Thursday, 6 June 2013

Power Development for Combat Sports part 2

As mentioned in the part 1, before commencing power training, the athlete has to display sound levels of strength ( all our standards were mention in the previous article). MMA and most combat sports as well as other athletic activities involve far faster movements and far higher power outputs than are found in maximal strength exercises. Therefore although it is true that you need to make your athlete strong, you also need to consider the possibility that even an exceptionally strong athlete can lack significant explosive power. This means that although they are strong, they are unable to apply their strength rapidly at a fast rate.

Lets look at  the POWER equation again:

The traditional strength training addresses only the top part of the above equation, as it increases the ability to apply a maximum amount of force. But when we talk about POWER that force has to be applied at maximum speed, this way we also have a time component to take care of in our training.

The goal here is to reduce the amount of time it takes to apply a set amount of force, in other words - move the load (or body weight) at greater speed.

After the strength training phase, where your goal was to maximize the athlete's ability to apply force, the power phase will train the rate of force production, meaning the athlete will be able to apply the force faster and after also completing the power endurance phase - for a longer period of time. 

There are various methods that help to develop power, the most frequently asked question is what load is optimal to achieve the best results. Is that the "magic" 30% of 1RM, or is it anything from 70-100% 1RM? Should we do a heavy or a light power training... There is only 1 correct answer - IT DEPENDS... 

In s&c for any sport SPECIFICITY is the key. It is very important for the s&c coach to decide upon the qualities you wish you train in your athletes. Lets look at MMA as an exemplary sport - is the movement velocity paramount for any MMA athlete - YES! Then it seems that training light and fast is the most appropriate training mode. 
However if we keep looking at the subject deeper, do the fighters have to overcome a significant weight? - YES! Then training heavy and fast is the answer. 

Again, what I said above is highly simplified, as you will need to look at an athlete as an individual. For example if you train someone who displays great levels of strength, but at the same time they are slow, then reducing the weight and focusing more on velocity may be an answer. Coaching is half science half art, finding the right solution that works best for an athlete you train, has always been a challenge. All theories you can study in books, articles, all research that has been done, all are great information tools, however it is always up to the coach to tailor all the knowledge, so it suits the individual you train, and sometimes what should not work in theory, will get you pretty good results in practice. 

The research on power training still presents mixed and inconclusive evidence on which loads maximize athletic performance and peak power for the various lifts. As said before - the best and most effective load is specific to the individual. The point is to find their weakness and fix it. 

Always remember - training hard is only a part of success, training smart will get you the results you are after. 

Lets have a look at different types of training that improves POWER. This week we will take a look at 


The parameters for explosive strength training are as follows:

Load (single effort) 80-90% 1RM
Load (multiple efforts) 75-85% 1RM
Number of exercises 2-5
Numbers of reps per set (single effort) 1-2
Numbers of reps per set (multiple efforts) 3-5 
Number of sets per session 3-5
Rest 2-5 mins (or as needed - the rest time should be recorded for future reference)
Speed execution Fast/Explosive
Number of sessions per week 2-3

Important: Sets are not performed to exhaustion as the quality and speed of each lift is the most important factor. Rest intervals are also kept high for the same reason. The rest time can be used to improve mobility. 

As the explosive strength method uses heavy load, I like using it after completing Strength phase (+ 1 week of deloading). It is a great time to use Olympic lifts and derivatives. My preference for combat athletes are power clean, hang clean and jerk.   
Oly lifts are highly complex movements that require great amounts of flexibility and coordination thus they  take a long time to master. This is a reason why a lot of s&c coaches do not care to include them in their training programs. Personally, I think that if you have a luxury of training your athletes on a regular basis (not just for 8 week training camps) it would be of a huge benefit to spend time with them to master the oly lifts and their derivatives. Olympic lifts, done correctly can prove to be an extremely powerful tool in developing strength-speed component in an MMA athlete. There was a remarkable research conducted during Mexico City Olympics in 1964, which showed that oly lifters had not only the highest vertical jump out of all the athletes (including high jumpers) but they could also run a 25 yard dash faster than any other athletes (including the sprinters). Both tests are great display of power. Only this research alone should make you consider including oly lifts in your programs, providing the athletes are ready for this type of training.

Next week, I will take a look at Ballistic training for power development. 


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