It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Life has gotten (even more) crazy, but it’s no excuse.
I’ve been spending a ton of time writing training programs, looking back at old training programs and researching new ways to improve the performance of my athletes.
Today I’m going to share with you what I believe are the biggest mistakes coaches make when it comes to training fighters.
1. Training “Leg Day”
Don’t get me wrong, I believe every athlete should lift heavy and learn how to deadlift, squat, lunge etc. I even believe there is a time and a place for a ton of volume and hypertrophy training, but the middle of a camp is not the time for that. If you’ve ever done 4-5 sets of squats, 4-5 sets of split squats, RDL’s and nordic curls in the same session, you know what I’m talking about. This is a recipe for serious delayed onset muscle soreness. This will 100% have a negative effect on your MMA skill development.
Instead, pick one to two lifts daily and keep the total reps of each lift in the 10-15 range.
Here’s a quick example:
- Deadlift 1×5, 1×3, 1×2
- Rear elevated split squat 3×5
You can still get incredibly strong with this volume, but it will allow you to minimize delayed onset muscle soreness.
2. Neglecting the Aerobic Base
I’ve made this mistake first-hand and it left my athletes in a plateaued state. I’m not going to hammer the details of “why” you should train the aerobic system because there are thousands of articles available online about this very topic.
Learn from my mistake. Don’t fill your program with high-intensity work without building the aerobic system first. You will eventually hit a wall and your performance will suffer.
3. Not Addressing Movement Quality
Moving well is vital to the performance of an athlete. A few examples:
- If you want to improve your kicking ability, mobile and strong hips will help.
- If you want to get more comfortable in rubber guard, hip mobility is key.
When you step into that cage, you are already fighting your opponent. If you move poorly and have terrible flexibility overall, not only are you fighting your opponent, but you’re fighting yourself at the same time.
Take one of those “opponents” off the table by focusing on your overall mobility.
4. Not Addressing Your Weak Links
In our initial assessment at Skill of Strength, we implement the Functional Movement Screen as well as other orthopedic assessments.
Through the screen we can figure out if an athlete has any deficits. The most common deficit I see with fighters is single leg stability. For the most part, they can squat split, squat and deadlift pretty well, but when it comes to performing single leg deadlifts or single leg squats it’s a different story.
To me, this is a big red flag. If you can deadlift over double bodyweight, but can’t stand on one leg without losing a good biomechanical position we need to start there.
If you focus on your weak links, all of the other qualities will improve as well.
5. Not Having a Plan
Listen, any coach can make a fighter tired. For some reason, people think fighters need to be destroyed with a ridiculous amount of volume and far too much high intensity work. If your goal is to peak a fighter athlete for a fight, it’s important to have a game plan. “Working out” more or adding in more cardio is simply not the answer.
Coaches, listen to your fighters and ask questions about how they feel during camp. If they are always tired, you may have to check your ego at the door and decrease volume. If they gas out a lot, you may have to change your conditioning protocol.
These 5 training mistakes…I’ve made them and I’ve seen other coaches make them. I don’t know it all, and I’m comfortable enough to admit it, but I do know this… if I do not learn from my mistakes and previous training experiences, I am not growing as a coach. Same goes for you!
As always, train smart and train hard!