Saturday, January 15, 2011

Strength and Conditioning for Warriors

For those athletes who compete in contact or combat sports, physical conditioning is of the utmost importance. These “combatant athletes” subject themselves to immense physical stress in sports such as wrestling, football, judo, rugby, MMA, and others. To be able to withstand the rigors of their chosen sport and still perform at an elite level, these athletes (let’s call them warriors) must follow an intelligent training plan.


A well designed training plan does not have to be complicated. Unfortunately, many of these warriors mistakenly believe that the more complex and outlandish a training program seems, the better it must be. In an effort to incorporate "functional training" into their routines, warriors across the land are often found trembling on stability balls, balancing on wobble boards, lying on foam rollers, and jumping on Bosu balls. These tools have their uses, but they certainly won’t improve your strength and conditioning!

With the exception of a few core exercises, performing any exercise on an unstable surface is a waste of time unless the goal is rehabilitation. In fact, this type of training can also “de-train” these warriors, by providing inadequate muscle stimulation and entraining inappropriate motor patterns, all in the name of “sport specific” or “functional” training!

The key to becoming an unstoppable warrior is to get back to the basics. First, one must develop a solid strength base. Strength is the foundation for athleticism. Focus on basic primal movements such as squatting, lunging, deadlifting, twisting, as well as pushing and pulling from various angles. Use big, compound exercises, train heavy with solid form, and keep the workouts brief and intense.

Once a solid foundation has been established, it’s time to incorporate real-world “odd implement” training. This unorthodox style of training includes exercises such as tire flipping, sled dragging, sandbag carries, farmers walk, and stone lifting. A growing number of coaches, trainers, and athletes are recognizing the effectiveness of odd implement exercises or “real-world training”, because it gets results.

Also considering that many of these unique movements are explosive in nature, there tends to be greater carry-over to contact / combat sport activities than there is with traditional strength training in the gym. Because each compound exercise involves several muscle groups working together, training with these unconventional implements leads to full body “functional” strength, which transfers to better preparation for athletic performance on the battle-field.


This is why we use this method of training at our Top Form Strength Camp. The TF Strength Camp delivers an old-school workout with simple, primal movements using basic compound exercises and “real-world” implements. It has been our experience that this training style will develop full body strength and power while improving body composition and athletic performance.

Odd implement training is a rejection of the “mirrors, chrome, and elevator music” environment of most traditional gyms in favor of basic, ground based, athletic movements. Training with implements is a rugged, uncomfortable, yet enjoyable endeavor that builds not only physical strength but also strength of character. In the end, this is what separates the warriors from the “wanna-be’s”

-Josh Hewett-

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