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Secrets of Martial Arts Conditioning By Alwyn Cosgrove
Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 2 Secrets of Martial Arts Conditioning Alwyn Cosgrove 2003 All rights reserved. No portion of this manual may be used, reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including fax, photocopy, recording or any information storage and retrieval system by anyone but the purchaser for their own personal use. This manual may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher, except by a reviewer who wishes to quote brief passages in connection with a review written for inclusion in a magazine or newspaper and has written approval prior to publishing. For information contact: Cosgrove Results Fitness Training 24420 Walnut Street, Newhall, CA 91321 Tel: 661 799 7900 Fax: 661 799 7371 Email: Website: Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 3 Introduction: 7 Chapter One: Unique Factors in training the Combat Athlete 11 Chapter Two: Modern Training Principles 13

Chapter Three: Top Ten and-a-half Training Principles for martial arts conditioning 27 Chapter Four: The theory of exercise for Kicking 35 Chapter Five: The theory of exercise for Punching and striking 37 Chapter Six: Speed Training 39 Chapter Seven: Energy System Training 51 Chapter Eight: Flexibility Training 57 Chapter Nine: Nutrition by Rachel Cosgrove 65 Chapter Ten: The Martial Arts Conditioning Program a 16 week, four stage program 79 Chapter Eleven: Questions and Answers 151 About the Author 179 Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 4 Disclaimer This book is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment. Programs outlined herein should not be adopted without consultation with your health professional. Use of the programs herein is at the sole choice and risk of the reader. The author is neither responsible, nor liable for any harm or injury resulting from this program or the use of the exercises described herein.

Acknowledgements For years people have asked me when I was going to write a book. It was always my intent to write one, but life seemed to get in the way. Then my good friend Ryan Lee finally kicked my ass enough to get me to sit down in front of a computer. This is the result of that ass-kicking. Thank you also to my instructor Derek Campbell still in my opinion the greatest coach the World has ever seen thank you for being my mentor, my coach and my friend. To all the athletes and clients who have trusted me with their bodies over the years, thank you for believing in me. To my friends, colleagues and team mates over the years thank you for pushing me to new levels. To Lou Schuler, who first recognized my ideas on training and let me share them with the World via Mens Health magazine. To the team at Results Fitness, thank you for allowing me to test my theories on you! Thanks to my Dad who taught me that you can do whatever you set your mind to. Thank you to Rachel my wife, my life partner and my soul-mate for believing in me more than anyone else. And thank you to my Mum who never got the chance to see the lessons she instilled in me take root and bear fruit. This book is for you. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 5 Martial Arts Conditioning Alwyn Cosgrove 2003 Martial Arts are one of the largest single participation sports in the World today. Unfortunately due to the strong traditions and history, there has been a tendency for martial artists to ignore the advances in sports science, strength and conditioning and exercise physiology that could revolutionize the activity. Even worse is the case of the combat athlete involved at high-level sport, yet relying on low-level preparation methods. In short, the current physical preparation methods used to prepare fighters for competition are outdated. This book will focus on how to adequately prepare combat athletes for competition, and how that knowledge can be applied to almost any other sport. The following is a more modern, battle-tested approach of conditioning combat athletes. Just because martial arts are thousands of years old, doesnt mean your training program has to be. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 6 Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 7 Introduction How does a kid from a little town in Scotland end up advising some of the Worlds top athletes on their physical preparation? I started studying martial arts in the summer of 1983. I was a huge comic book fan growing up, and this is where my first exposure to these exotic fighting systems came from. Remember, Batman had no powers he was just a black belt in about 8 different systems. So the reason I ended up training in Taekwon-do was largely because of Batman! I trained regularly, and dont think I ever missed a class the entire time I trained. I achieved my black belt in 87 as a 15 year old, and soon entered the world of martial arts competition. I should mention that I had in my opinion the

greatest Taekwon-do instructor of all time Mr. Derek Campbell. Mr. C started as my instructor, became my coach, and eventually my friend. One of the best coaching minds, in any sport in the world today. People, if you want to win tournaments you need to track this guy down and learn from him. After winning a few fights, and losing a few I realized that the people I beat, or didnt beat knew the same martial art as I did. This fascinated me. How could one man beat another man, who had the exact same knowledge about fighting? Strategy plays a part, but thats part of what you should already know. It kind of hit me that the only thing separating the winner from the loser was how they applied the techniques. How fast they moved. How hard they hit. How long they could go for. When technical skill was identical between two competitors, the strongest and fastest athlete will win almost 100% of the time. In other words it was fitness and conditioning that would end up determining who took home the gold. With this in mind, I started studying physiology, and the methodology of training. This engulfed me. I went to college in Scotland to study it, continued on to a college in England to study some more, and to this day over 20 years Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 8 since I first walked into a martial arts class I still spend about an hour or so each day still researching the best physical preparation methods the world has to offer. I continued to compete in Taekwon-do the entire time I was in college. My career ended with seven national titles, five titles in five different weight classes and several international medals. I was prepared to fight anyone, at any weight, confident that my superior conditioning methods would carry me through. It usually did, and as a light middleweight fighter I managed to beat the national champions at both middleweight and at light-heavyweight in the same year. It was while in college I started being approached by other athletes to help them, with their training including a National level rugby player, and the captain of the track team. And then two Taekwon-do fighters moved to where I was enrolled in college to have me advise them on their training. They both won the nationals that year. This was a good time for me as I was learning training theory and methodology academically, and actually applying it at the same time figuring out what works in the research may not work as well with real athletes in real situations not too many people get to experience both approaches at once. It really helped fast-track my development. I think thats when I realized that my obsessive studying and note-taking wasnt normal. Maybe I had something to offer. I continually researched and refined what the science showed would work, what the real world showed did work, and what the top strength coaches in the field had shown had worked. This concept of continually refining the training methods continues with me to this day. After graduating college I left the shores of Great Britain and headed for the United States. I ended up at the US Athletic Training Center in New York City, where my learning continued under Gary Guerriero the owner of the center. With his help I was exposed to the training of Olympic Athletes, Professional

Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 9 football players, dancers a whole new world. Now I was getting paid for something Id do for free! The United States became a place where I could access the Worlds best strength and conditioning professionals easily. And I did. I met and learned from pretty much every name you have ever heard of in this field. I asked so many questions of these people that Im sure some of them started to hate me! My learning curve was so rapid with these opportunities, that Ive had some of these same professionals send me their athletes for consultations, or ask me to co-write training manuals for international sporting teams. The experts I looked up to quickly began to see me as their equal. My Dad had always instilled in me learn something every day. He used to ask every night when I was a child what did you learn today? And you had to have an answer! I think this has become the secret to my success. I spend an hour a day doing nothing but studying and reading relevant topics to my professional and personal development. It only takes three years of studying an hour per day, to become an expert in anything you want. And the sad fact is, most of us spend an hour a day doing something. So in three years youll be an expert on that same something. So its your choice sports conditioning, business? Or maybe itll be Friends or Seinfeld reruns! I eventually left the USATC and began my own business. This business began in New York City, returned briefly to the United Kingdom and ended up as a full time training center in Southern California (well to be honest, my wife owns the gym I just work there!) My mission in life at one time was to discover or create the Worlds greatest training system. The reality is there is no such system. You have to treat each athlete as an individual and find what works best for them. Just as each person has a specific shoe size, they also have specific problems, strengths, weaknesses and goals. Also, an exercise may work well in the gym, but not Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 10 transfer to sport, or real life situations. Sport specific training is not enough. Effective transfer from the gym to the real world is what separates effective training programs from ineffective ones. The essential difference in taking into account all of the above is we now create results by design not by coincidence. Thank you for being interested enough in what I have to say about training to buy this book. Train Hard. Train SMART. Alwyn Cosgrove Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 11 Chapter One: Unique Factors in training the Combat Athlete I have no doubt that training and preparing for any sport is a challenging task. But its fair to say that combat sports are the ONLY activity in which the ultimate goal is to render the opposition unable to continue. And when you realize that the scary part is that the opponents goal is to render YOU

unable to continue! No matter how far behind a fighter is, there is always the hope that one perfectly delivered strike will knock out an opponent; thereby winning the battle. Sport Combat is perhaps the ONLY activity whereby one of the participants can be hopelessly outclassed and even further behind, and yet at a stroke - Win. Decisively. Anonymous So no matter how easy its been in the fight up until now its not over and you can still lose. And no matter how much of a beating youve had up until this point in the fight its not over you can still win. Another unique factor as regards martial arts competition is that the events tend to be stand-alone in nature. That is they are single tournaments not part of a season, or a league where a .500 record takes you to the finals. In combat sports, we usually have single elimination events you lose youre out. So we need to be ON all the time at these events. I tell my guys all the time you are training for ONE fight you win that you get allowed another but all this training is for one fight. Only one fighter remains undefeated in each division at a martial arts tournament. Defeat is worse than death because you have to live with defeat. ~Bill Musselman. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 12 You can make excuses in almost any sport my teammates let me down the floor was slippy, etc etc. In combat its one-on-one. You lose you lost to the better man. Its a little tougher to accept but its basically true the best man won. But that is real hard to live with! Remember you will get tough matches. There will always be fighters who are better than you, more experienced than you, more well-known than you. But there is NO EXCUSE for someone being in better shape than you. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 13 Chapter Two: Modern Training Principles Consider this there can only be one Champion. And although most athletes want to be in the unique position as the champion, they usually match this desire with the practice of training EXACTLY the same way as everyone else! Does that make ANY sense? Your goal is to be number one, but you are relying on the exact same training as everyone else is doing, and likely what everyone else did in the past to reach that goal. What we are about to discuss are the modern training principles that I currently use to design all of the programs for the athletes that I work with, to create Champions. The Champions program will and should be different from those he/she defeats. The Champions program that helped them win the title will not work to help them retain the title. If this is a little different from what youve read or practiced before thats great. All that means is youre about to get a different result than what you have got up until now. If you do what youve always done, youll get what youve always gotten! If its not different from what youre doing now you should come and start working for me We do today what others will do tomorrow Charlie Francis Sports Scientists are more like sports historians they study what good coaches have been doing for 2 Olympic cycles Lyn Jones

