Monday, June 30, 2014

Sprint Training for Fighters!

Photo courtesy of Vinod Divakaran 
What is the one attribute a fighter a fighter should build before anything else?

Strong, powerful legs.

To build a proper foundation as a fighter you absolutely need to build your leg strength. There are a lot of great ways to build leg strength and power: Squats, Deadlifts, Pistols, Bulgarian Split Squat, Power Cleans, and Swings are all great examples. But one of my personal favorites is Sprints.

Sprinting 101

Sprints are a powerful tool for building explosive legs. They are particularly well suited for fighters and martial artists who absolutely need to hit hard, hit fast, and hit often. Here's a short list of the benefits of sprints for fighters (and non-fighters as well):

  • Sprinting Improves Work Capacity - Sprinting has been shown by numerous university studies to elicit several adaptations that are key to improving overall work capacity. These include: improved ability to remove waste products like lactic acid, increased muscle glycogen stores, improved fat burning (spares glycogen), increases maximal oxygen uptake, and increased endurance.
  • Sprinting Builds and Preserves Muscle – Unlike traditional aerobic work, sprint and interval training helps you maintain your muscle mass and, if you’re eating right, will help you build more muscle. More muscle means a better physique and increased fat burning – even at rest.
  • Sprinting Drops Fat FAST! – As mentioned above, several university studies have shown that, when compared to standard aerobic exercise, sprinting results in the loss of more body fat in a shorter period of time and with a much lower training volume. That's less weight you have to lug around during a fight.
  • Sprinting Improves Cardiovascular Health – A couple of recent studies have shown that sprint training group routinely outperforms the aerobic group when factors like: resting & training heart rate, stroke volume, improved arterial structure, decreased inflammation, lowered cholesterol, increased lung capacity, and improved circulation.
  • Sprinting Fights Metabolic Syndrome – By improving insulin sensitivity and blood glucose tolerance, sprinting is one of the most effective methods of fighting back against metabolic syndrome.
  • Sprinting Saves Time – A typical sprint or interval training session is significantly shorter than traditional long, slow cardio. This is because you simply can’t train at highly intense levels for more than about 20 minutes at a time and maintain the same level of output. But this isn’t a drawback. It’s great for folks who are short on time. Plus, as I mentioned above, sprint training produces far superior results. So, you get more done in less time which makes more room for fight training and recovery. That’s training smarter, not harder. 
That's a lot of "bang for your buck". Now if you're ready to start implementing sprints into your training I can show you exactly how to get it done.

The Program- 

If you're new to sprint training and/or you're not in great condition, then I want to caution you to start off slow and work your way up do doing full speed sprints. To do that you'll need to find a field, a track, or a hill to train on (as an alternative you can use a treadmill, bike, or elliptical if you have to, but I'd prefer you run if possible). 

Once you've got your location, start off with runs at ~50% of your top speed from your starting point to a point about 50-100 meters away. Once you've run your 50m-100m  at 50% speed, walk back to your starting point, allow yourself about 1-3 minutes of rest, and then do it all over again. Repeat these 50% runs 4-5 times, then call it a day.

Ease your way into faster and faster sprints over a 6 week period. So, on week 2 you'll do your runs at 60% of your top speed. Week 3 will be sprints at 70%, week 4 will be at 80%, and weeks 5 & 6 will both be at 90%. Once you're at that point you're ready to add in this sprint training program (take a week off before starting, however):

Fighter's Sprint Training Routine: 
This routine should be done 2-3 days a week on days you do not lift. Ensure that you don't train sprints on consecutive days to avoid burnout. Give yourself at least 2-3 hours between sprint training and any sort of fight training (bag work, skill work, sparring, ect...).

   Sprint Session A - 
  1. Sprint 400m @ 100% speed.
  2. Sprint 300m @ 100% speed
  3. Sprint 200m @ 100% speed
  4. Sprint 100m @ 100% speed
  5. Sprint 100m @ 100% speed
In between each sprint, rest 2-3 minutes. Warm up for this session with a light jog for 2-3 minutes and some dynamic stretches. Cool down with a 5 minute walk. You should be able to finish this entire session in about 30 minutes or less. 

   Sprint Session B - 
  1. Sprint 300m @ 70%
  2. Sprint 200m @ 80%
  3. Sprint 100m @ 90%
  4. Sprint 300m @ 70%
  5. Sprint 200m @ 80%
  6. Sprint 100m @ 90%
  7. Sprint 100m @ 90%
In between each sprint, rest 2-3 minutes. Warm up for this session with a light jog for 2-3 minutes and some dynamic stretches. Cool down with a 5 minute walk. 

Alternate between doing Session A and Session B 2-3 times a week for 4-6 weeks. Every 4-6 weeks take a week off, then either continue doing these workouts or try something different. At the end of your 4-6 you will notice that you have improved tremendously in terms of explosive power and work capacity. I think you'll also notice that you've dropped quite a bit of fat as well (assuming your diet isn't complete shit).

Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Train Hard,
Josh Skinner

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