In Part 1 of this article, we discussed Work Capacity, GPP, and the need to start this kind of work much earlier than usual when preparing for a tournament. Let's pick up where we left off …
As I stated in Part 1, when you first start out, your GPP workouts don't need to be that large. However, after the first week or two, you need to start increasing the time you spend doing them. Remember, increasing Work Capacity is all about training your body to be able to handle and recover from more work. You'll never be able to train your body to do so unless you increase your overall workout volume.
Keeping with the sample routine from Part 1 of Weight Dragging...each week, add at least five minutes to your Weighted GPP (WGPP) sessions. Keep the same 4:1 work to rest ratio, so every time you add five minutes to your overall workout time, 60 seconds of that can be used as rest.
I wouldn't worry about adding any time to your Non-Weighted GPP (NWGPP) sessions, but try to increase the intensity, so that you're pushing harder and harder every workout. Also, by week 3, if you're not doing at least 3 days of WGPP per week, then adjust your training schedule so that you are. Ideally, you should do WGPP on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday basis and NWGPP on a Tuesday-Thursday basis.
(NOTE - Remember that this is in addition to strength/strength-endurance training. Direct conditioning work isn't exactly necessary at this point, but doing a light jog of a couple miles once or twice per week is Ok.)
After 4-5 weeks, you should be nearing training camp. If you haven't built up any work capacity by now, then you're too late. By this time, your WGPP sessions should be lasting about 40 minutes, your NWGPP should be being done at a blinding pace, your strength training should be going well, and you should be running a couple times per week.
Well, now it's time for training camp - and you can't exactly add MMA training to all of the above. (This, incidentally, happens to be the reason you started Work Capacity training so early.) It's time to reduce volume and start training specifically for your tournament coming up.
The first thing you want to do is alter your strength training. If you were training for brute (limit) strength before, then you need to adjust your program so that you're targeting strength-endurance.
This will allow you to use that brute strength you built over a longer period of time - just what you need in a tournament. (See my article on MMA Strength-Endurance Training for sample routines.) Strength-endurance training should be done twice per week.
The next thing you have to do is to start performing actual conditioning workouts. During the first few weeks of your training, GPP (both weighted and non-weighted) and running served as your conditioning. However, now actual conditioning sessions must be performed.
These conditioning sessions should be based around one of two methodologies (or possibly both): HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) or fighting-based conditioning.
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With High Intensity Interval Training you can burn more fat while spending less time in the gym. I will explain ...
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Examples of fighting-based conditioning could be hitting the heavy bag, shadow striking, or wrestling. Conditioning should be done twice or three times per week.
The first weeks of your training were performed to increase your Work Capacity. You're going to keep performing the same GPP, but for a different reason. GPP will be done now to maintain Work Capacity and to facilitate Active Recovery.
Now, you might be saying, "I thought we were done with Work Capacity." Well, you're not. You've heard the old saying, "If you don't use it, you lose it," right? Well, that's what will happen with Work Capacity. If you just replace Work Capacity training with Conditioning and skills work, then you're really not doing anything extra.
You're still doing the same volume of work, just of a different kind. So, you still continue with some GPP in order to keep the overall amount of work done higher than usual.
While you will continue to perform GPP, you'll do it a little differently than you have been. Now, only do an easy 10-12 minutes of WGPP a couple times per week and only 5-6 minutes of NWGPP a couple times per week.
Doing these short sessions will not only keep your overall volume high, but doing them will stave off any DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscular Soreness) you might experience. (Staving off this soreness is known as "Active Recovery.") Also, these sessions will be so short that it will cut very little into your recovery ability.
Now, when you perform all these sessions is completely dependent on your MMA skills sessions. You're training in order to fight, so your focus should be your fighting workouts. Your strength, conditioning, and GPP workouts, while very important, are SECONDARY to your MMA workouts.
Recap & Suggestions
Determine which MMA sessions you'll have when, and insert your strength and conditioning sessions around them. Just be sure that you design your overall regimen so that you've got the most energy and recuperative abilities for your MMA sessions.
However, there are two suggestions I'd make. First, do your GPP first thing every morning. It'll only take you a few minutes, it'll help you work out and stave off any soreness first thing, and it will serve as a good way to wake up your body.
My second suggestion may not necessarily be practical (especially if you train "on the side" - i.e. you're not a fighter full-time). However, if you can find a way to swing it, you'll definitely reap benefits.
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What I am really going to talk about is a different type of General Physical Preparedness (GPP) exercise-Sledge hammering!
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If possible, split at least one of your conditioning sessions per week into two or three smaller sessions. Perform one session, wait at least 30-40 minutes, and then perform the next. Why? Because this is how your tournament fight will be.
During a tournament, when you fight multiple times in one night, you will be forced to perform prolonged intense activity, rest a short time, and then do it again. It is during the second fight that your conditioning will be tested. Performing multiple highly intense conditioning sessions with a short rest time in between will greatly help prepare you for this.