the beginning and during camp.
4. Too Much High Intensity Training
Competitive people love hard workouts!
If they are laying in a pile of sweat and vomit, it was a great workout, right?
Remember, the goal of strength and conditioning is to make the athlete stronger, more athletic and to keep them healthy, so they can train!
If we always ‘smash’ them during our workouts, they are way too fatigued to perform and are vulnerable to injury.
A GOOD strength program addresses posture, stability of the joints, mobility, explosive movement, strength and conditioning, within a systematic plan of attack that allows the athlete to peak for competition.
Ideally, the intensity level of each practice should be planned and practices throughout the week should fluctuate between low, medium and high intensity work.
5. No Recovery Strategies
Many coaches these days, say that there is no such thing as over training, just under recovery!
Many people overlook quality nutrition and sleep, but these are the foundation of any good program.
Without them, a lot of hard work can go down the drain.
Done correctly, these simple recovery strategies can help an athlete stay healthy, alert and perform at their best.
Find A Coach with ‘Fruit on Their Tree’
Its important to learn from a qualified strength coach, that has experience and success training people in your situation.
Many turn to local trainers, but believe it or not, just because you are a certified personal trainer it doesn’t mean that you know jack about training or the human body.
Everybody reading this, provided they are over 18, can become a personal trainer in a weekend if they want to. Yeah you read that right, a weekend. So when choosing a trainer in your area, choose wisely and ask for credentials, testimonials, pictures and who they have worked with or been mentored by. They should also be able to show you your ideal periodization for the year and explain why.
With that out of the way I can now discuss why training fighters and grapple is different from the average approach and what you should be looking for in a performance training system.
Strength and Conditioning for Fighters and Grapplers Should Include:
Start with an Assessment
Before we get to the first workout, its important to take the time to learn about the athlete. What they are working towards? What is their past experience? How well do they move? What makes them tick? What challenges have they overcome? Gathering this information will pay dividends down the road, help you develop better workouts and get your athletes to ‘buy in’ to the program.
Improve Mobility and Stability of Their Joints
Fighters and grapplers are notorious for wanting to grind everyday. This constant stress leaves many stiff, beat up and with a laundry list of aches, pains and past injuries. Improving mobility and increasing the stability of our joints can help us move more efficiently, reduce common aches and pains and decrease the risk of injury.
Improving Muscular Endurance and Work Capacity
Nobody likes to gas out, so its important to train each athlete, so that they are prepared for the demands of their specific sport. Wrestlers, grapplers, fighters and other combat athletes need a well rounded conditioning program that develops their aerobic and anaerobic systems.
Increasing Strength and Building Muscle
If skill is equal, the stronger fighter will, most likely, prevail. Increasing strength and building muscle (when necessary) should be a foundational goal for just about every athlete’s training program. Some athletes may start with bodyweight drills, while others may be working to hit PRs for their major lifts. It all just depends on the ability level and goals of that particular person.
Develop Speed, Explosiveness and Power
Highlight reels are made from speed and power. Quick Takedowns, Knockouts of the Night and Fast Submissions all stem from an athlete being fast and powerful. And speed, power and quickness CAN BE IMPROVED! Using drills like sprinting, throwing and jumping are common ways to improve an athletes power output.
Prepare Them For Competition
Those last few weeks before a big event can be stressful and full of distractions. In order to peak for competition, its essential to learn how to adjust your training, dial in your nutrition and speed recovery, so you perform well!
Here’s What Some of Our Top Competitors Have to Say…
In all my years of training around the world, nothing compares to these workouts. The workouts make me strong, help my cardio, but also help me stay healthy and pain free. I love this place.
2X Brazilian BJJ Champion – Ricardo Abreu
“Brother, you have the best training by far! Today and every day has been top notch conditioning…no better place to get your workouts!
Mike “Joker” Guymon – UFC veteran and King of the Cage Champion
I have trained all over the world and basically thought I had seen it all for better or worse throughout my career but these guys throw something new at me every time I train…they make training fun again.
Shannon Slack – Bellator Fighter and Former Olympic Wrestler
Since I started using these principles, my game has elevated much more then I thought possible. I have trained with lots of strength and conditioning coaches and none of them come close to what i have found here.
Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall
UFC Fighter and TFC World Champion
The workouts are always intense and always challenging. I have noticed a definite improvement in my endurance and strength in my fighting and over all fitness.
Jessica Penne – UFC Fighter and Invicta World Champion
As a professional UFC fighter having the best strength and conditioning training is imperative. Whether you are training for a specific sport or just trying to get in the best shape possible…I can’t recommend this place enough.
James “Lightning” Wilks
Winner of Season 9 of the Ultimate Fighter
These workouts challenge me mentally and physically…forcing me to get in the best shape of my life and perform at my best.
Former UFC Champion and Former Invicta World Champion – Carla Esparza
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