In other words by the time science validates what we as practitioners do in the gym, well have moved on and be doing something better anyway. I had an intern complete a level one internship with me once and he asked how many levels there were. I couldnt answer. I knew that there were at least four or five levels as there was that much more he needed to learn. But I reserve the right to still learn myself to keep learning and improve myself. So by the time that young man reached level five I might have learned enough to create another seven or eight levels. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 14 Education has no finish line. And the frustrating thing is, education often provokes more questions than provides answers. As nothing more than a student of this field, I reserve the right to continue my own education. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 15 Training Principles There are several guidelines to training that must be constantly monitored to ensure success in training, and therefore improvements. Violating these principles can only result in the effectiveness of the training program being reduced, and the results being compromised. General to Specific: This principle explores the benefit of progressing from general training to more sport specific training. This principle should be used both long term and short term when designing a conditioning program. General training to sport-specific training can be thought of as opposite ends of a continuum. In my opinion (and that of my colleague, athletic development specialist Brian Grasso) it is worthwhile exposing young or inexperienced athlete to a broad base of movement activities and general athletic skills prior to specializing. Conditioning Specialist Lorne Goldenberg of Canada illustrated this concept by saying build athleticism before sport-specificity. Brian Grassos business statement is You cant be a Champion, until you become an Athlete. A great quote which really illustrates the need for athletic preparation prior to sport-specific preparation. The only athletes that can specialize at a young age are those with a young sport such as gymnastics or figure skating where the average age of the athlete is very young. And even then, a general athletic development program still has a lot to offer. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 16 The real key in understanding the general specific continuum perhaps lies in realizing that it

is indeed a continuum. Each year when the athlete returns to general preparation it should be slightly more specific than the year prior. In fact as that athlete moves toward more specific training, that too should become more specific than previously. This is a concept that in my opinion has been misinterpreted by most conditioning coaches. They return to the same stuff at the start of each year that they were doing last year or the year before. Training has to be dynamic, not static. No progress. No advanced athletic development. And no Champions. Individualization of Training: The question I get asked most at seminars, conferences etc is not the theory behind my training programs but copies of actual training programs I have written. You can credit this to the many fitness magazines and books out there that promote the onesize-fits-all training routine. Quite ridiculous really as just as we require a different shoe size we also require a different program for the rest of the body. No two athletes will respond the same to the same program, so even if we were to prescribe the exact same training variables we would get a different result with every individual. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 17 This is the heart of the individualization principle. To really maximize the training effect it is necessary to take into account every single individual difference that the athlete presents. Each training program needs to be individualized and modified to suit the individual. Many coaches know about this. Very few actually apply it. You can give me all the excuse you want about time, etc but you cant ignore the fact that you are shortchanging athletes by providing generic training programs. There is a general program attached in this book but be aware of the need to modify and individualize the program to really optimize its benefits. Feel free to substitute some of the exercises because of injuries or problem areas etc. In an ideal world Id

meet each and every one of you, perform a full interview and analysis, and design an entirely individualized program for you. Maybe one day! Equal and Opposite Effect: Credit must go to Ian King of Australia for bringing this concept to the training world. The concept is based on the belief that to every action (in training) there is both a positive and negative outcome, and often, Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 18 the negative outcome is equal or as powerful as the positive one. For example in boxing the fighter is often in a forward head posture position and throwing punches from an internally rotated shoulder position. Consequently the upper pecs, shoulder and the internal rotators of the arm/shoulder become shorter and tighter than the external rotators and scapula retractors. Most strength and conditioning coaches will make the mistake of strengthening these already short muscles for sport-specific reasons. My approach would be to take the injury prevention angle and train the opposite movements and muscle groups to eliminate these imbalances thus lengthening the career of the athlete. This is almost like a non-sport-specific training program. The underlying message of this principle is that every single method will create a negative effect also and that must be countered with other exercises in that phase of training or in subsequent phases. Decreasing and eliminating injuries or the chance of injuries are just as important as improving performance. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 19 Progressive Overload: This stresses two issues. Firstly the need for overload in training, and secondly the need for progression in training overload. Our bodies are lazy resistant to change what scientists call homeostasis the desire for the body to remain in exactly the same state. To create a change we need to apply a stimulus that overloads the body creates a condition that is

over or above what the body has normally been exposed to. Once the body has adapted to this state we must again overload it safely and progressively. In laymans terms this means that should we wish to become stronger we need to increase the load lifted. In fact regardless of your goal there is not a training program in the world that requires you to lift less weight, or do less total work in the future than you can do now. Thats under-loading! The best quote for progressive overload Ive ever heard came from Sports conditioning specialist Charles Staley when he said if you do what youve always done youll get what youve always gotten. In other words unless you ask your body to do something beyond which it has already accomplished it wont change. Recovery: The principle of recovery recognizes that training alone does not produce any results. Thats right you dont get better by training you get better by recovering from Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 20 training. This is such an important concept Im going to restate it: You DO NOT improve from training. You improve by recovering FROM training. The training effect is a combination of training and the subsequent recovery from training. It is only when recovery is allowed that we see the super-compensation effect, when the bodys physical capacity is elevated in response to training. Training plus training equals nothing. Training plus recovery equals results. If you double your training effort, you need to double your recovery efforts if you want to see double the results. This is the least understood training principle. Specificity: The SAID principle specific adaptation to imposed demand. This principle suggest that your adaptation to training will be specific e.g. long slow running will enhance your ability to run long and slow but is unlikely to enhance your ability to run short and explosively. Similarly will lifting slow and heavily transfer effectively to improving your punching speed? Perhaps. If strength is the limiting factor in your punching speed. But definitely not if that specific adaptation is not necessary. Reversibility: This is the use it or lose it principle. Understanding this principle will allow you to determine the different phases of training, transition times, recovery weeks etc. This is

