The following paragraphs are just a collection of random thoughts I’ve been pondering over the course of the last couple weeks.
- Mobility serves as a base for strength. Not being able to get into mechanically advantageous positions keeps you from expressing your full strength potential. No wonder weightlifters are freaks of nature with regards to flexibility and mobility. Likewise – and this was a rather important thought for me -, stability is another prerequisite for power. „You don’t shoot a cannon from a canoe“, as they say. Turns out you can’t efficiently transfer power when you’re leaking energy all over the place due to a lack of stability. When, in doing single leg work, balance is the limiting factor, it’s not „just balance“ and you’re not „strong enough“ to put heavy load on a bilateral version of the lift. Rather, your hip and core stabilizers are not up to the task, i.e., too weak. While this might not be such an issue for power lifters or weight lifters, it’s critical in combat athletes that need to exhibit a ton of single leg stability and joint integrity in the weirdest positions. Thumbs up for unilateral training.
- The most important ability is availability. Injured athletes don’t compete. The transfer of strength and conditioning training into sports is indirect and highly individual. Combat sports athletes are relatively weak in comparison to certain other athletes from sports such as American football or shot put. The relative importance of max strength is just lower and skill training takes such a huge portion of the total training time. Compare this to Dan John’s concept of the quadrants. For a fighter, the difference between doing a lift 6×4, 5×5 or 4×6 is most likely negligible from a practical point of view. Either will increase strength. Using brackets and repetition ranges that implement a certain degree of auto regulation and hence seamlessly integrate into the fighters busy schedule might be the best way to go.
- The skater squat may potentially be a replacement for the single leg deadlift. This is really just a continuation of Mike Boyle’s thought process when moving from bilateral to unilateral training. Single leg deadlifting halves the stress on the spine as opposed to traditional bilateral deadlifting. I have guys single leg deadlifting 80 Kg for reps (100+ kg for the slrdl), yet they can’t skater squat 40 kg. Hence, a load that will stimulate the quads and glutes will be very light on the back. Of course, combat athletes need a strong back. The question becomes, how strong is strong enough? This can probably only be answered on an individual basis, taking into account the fighters style, relative strength and potential episodes of LBP. From a performance perspective, most athletic endeavors require the knee and hip to work in unison, as opposed to locking one joint. Following the line of thought that sports are mostly played on one leg and hence, strength training should happen on one leg, an argument can be made that sports techniques are multi joint activities and hence, multi joint strength exercises are superior to single joint exercises.
- Biomotor abilities are a tricky thing. Mladen has written an article on why „Biomotor abilities are bullshit“. Correlating an athletes vertical jump to his power in order to gauge striking power doesn’t really work. As Joel Smith points out in „Vertical Foundations“, jumping is a skill that is acquired through repetition. So is striking. Although they share physiological foundations (e.g., RFD), jumping and striking are distinct activities. It’s really the same with endurance, which is defined as „psycho-physical fatigue resistance“. Performing a treadmill Conconi test with a fighter is more than likely to yield bullshit results, because specific local muscle endurance will in most cases prove to be the limiting factor. Running is a skill and adaptations are specific. Testing a fighters HR recovery after a round of maximal heavy bag work might be smarter. Of course, setting a speed on a treadmill is easier than ensuring maximal effort over the duration of a round. However, reducing endurance to the cardiovascular system is a gross oversimplification.
That’s about the gist of it. Just random stuff that popped up while I was reading, teaching, and/or training my athletes. No definitive guides or answers here, but maybe that’ll develop over time. I’ll make sure to let you know.
Don’t get hurt