by Matt Wiggins – MMAWeekly.com
When it comes to cardiovascular conditioning, there are two
types you can do – LSD and HIIT.
LSD refers to Long Slow Distance. This is usually
jogging/running for a few miles.
HIIT refers to High Intensity Interval Training. This is
more akin to sprinting.
LSD and HIIT are on opposite ends of the spectrum, if for no
other reason, because of sheer necessity. Intensity and duration have an
inverse relationship, so that the more intense you are, the shorter the effort
has to be, and the longer the effort, the lower the intensity has to be.
Simply put – you can run hard or you can run long, but you
can’t do both. Nobody can sprint a marathon…
Now, it is generally considered that HIIT is overall more
productive (for MMA) than LSD. I won’t get into all the technical details
here, but here are a few main points:
– HIIT is anaerobic, LSD is aerobic
– LSD training results in increased aerobic capacity,
with little to no effect on anaerobic capacity
– HIIT, on the other hand, results in increased
anaerobic capacity AND increased aerobic capacity
– MMA is an anaerobic activity, as is HIIT
There are more points that could be considered, but that
should be enough to get the gist of what I’m talking about. There is a problem
I see though – and that is many fighters who do HIIT are still gassing in
It could be from any number of reasons: a lack of muscular
(rather than cardiovascular) conditioning, a big adrenaline dump in the ring
(I’ll talk about that in a future column), not having your mind right, etc.
However, I think the main problem is with how they do the HIIT.
HIIT, by definition, is supposed to be intense, as intense
as possible. On the proverbial scale of 1 to 10, you need to be pushing an 11
or more. And many times, trainees don’t do that when they’re doing HIIT. They
think they’re pushing hard, and they might be, but instead of that 11 or more,
maybe they’re only putting in an effort of 8 or so. That doesn’t cut it when
it comes to HIIT.
Remember when I said that you could run hard or run long,
but not both? Well, on the flip side, if you run easy and run short, you’re
doing the worst of both worlds. And as effective as HIIT can be, if it’s not
done with the appropriate intensity, you’re falling into that trap. You have to
be pushing as hard as you physically can…
Personally, I think that HIIT is best suited for only a few
types of activities. The best is simply running: on the track, in a park, up
hills or stairs, etc. Go out and move your tail as fast as you friggin’ can.
Behind that, I would say rowing or running on a treadmill. Next might be an
elliptical machine, but from there, you’re going downhill in the intensity
meter. (I hear the versaclimber would be high on that list, but since I’ve no
direct experience on one, I can’t comment.)
When using cardio machines, you basically have to look at it
this way, which one gets you breathing the hardest? For example, I’ve done a
lot on stationary bikes and they can be great workouts, but I’m not a big fan
when it comes to HIIT. The same goes for stair-stepping machines. There is
too much waiting on the machine.
Now, I’m not saying you can’t get breathing hard on many of
these machines, because you can. But HIIT isn’t about just breathing hard;
it’s about breathing as hard as possible. And many machines just don’t do it.
One main drawback to HIIT is that when it’s done correctly,
it’s pretty tough on the nervous system. Like very intense strength training,
the nervous system is worn down by all the very hard work it has to force the
body to produce. This can have negative results on all other facets of your
training and even though your muscular system might not need it, force you to
take extra recovery time to keep from being over-trained.
Let’s take a look at LSD for a minute. There isn’t really
any way to short-change it, as long as you keep a decent pace and go the
distance. And it’s going to take a certain amount of cardiovascular
conditioning to get that done.
There isn’t anything WRONG with LSD. Countless boxers used
it for years (Rocky Marciano was known to even do roadwork on the day of his
fights – and he was always in great shape), as have many mixed martial artists.
Guys like Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock, Sean Sherk, and Matt Hughes have all stated
that some form of LSD makes up the majority of their conditioning work (outside
of fight training).
That said, HIIT can still be more productive. But it has to
be done right or you’re doing something that could easily be surpassed by
somebody doing LSD.
There are two alternatives that I like to use to LSD and
HIIT. One is Density Conditioning. Simply put, choose a short distance
(30-100 yards) and do as many reps as you can in a given timeframe. Sprint one
way, walk or jog back, and repeat – rest only if it’s absolutely
necessary. The goal is to get more reps in each workout. These aren’t going
to be sprints per se, but hard runs – kind of like that 8 (or 9)
intensity level, but you’ll be doing a lot more overall distance.
The other is MFD – Medium Fast Distance. This is where you
choose more of a medium distance compared to your LSD. For example, if LSD
runs are 5-6 miles, choose 2.5-3.5 miles. Run the entire distance without
stopping (just like LSD), but do so at a fairly fast-paced clip. The best way
would be to set a mile time that is pretty quick for you and try to keep that
pace the entire run.
Density Conditioning and MFD both combine elements of LSD
and HIIT. Where LSD is long, yet slow, and HIIT is short, yet very hard,
Density Conditioning and MFD are both medium-long, yet hard (as opposed to very
hard with HIIT).
Either Density Conditioning or MFD can be good ways of
keeping your conditioning good without having to spend hours doing it or
worrying about burning out your nervous system. And it could almost be
considered a perfect mix if your fight training is very intense.
If you’re looking for ways to put Density Conditioning into
your workouts, be sure to check out my "Working Class Fitness – The
Programs" available at my site.
Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard.
"Wiggy" Wiggins is a strength coach and author living in Cameron, NC.
Having trained 15+ years, Wiggy is a strength moderator at mma.tv, columnist
for MMA Weekly, and an avid fan of href="http://WorkingClassFitness.com/">Mixed Martial Arts Training. His
site, Working Class Fitness.com,
is dedicated to designing low-tech, high-result href="http://WorkingClassFitness.com/">workout programs for "regular
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