CB CB Athletic Consulting, Inc. Training Report
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ISSUE #123

1- The Get Lean newsletter: Issue #1 is now Online

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In the February Œ05 issue of Menıs Fitness, youıll get a sample of my Turbulence Training for Mass program. If you canıt, you can always get the Turbulence Training Special Reports on fat loss and muscle-building on: www.turbulencetraining.com/Turbulence-Training-Muscle-Building.html.

2- The Best Mixed Martial Arts Training Interview Ever!

What happens when you put 3 of the top MMA strength coaches in the same room? I donıt know either, but when you email them a list of questions, you get some amazing answers. Here are Alwyn Cosgrove, Joe Dowdell, and Martin Rooney, telling you how to train martial artists.

CB: What are key factors for injury prevention in MMA fighters?

Make sure the athletes are not overtraining. These guys are still in the mindset of more is better. I have had to bring my athletes down from 3 different training sessions per day where they had nothing they were specifically working on to sometimes one a day and making sure they were getting the right rest and recovery.

Make sure that your athletes plan their workouts and know what they are trying to achieve each session. Just rolling or sparring is not enough. Instead of getting better, you just get beat up. By recording all past workouts and really knowing your fighters you will be able to monitor this and shut them down if you have to. The beating they take is unreal, you need to know when you are doing too much.

The simplest way you will know your fighters are overtraining is that they will tell you. If they complain of soreness, being banged up from previous sparring, being tired, or not up for the training, you need to back off. We also look at heart rate pre session with our guys and record everything.

Again the ability to decelerate a limb is paramount so training eccentrically, and training the antagonists is a key factor. FUNCTIONAL flexibility (my term ­ relating to range of motion WITH strength in the range) is important.

Make sure that your fighters perform strength training exercises in multiple planes of movement. They should also perform exercises at varying speeds of movement. In addition, make sure to incorporate exercises that target the following areas:

  1. Rotator Cuff {especially the Teres Minor & Infraspinatus musculature)
  2. Neck
  3. Lower Back

CB: Describe the abdominal/core training component of MMA programs. Do fighters need to do thousands of repetitions?

We do as much core work on the feet as possible (barbell contact twists, cable work, chops and lifts, med ball rotations and throws) before going to the floor. Recently Iıve been experimenting with some of the kettlebell lifts with my fighters and have had excellent results.

I do use the Swiss ball quite a bit for core work (jackknifes and pikes in addition to crunches and twists) and we almost always use external loading, rarely exceeding ten reps per set. If you can do thousands of reps, the exercise is too easy for you. In fact if you can do more than 20 reps Iıd suggest the exercise is too easy. We normally finish with prone vacuums and side planks for time.

I like the following exercises for increasing the strength and power of the Posterior Chain:

  1. Reverse Hyperextensions
  2. Glute-Ham Raises
  3. Caber Toss with a Medicine Ball
  4. Kettlebell Swings (Single Arm and Double Arm)
  5. Good Mornings
  6. Westside Style Cable Pull Through

I like the following exercises for increasing the strength and power of the Abdominals:

  1. Swiss Ball Crunches with Medicine Ball Toss
  2. Cable Wood Chops
  3. Reverse Cable Wood Chops
  4. Russian Twists
  5. Turkish Get Ups with a Kettlebell
  6. Kettlebell Windmills
  7. Super Yoke
  8. Asymmetrical Loaded Farmerıs Walk

I feel that for the most part, individuals should utilize fewer repetitions (less than 20 reps), higher intensities and with moderate to explosive tempos. In addition, I would also incorporate some muscular endurance work for the core--especially some isometric work. In particular, I would vary the length of the isometric holds by utilizing15, 30, 45 and 60 sec. holds at varying joint angles. As for training the muscular endurance capabilities of the core, I would employ many of the above exercises, but I would just increase the number of repetitions performed in a set.

The Core is of course, a key in my training. Not just for fighting, but any athletic endeavor. We do a ton of med ball work, reverse hypers, deadlifts, partner body weight lifts, and a lot of stability work. Most people just work tons of reps of only certain exercises, but not enough movements. We work in all planes of movement to make sure that we are developing complete fighters. The core training section in my book covers my favorite 15 core exercises for fighters. I challenge everyone to try the Alligator and the Hoover.

In jiu jitsu the hip movement is key. The core controls that movement on the ground. In addition to that, I do believe that endurance for the abs for MMA is important. If you have ever seen one fighter on his back taking kicks from a standing fighter, you know what I mean. Try to keep that isometric crunch up for a few minutes while a guy like Fedor is trying to smash your teeth out. It will get you hitting some extra ab work.

CB: What is the role of a dynamic warm-up in fighter preparation? Any exercises you insist fighters use before a workout?

I feel that a dynamic warm up is extremely vital to any athleteıs pre-training &/or pre-competition process; but, I think it is especially important for combat athletes. I like having them perform exercises like agility ladder drills, the dot drill sequence, body weight squats, walking lunges with a torso twist, etc.

