Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Speed-Strength for Fighters!

Your Guide to Developing a Crucial Strength Quality that Will Dramatically Improve Your Performance.

"I have one speed, I have one gear: Go!"
You NEED to be faster.

This isn't an option - it's a requirement.

As a martial artist or combat athlete you train to deal with people who are trying to hurt you. Not only do you need to be able to react quickly, but you need to be able to actually move quickly.

There is simply no reason for you to ever have to utter the words, "I just wasn't fast enough."

So, let me ask you:
Are you going to be a turtle or a fucking Tiger?

Speed-Strength and Tiger Blood -

If you're still reading this I'm going to assume you want to gain the ability to move with the speed and power of a very hungry and very large cat.


As I talked about on the Strength Training page, developing the speed-strength quality is extremely important for martial artists and combat athletes.

Lucky for you there is a very simple, very effective tool that can help you accomplish this goal:

The Medicine Ball .

In a lot of ways the medicine ball is an under-appreciated tool. Kettlebells, Barbells, Gymnastics Rings seem to be getting all the glory these days. The medicine ball gets overlooked. Other tools seem more exotic, more advanced - everyone wants to be advanced.

But the medicine ball, by contrast, is so simple and everyone forgets about it. That sucks because it is, by far, my favorite tool for developing speed-strength.

Essentials of Speed-Strength Training -

Speed-Strength is defined as the ability to move at maximal speed against relatively little external resistance.Which is why an 8-25 lbs medicine ball is such a great choice for developing such an important athletic quality.

Ideally, when training with the medicine ball you want to move as fast as possible and you are going to keep your reps for each drill in the 3-5 reps range to prevent from over-stressing your central nervous system (CNS).

Now, you can do several sets to maintain a respectable level of volume. Just make sure you allow yourself adequate rest periods. CNS fatigue is a bad thing when it comes to training for Speed-Strength.

The Routine -

Now, the medicine ball is a simple tool and I'm a simple man so I'm gonna give you guys a simple routine  which consists solely of highly explosive, medicine ball throws.

I picked throws because they allow you go "all out" in your movements. You'll literally be throwing the weight away from you so you don't have to worry about having to slow the implement down (like you would with a kettlebell or barbell). Basically, there is no need for "brakes" - which is great for when you're you're trying to develop speed-strength.

You'll be doing each of the exercises in circuit fashion. Because this isn't a conditioning circuit you're gonna get plenty of rest. Gotta keep that CNS fresh!

You'll perform 3-5 reps of each drill and allow yourself 30 seconds - 1 minute of rest between each drill. Between each circuit I recommend taking 1-2 minutes worth of rest. In all honesty these rest intervals are simply guidelines. Listen to your body and you'll know when you need to rest and when you can push yourself.

Going 3-5 times through the circuit should be sufficient for most.

It is best to do each of the drills with a tall fence or wall there to stop the medicine ball after you throw it. That way you don't have to chase after the ball and you can maintain more of a training effect.

The Drills -

1. Jumping Back Toss - Grab the medicine ball and get into a half-squat position with the ball held between your legs. As fast as possible, explode upward with jump. As you are jumping toss the medicine ball up and behind you. Land back in the half-squat position. Complete 3-5 reps before moving on to the next drill.

2. Medicine Ball Punch/Shot Put - Get into your typical fighting stance. Hold the medicine ball from underneath next to your shoulder/chin area. Explode forcefully with a hip snap and drive the force through to your shoulder and arm as if throwing a punch. Complete 3-5 explosive reps.

3. Jumping Front Toss - Similar to the first drill but instead of holding the ball between your legs you're going to hold it at chest level. This time, as you jump up instead of tossing it backwards you'll forcefully throw it up and away from you to the front. Complete 3-5 reps.

4. Medicine Ball Slam - Start off in an athletic stance (feet shoulder-ish width apart, knees bent, spine neutral) with the medicine ball held at chest level. Bring the ball up overhead and slam it down as hard and as fast as you can. Complete 3-5 reps.

Wrapping it up-

In my opinion you've only got two options when it comes to optimally incorporating this Speed-Strength workout into your normal routine.

First, this workout is a great way to start the day. It really stimulates your nervous system making you feel more alert, focused, and it improves your mood. So, if you've got the time and motivation doing the routine in the morning is a great option.

The second option is to pick 2-3 days out of the week and perform the workout a few hours before your primary daily workout (either a strength training day or martial arts day). Just make sure you give yourself at least an hour between the speed-strength workout and your normal training session.

Conclusion -

Developing speed-strength is incredibly important for the martial artist or combat athlete.

And the medicine ball is a nearly ideal tool for the job.

As long as you give your CNS the rest it needs (don't let your ego get best of you - more isn't better) you should see great results with this workout.

Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Train Hard,

Josh Skinner

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