Serious combat athletes often have many long skills training sessions per week which are physically demanding and usually include addtional conditioning work. This must be accounted for in the strength and conditioning program otherwise you risk running yourself or your athlete in to the ground and overtraining them.
The way we program for our combat athletes at The Strength Shed is to get enough work in to stimulate the necessary gains and at the same time leave enough recovery reserves in the tank so they can attack their skills sessions. This doesn’t mean the session are easy, but rather programmed smart. Check out the video below of BJJ Athlete Nick smashing his early morning training session at the Shed.
Nick has 3-4 long intense grappling sessions per week, and this accounted for in his programming.
The session consisted of:
1A: RDL’s 110kg 4 x6
1B: Grappler press 55kg 4 x 8
2A: Split Stance Goodmornings 3 x 6
2B: Thick DB Rows 3 x 12 e/s
2C: 20kg KB Clean 3 x 6e/s
3: 20kg KB Swing – 8 x EMOM for 7 mins
In the video you will notice Nick having the intent on moving the weight very explosively – this will help develop the power needed for takedowns, throws and exploding on the ground with an opponent on top. If you want to develop the kind of power other athletes dream of, you need to have the intent of moving the weight as fast as you can throughout the full range of motion – attack the bar! Using momentum and coasting through reps will not develop the power that helps win matches.
There is also a big focus on posterior chain strength in the program with exercises such as the RDL, split stance goodmornings and kettlebell clean. This is vital since there is the possibility that you may end up on your back during a BJJ fight – to get out this vulnerable position you need hamstring, glute and lower back strength/power to be able to bridge up and move your opponent. You will in the video during the grappler press Nick is instructed to start the press with leg drive and transfer this into the upper body (notice his hips lift of the bench a little), this will add some extra psoterior chain work and teach how to get violent explosive power to aid with takedowns and bridging while on the ground.
Rotational power is vital for combat athletes -throwing, punching, takedowns, ground work all require twisting of the torso and rotation through the hips and shoulders. If you skip training this ability you are missing out big time. This is accounted for in Nick’s program through the kettlebell cleans, thick DB rows, and mace swings.
It is no good being powerful for the start of a round and then gassing out, so power endurance is vital for combat athletes. Think of this as being able to generate explosive power repetitively. Nick’s BJJ rounds last for 7 minutes, so his sessions currently finish with a 7minute every minute on the minute (EMOM) round of kettlebell swings. This is the progression we use:
Week 1 – 6 reps EMOM 20kg KB Swing – 7minute
Week 2 – 8 reps EMOM 20kg KB Swing – 7minute
Week 3 – 10 reps EMOM 20kg KB Swing – 7minute
Week 4 – 6 reps EMOM 24kg KB Swing – 7minute
Week 5 – 8 reps EMOM 24kg KB Swing – 7minute
Week 6 – 10 reps EMOM 24kg KB Swing – 7minute
Hopefully this article gave you some ideas for the training of combat athletes. If you have any questions or feedback hit up the comment section below.