The Right Attributes For The Right Fighters

Training in Combat
Training in Combat Sports. Photo by Patrick Doheny.
The rapidly spreading CrossFit protocols have popularised functional, compound movements and high intensity workouts into more of the mainstream (which is a good thing). But has the popularity of CrossFit over-emphasised 'generalness'?

Is a Good General Movement Enough?

Of course, lifts like deads, cleans and over head presses are great, but are these movements specific enough for the specific movements and attributes needed of a fighter? It gets more complicated when we ask what type of combat sport a particular fighter participates in. Different combat sports require different physical attributes.

 For example, a boxer will need a different type of strength and conditioning than a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) competitor.

The Boxer

The boxer in his sport uses predominantly 'pushing' movements with his upper body along with some torso rotation and some pushing with his legs to generate power from the floor up and through his gloves into his opponent. Should a boxer do a lot of cleans? Sure, cleans are a fantastic movement. We all know this. However they are an upper body 'pull' movement. 

The boxer rarely if ever uses such a movement. Are there better movements that have a lot of the similar benefits of cleans but are more specific to a boxers needs? How about thrusters? Or even push presses for reps? These are just a couple of options that more closely replicate movements found in his chosen sport.

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The BJJ Competitor

The BJJ competitor has different demands placed on him from his sport. The jerk is another great movement as is the back squat. However, these are movements that are not really seen in his sport. BJJ generally places a big emphasis on grip strength and endurance as well as upper body 'pulling' movements and upper body isometric holds.

 Even though these are excellent movements for developing various aspects of a well rounded physical ability, there are more advantageous movements that athletes from the combat sports can engage in. The BJJ competitor would be better off being more specific with his selected movements to better develop attributes with more carry over benefits for his sport. Such movements could be weighted heaves, towel heaves or rope climbs, KB swings and sandbag bear hug and carries. These movements more closely replicate those found in BJJ.

Compound AND Sport Specific

Athletes and fighters from the combat sports should continue to use functional, compound movements. However these movements should still be specific to their sport. There is a massive number of functional movements along with a wide range of training tools and implements to use out there. 

In conclusion, it is encouraged that serious combat sport athletes not get carried away with being TOO general. It is well worthwhile for the fighter and coach to analyse his sport, paying particular attention to the movements involved and look for movements that replicate those seen in their chosen sport, when engaging in strength and conditioning training.
Adam (Low Tech Combat)

Adam blogs at Low Tech Combat, bringing together Self Protection, MMA, RBSD, Martial Arts and Conditioning into the one place.

You can also catch up with him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

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