Monday, March 5, 2007


By Matt Wiggins

Recently the subject of Conditioning has come up quite frequently in emails I've received, as well on various forum threads I've read. I want to take this article and delve into the area of conditioning.

Conditioning is one of those "big" words. By "big" words, I mean that many people use it to mean a lot of different things. The word isn't being used incorrectly, per se, but rather being used as sort of a "catch-all" to encompass many different training ideas. I know this sounds like just boring semantics here, but stick with me for a minute...

For many (even most?) MMAists, when they think "conditioning," they think cardiovascular conditioning. This could be in the form of LSD (Long Slow Distance) jogging, interval training/sprints, skipping rope, etc - activities that get you breathing hard.

Cardiovascular conditioning (the ability of the heart to efficiently pump blood throughout the body) and cardio-respiratory conditioning (the ability of the lungs to efficiently take in oxygen and discard carbon dioxide) go hand in hand. When you train to increase your capabilities in one, you'll also be training to increase your capabilities in the other. (NOTE - from this point forward, I'll call this style of conditioning "cardio.") If you're not sure what this is, go outside and sprint to the end of the block and back as hard as you can. Go ahead - I'll wait...Great, you're back. Are you breathing hard? Thought so. This is cardio conditioning.

Next, there's muscular conditioning. This is the ability of a muscle (or group of muscles) to contract repeatedly. To get an idea of what this is like, hit the floor and do as many pushups as you can. Go ahead - I'll wait was that? You're probably not breathing nearly as hard as you were from the sprint, but your triceps, chest, and possibly shoulders are burning like crazy right about now, huh? That's muscular conditioning.

Then there is strength/power conditioning (NOTE - if you're not sure what the difference between strength and power, go back and read my last article, "Dominate Your Bodyweight"). This is sort of a "step up" from muscular conditioning. Instead of your muscles having to just contract repeatedly, they have to contract at near maximal force repeatedly. If you want to test this one, too, take your 1RM - one rep maximum (i.e. - the most you can lift one time) - on the squat, and load 85-90% of it on the bar. Now, see how many times total you can squat this weight in 10 minutes (re-racking the weight is allowed). And no, I'm not waiting on you to go to the gym and come back, so just keep reading... You'll find that you'll be breathing hard (but not as hard as the sprint), your muscles will burn (but not like they did with the max set of pushups), but you'll probably be more tired and have a lot less energy than at the end of either of the 1st two tests. That's strength/power conditioning.

All three forms of conditioning are vitally important to an MMAist. A lack of any of the three can lead to losing a fight. Look at it like this - which of the following is worse:

-Breathing so hard and being so tired you can't hold your hands up because you're too busy sucking wind

-Your shoulders being so tired and burning so bad that it hurts too much to hold your hands up

-Being so worn out that even though you can hold your hands up, you now hit like a little girl

If you chose any of the above as being worse than the other, you're wrong. All three give your opponent a GIANT opening to win the fight.

So, how to train these different modes of conditioning?

(Read More)

No comments: