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A relatively new field, Sports Science, has made some incredible strides in improving athletes of all types beyond what was ever thought possible. However, the average combat athlete may believe that strength and conditioning, sports nutrition, and the other facets of Sports Science may not apply to his performance for those particular skills. This is an unfortunate case of misinformation because the best fighters in the industry use the Sport Sciences to their fullest extent in beating their opponents.

Combat sports are multi dimensional when it comes to training: speed, power, agility, strength, stamina… These are only a few of the areas that need to be considered. And all of them can be improved above and beyond what skill-specific training will do.

This multi part article will try to dissolve these myths, and, in turn, build a sound basis for the fighter in improving his or her abilities, all the while not interfering with sport-specific skill training. So let’s get to it.

The best way to start putting together a program for the combat athlete is to understand where in the training the athlete is. For example: if he is not preparing for fight, then he is off-season; if he is a few weeks out from a meet, then he is pre-season.

Power is defined in physics as force multiplied by distance divided by time. In other words, to increase power from the body, you increase how much force a muscle can generate (i.e. strength), or by increasing how fast that muscle contracts. Increasing either of those is great, but increase both, and power goes through the roof.

Off season training generally needs to focus on improving the overall foundational capabilities of the athlete. Fighters who are afraid of putting on too much mass usually get this mind set from reading fitness magazines aimed at bodybuilders. That is not our goal here, and a ton of mass is not always the case when using resistance training. They also have a fear that improving strength will slow them down. This fallacy comes from decades of old wives tales, and is completely false. If your muscles are stronger, you move faster – period.

If you are going to have a powerful house, then you need a powerful foundation. So, what can accomplish that? That’s where off-season comes in. Let’s think about that Power formula again.

Force is the first part of the equation, so focus on it during your first cycle of off season. To do that, you need to start with the building blocks of strength, so stick with the basics. Attack the compound movements (the squat, deadlift, press, etc.) like a boss. Doing these multijoint movements at low reps and heavy pounds make the muscles work hard, and they will adapt accordingly. Follow them up with some auxiliary movements and some great food and you will be amazed at how fast you will progress over the next few weeks.

For conditioning, start hitting drills that will tax your anaerobic threshold, such as shuttle runs, tire flips, etc. Need to last longer while down on the mat? Want to go hit the fifth round like you started the first? These will get you on your way. Not only will they help you build your lactate tolerance and muscular endurance, but they’ll also improve your coordination, which will also help you get ready for your next cycle.

Speaking of which, Part Two of this article will focus on developing explosive power during your off-season. If you have any questions before that, get a hold of me here through Xyience. Until then, remember: Somebody has to lose.

- Michael Palmieri

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