Supercharged

Three ways to boost your conditioning this winter.

Getting in great shape might not be easy, but there’s more to conditioning than simply training as hard as you can. After all, if it were simply a matter of a little hard work, professional fighters would never gas out. The following three tips will help you supercharge your conditioning and get the most out of your winter workouts by training smarter, not harder.

TIP #1 USE THE HIGH/LOW MODEL

Although the High/Low model was originally developed for track athletes, it can also be effectively applied to combat sports and conditioning. The principle component of this system is to separate your training into high and low days. This allows the body to perform at its peak levels, and then gives the body a chance to recover in between hard training sessions.

On the high days, you’ll want to perform high-intensity intervals and explosive strength type exercises while keeping the overall volume moderate. On the low days, you’ll instead keep the intensity much more moderate and give your body a chance to fully recover. The low days are a perfect time to include technique work and drills and lower intensity conditioning like roadwork circuits.

TIP #2 GET A HEART RATE MONITOR

A high quality heart rate monitor will help you get the most out of your conditioning work. It can help keep your heart rate in the right training ranges while providing invaluable feedback so that you can determine if your program is working the way it should be. Without this sort of objective feedback and information, a lot of your training becomes nothing more than guesswork.

You can use a heart rate monitor in several different ways to maximize your training. First, you can use it to get an accurate gauge of your resting heart rate, a good measure of overall aerobic fitness. Most top combat athletes have resting heart rates in the low- to mid-50s.

Next, you can use your heart rate recovery to help manage your rest intervals when training. When doing high intensity training to improve conditioning, an effective approach is to let your heart rate return to 130-140bpm before repeating an interval. This helps to ensure you’ve recovered enough and are ready to push yourself to the max.

Finally, a heart rate monitor is absolutely essential to verify that your heart rate is in the right zone for conditioning methods like roadwork circuits and lactate threshold training. Without a heart rate monitor, there’s no real way to know where you’re at. When used properly, a high quality heart rate monitor like the Polar RS100 is one of the best investments you can make in your training and is guaranteed to help you train smarter.

TIP #3 INCLUDE ROADWORK CIRCUITS IN YOUR TRAINING

In recent years, roadwork has gotten a bad rap and has been largely shunned as a waste of time by many in the strength and conditioning community. The truth remains, however, that many of the best conditioned and most successful athletes in combat sports have always included some form of roadwork in their training and still continue to do so.

Lower intensity work can speed up recovery, improve aerobic fitness, and it doesn’t take as much of a toll on the joints as higher intensity interval training methods often does. This type of work doesn’t have to mean hitting the pavement, though, and more combat sport specific exercises can be used.

Try including 4-6 exercises such as shadowboxing, jump rope, med-ball throws, stationary bike, or body-weight exercises for 5-10 minutes, performed in circuit fashion once or twice a week. Keep your heart rate between 130-150bpm throughout the entire training session for maximum results.  

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