also known as detraining and is a key component behind the success of undulating periodization programs. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 21 Transfer: this principle focuses on to what degree each quality trained in the gym or in practice actually TRANSFERS to an on-the-field or in-the-ring performance. This principle therefore places more importance on doing the training that gives the best result as measured by sports performance, than it does on conforming to specificity for the sake of specificity. For example will the time taken to achieve a 400lb squat as opposed to a 300lb squat actually be worth the time invested when you step into the ring? Or will doing jump squats, plyometrics and other activities translate to a more functional strength one you can actually use come fight time? This concept was brought to the training world, once again by Ian King. And it tends to be ignored by the less enlightened coaches as the specificity principle is usually well engrained. Occasionally the transfer principle will be the opposite of what the specificity principle is. Thats ok transfer is far more important than specificity. As youll hear me say a lot - Its ok to break the rules, as long as you know the rules. Variety: Everyone knows that training load needs to be progressively increased but not everyone seems aware that training stimulus needs to be periodically varied. This variety helps us to avoid the opposite effect problems as stated earlier, and it also allows us to implement new methods in the program to keep the athlete from being stale. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 22 During periods just prior to competition we have less variety than we would have in the earlier stages of preparation, and vice versa. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 23 Summary The above can be a lot to take in especially for someone who picked up this book to help improve their own martial arts skills and not to learn everything about program design. But it would be wrong of me to provide a sample program without explaining the theory behind the programs. The following summary, along with the next chapter will help clarify the issues, and will allow you to get the gist of the training principles I adhere to. Basically train only the traits which transfer positively to the sport, but cannot be developed by practicing the sport. There is no need for a rower for example to go into the gym and do rowing they dont need any more of it,

and the sport provides plenty of it. A similar example would be a marathon runner doing heavy 1 rep attempts just not likely to transfer positively to marathon running. Secondly, train that which can prevent the injuries common in practicing the sport. A great example would be the addition of external rotation training for the shoulder girdle of a competitive freestyle swimmer they perform thousands of reps daily of internal rotation so the need to provide an injury prevention balance effect is paramount. A third point is that training must be harder than the sport otherwise there is no transfer. In short if you dont provide an overload in training then the competition is harder than that which you have prepared for. In other words you just arent ready. The old maxim train hard, fight easy has never been more true. And finally - if you can use the sport itself to develop the motor quality - then that will always be a superior method. Although I do provide energy system running workouts for my athletes I prefer that the martial artists take those same principles and use bag work, or pad work to develop those energy systems. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 24 Additionally train the qualities that are: 1 needed: - for example: is maximal strength necessary? 2 underdeveloped: maximal strength is usually underdeveloped and could likely use some improvement. 3- Highly trainable: maximal strength is very easily improved 4 foundational to other qualities: maximal strength is foundational to speed strength and to strength endurance to some extent. So we can make the assumption that maximal strength training for the martial artist would be a good choice in where to focus your efforts. It is needed, usually underdeveloped, easy to improve and will also improve other qualities. A no-brainer in where to spend most of your training time in other words. This streamlining of program design is what I refer to as the BIG ROCKS theory (rocks in a jar). I get asked all the time what do you think of the Swiss Ball, of chains, of rubber bands, of plyometrics, of speed ladders etc. My answer is the Big Rocks theory. Picture a jar packed to the brim with big rocks. Can you fit anything else in the jar? At first glance, no but if you think about it you can fit some small rocks. Is it full now? No you can still fit some pebbles in there. Is it full now? No we can still add some sand is it full now? Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning

25 Still no we can now pour in some water. Now its full. So understand that all these bells and whistles and magnificent pieces of equipment are like the water. Its fine, it fits and it can serve a purpose as long as you didnt forget to put in the big rocks. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 26 Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 27 Chapter Three: Top Ten and-a-half Training Tips for martial arts conditioning Applying these principles I have come up with ten (and a half ) training guidelines for the combat athlete that must be present to ensure competitive success. 1: Bodyweight before external resistance Many athletes make the mistake of beginning a strength routine and going straight for the heavy weights. This usually ends up causing an injury. An athlete has no business using load if he/she cannot stabilize, control and move efficiently with only their bodyweight. So your strength program in the beginning stages may actually include no weights whatsoever. And it will work better and faster than a typical program that relies primarily on weights and machines in the beginning stages. In fact in my experience Id suggest that some athletes cannot even work with their bodyweight so we may need to modify certain exercises. Do not rush to lift heavy loads muscle recruitment and control are far more important than maximal strength for any athlete. Without control the strength is useless. 2: Train to the 5th Power This is a concept I learned from Juan Carlos Santana basically it refers to the following. 1

Train in a standing position - GROUND BASED. The majority of athletic training should take place in an upright position standing. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but in general, we always lose Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 28 something when we go from a standing position to a seated or lying position. 2

Train with free weights (destabilized) Any machine limits the range of motion and controls the movement. This is fine for beginners, but athletes need to be able to stabilize and control their bodies in all three planes of motion simultaneously. 3


Use Multiple Joints (the kinetic CHAIN is natural) Single joint strength (e.g. leg extension machine, bicep curls) develops useless strength A study was undertaken at Ohio State involving a knee extension test. The participants included: 3 World ranked squatters 1 World Record holder in the squat The test results of the above subjects averaged 180lbs of force on the Cybex leg extension machine. However a local power lifter (ranked 15th in the state) broke the machine. He wasnt even number one in his state but he was stronger on this machine than the World ranked lifters. If there is a better example of the inability of single joint machine training to translate to real world strength then Id like to see it. A guy who was only ranked 15

