The basic building block of any skilled physical performance is physical fitness. Just as there are components of speed, there are also components of physical fitness. The three basic components of physical fitness are stamina, strength, and flexibility. When properly developed, these three fundamental fitness characteristics will improve any skilled physical performance.
In order to become the best possible fighter, you must develop a high level of fundamental physical fitness. High levels of physical fitness will dramatically enhance your skill attributes such as speed, power, accuracy, timing, and agility. This is the hallmark of a highly effective fighter. Their superior fitness and attributes allow them to easily transcend styles and quickly integrate new concepts into their fighting and mixed martial arts repertoire.
Martial artists, boxers, wrestlers, and athletes in general have adopted weight lifting as part of their regular training. It was once thought that lifting weights would make you slow, and compromise your skill and coordination. That notion, as science and many great athletes have repeatedly shown, has been completely invalidated.
All of today’s top fighters supplement their training with resistance training or weights, and as a result, today’s fighters are stronger and faster than ever before.
Weight training tones the muscles, which increases their ability to contract quickly. When using weights or resistance training machines, you have to train with a specific purpose in mind if you want to achieve useful results.
Although, there are many inferior gadgets on the market that claim to effective, the truth of the matter is that none of these magic gadgets will improve your strength faster or more effectively than free weights or professional grade resistance machines. What Olympic-level champion or professional athlete have you heard of who attributes his strength and explosiveness to the latest infomercial exercise gadget?
Strength training can improve every attribute if applied correctly. To get started, you should invest in quality resistance equipment, or join a health club that has quality resistance equipment.
Many combat athletes enjoy their sport or art; however, they often neglect to stretch. Stretching increases range of motion and flexibility by lengthening soft tissues such as muscles and ligaments. It promotes fluid movement during athletic performance, decreases soreness, and minimizes injury.
The more flexible you are, the more relaxed your muscles will be, and the faster you can move without risking injury. A fighter who is flexible has more body control, which is essential to initiation speed and movement speed.
There are two basic types of stretching, static and dynamic. Static stretching requires you to move a muscle to the end of its range of motion and maintain it without pain for 20-45 seconds. This is a very effective way to increase flexibility. Dynamic stretching involves active tightening of muscles to move joints through their full range of motion. Dynamic stretching should be used as part of a warm up routine before all-out training. An active warm up of 5-10 minutes at a low to moderate intensity should be followed by dynamic stretching.
There are many factors that determine your flexibility: genetics, gender, training program, age, fitness level, diet, and muscle tone, just to name a few. The key is to focus your time and energy on those factors that you can influence. Never waste your valuable time on factors you clearly have no control over.
A regular stretching program will help you maintain flexibility and readiness for self-defense. I recommend a balanced and consistent stretching program to help you prevent injuries and prepare your body for optimal training and/or competitive performance. There are many helpful books available on proper stretching for combative arts. Check your favorite bookstores for options.
Stamina and Endurance Training
Aerobics are used to strengthen the most important muscle: the heart. By increasing your stamina level, you will be able to flow for longer periods of time.
Contrary to what some advertisements claim, most fights will require more than one “killer” move. Often, stamina will be the limiting factor of your fighting capability. Once you are tired, speed and everything else goes out the window.
Endurance training can be either aerobic (with oxygen), or anaerobic (without oxygen). Although fighting is almost purely anaerobic, you should use cardiovascular exercise in the form of aerobics as the foundation of your endurance training. You should gradually insert anaerobic bursts or high-speed intervals into your training. The bursts will improve your overall aerobic capacity. They will also simulate the bursts of energy necessary to overwhelm and outlast an opponent during a fight.
To get adequate aerobic exercise, physiologists tell us that we should raise our pulse to target zone for at least 20 to 30 minutes, and that we should do this at least 3 times a week. You can find your target zone by subtracting your age from 220. Then multiply the difference by 0.6 to get your target low, and by 0.8 to get your target high.
A commonly used barometer of whether you are exercising aerobically or anaerobically is the “talk test.” If you can carry on a normal conversation without much effort, you are doing aerobics. If you can barely get out a word, or if you are holding your breath, you are doing anaerobics.
It is important to insert high-speed intervals into your attribute-training sessions. This will help you develop the anaerobic endurance that is essential for developing a highly effective fighting flow. As you begin implementing anaerobics, you will experience an uncomfortable ache in your muscles. The goal is to make this feeling of discomfort so familiar that it becomes an ally in competition or self-defense.
The Balanced Healthy Diet
As a combat speed student, you want to feel your best in order to get the most out of your training. Good basic nutrition is a prerequisite to health and high levels of fitness.
A leaner athlete is a faster athlete. Excessive body fat will hinder your speed. You should strive to achieve reasonably low levels of body fat through your training and diet.
Do not become fanatical with losing every ounce of body fat. Some body fat is necessary for good health and adequate energy levels.
You must also take genetics into account. Some people are meant to be leaner than others. Just do what you can to achieve your optimum level of body fat. This is the level at which you feel your quickest.
Your diet should be built on common sense. For starters, avoid foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, hydrogenated oils, excessive salt (sodium), high calories, and refined sugar. You can eat these types of foods occasionally. The key is to avoid making these types of foods the foundation of your daily diet. The foods at the foundation of your diet should be high in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates.
Try to eat something from all food groups. Strive to increase your consumption of water, fruits and vegetables. Strive to decrease your consumption of junk food and fast foods. This will ensure that you are getting all of the proper nutrients. Try to avoid becoming fanatical about your diet. Instead, keep it simple and focus on stressing variety in your daily meals, while staying aware of what is healthy and what is not.
Learn how to substitute healthy alternatives for less-healthy foods. Continue to improve your diet by educating yourself on how to make healthy eating choices, like how to shop for and prepare healthy foods, and how to eat healthy when dining out.
Drink plenty of pure water every day. It is the second most important component of health, after adequate rest. Substitute fresh water in place of sodas and artificial juices. Consider zero calorie vitamin waters or diet sodas as a way to get taste without the sugar or calories. This alone can help you shed unwanted pounds.
Many boxers, wrestlers, and MMA competitors use nutritional supplements to help maintain their basic health and fitness. Despite the best intentions to eat a well-balanced diet every day, the vast majority of people will fall short. At a minimum, nutritional supplements offer insurance against nutritional deficiency. Optimally, nutritional supplements can improve function and performance.
Ideally, you should take a vitamin deficiency test to see which vitamins are lacking in your daily diet. You can then take the vitamins you need to make up for the deficiency. This test will also prevent you from spending money on supplements you don’t need.
To make sure your reflexes are functioning at their peak, it is important to have a sufficient supply of all B-vitamins. They aid in converting carbohydrates into glucose, and are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system.
A training log is an indispensable tool for the superior fighter. With the help of a training log, you can eliminate unproductive training drills and increase time on the drills and tools that are delivering improvements and results. A training log will help you progress faster.
What you actually record in your training log is up to you. It depends on what is important or which components of the Speed Loop you are concentrating on developing. You should strive to keep it simple so that you will actually do it (record progress) regularly.
Some of the things I have listed in my training log include: date, training tool, duration, speed component, training partners, current weight, body fat percentage, body tools or weapons emphasized, progress notes, and pertinent comments (suggestions for improvement, general observations, etc.)