"Speed and power" is the name of the game for every athlete, but especially a fighter. You need to be quick yet grounded, strong yet flexible. So, the goal is to be Bruce Lee.
I work with some INCREDIBLE coaches who, through trial, error and years of practice, understand what kinds of workouts really provide the best results for an aspiring fighter, or just someone looking to get in great all-around shape. Obviously, this list does not include the actual kickboxing/boxing work I do in the gym. That's a post for another day.
But, here are my top five training techniques for additional speed, strength and total body awareness. I've come to know, love, and sometimes hate these. Enjoy!
1. Dynamic Warm-ups
The way to start every single workout you do, ever. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Spend 10 to 15 minutes warming up your body and moving your joints through their fullest range of motion; this will make your workout more effective and help prevent injury later on. You should be lightly sweating by the end of your warm-up, before you even get into your actual workout.
Do each of the moves below for 1-2 minutes without resting between moves. Repeat the series at least one more time or until you've started sweating.
2. Explosive Speed
A.k.a., sprints, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or "Speed and Agility". So effective, so exhausting. Old school fighters swear by road work (steady state cardio) to train their lungs and heart. I've found that I have neither the time nor desire to run for miles and miles a day. Not only that, but HIIT and sprints translate to what you'll be facing in a fight--intervals of full out effort and fleeting moments to catch your breath. However, pushing yourself to your max for 30-60 seconds is no easy task; this is a taxing workout but, then again, so is fighting.
Click here for three options of HIIT workouts you can do at home, at the gym, or with a partner. Personally, I do the bodyweight HIIT circuit and, trust me, it is brutal.
3. Balance Work
Keeping your balance is incredibly important, in life and in the ring. I mean, no one likes falling over. Talk about embarrassing. I like to do single-leg and single-arm moves to work each side evenly and to work my core. Everyone has a side that they favor, instability on one side is totally normal; the goal is to make both sides of your body as equally strong and flexible as possible.
Click here for 7 full-body balance moves. You can integrate these moves into your daily routine or do them as their own workout!
4. Strength Training
Strength training is important, but unlike body builder or regular gym goers, it's not the end goal. You want to be strong enough to hit with power, but not so muscular that your range of motion is limited or you lose fluidity and speed. I like to do a full body strength workout once a week and integrate extra lower-body and upper-body movements during my normal training. I.e., keep things simple, throw in some extra squats and push-ups.
Also, here's the rule of thumb with how much weight you should lift:
- Strength training means choosing weights that allow you to train in a rep range of 1-6.
- Building muscle mean choosing weights that allow you to train in a rep range of 8-12.
- Focusing on muscular endurance means choosing weights that allow you to train for at least 15 reps.
I aim for 10-12 reps in my strength workouts; meaning the weight is heavy enough to be challenging but not so heavy that I lose proper form.
5. Foam Rolling
Many people continue to not include recovery as a core component of training. I get it, it's not fun. And honestly, it's much more uncomfortable than the highly active parts of training; just try rolling a lacrosse ball underneath your lower calves and you'll see what I mean. However, foam rolling, stretching, massage, chiropractic work, ROLFing--all of these things keep your muscles supple, flexible and able to handle such strenuous workouts.
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