in the state can apply more single leg strength than a World Record holder. Nice. Pretty. But pretty useless. If that strength doesnt transfer then whats the point of having it? Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 29 Basically, despite the strength that individual exhibited on the machine, he was unable to apply it in a real world situation like squatting. And the elite squatters werent that strong on the leg extension showing its not even a factor. So leg extension machines are a waste of time. Unless of course you compete in seated ass kicking leg extension contests How can anyone expect to possess co-ordination in active work when his muscles have never worked together in groups? Earle Liederman 1924. Nearly 80 years ago and we are still having this argument today. Isolation machines have no place in the preparation of a competitive athlete. Single -joint exercises, such as leg extensions and leg curls develop movement patterns that will interfere with patterns you use in sport. Such exercises lead to inappropriate muscle recruitment patterns that can impair

movement and lead to injury - Thomas Fahey 4


Train with explosiveness Explosiveness as I see it can be defined as as fast as possible with control. Some people seem to feel that explosiveness is somewhat dangerous. Sloppy training, uncontrolled movements? Thats dangerous. Training explosively more closely mirrors what happens in sport and/or life. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 30 5

Train functionally - train movements not muscle groups Again, isolated muscle group training, outside of rehabilitation has no place in athletic training. An athlete should focus on strengthening specific movements. True muscle isolation is impossible anyway, so lets focus on using that body to work in an integrated fashion. 3: Train unilaterally and multi-planar -the majority of training programs take place in the sagittal plane with bilateral movements. Sport takes place in all 3 planes simultaneously with primarily unilateral movements 4: Use all primary methods to develop strength Max Strength method - heavy loads Repeated Efforts Method - multiple sets Dynamic Effort Method - using relatively lighter weights and moving them at max speed (this is the least used method) 5: Variation Everyone seems to understand that training load should be progressively increased Few understand that the training stimulus must also be progressively and periodically varied Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 31 All programs have positive and negative aspects no matter how well designed or specific - too much time on one program and youll habituate to the positive aspects and accumulate the negative aspects 6: Avoid mimicking skills The role of conditioning training is NOT skill training. Loading a technique tends to affect the mechanics of the technique negatively. 7: Train with Balance Balance between motor qualities Balance between movement patterns (e.g. horizontal push-pull) 8) Focus on Rate of Force Development. Either lift lighter weights fast, or heavy weights as fast as possible (intent is more important than actual speed

9) Train the antagonists The speed of a kick or punch is determined largely by the ability of the antagonist to eccentrically decelerate the joint action efficiently and prevent joint injury. If your body cannot safely and effectively brake the motion, then it will not allow you to achieve full acceleration. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 32 If you are not training the antagonists eccentrically - you are not training deceleration. And if you are not training deceleration you cannot be training acceleration. Think about it how fast would you drive your car if you knew your brakes were not working at their best? 10) No Aerobic Training Aerobic training is pretty much a total waste of time. There is nothing in any martial art that is done aerobically it is done at high intensity, explosively and at full speed usually without oxygen. Martial arts take place at the limits of the anaerobic threshold there is no benefit to doing long slow training of any kind. 10.5) Use Undulating Periodization When using linear models - we tend to lose the qualities we initially sought to improve E.g. 6 weeks of hypertrophy, 6 weeks of strength. 6 weeks of speed strength At this point it has been 12 weeks since we were exposed to hypertrophy methods - so well have lost portions of that quality A better method is to alternate accumulation and intensification phases Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 33 Typical mistakes 1) Sacrificing Quality for Quantity: Dont do more of something until you can do it well. More is not better. BETTER is BETTER 2) Seeking fatigue / soreness The effectiveness of training is not determined by the amount of fatigue it produces but by the degree to which it improves the qualities and/or abilities youre trying to develop. 3) Excessive focus on loading Too much focus on the loads and not how it is being moved, and whether or not there is optimal transfer (standing split stance cable press v barbell bench press). Also the time taken to go from a 300lb squat to a 400lb squat may not be worth the return in the real world. 4) Lack of diversity Unchanging routines leads to staleness and overuse injuries 5) Lack of continuity Write programs not workouts - try to write 12-16 weeks at a time. Understand that certain factors may mean that you need to change your routines thats ok. However what I typically see is a situation where trainers and coaches do not write long term plans, they write single workouts. This leads to a lack of

continuity and progress. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 34 Remember the ironic rule of strength training for sport. The objective is not to get stronger per se but to improve athletic performance. Do not get caught up in the numbers game and do not confuse gym improvements with real world or sports world improvements. The greatest athletes in the world do not necessarily have the greatest bench presses in the world. The greatest athletes in the world have an ability to produce useable force on their field of play. Usable force is force that propels athletes towards the ball, knocks another athlete back or down, helps you move at full speed, or throws the winning touchdown pass. Usable force is force properly directed in an unstable real world, unpredictable environment. The weight room, in general, is a stable environment whereas a field of play or the competition ring is a constantly changing place. A good strength and conditioning coach looks to improve athletic performances not just gym lift numbers. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 35 Chapter Four: The Theory of Exercise for Kicking Spinning kicks, jump kicks, head kicks and flying kicks this is perhaps the reason that most of us got involved in martial arts the glamour stuff! Maybe not as practical as low line kicking but they still work and in devastating fashion (remember Pete Williams V Mark Coleman in the UFC?) They also score more points in most competition formats so if you are serious about your training you need to really work on your kicks. It is important to perform both quad dominant and hip dominant exercises, as well as core exercises to really improve your kicking. Specific exercises to improve kicking all start with single leg strength exercises. This exposes all the weaknesses and imbalances an athlete has factors that will only limit his or her performance at higher levels thats why we address them in the first stage of a strength and conditioning program. Of course we also use the BIG exercises Squats, deadlifts, cleans and snatches but we never use these exercises until we have developed a solid base just using single leg exercises and bodyweight loads. Also do not be confused by the term quad dominant and hip dominant. This is not an exact science it merely means that an exercise emphasizes the quads more than the hips or vice versa. Does this mean that the lunge only works the quads? Of course not just that it activates the quad to a higher degree than it activates the glutes, hamstrings etc. Interestingly the power of the kick has very little to do with the kicking leg and a lot to do with the power coming from the core, and the ability for the support leg to stabilize and transfer the power to the kicking leg (and to the target). Therefore we need to work hard on stability exercises. In our facility we use: Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 36 Wobble boards Rocker boards

