by David Nader, MS, MBA – AdapTx Labs
Using Cardio to WIN
Preparing your cardio fitness for a fight
is much like studying for a big exam – it kind of sucks, and it’s
generally not considered much fun.
But, boy are you glad made the sacrifice when you show up to take your
test. On the other hand, if you
don’t prepare the way you know you were supposed to, you go into the test
lacking confidence, nervous as hell and about zero chance of passing.
But why not make the same argument for any
other element of fighting… strength, ground game, stand-up, take downs, etc.? Because, all of those skills require
that you have good cardio in order to execute them properly. Think you have heavy hands? Watch what
happens to your power when you start to gas. Dan Henderson experienced this when he fought Jake shields
recently. After the first round, Hendo didn’t have nearly the power he did in the first
minute of the fight when he almost knocked Jake out. If he hadn’t run out of
gas, he could have maintained his power and surely would have had a better shot
at finishing Shields with his right fist.
This is why I propose that cardio is the
biggest single area of opportunity for any fighter looking to gain an edge in
an upcoming event. Sure, you need
to continue to refine your skills, but don’t do it at the expense of making
sure you have a great cardio plan, and making sure you stick to it. Since it is
hard and most fighters hate it, if you commit yourself to it, you’ll likely
enter the cage with a significant upper hand.
Before entering the cage, cardio also needs
to play into your fight strategy.
Here are some key things to pay attention to around cardio during the
If it is hard for you, it is hard
for your opponent. When the pace
is high and you feel the pressure in your lungs, the burning of your muscles… remember, your opponent is feeling it too! Whether on the offensive
or defensive side of things, don’t get discouraged if you are getting tired,
because chances are your opponent feels just as bad or worse.
Lift the pace when the pace is
high. One of the best times during
a fight to attack is when the pace is already high. Just when your opponent
thinks the pace is going to let up, you kick it up a notch. This will demoralize your opponent and
show him/her that you have the ability to overwhelm them*.
*Side note: You need to be able to
back this up, so entering the event at peak cardio fitness is key!
As soon as your opponent shows signs
of gassing – ATTACK! Watch
for tell-tale signs of gassing out: the hands begin to
fall, reduced power in kicks and punches, heavy breathing from the mouth. Take these signs as an opportunity to
end the fight immediately, dig deep and take the win.
Use opportunities to recover. During a clench, in the guard, or
posturing on your feet, focus on bringing your
breathing under control and taking every available second to let your muscles
recover. A cardio training plan
that is structured properly will deliver you to your event with cardio that
allows for very fast recovery and will allow you to attack and lift the pace
Don’t waste energy. Commit to every move you make, and if
it isn’t effective, regroup and make a different tactical choice. Too often I see fighters relentlessly
try to attempt the same thing over and over that isn’t working. The point is,
make every move count.
Look, all of us would rather be sparring,
hitting pads or drilling BJJ than doing cardio, but like anything, it is often
the things we don’t like doing that have the biggest pay-off. Take the time to work cardio into your
overall MMA training plan or ignore it at your peril.
About 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 an MMA cardio training coach for several top fighters
including Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields and Alexander Crispim.
About AdapTx Labs
AdapTx Labs works with fighters to maximize performance through a scientific
approach to training. AdapTx 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 not gas out, while PreFight™ delivers a boost just prior to training and
To get information and to purchase, go to www.AdapTxLabs.com and check out the
company’s Facebook page: