Mixed Martial Arts training is among the most intense, physically taxing activities you can engage in. In the old days, martial arts training would consist of going to several classes per week in your chosen art and maybe some cardio to help your efforts.
Now, the modern day MMA fighter is usually training in four or five disciplines: Muay Thai, wrestling, striking, jiu jitsu, judo; and doing weight training and tons of cardiovascular conditioning work as well.
In fact, in a recent interview on Pro MMA Radio, former UFC Lightweight World Champion Sean Sherk said that he has done as many as four training sessions per day, six days per week before a fight.
And WEC Featherweight World Champ Urijah Faber trains anywhere from 4-6 hours per day, year round! Is there any question why he's the best 145-pound fighter on the planet? Quite simply, he outworks everybody.
Whether you're an MMA fighter, a bodybuilder or an athlete from any other sport, you'll face one critical issue that you have to solve to be successful. How can I train at maximum intensity to be the best I can be and recover fast enough from those training sessions to get back to business the next day and not hurt myself or be dragging my ass through the workout like I'm 100-years old?
One key component to the answer is proper supplementation aimed at optimum recovery. Let's take a look at a few things that can significantly enhance recuperation and get you back to hitting the pads or working on that rear-naked choke tomorrow like a champ.
When you get down and dirty in the gym and get your fight drills and cardio on, the intensity generated during MMA workouts will often go through your pre-workout carbs long before the session is over. Once that happens, your body will likely turn to your lean muscle tissue and break it down for energy. Not good.
Given that losing lean muscle tissue will make you weaker, this is the last thing any MMAer wants. But, there's an easy solution ... replenish that protein as soon as possible after the workout and get yourself back on the right track. The sooner you feed that muscle tissue, the better and faster you'll recover.
The great thing about whey protein is that it is one of the best sources of protein that you can ingest. One measure of the quality of a particular protein source is referred to as the "Protein Efficiency Ratio", often referred to as "PER."
The PER compares the amino acid makeup of your body's own lean muscle tissue and does a side-by-side comparison of the amino acids contained in the particular protein being measured. The closer the amino acid profile matches, the higher the PER as your body will accept, assimilate, absorb and use a protein that most closely matches its own.
Whey protein weighed in with a stellar 3.2 rating on a scale of four, besting virtually every protein source except egg protein. Another measure of protein quality, referred to as "biological value," showed that whey protein scored higher than all other proteins.
There are many great tasting, easy to mix whey proteins on the market now, so make sure to get some in your system when the session is over, especially if you aren't going to be able to eat right away.
Glutamine is a non-essential amino acid that accounts for half of the amino acids in your muscle tissue. When you workout, glutamine levels in your muscle tissue become severely depleted, slowing recovery and recuperation and limiting strength levels. As a result, supplementing with glutamine post workout is critical if you want to get the most out of the workout you just completed, as well as that grappling session you have coming up a few hours from now.
Glutamine also plays an important role in protein synthesis because it is the main transporter of nitrogen into the muscle cell. This will also minimize the potential breakdown of muscle tissue, similar to what we talked about with whey protein.
Branched Chain Amino Acids ("BCAAs") are three essential amino acids, Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine, that the body cannot make on its own. As a result, they must be supplied by your food and/or supplement intake.
If you do not have sufficient BCAA levels in your system, your body will break down your muscle tissue to get the BCAA it needs. Intense workouts, cardiovascular workouts and lowered calories (like when you are trying to make weight for your fight) all deplete BCAA. And an added benefit of BCAA is that they also help replenish glutamine, which we've already discussed is necessary after you workout as well.
Creatine is a compound that has been shown to improve recovery from weight training and intense exercise. Creatine is made up of three amino acids, Arginine, Glycine and Methionine that your liver has the ability to combine and create creatine.
Our bodies naturally contain a compound called adenosine triphosphate ("ATP") that is a rapidly available source of energy. When you do anything requiring a quick burst of energy, like lift a weight, shoot for a takedown or work your punches and kicks, the immediate energy to do so comes from ATP.
The problem is that your muscles only contain enough ATP to last about 10-15 seconds at maximum exertion. Where creatine comes into play is that it creates more ATP in the body which results in more muscular energy to work with over a longer period of time when you workout. The result is that you can train at a higher, stronger level for a longer period of time, critical to any MMA fighter.
Whether you are training for a title fight, like top-ranked Elite XC Middleweight contender Scott Smith, or planning to take your first class in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, make sure to get your post recovery supplements so you can give 'em hell in the gym, the ring or the cage.