Training for the Amateur Combat Athlete Part I: General Planning and Overview

Combat sports have grown in popularity over the past 10-15 years, which can partially be attributed to the increased exposure of professional fighting organizations.  Individuals who compete professionally have to manage working on the technical aspects of fighting, along with managing the training of physical traits important to their sport.  Competing at the amateur level also requires planning to achieve optimal results during contests.  Fighters competing at this level have the added challenge of developing a training schedule around other life obligations (i.e. full-time/part-time job).  In order to compete successfully at the amateur level (and if one ever plans to compete professionally) one needs to make sure that all training stresses are accounted for appropriately, and that both tactical training and physical conditioning are planned for during the training week.  This series of article posts will address the physical requirements and training for combat athletes training at the amateur level in a striking based competition with no ground fighting/grappling component.

An individual looking to compete in amateur fights should look to plan physical stresses to both optimize their performance in the right and to prevent injuries.  This many times is difficult for participants at this level due to the fact that even their tactical planning is usually not very well organized.  Drills are more or less randomly performed over the course of the week without looking at the stresses that are being imposed on the body.  Training to address the general physical qualities required for competition are not addressed adequately, or they are addressed through random incorporation of conditioning exercises made to create a feeling of exhaustion for the athlete.  Physical traits that should be developed when participating in activities such as this include exercises and training sessions that involve the following (in no particular order of importance):

*optimal mobility/flexibility

*strength development

*explosive power

*metabolic conditioning (aerobic & anaerobic development)

*injury prevention

Fighting coaches who run facilities where amateur competitors train typically run group classes that involve participants who do not partake in fighting competitively.  While this doesn’t necessarily have to be a problem, many times it becomes an issue because of not taking into account the stresses imposed on the body in an effort to design “tough workouts” throughout the week.  Many of the things done to promote general fitness are done so to the detriment of the overall development to the competitive fighter (and to the other people looking for training as more of a hobby or for general fitness, but that right now is beyond the scope of this article series).  Coaches need to understand that the qualities listed above need to be developed in an appropriate fashion, and that this training needs to take place with the technical aspects of training at the same time.  As stated previously this all has to be done with tighter time constraints, as amateur fighters will typically have more limited times to train.

The series of articles dedicated to this topic will address ways in which the general physical preparation can be included in the training week of a fighter preparing for a competition.  Understanding that technical training and practice will be taking place at the same time, there will be some general discussion of the intensity and what type of practice should be taking place on days based upon a hypothetical training week for a fighter.  While this series can’t take into account every individual’s nuances about their obligations during the week, it can serve as a reference to be adjusted if necessary.  Part two of this series will look at implementing a strength training routine in the weekly training.

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