Go 5 Rounds At 100% With This Cardio Workout.
You may have heard that MMA is one of the most physically demanding sports today. Because mixed martial arts utilizes the entire body, it takes a tremendous amount of strength and energy to give 100% in the ring for 3 to 5 rounds. Good cardiovascular exercise is a key component that helps some of the most well conditioned fighters, such as Uriah Faber, to remain nimble and strong for a full 5 rounds of action.
To get your fight endurance up, try this cardiovascular workout recommended by longtime professional BJJ trainer Stephan Kesting from Grapplearts:
“1 – ‘Easy and Long’ or ‘LSD’ (Long Slow Distance) or ‘Aerobic conditioning’
This level is characterized by by going for at least 45 min at 60 to 70% of max heart rate. Depending on my goals at the time, I try to do this sort of training once or twice a week, either riding a bike, running or by climbing Grouse Mountain (the locally popular ‘Grouse Grind’). I try to go at a pace where I could talk if I had to, but not carry on a conversation. This, for me, translates to keeping my heart rate between 140 and 150.
Some people argue that this type of training is that it is too long, given that a typical match or round is only 5 minutes long. I disagree for a number of reasons. First, one is going to be nervous long before the fight starts, and working for this long acclimatizes the body endure protracted stress. Another reason for going this long is to prepare your base for the more strenuous training to follow. You’ve got to jog before you can sprint. There are also many physiological adaptations that are best stimulated by LSD type training. Finally this sort of training is excellent for weight control and minimizing body fat.
Another way of thinking about it is asking why runners who specialize in 5 km runs (roughly equivalent to a grappling match) never just train distances of 5 km or less. They ALWAYS run longer distances as well, often up to 10 or 15 km.
2 – “Threshold” or “Tempo Runs” or “Anaerobic conditioning
This type of cardio is shorter and harder than type 1 conditioning. Here you are looking at c. 20 minutes (e.g. 15 to 30 min) with your heart rate about 90% of maximum. This type of training conditions your anaerobic systems and helps prepare them for really short interval training which you might do later. I often jump onto a rolling hills stairmaster program for this type of training, so my heart rate is usually at c. 85 to 90% for a good portion of the 20 minute program. Right now I am doing at least two sessions of type 2 cardio in an 8 day cycle.
I have heard that Frank Shamrock’s routine consists of a warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, after which he keeps his heart rate at 170 for 20 minutes). This is an example of type 2 cardio or anaerobic conditioning. I would really like to know what Frank’s maximum heart rate is: if I had to guess it is probably about 197 to 200 bpm. If his HR is much lower (e.g. 180) then keeping it at 170 for that long would be an awesome achievement.
HR-based training has a lot of potential pitfalls, not the least of which is that max HR of 220 minus age can be off by 20 or 30 beats per minute. For HR based training one really has to do a maximal effort test (e.g. 4 laps of a 400 m track with ever-increasing intensity) to determine what your personal (as opposed to estimated) max HR is.
3 – Sprint Training
Many hard-core runners divide ‘Sprint Training’ into two or more categories. Typically they differentiate between: A) ‘Interval Training’ or ‘Aerobic Capacity’ training, and B) ‘Repetition Training’ or ‘Anaerobic Capacity’ training. The differences between the two categories of training lie in the work-to-recovery time ratios and the intensity of that work. Typically in ‘Category A’ (Interval) training you go for slightly longer intervals with less recovery time, whereas in ‘Category B’ (Repetition) training you go shorter and faster, but with quite long recovery periods.
My sense is that, for 99% of all competitive grapplers and martial artists, that the differentiation between Interval and Repetition training is academic. Basically in Sprint training you are trying to go very hard (95% to 100% of max heart rate) for not very long (20 seconds to 2 minutes), recover for a relatively short interval, and then go again. Obviously the harder one goes and the less rest you have, the more your performance at the sprints themselves will deteriorate over time (and that is OK).
The goal of Sprint training is to condition you body to function at close to maximum effort while in a severe oxygen deficit. It will also help develop your system’s ability to process and remove lactic acid from your muscles.
Some typical sprint workouts might include:
A) Go to a track and run a 400m lap at 90% intensity. Say this takes you 1 1/2 minutes. Now rest 1 1/2 minutes and go again; try to keep the same time for your sprint (now it might take 91% intensity). Repeat 8 times
B) Do a 20 minute run: alternate between 1 minute jogging at an easy pace and 1 minute of running very fast
C) Do so-called ‘Tabata Intervals’ where you do an activity for 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, for 6 to 8 reps. For the sake of argument, assume you are using a rowing machine. Warm-up first, then start the sprints. Go completely berserk for 20 seconds (100% effort) then rest for 10 seconds, go completely berserk for another 20 seconds, etc. If you do these properly, you will find the pain from lactic acid quite extraordinary by the 5th or 6th rep.
I think a common mistake is to try to get to sprint training too early in your training cycle. It is very important to get in sufficient training at lower speeds and intensities (Long Slow Distance) before you jump it up all the way to sprint training. If you start with sprint training injury is much more likely, because your bones, muscles and connective tissue might not be sufficiently conditioned to handle the stress.”
Give this workout a try. If your cardiovascular endurance does not increase, you are doing something wrong.