Friday, August 8, 2014

Fighter's Tabata Drill

To be an effective fighter you need to develop many different skill sets and physical attributes. In addition to highly developed striking ability, grappling skills, and reaction & timing, you also need to have solid levels of physical strength and power as well as superior anaerobic power and aerobic endurance.

Today I'd like to talk with you about a simple, but very hard drill for developing both aerobic and anaerobic benefits: Tabata Intervals.

 Originally developed for Japanese Olympic speed skaters, Tabata style interval sessions can be an excellent method for fighters to utilize - if used properly. The tabata is a very short, but highly intense interval session developed by professor Izumi Tabata and speed skating coach Irasawa Koichi.

In this post I want to share with you why and how I utilize tabatas in my own training and with the fighters I work with.

The Tabata Why & How-to:

When professor Tabata completed his initial research into the interval training protocol that would eventually carry his name, he found that the particular work/rest intervals he was using were very effective. Tabata noted a 28% increase in anaerobic capacity and a significant increase in the performance of his athlete's "aerobic energy supplying systems".

This is great news for fighters, especially when you consider that the standard tabata style interval session only takes 4 minutes to complete (excluding warm-up and cool down). Now don't get me wrong, that 4 minutes is absolute hell. But it's a great way to improve both your anaerobic and aerobic systems at the same in a manner that is highly "specific" for combat athletes.

Standard Tabata Protocol - 

Tabata interval training should consist of alternating 20 seconds of HIGHLY intense work intervals with 10 second rest intervals for 4 minutes. This works out to 8 total work intervals.

I've found that the type of equipment and the exercises you can use can vary. Professor Tabata's athletes used stationary cycles during research - so, you can feel free to use cycles. You can also use ellipticals, treadmills (can be kinda difficult), rowing machines, an outdoor track, or even a swimming pool.

In the past, I've used conventional and unconventional exercises and training equipment to perform tabata intervals. Dumbbells, kettlebells, tires & sledgehammers, exercise bands, battling ropes, and exercises with your own body weight are all options. I want to caution you though, whatever exercises and tools you pick, you should be able to perform the movement at high speed and under control with good form.

The Fighter's Tabata -

To make things more specific to fighters I have a couple that I like to use, but what I want to show you in the video below, is one of the tabatas I like for conditioning for MMA. I like it because it covers several relevant, specific MMA skill sets - striking, clinch and knee strikes, takedowns, and finally ground and pound. This tabata has a nice flow to it as well.

- 20 Seconds "all out" Jab/cross combo (heavy bag)
- 10 Seconds Rest
- 20 Seconds "all out knees" on heavy bag or tear drop bag
- 10 Seconds Rest
- 20 Seconds Floor bag lift squats
- 10 Seconds Rest
- 20 Seconds "all out" mounted strikes to the floor bag
    - Repeat this sequence for a total of two times to complete the tabata session.

Here's how it should look:

Tips -

  • Remember that each exercise should be performed at your absolute max speed - Doing this will ensure that you are truly pushing your conditioning, thus ensuring the effectiveness of the drill. Avoid using resistance drills with too much resistance since this decreases the speed at which you perf
  • Avoid overly complex exercises - When doing tabatas, fatigue sets in quick and when fatigue sets in technique begins to drop off and you get sloppy. Sloppy movements can build bad habits which can spill over into other areas of your training. Obviously, we don't want that. During all aspects of our training we should be enforcing good technique not bad technique. So, stick with simple drills which allow you to maintain good technique even at high levels of fatigue.
  • Keep your eye on the clock! - It is critical to the proper performance of tabatas that you make sure you are working the proper length of time during your work intervals and not resting too much during your rest intervals. Using either a "boxing timer" smart phone app or some other timer will ensure you're staying on task.
  • Feel free to use a partner - In the video I show "The Trojan" utilizing tools that don't require a partner. But don't feel like you have to be restricted to just that. You could easily trade out the heavy bag and floor bag for a partner holding thai pads. Use your imagination.


1 comment:

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