In addition to a brief dynamic warm up, I will use a specific warm up prior to training. The specific warm up consists of the first two exercises such as Box Squats and Flat Barbell Bench Press with Chains. I will have the athlete perform several sets of each exercise before beginning the actual work sets. For instance, I will have them perform two reps of Box Squats with a load that is about 60% of their 1 RM followed by a 20-30 second rest. Then, they will perform 2 repetitions of Flat Barbell Bench Press with a load that is about 60% of their 1 RM followed by a 20-30 second rest. They will repeat this process two or three more times, but they will progressively increase the weight until their last warm up set is very close to their first working set.

If it pre-competition, then they will perform several drills such as Shadow Boxing, Focus Mitt work and some take down drills as a specific warm up for the fight.

My new bookıs first chapter has 20 pages on the dynamic warm-up. There is another chapter strictly dedicated to pre fight warm-up as well. This is because I consider it to be the cornerstone of my program. Many of the fighters I work with like Ricardo Almeida and Rodrigo Gracie have adapted it into their academies and are experiencing tremendous success.

We go through the 37 exercises listed 3-4 times per week. Not only is it great for stability, strength, balance, coordination and flexibility, but anaerobic endurance as well. Just try blasting through all 37 exercises for 12 reps in 16 minutes like we do at 7am. It will wake you up.

I donıt insist upon anything. But I educate my athletes well so they start to understand why we are doing certain things. Everything we do is developmental ­ we start warm-ups with slower movements and ranges of motion and work through until we are moving through maximum range at maximum speed. The whole point is to prepare for the session and the demands it is going to place on the body. I always like the hips and lower back to be well warmed up, but everything else will vary according to the planned workout.

CB: Whatıs the biggest myth in MMA fighter preparation?

I think the biggest myth is that many fighters out there think they can get ready in a few weeks for a fight. MMA is a rough gig. These guys may not know they are fighting or who they are fighting until a few weeks before the event. I have watched so many fighters come into fights out of shape as a result and lost.

Just like cramming for a test in school, cramming for a fight is not going to give you the best results. If you want to fight big time, you need to be training all year. If not, you should look for another way to punish yourself.

Probably the early morning long distance run and the weights will slow you down stuff thatıs typical with ALL sports.

Thereıs also a misconception that because of the Œstreetı or Œthugı image that MMA has, that these fighters are not intelligent conditioned athletes. If most sport coaches had their athletes develop the conditioning levels of fighters ­ theyıd be extremely happy.

Iıd add also that because the martial arts are thousands of years old, people think that your training program should be too. Science has shown us better ways to train.

There are many myths in preparing a fighter for a mixed martial arts competition.

The first one that sticks out in my mind is that some people still believe that lifting weights will make you less flexible. The reality is that resistance training through the entire range of motion will actually increase an individualıs strength and stability throughout the entire range of motion.

On a side note: Increasing flexibility without a corresponding increase in the individualıs strength in the newly acquired ROM will actually promote joint instability and thereby increase the likelihood of injury.

CB: Letıs not forget about female athletes. What special considerations do you take into account when training females for MMA?

Females tend to have weaker posterior chains and in particular upper backs, and exhibit excessive thoracic curves and forward head posture (having breasts will offset COG and wearing high heels). So our corrective stage programs address this. They also tend to have short, tight hip flexors.

However, the training to correct these imbalances is the same as if they were male, and the other training remains the same. We also try to get a little more aggression out of females. Society has made this a negative trait for a woman but we try to encourage it.

I just trained Celita Schutz for the last Olympics in judo, and I have to say that she changed the way that I thought about female combat athletes. Although she is a 3 time Olympian and one of the best judokas in the world, she proved that women can be incredibly strong, fast, technical and mentally tough with the proper training. I have also worked with jiu jitsu women that also used their flexibility to their advantage.

In terms of training, I often have to start more on the base because unlike many of their male counterparts, the females are not usually strength training. Common areas of weakness are the hips and low back. Once we have added this component though, I have been able to work a similar training regime with the girls. (Just less weight on certain activities, of course). Interestingly, Celita trained with many of the high level guys and topped them in a number of activities.

CB: Any final comments?

I just want to say thank you for allowing me the opportunity to be involved in this Q & A. It looks like I am going to be opening Peak Performance LA within the next 6 to 12 months so Iıll let you know. Also, my web site is www.peakperformancenyc.com.

Thanks for having me in for this interview. It was my pleasure to share some of the lessons my team and I have learned over the last few years. I hope the information helped some people out there to take their game to the next level. Please check out my new book at elitefts.com and let me know what you think.

Alwyn Cosgrove is the author of "Secrets of Martial Arts Conditioning" available from: www.alwyncosgrove.com.

Resource Box:
The information on cbathletics.com is for education purposes only. It is not medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health-care professionals. Consult your physician before beginning or making changes in your diet or exercise program, for diagnosis and treatment of illness and injuries, and for advice regarding medications.

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