Want to get to the next level? Adding metabolic conditioning to your strength training will help get you there.
In this 6-part series, I will briefly explain the essential pieces of a complete strength and conditioning program for a MMA athlete. The six components are:
Having discussed the first four parts of this series (I, II, III, IV), it’s time for a topic near and dear to my heart: metabolic conditioning.
I love intense, heart pounding, push yourself to the limit, training. There isn’t a better feeling out there (let’s keep it rated PG people!) than crushing a hardcore training session and the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that you’re becoming a better athlete. Metabolic conditioning sessions are designed to improve strength, power, endurance, coordination, and overall physical and mental toughness all at once. These benefits make it a MUST in any well- designed training program.
What are these sessions exactly?
We do a variety of “metabolic conditioning” sessions, including treadmill sprints, hill sprints, Tabata protocols, and multiple strength & conditioning circuits. For our purposes though, we’ll focus on the circuit variations we usually incorporate. Typically, they consist of 3-5 rounds (sets) and last up to 5 minutes long. Each athlete performs the exercise(s) at his station either solo, or with a partner, and then moves on to the next station. This process continues until the 5 minutes is completed.
Common Circuit Layout
1. Repetition-Based Stations: This involves having each athlete at their own station and completing a certain number of reps before moving on to the next station. I rarely use this format because people go at different paces so stations may be finished at different times. Thus, these types of circuits work best for 1 or 2 athletes.
2. Obstacle Course Set-Up: I use this only if I’ve got a couple athletes (<4). Obstacle course circuits involve 4-8 stations where the athletes complete each part of the course in order and as fast as possible. This is a great way to create a little competition between athletes to see who can complete the course in the shortest amount of time. We usually let the winner give out “punishment” in terms of jump squats or burpees at the end of the session.
3. Timed Stations: As described above, this is the format used most frequently, as there is no limit to how many or how few athletes are involved.
Method to the Madness
Having determined my layout, I’ll look at the movements themselves. Do I want to include all lower body movements, all upper body, just pushes, or just pulls? What plane of motion should I incorporate? What energy system do I want to target today? If you’ve watched a fight, tournament, or even been in one yourself, you know that you use everything just mentioned. So my short answer is usually a combination of all the above.
Typically I’ll follow a lower body movement with an upper body movement. This occasionally varies, but that’s the most common approach. If I lay out two lower body movements, I will start with a more powerful, explosive movement (i.e. broad jumps or pop-ups) then follow it with a grounded, endurance movement (i.e. prowler push).
I’m not a big believer in “mimicking the movement patterns of the sport” with my strength & conditioning sessions. I’ll let the other coaches (BJJ, boxing, wrestling) handle that aspect. My goal as a strength coach is to have my athlete in the best shape of his/her life so he/she can stay injury-free and excel in all those other disciplines.
Metabolic Conditioning Sample Circuit
I prefer to use 3 to 5 stations for my circuits, however, this clip shows a 6-station circuit. Fewer stations makes things run a little smoother and there is less transition time…this was an experienced crew so 6 stations worked out fine.
6 Stations, 50 seconds at each station
1. Tire Flips
Continuous tire flips
2. Prowler Push with Rope Pulls
Prowler push for 25 yards, run back to start, rope pull
3. Medicine Ball Station - Heavy Carry or Sprawl & Chase
Option - heavy carry or med ball sprawl and partner throw
4. Lateral Low Box Jumps
Jump laterally over 4 boxes, rest 3-4 seconds, jump back to start
5. Heavy Rope Slams
Continuous slam variations
6. Backward Tire Pulls
Continuous backpedal tire pull
These circuits will focus a bit more on the anaerobic system or, to use a popular industry term; “power endurance.” Remember though that they’re just one aspect of a complete strength & conditioning program. When implemented correctly, they‘ll help you achieve your true potential in strength, power, speed, conditioning, and mental toughness!
To help get through the metabollic conditioning protocols laid out above, 1R would recommend the following supplements: