If you're a mixed-martial artist and you've been in a fight that's gone the distance, then maybe you know the terrible feeling of having nothing left to give with 2 minutes left in a round. If you have not gone the distance or have not had a pro fight yet, then use the 5 tips in this article to make sure you're the one maintaining the pressure and imposing will – not your opponent.
1) Do sprints and intervals instead of long, slow runs.
MMA is a sport that requires explosive, quick movements and strength at various times through a 5 minute round. You never know if you'll be in a clinch, defending a shot, escaping the mount, or sinking in a triangle. One thing you do know is that you will NOT be jogging around the ring at a slow pace for half an hour. Training in this fashion will help you get your time down for your local charity run, but will not do anything to help you knock your opponent out.
Instead, stick to sprints and intervals if you're going to be doing running workouts. An example of a good sprint workout would be to warm-up for 5 minutes doing a dynamic warm-up routine, then doing 5 short 40 yard sprints where you gradually increase your pace from about 60% to 90%. Rest a minute, then do a 100 meter sprint, walk back to the start, and repeat for a total of 10 sprints. This workout will beat distance running hands down for its ability to improve your performance in the cage.
2) Take 2 recovery weeks off for every 4 weeks of conditioning.
This tip is huge, and has helped skyrocket the conditioning of the athletes I train, guys like Jeff Joslin and Rory McDonell. Most fighters have a thing about working themselves to death – this mindset is what makes them tough, but also what keeps them injured and often overtrained, limiting performance in both training and competition.
You can avoid these problems by taking 2 weeks off of your conditioning workouts. You still do your MMA training and strength / power workouts, but let the condition go for 2 weeks. When you get back to it, you'll be fresher and ready to take your conditioning up another notch.
3) Do more specific workouts in the 4 weeks leading up to the fight.
Sprints and intervals are great, but they're not specific to mixed-martial arts. The workouts that I have my athletes perform include jumps, sprawls, quick feet drills, core stabilization exercises, explosive push-ups – all movements that are used in a fight, performed as quick and explosively as possible. I call these workouts NRG System Complexes, because they tap into every energy system of the body and are made up of a lot of different exercises.
Each complex lasts about 5 minutes, and your goal should be to do 4 complexes in a row with 1 minute of rest where you feel fresh and powerful in the last round. So the closer you get to the fight, the more specific you want to get with your condition routine.
Use the tips in this article and you'll improve your condition and your opponents will wish they did not waste so much time training doing slow, hour long runs.