Thursday, 30 May 2013

Power Development for Combat Sports Part 1

Power development for combat sports is often a subject that has been highly misinterpreted by many trainers and fighters themselves.  Most of the sessions you can find online focuses on power endurance and doesn't really have anything to do with developing raw power.
Lets look at the definition of POWER

Power in sport is the ability to generate maximal force in the shortest period of time (knock out punches, kicks, all those lethal take downs etc) .
This way, the goal of POWER training is to enable an athlete to apply the greatest amount of their maximal strength in the shortest period of time.
Based on the analysis and rankings (by ESPN) of 60 sports disciplines that require the most power production.

Olympic weightlifting is placed number 1 (as it epitomises power in sport) (9.75 points out of 10) , Boxing 3rd (8.63 points) place followed by American Football, MMA 8th place (7.75 points) and wrestling is number 13 (7.13 points). Interestingly track and field have been scored same as wrestling (7.13 points).
Does it mean that wrestlers should train in the same way as track and field athletes during their conditioning sessions ... absolutely not.
Lets look closer at the components of Power. One of the main ones is Force = Strength, which brings us to an obvious conclusion. You cannot be powerful without being strong in the first place.
Strength development should always come first before even attempting any sort of power training.
For most of the fighters, that have no or not much experience in weight lifting training, the initial gains in strength will automatically result in increased power of kicks, punches, take downs etc. The fun starts when you have a combat athlete with years of weightlifting experience under their belt - for him or her - sticking solely to strength training may have a detrimental effect to the power, as it may actually slow them down. 
How to overcome it and how to power train an MMA fighter, BJJ athlete, boxer or wrestler. 
In the series of articles I will explain the methods we believe in, when and how they should be used.  
Make your athlete STRONG. Without having the fundamentals of strength, I would not attempt moving to power training. If you can deadlift 2x your body weight, then lifting your body weight only will occur at greater speed and at much lower exhaustion rate as if you were able to lift only a weight close to your own. Seems obvious, right? And yet... strength training seems to be still an overlooked component, as most training camps favour power endurance work. 
Here are the standards we use for our fighters (the % are given for 1RM unless stated differently):

Deadlift - 2xBW
Back Squat - 1.75xBW
Front Squat - 1.5xBW 
Overhead Squat - 5 reps @ 1xBW
Bench Press -1.5xBW
Military Press – 0.9xBW
Pull Up (Weighted) - BW + .5BW
1 arm push up - 5 (full range) per arm
1 legged squat (pistol) 5 full range per leg

Once the standards above have been achieved with perfect form, we can move to ballistic power training. All the standards serve as guidelines and may change through the year. Ideally, as a s&c coach you would like to have your athletes free of injuries, however anyone who has ever been involved in combat sports knows the likelihood of this is ... minimal. Never be afraid to come back to basics, solid foundation can never be overestimated, and it is something we always come back to in order to progress further with the training. Please note we have included single limb movements in our standards.

In the next weeks post, I will look closer at the different types of power training.


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