Stability discs Swiss balls And we do a variety of exercises on them ranging from just placing your foot on a balance board for instance to placing your foot on a balance board and your back foot on a Swiss ball. The secret to success in lower body training or any training for that matter is to develop proper technique and a solid foundation with bodyweight exercises before kicking it up a notch. We never allow our athletes to do an exercise with any kind of weight until we know his body can handle the range of motion with control on its own. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 37 Chapter Five: Punching and striking The key to an effective punch apart from your opponent running into it is to simply develop enough power and speed to make it an effective weapon. The mistake most people make is trying to strengthen the arm muscles, or the chest. This contributes very little to the strength of the punch. Instead, we focus on the core, the hips and the legs. Think about the following example an athlete is bench-pressing. Flat on his back. Fully supported by the bench, feet on the floor and he lifts 200lbs. Thats a reasonably strong upper body. Now lets take that athlete and stand them up get them in a split stance (a fighting stance) and use a cable machine to punch with resistance. This athlete may only be able to use 30-40lbs. BIG DIFFERENCE!! Basically what is happening is the 200lb bench press is only translating to about 40lbs worth of strength when the body is destabilized and vertical. He is losing strength because of his bodys inability to produce a stable environment or base from which to provide force from. So in designing an effective conditioning program for upper body striking we need to think of training the body from the core outwards. So a push up beats a bench press every time in the early stages. Do we use the bench press of course. Its a great exercise for developing general strength we are just aware of its limitations in transferring that strength to a real world environment. Because lets face it if youre flat on your back in martial arts trying to push someone off you youre in more trouble than just needing good bench press strength. Of additional note is the role of the antagonists. As stated earlier a punch is only as fast as the body will allow. In other words, if the body cannot effectively decelerate the punch and save the joint it will shut down the Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 38 speed of the punch. So in other words, a punch can only be as fast as the bodys ability to decelerate it i.e. the lats and the rhomboids have as big a role to play in punching power as does the shoulder chest and core. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 39 Chapter Six: Speed Training Speed

Speed can be defined as the time taken between two points. It is one of the single most important components of sporting success. Speed can in effect be broken down into several qualities: Reaction time: The ability to detect and react to a stimulus. This is usually the first action in a series of speed responses. There are two basic types of reaction simple where you respond to a stimulus and move (like a starters pistol -auditory, an opponents kick -visual, feeling the opponents pull on your sleeve - kinesthetic), and choice reaction time where you have interpret the stimulus to make a decision before you move. Agility and co-ordination: This is the first few movements following the reaction to the stimulus. This is basically speed with multiple direction changes extremely important for sports where the distances moved and the time frames involved are quite short. Acceleration: the ability to increase speed and approach maximum speed. This is less important in short distance sports as the action is typically over in 1-2 seconds and the need to fully exploit acceleration is absent. Maximum Speed: the point at which you cease to accelerate. This is typically, by far, the most trained component of speed training and is the least important as most sports do not Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 40 have the distances that will allow full speed continuous running without a change in direction. Speed endurance: the ability to maintain high levels of speed. Can be further broken down into continual speed endurance (where there is no break in the attempted speed more applicable in track and field), intermittent speed endurance (longer distances where the athlete is continually in motion but alternating between medium to very fast speeds 1500m etc), and repetitive speed endurance - most applicable to sports where you may be walking jogging and sprinting repeatedly in a quarter. There is no change in the duration of play (i.e. a half, quarter etc) Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 41 Speed and Agility Drills In the world of combat sports, in fact in the world of sport period, speed is king. Think about it, have you ever heard a commentator say Wow that guy is so fast he just ran past the play! It is unlikely that you will ever find an athlete who has too much speed for his sport. If you can consistently and repeatedly hit your opponent before he or she can react quite simply it becomes impossible to lose. The top performers in any sport are typically the most explosive and efficient movers. Speed training is

