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The Proper Combat Training Program

The Proper Combat Training Program

First I would like to introduce myself. My name is Michael Derecola. Some of you know me from the afternoon jiu-jitsu and boxing classes. I contacted Ken and offered to write articles about strength & conditioning, nutrition, supplements, recovery, and sports medicine. I am a certified athletic trainer (ATC) through the National Athletic Trainers Association and a strength & conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength & Conditioning Association. I own and operate Strides of CNY, LLC where we train various athletes and clients of all ages. In addition, I am the strength & conditioning coach for the women’s Le Moyne Dolphins softball, lacrosse, soccer and basketball teams. I am the former athletic trainer and strength coach for the Syracuse Crunch. Needless to say, I have a wide variety of experience training athletes. So enough about me… onto the article.

This article will discuss the importance of a proper training program. As a combat athlete, whatever the specialty, the training program should consist of the following components…

Muscular Strength
Power/Explosiveness
Speed/Quickness
Mobility/Flexibility
Core Strength/Stability
Conditioning (Sport Specific)

Muscular strength plays a crucial role in athletic performance! It should be the foundation of all training programs. In order for one to become stronger, one needs to follow the principal of “progressive overload”. Simply put… one must progressively overload the muscle to achieve more strength. Hence, weight training incorporating sets of 90%-100% of your max effort, will yield great strength gains. I continue to observe two common mistakes with strength training. The first is performing sets of high volume i.e. the “bodybuilding method”. Keep in mind that big muscles do not equal big strength! The other common mistake individuals make is performing high repetitions, which in return, only increases their muscular endurance and conditioning thus yielding no increase in muscular strength i.e. circuit training. The stronger one becomes the more power one can generate. Power training incorporates Olympic lifting, med ball throws, jumps, bands, etc. The key to power training is keeping the weight and repetitions low while being explosive as possible! Speed goes hand in hand with power. Performing explosive sprinting starts trains the muscles to fire fast. Include a variety of starts in your program. You will be amazed in the improvement of your quickness! Another important component that seems to be eliminated in many, if not all, training programs is mobility/flexibility. I’m not talking about the stretch and hold exercises that have been around forever. I’m taking about performing mobility exercises to increase one’s range of motion at the joint. By increasing one’s mobility, you can increase performance, proper form, move fluently and decrease injury! In my past 10 years of experience, mobility is the key to a successful athlete! Mobility/flexibility, with all combat athletes, plays a huge part in being able to perform the technique and skills properly. An athlete’s core plays another intricate part in their performance and health. My saying is… “You’re only as strong as your core”. With this said, core strength and stability allows the combat athlete to generate rotation power for take downs and throws. It also adds to a strong and explosive ground game as well as to powerful punches, knees and kicks. It’s very important to add core “stability” exercises into your program. Performing planks and various exercises that stabilize the hips and allow the extremities to perform will get your core in functional shape! The final key to a perfect training program is conditioning. This is the hardest component since most of us find it hard to push ourselves to the brink! You all know what I mean. This is the point to where you feel nauseas, dizzy, exhausted or gassed at the end of a conditioning session. Sparring in your combat sport is the best way to get conditioned! In addition, MMA circuit training or sprint intervals can greatly help also. Keep in mind it needs to be sport-specific.

In summary, the strong, explosive, quick, mobile and conditioned combat athletes in the presence of great skill and technique will dominate the competition! Implementing these components into your training program will help you in jiu-jitsu, grappling, MMA, muay thai, wrestling and boxing! So whether you’re a beginner or advance student at Tai Kai, strength, power, speed, core, mobility and sport-specific conditioning should be your intentions in the gym! The “beach muscles” won’t cut it! In future articles, I will be discussing nutrition, injuries & rehabilitation, videos of new exercises, conditioning circuits, weight loss, grip training and various other topics to make YOU a better combat athlete. If you have any questions please contact me via email. My intentions is to make Tai Kai athletes the best in the area, state, and country!

Michael Derecola, ATC, CSCS
mjderecola@stridesstrength.com