Putting a plan together

Resisted punch outsI have spoken about periodisation before, I even produced a DVD on the subject - The Winning Edge. Specifically linear periodisation, where the athlete follows a specific phase e.g. Hypertrophy phase, strength phase, power phase then power endurance for the final phase.

This time around I’m looking at a more practical method particularly for combat athletes and even regular folks, looking to maintain a decent level of strength and fitness.

There are several non-linear methods including undulating, concurrent and conjugate; the latter method being made famous by Westside Barbell.

One thing these methods all have in common is that they work several qualities at once, using a variety of methods and rep ranges etc. This method tends to lend itself to regular gym-goers quite well who have no need to peak for specific times, as it allows a person to stay in good shape all year round. This can also be relevant for fighters who often take fights at short notice…

Combat athletes need to work many facets at one given time, e.g strength (maximal, explosive, strength endurance etc), skill work (BJJ, boxing, Muay Thai, wrestling etc), sparring and conditioning. When you consider all of these disciplines, it’s easy to see why many fighters suffer “paralysis by analysis”.

As mentioned earlier, the method I’m going to outline here is great for fighters who sometimes take fights at short notice – this sometimes happens on local shows or at amateur levels. The days of fighters letting themselves “go” in between fights and gaining massive amounts of weight are long gone!! And so they should be. With the list of skills and aspects of training to be focused on, the last thing a fighter needs is to be trying to drop weight too.

Without delving into too much detail as it’s beyond the scope of this article, I’ll cover the type of “hybrid” programme that a fighter can use year-round, as there are no seasons in combat sports.

A little definition of each type will follow:

Conjugate Periodisation looks to enhance several strength qualities, such as maximum strength, explosive strength and strength endurance. Training may take place over Mon-Wed-Fri – where a specific attribute is focused on each day. This was made famous by Westside Barbell and Louis Simmons, in helping the power lifters in his charge recover and continue to make exceptional gains.

Concurrent Periodisation involves training different motor abilities such as strength, power, and endurance over the same training plan according to Mel Siff in Supertraining. This was discovered to be the most effective method as this type of parallel loading develops several physiological functions, necessary for proper function in sports according to Metveyev in 1970.

Kraemer and Fleck defined Undulating Periodisation as varying training volume and intensity so that fitness gains occur over long periods of time. During this stage rep ranges are varied to produce gains in hypertrophy (muscle size) and strength.

Our “Hybrid” plan takes influence from the conjugate and concurrent systems, due to the fact that combat sports require several motor abilities at the same time.

So a sample plan could look like this:

Monday – Maximum strength workout (complex mov’t like deadlifts, press, squats etc)
Tuesday – Interval training/hills
Wednesday – Explosive strength workout (complex pairs – squat followed by vertical jump for example)
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Power endurance (conditioning mov’ts like burpees, GnP, sprawls, keg clean & press, rope battles etc)
Saturday – Sled Pulls/restorative work
Sunday – Rest – or an extra optional intervals

Obviously I’m discounting MMA skills work, but in planning your routines look to group intense sparring and pad work on days when you’re hitting strength early on. As a rule of thumb, follow a high intensity/low intensity structure.

So it might look like this:

Monday – Maximum strength AM / Sparring PM
Tuesday – Interval training AM / Pad work
Wednesday – Explosive strength AM / BJJ PM
Thursday – Rest
Friday – Power endurance – fight day circuits
Saturday – Sled pulls AM / Sparring PM
Sunday – Rest or Pad work later

The above are just samples of the work you could put in if schedules allow. These are not set in stone!! And I’ve tried to make this as painless as possible in terms of the science…

If you have to work and fit your training in around a regular 9-5 job, then you may have to keep your workouts brief and follow-up any skills sessions with supplementary strength and conditioning “finisher” type work.

Hopefully this will help clarify how you can fit training in year round. Have a play with the format and find what fits. Remember there are no short cuts or “one-size-fits-all” approach to periodisation. Find a method that suits you and bear in mind, if you follow this “hybrid” approach, you’ll need a back-off or deload week every 4-5 weeks. During this time you can focus on bodyweight training and fighting drills and skills.

Take care and train hard!!!