probably the number one reason athletes approach me for training, is to help them become faster. Understand first however, that maximal strength is foundational to speed. The stronger you get, the faster you get (assuming you use scientifically sound training methods, and not something out of a bodybuilding magazine). It is almost impossible to get a weak person fast. By merely getting them stronger, you will make them faster. Once maximal strength has been developed to an appropriate degree, then a more formal speed training development program can have dramatic effects. It would be a near impossible task for me to design a speed training program for every martial art and every possible technique. The following outline however is a general program, that will improve speed overall. If certain techniques are considerably slower than others, then those techniques may need specific speed development work. However I have found that a general increase in overall speed tends to transfer across the board. There are different types of speed as described in the previous chapter, and its important to re-emphasize that what we are trying to develop as fighters, is reaction time and acceleration. Maximum speed is not a factor as the bursts of activity, and the ranges of motion in most strikes in a fight are far too short Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 42 to ever reach the bodys maximum velocity. Acceleration is paramount however. In fact, even for multi-sprint sports such as basketball, soccer and tennis absolute speed is not the most important factor. Speed off the mark, acceleration and agility are again what separates winners and losers. The point to remember is that you don't have to be blessed with the genetic makeup of a Tim Montgomery or a Maurice Greene to be quick in martial arts. With a good maximal strength base, and proper execution of these speed and agility drills you'll have hit and run five or six times your opponent is still thinking about what the hell happened. Its a great feeling! Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 43 General Guidelines for Speed and Agility Drills Quality is the key to speed and agility drills being successful. Keep the individual sprints short and rest completely between sets. Use these 7 pointers to maximize your training returns... 1. Warm up thoroughly. Speed and agility drills may not leave you out of breath but they do put considerable strain on your musculature. A tight, cold muscle cannot perform at maximal speed, and you run the risk of injury even attempting it. 2. Speed and agility drills should be performed either on separate days to other training or at least at the beginning of the session. It is important to do speed training when you are fresh you cannot develop speed in a tired state. 3. You will gain most benefit from these speed and agility drills if you have

previously developed a solid maximal strength base and are currently involved in explosive power training. 4. A typical session should consist of approximately 5 sets of 5 repetitions (each sprint being 1 repetition). Work to rest ratio should be 1:5 i.e. a 5 second sprint should be followed by a 25 second recovery period. 5. The number of sessions per week varies greatly. For most fighters speed and agility drills should be introduced late on in pre-competition training. Two sessions a week is fine at this early stage. Once strength and power have been developed to an adequate level, they can be put on a maintenance program with perhaps a once a week total body session. At this point we can likely increase the speed workouts to three or four times a week. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 44 6. The speed and agility drills below are suitable for many sports. To make them more specific for martial arts adapt them slightly to mirror the footwork movement patterns, or add a kick or punch (to a target) at the end of each drill. Remember we are not training muscles to be fast, we are training the nervous system to be fast. 7. The Single Most Important Rule It takes three HUNDRED repetitions to learn a skill. It takes somewhere between three to five THOUSAND repetitions to CORRECT a faulty skill. It is extremely important that technique is placed above speed during all drills. Do not go faster if it means a breakdown in form. You cannot train speed in a tired state allow adequate rest periods between sets of work (exception being speed endurance) Choose two or three of the speed and agility drills below to make up the session, keeping to the recommended number of sets and repetitions. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 45 Speed and Agility Drills 1. Basic Sprints: Set 2 cones out ten to fifteen meters apart. Sprint from one cone to the next and slowly jog back to the start. Vary the start of the sprint to make the drill more sport specific. For example... Face backwards, start in a fighting stance, lie down, jump up, spin, throw a kick at the start or the end of the drill, throw blitz punches for the entire sprint etc. 2. Rolling Start: Exactly the same as above except you jog for 10 meters before sprinting. This drill is specifically designed to enhance acceleration rather than speed off the mark. Try running backwards or side stepping as well. 3. Up Hill Sprints: In martial arts competition the first step or steps to close the gap and strike, shoot or whatever are crucial. Sprinting up a slight hill (about 30 degrees) helps to

develop power and acceleration. Keep the distances short (10-15 meters) and allow extra rest between sets and reps. An alternative to uphill running is a sled. Sleds (or weighted tires) are one of the most popular and effective training aids for sprint athletes. The advantages for speed training for the martial artist are obvious. Apart from running you can drag the sled while performing kicks to a body shield or focus mitts. The better sleds are adjustable (you can add loads) so they can be used to develop power for lightweights or heavyweights. 4. Down Hill Sprints (Over speed training): Down hill speed and agility drills help to develop leg speed and co-ordination. This is sometimes referred to as Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 46 overspeed training. The purpose of this type of training is to increase stride rate and stride frequency, by forcing the athlete to perform at a much higher level than they are capable without assistance. The mistake most coaches make when using over-speed training is to provide too much assistance, or too steep a hill causing the athlete to alter their mechanics, leaning back, having the foot strike in front of the body as opposed to directly under the hip. Basically the athlete feels that he or she is about to fall, and they alter their mechanics to prevent this. One of the easiest and most effective methods of overspeed training is downhill running. It is one of the safest and cheapest methods of improving speed as it requires no special equipment. The trick is to find a downhill slope that fits your objectives. A slight downhill will force your legs to move faster without your safety mechanisms kicking in and saying Aah, Im falling, brake! Ideally the slope should be no more than a one to four degree decline. A decline angle greater than four degrees will increase your chances of falling, produce over-striding (causing you to land on your heels and produce a braking effect),and force ground contact in format of your center of gravity also braking you. As a result it will be impossible to impart force against the ground. Remember if you are not imparting force against the ground, it is imparting force against you and you wont be accelerating youll be decelerating. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 47 The ideal area will have a flat surface at both ends of the slope to allow you to accelerate to top speed before the slope, and maintain the over-speed for a few yards

