by David Nader, MS, MBA – AdapTx Labs
“Cardio as a foundation for fighting skills: While you can’t win without skills, your chances of winning without cardio aren’t good either – if you get past the first minute of the fight and haven’t yet submitted or KO’d your opponent, you’d better have cardio as a foundation for fighting skills: While you can’t win without skills, your chances of winning without cardio aren’t good either – if you get past the first minute of the fight and haven’t yet submitted or KO’d your opponent, you’d better have…..
The Science of Cardio
How many times have you seen this? A more powerful guy with superior skills fails to close the deal in the first round… he comes out in the second round after leaving everything in the cage during round one, lets his hands drop and gets caught because he’s totally gassed.
In contrast, look at the guys you know have the cardio and the skills to get it done. Bellator 145-pound champion Joe Soto comes to mind – his skills are razor sharp, round after round, because those skills are built on top of phenomenal cardio fitness.
The bottom line is, to win consistently your skills need to be built on a foundation of cardio. Sure you can’t win if you don’t have the skills, but if you don’t have the cardio, you’re going into the ring at a huge disadvantage and with limited options.
You might be thinking to yourself, “I’m not a marathon runner or a tri-athlete, why should I be focusing on cardio training?” While it is true that endurance athletes depend mainly on aerobic energy pathways to fuel their activity, fighting is a healthy mix of both aerobic AND anaerobic energy pathways. In fact, intense exercise lasting more than two minutes generally uses about 50% aerobic and 50% anaerobic energy systems. That’s one of the things that makes MMA so challenging – the lack of specificity in the energy system used and as a result, cardio is often under trained in favor of speed and power.
The fact is, a well-structured training program should hit all of your energy systems:
-Low intensity/Long duration (during positioning and posturing)
-Medium intensity/Medium duration (needed for wrestling, ground and pound and combinations)
-Super high intensity/Very short duration (required for striking, sprawling and take-downs)
-And... everything in between
The key is loading these systems in progression throughout a training cycle to arrive at peak fitness for an event. A typical cardio training progression will include very easy, up to one hour long cardio sessions for about a week right after a fight to help with recovery. Then, a block of moderate intensity, so you can do a solid 1 to 2 hour long session without killing yourself. In the next training block, you push the throttle a bit, doing 1 to 1.5 hour workouts with several hard intervals of 3-5 minutes with recovery (very easy) of equal time in between. The final phase is a block of half to 1 hour workouts with 10 to 30 second intervals – all out. Allow for a week of tapering prior to the event for final adaptations to occur from your last block of intense training and for cutting weight.
My next column will focus on “behind the scenes” cardio concepts of VO2 max, Lactate Threshold, Energy Management, and Nutrition
About the author
David Nader, MS, MBA
David is an exercise physiologist and biopharmaceutical industry veteran.David started AdapTx Labs to apply the science of exercise physiology to the sport of MMA to help fighters maximize their performance. David is also a competitive bicycle racer.
About AdapTx Labs
AdapTx Labs works with fighters to maximize performance through a scientific approach to training.Labs is the first company to develop proprietary cardio and energy boosting supplements for MMA fighters. Their flagship products, CardioFactor™ and PreFight™, when used together, give fighters a complete cardiovascular edge. CardioFactor™ is a daily supplement designed to help fighters avoid gassing out, while PreFight™ delivers a boost just prior to training and competing.
To get information and to purchase, go to www.AdapTxLabs.com
 Powers, Scott K. and Howley, Edward T. (2007). Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. (Sixth Ed.). New York: McGraw Hill
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