Strength Training for Fight Training


Recently some of the Wild Geese Kickboxers have been coming to me asking for advice on getting stronger.

And I have to admit, I’m delighted.

Right from its inception, Wild Geese have been offering conditioning training for its fighters. But various coaches are a little set in their ways and the lads often think that what they do in class is enough.

The coaches I can understand. They’ve done what they’ve done for years and have gotten great results, why change?

Simply since the rise and rise of MMA and the UFC franchise, conditioning has become ever more apparent. The old adage in the martial arts that strength doesn’t matter has been thrown out the window. On the TV show “Ultimate Fighter” you see the contestants go through rigorous conditioning sessions as well as their actual Martial arts training.

And very often, the man who works harder at getting stronger off the mat is the victor on it.

This trend has been noted by other martial artists now and it’s creeping into the wider world.
I see this as a good thing.
For years I’ve been advocating strength training for martial arts. Those around are just starting to listen.

So what do I recommend?

Well that depend on the fighter and the fight.
But nearly always I see weaknesses in fighters backs and hips. Hours and hours of crunches, stretching and cardio often leave them with weaknesses here.
This leads to power leakages when they strike and a greater potential for injury. The answer is simple, Deadlifts for strength and Kettlebell Swings for power endurance.

The strength coach must be carefull to ensure that the conditioning training doesn’t take away from the fighters technical training. They must be fresh enough to work with complicated techniques and combinations, yet building the ability to do these techniques in a fatigued state.

Some method of periodisation then is necessary.
I’m about to put a fighter on a low rep strength program. He has little need for extra conditioning, I’ve seen him knock out around 300 pressups in sets of 50!
Obviously he has endurance.

His 6 pack maybe impressive but his back is weak, therefore his core, as a unit is weak. Which means that whatever power is being generated by his hips isn’t necessarily getting through to his shoulders for that knock out punch.

For this individual a low rep heavy training scheme could be the answer. Build that dense muscle, train the body to function as a unit and build the absolute strength that so often serves as a foundation for both power and endurance.

He is merely one example.
Other fighters, especially if their fight is still a few months out would benefit from building strength and endurance at the same.
Here’s a cracking circuit I perform some days, particularly when short of time:

Perform the following exercises back to back:

1 rep Deadlift
15 Rep Kettlebell Jerk (each arm)
20 Rep Sledgehammer slams into a tyre (alternate left and right)

Take a minute break, add weight to the deadlift and repeat. I usually work towards 5 rounds, with the 5th round being just shy of my 1 RM deadlift (fatigue prevents a true 1 RM)

This one circuit trains all aspects of the fighter, max strength and hip extension through the deadlift, transferring power from lower to upper body via the jerk and then some abdominal work on the tyre.

Play around with it, it’s only one example.
There are many other exercises you could choose.

The key is to work the whole body through a variety of rep ranges in a variety of angles.

Careful dieting and mobility work will keep the body within its ideal weight category and ready to fight at a moments notice.

If strength turns out not to be an issue, I also have a foolproof method of building non stop conditioning and will power, using only One Exercise.
But more on that another day.

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