without the assistance of gravity, after the slope. 5. Hollow Sprints: Set 5 cones out in 30 meters intervals. Sprint 30 meters, jog 30 meters, sprint 30 meters and jog 30 meters to the final cone. Walk back to the start and repeat. 6. Cruise And Sprint: Mark out a distance of 100 meters. From the start gradually accelerate to reach full speed at about 60 meters. Sprint all out for the final 40 meters. Reduce the number of repetitions for this exercise as it takes longer to complete. 7. Ladder Runs: A ladder is a simple training device that helps to improve co-ordination and leg speed. It can be used for a number of speed and agility drills and is particularly useful for sports such as tennis and basketball, or any of the martial arts that require excellent footwork. There are literally thousands of different running drills using a speed ladder and it should be a solid part of an SAQ program. Drills on the agility ladder are too many to mention, and are quite difficult to explain without video. Rest assured I use the ladder often. If you are interested in speed ladder work your best bet is to contact a local strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) for help. Alternatively there are several good videos on the subject. A few of the sample drills I use are as follows: Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 48 Quick feet single step touch in each rung Quick feet single step touch in each rung with high knees Quick feet single step touch in each rung with butt kicks Quick feet DOUBLE step touch in each rung Quick feet DOUBLE step touch in each rung with high knees Quick feet DOUBLE step touch in each rung with butt kicks Quick feet 2 and 1 step touch in each rung (step two steps in the first rung, one step in the next, etc LR L RL R etc) Quick feet 2 and 1 step touch in each rung (step two steps in the first rung, one step in the next, etc LR L RL R etc) with high knees Quick feet 2 and 1 step touch in each rung (step two steps in

the first rung, one step in the next, etc LR L RL R etc) with butt kicks These are only forward drills. Alternatively you can do all of these drills backwards and laterally. 8. The Snake: Set up a series of 6-8 cones in a straight line about 1 meter apart. Weave through the cones, turn and weave through back to the start. Again, use sidestepping, backwards steps, hand Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 49 combinations, EVERYTHING you can think of. Competitive sport is chaotic, and can be extremely difficult to replicate in the gym. 9. Follow the Leader: A training partner and large area is required for this drill. Have your training partner jog, run and sprint randomly over a large area. You must try to shadow him as closely as possible, use all directions, forward, backward and lateral. This is an excellent drill that helps to develop reaction time, acceleration and speed endurance. This a fantastic drill to help you in cutting off the ring to catch and nail that elusive opponent. 10. Three way stop and go A great drill to teach explosion and rapid change of direction using different foot and hip positions. One: move forward at full speed three to five steps, brake with your right foot, backpedal to start, brake with right foot, repeat 3 times, and then switch to decelerating with the left foot. Keep the hips square the entire time. Two: move forward at full speed three to five steps, open the hips (turn sideways) and brake with your right foot, backpedal to start, open your hips (turn sideways) brake with right foot, repeat 3 times, then switch to decelerating with the left foot. The only difference between one and two is the hip position in the deceleration phase. Three: perform the stop and go as a lateral shuffle drill, repeating three times, braking alternately with each foot. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 50 Parts one, two and three are performed continuously as one set. 11. Box drills With a partner, stand in a square area, using cones to mark the corners. Your partner will point to a cone, you need to run as hard as possible to the cone and return to the center. The key is to react as fast as possible to your partners directions. The time of this drill can be extended for energy system conditioning also.

12. Mirror Box drill As above, however instead of pointing to a cone, your partner will stand in a similar box and also run. This time you are mirroring his actions you are reacting to his movements instead of just pointing. Your box should be slightly smaller than your partners to allow for the response time deficit. This drill can also be extended to allow energy system conditioning. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 51 Chapter Seven: Energy System Training Energy system training is the cool buzzword to describe what is essentially endurance work or developing wind. There is nothing worse for a fighter than being completely out of gas in the later rounds of a fight. To see how devastating this can be take a look at the UFC videos of Mark Coleman vs. Pete Williams, or Coleman vs. Maurice Smith. After these devastating losses, Im pleased to say that Mark Coleman got his conditioning together and came back to win several other events a true champion. These energy system drills will help you to maintain a higher work rate for longer. They are excellent for improving performance in multiple round competition. In fact any athlete that is often required to repeat high intensity action in quick succession can benefit from these energy system exercises. Like pure speed and agility training these drills will tax your aerobic energy system. However, there are 2 important distinctions... 1. Energy system drills should last from 30 seconds up to 2 minutes rather than 10 seconds for agility drills. 2. Instead of allowing your body to fully recover rest times between sets and repetitions is reduced. What effects will this have? Your body will produce high levels of lactic acid in a short period of time. By continuing to work at a high intensity you will be conditioning your body to tolerate lactic acid more effectively. Be warned. Some of these drills are unpleasant! In fact they are more demanding than most situations you are likely to face in competition. And thats the whole point. You MUST train harder than you are going to compete, otherwise there will be no transfer. Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 52 Do not; I repeat do not perform these drills after you've just eaten! Unless youre trying to make the weight Secrets Of Martial Arts Conditioning 53 Energy System Development Drills Energy System training should form the latter part of pre-competition training. It is important that you've developed a solid fitness base beforehand, which includes strength and basic speed work. Traditionally in the past coaches have programmed speed work after building a base of aerobic endurance work. Ive quite honestly never understood the logic of this. Aerobic endurance work will do nothing to enhance speed. Also whats the point of training to endure a slow level? Because, until you have built a higher level of speed - theres not much need to be able to endure it!

Perform energy system workouts two to three times a week maximum. This may be reduced to once a week during the competitive or maintenance seasons. Because energy system training can be so demanding keep session duration to 20-30 minutes maximum. Rest between sets and reps should be in the form of active recovery. Avoid standing still, sitting down etc. It goes without saying how important the warm up and cool down are before such a training session. Use the drills below to make up the nasty painful energy system workouts. Cosgroves nastiest energy system tip EVER. If you have got the guts, perform all the energy system running while wearing a mouthpiece and keeping your mouth closed. Breathe through your nose only, and dont curse me too loudly at the end of the session!