When it comes to designing training programs for combat athletes, (and really, when designing all training programs) I always look for patterns!
I ask myself the following five questions when designing training programs for athletes.
- What works?
- What doesn’t?
- What is the risk/reward?
- Is the exercise appropriate for the athlete at this time?
- Is the exercise appropriate given their injury history?
Obviously, once I discover patterns, I stick with what works and discard what doesn’t work so well.
I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll say it again. I’m happy with about 80% of my programming and the other 20% is constantly evolving.
Below you’ll find 3 game-changing exercises for combat athletes.
Weighted pull-ups are a no-brainer!
Sure, weighted pull-ups are a natural progression from strict bodyweight pull-ups, but once my athletes start pulling a 24K kettlebell or higher for doubles and triples, it’s a game changer. The biggest feedback I get after adding in weighted pull-ups to training programs for combat athletes is that they feel much stronger when grappling.
So is it just the increase in strength from weighted pull-ups that helps combat athletes in grappling?
Probably not, but I do know this. If you make a very technical grappler a lot stronger, good things will happen.
Double Kettlebell Reverse Lunges
I’m not going to lie, once you start going heavy on these, they are pretty miserable.
Anything over double 24K bells will smoke you. When you keep your elbows glued to your rib cage, it’s incredibly challenging on your anterior core. Your arms, lats and core do the majority of the work and it’s hard to cheat on these.
If you give athletes exercises that allow them to maintain a good rib cage position and train the posterior chain simultaneously, that athlete is getting stronger!
Hitting the gaps in my training program. Performing reverse lunges with 2x24k kbs in the rack position will do the trick. These are incredible for combat athletes. You train the split stance, challenge the abs and will teach you a fair amount on how to balance tension and relaxation. #reverselunge #kbs #kettlebells #abs #armorbuilding #buildingthearmor #pavel #strongfirst #strengthcoach @fightcampconditioning @soscompete @amandamaryperry
More specifically, I’m including 10-minute sled push drags in my list of game-changing exercises for combat athletes.
If you have poor lower body muscular endurance, chances are you aren’t going to be powerful for a full 15-25 minutes.
There is no place for weak legs in combat sports. If your legs don’t allow you to drive your heart rate due to premature fatigue, we have a problem.
These aren’t easy, but performing these 1x per week for 4-6 weeks will do wonders for lower body muscular endurance.
We use a Rogue dogsled on turf and start with anywhere from 45-65 lbs. We add 10-15 lbs weekly, but always cap it at 10 minutes. The goal is to maintain a marching like pace and our gym allows us to push 20 yards down, and pull 20 back.
Your legs will be smoked for the day but you will recover relatively quickly. Their is minimal eccentric load so DOMS is not terrible. If you decide to try these, your legs will probably feel heavy for a day or two, but you’ll live 😉
There you have it. Three exercises that currently make the cut in my training programs for combat athletes.
As always, train smart, use common sense and train hard!