A well-designed programme is vital for making continual progress, both short and long term. While also being crucial to helping stay “injury free”.
Before focusing on the elements need to succeed we first need to find out where the athlete falls short on, by using a series of assessments. At No Limits Gym, we use a movement screen primarily. This helps us identify any “weak” areas or imbalances in an individual. Once we’ve found this out we address them.
It’s important to log or record everything done. You can retest regularly to make sure your on the right track. Never ignore your strengths but it is important to give ample time working on the less favourite stuff. Mobility, flexibility, foam rolling etc. These little things make a big difference when it comes to movement patterns. You simply cannot build strength, speed or power on dysfunctional patterns.
Creating a solid foundation
Begin with learning to improve fundamental human movements, corrective exercises and mobility work. This approach keeps the focus on movement and not muscle groups.
Upper body push – Typically the dominant area for a combat athlete. Pushing is the same mechanical movement as punching and so dominates a typical programme (not for us!) examples are press ups, overhead press and the bench press.
Upper body pull – Sadly many ignore horizontal pulling spending too much time pushing (as mentioned above!) Athletes often have rolled shoulders, strained necks, tight chest muscles and weak upper backs. An extremely important area to focus on as it improves not only posture, but recoil, deceleration and reduces injury risk. Examples of this are supine rows, face pulls, barbell rows and pull up variations. We can often set up a 2:1 ratio in favour of pulling if an individual is too dominant on the front side. So for every 1 pushing movement we do 2 pulling.
Hinge – The most important and powerful thing we can do. The hinge contributes to strength and explosive power developing our athleticism. Pivotal for combat sports. Examples of this are deadlifts and good mornings. Explosive movements like the kettlebell swing are also excellent.
Squat – As long as the mobility is in place to perform this, the squat is the king of all exercises. They can do more for total body development and strength then all the other lifts combined! But if you get them wrong you run the risk of injury. Examples of this are front/back/goblet squats. If mobility is an issue split squats are the perfect resolution. At times we actually prefer these with our athletes due to the “split” stance and it being more sports specific.
Loaded Carry – This improves stability and cross body strength. At the first attempt you may stumble like a walking drunk but give it a few weeks and you will soon see all other aspects of your training improve. A great way of developing core strength without spinal loading. Very safe and effective. Examples of these would be a farmers walk.
Everything else – This may be the least enjoyable aspect but as we have said equally important. Working in different planes of movement, on your knees or half kneeling. Maybe you have a unstable surface to work on. You can use unilateral exercises to encourage more development or recruitment in that area. Challenge yourself in this area and you will notice game changing improvements in others.
Deload or Recovery weeks
Training day in, day out for a full fight camp (12-10 weeks long) can be tiring both mentally and physically. Add to this the fact for the majority of the time the fighter is in a calorie deficit (we don’t like the word diet!), they run the risk of hitting a serious plateau or even worse losing strength and decreasing in performance. If this happens your body needs rest. Taking a recovery week allows your muscles, nervous system and hormones to recover. We use this time wisely, often giving the athlete more food, while reducing the work load. This also means that the body will continually adapt to the new stressors placed to it the following week(s) Remember going into fight week completely fatigued will prevent you from competing at your highest level.
Keeping it simple
Don’t over complicate your programme. Remember what your goal is. Keep this at the centre of your thoughts. The sport your in comes first. We deal with many boxers and so that is their priority. What we do around this has to complement their training. We are trying to add more weapons to their armoury. Making sure they peak at the right times and feel good in the ring during camp. Our programmes are very supplemental to their sport. We make sure that the training is smart and not hard. Dan John (world renown strength coach) uses a great theory the 80/10/10 rule. He believed 80% should be dedicated to your sport specifics while 10% should be focused on getting stronger and the final 10% working on correctives.
This is a great starting point. Of course this can be altered depending on the persons ability/level/dysfunctions but never the less follow this simple rule and you will reap the rewards of a well balanced programme giving you better results in and out of the ring.