Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creating a NewBreed of MMA athletes

Fast Friday Five

Since we evolved to bipedal-ism, man has been grappling, punching, kicking, and choking in an effort to preserve ones self, to conquer, and to establish dominance  in competitive environments. As man evolved, combat evolved. As combat evolved and nations were formed, cultures needed entertainment. Culture without physical competition is.... BORING... and so evolved the need for sport. As sport evolved, man's want and will to win changed the way we prepared. This meant practicing harder and pushing ourselves to become stronger. Superheroes were born and along came Milo, the Kroton, who progressively got stronger by supporting a bull overhead. Milo shed light on two specific variables: Progressive overload will lead to adaptation...and...and...being big and strong can be boring. Seriously, what good is strength when one cant accurately transfer or showcase it quickly, efficiently and do so over a considerable period of time, day in and day out. Today's athletes keep evolving, natural selection will always hold true. We now find ourselves  in a Golden Age of Strength and Conditioning in which forward thinkers, awesome ( readily available) research, and powerful motivators can literally change an athlete or a fighters identity for the better.

Coach Giff's 5 Principles of NX Level Fight Crew Training

1. Physical strength (absolute, general, maximal, relative) is the biggest confidence builder known to man. As rock star strength coach Mark Rippetoe once said, "Strong people are harder to kill than weak people. And more useful in general." Truer words may have never been spoken when it comes to the MMA athlete. Why couldn't an MMA woman with superior skills stand a chance with an NFL linebacker in the octagon--slabs of muscle and strength. Strength plays such a crucial roll in grappling (grip/opponent command), in striking (punching and kicking speed/power comes from strength) and in the ability to resist fatigue (relative body strength = improved work capacity and neuro-muscular efficiency). My fight crew performs at least three max effort exercises a week to improve their strength reserves. We Push/ Pull for the upper-body (Horizontal presses-DB Floor Press, Log Press, Board Benching Fat/ Horizontal Rowing or Vertical Pulling- Fat Bar Pendlays/ T Bars & Heavy Chins) and we also squat or perform dead-lifts for our lower half (goblet squats, zercher's, front squats, safety bar squats, trap bar dead's, sumo's, conventional, etc). As far as programming strength- think low reps (5/3/1), demand the intent of bar speed is always present, and understand these guys are being put through the ringer elsewhere and limit volume and intensity---save the athlete for singles week!
Pan Am's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Champ Scott Huston and RFA Champ Mike Rhodes Pulling Big Weight

2. Movement efficiency is the name of the game at NX Level. Athletes need to have optimal structural alignment, soft tissue quality, mobility, and core stability to diminish energy leaks, ensure force production/absorption is maximized, and also increase work capacity and recovery. Our assessment is based off of postural alignment and the Functional Movement Screen and allows us to blueprint our athletes for asymmetries and deficiencies. Our "athletic machines" keep healthy and mobile by starting each workout with PVC pipe or LaX ball self myofascial release, manual ART, mobility, flexibility, and core stability. Fighters specifically need to pay attention to foot pro-nation (nasty posterior tib tightness), hip external rotation, anterior pelvic tilt, scapular protraction and shoulder internal rotation. Mobility and soft tissue quality is crucial here to restore alignment and regain optimal ranges of motion in ankles, hips, and shoulders.
UFC star Erik "NewBreed" Koch opening up his hips with NX Level's spider man stretch

3. Periodization- Training and coaching is both an art and a science. I tend to favor block periodization of some sort in a linearly conjugated fashion...that was a contraindicating philosophy I just threw out. Truth be told, the MMA athlete is the garbage disposal of athleticism. These guys are expected to be strong, fast, explosive, aerobic dynamos, whom also need to be resilient and yet malleable like water. When I look at these guys with a grand scheme approach, first thing is first, as previously discussed I have to get them stronger and more efficient. Once these principles are achieved it is easier to convert those qualities into speed/power and than continue to bring up their aerobic/ anaerobic capacities after those above pieces are set. Again, punching it home: build strength, convert to power, train them to be able to sustain these qualities for 5 to 25 minutes. One concept I do live by is "Vertical integration." To dummy it down, I allude to the "training soup bucket." The untrained athlete starts out with a near empty bucket- you start to do some strength work (meat), some hypertrophy and general strength work, than you try to add some speed and power training (potatoes), and than you need to finish with some strength endurance and energy systems development (ESD) (broth/spices/veggies etc)... and oh my gosh we need to drop some weight so lets run some more (now we are just watering it down)---pretty soon that bucket is over flowing and you lost a brunt of the meat and potatoes you first started out with.The soup is now flat...The healthiest recipe needs to take on a generalist approach. Know that a little bit can go a long way and understand the vigor's of training camp will take a toll on every performance quality.
4. Athletes- The Transformers of UFC/MMA - Movement qualities of the MMA athlete draw many comparisons in various sports. The MMA athlete moves much like a basketball player, needs a Rugby players strength and resiliency but also should be treated like a fastball pitcher when dealing with shoulder wear and tear..MMA athletes also need short area quickness and explosive power while also being strong and resilient to injury. I treat these guys with many of the same philosophies I apply to the field sport athletes I train-- they need to bend the knees, extend the hips, push/pull, create tension, keep tension, apply force and absorb force all while resisting fatigue. That is sport. The MMA fighter is an athlete....                                                                          

NX Level Fight Crew: Rocky & Pat Magladeno, Sergio Pettis, Mike Rhodes & Elias Garcia workin' it

5. Fun Factor - The NX Level Fight Crew is a team of ten plus athletes largely funneled in by the nations premier MMA gym, Rofous Sport. Many of these athletes are the "grinder athletes" who actually do "grind." Working until 3 am and arriving for an 8 or 10 am workout. The sport and its disciplines require an obscene amount of practice time and many of my athletes spend 1/2 their lives with an overly active sympathetic nervous system. While training needs to be focused, monotony requires us to create a  fun and exciting environment. With this said, coaches need to create discipline while never stifling the athletes personality completely. I never forget they are lovers and fighters. I will leave this edition with a special shout out to my man Mike "Biggie" Rhodes - keep running with your heart! Good luck, great training and thanks for reading!

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