Ah… the typical stereotype of a fighter: TONS of running. I think of Rocky: he slogs down his raw eggs and goes for long jogs every single day, and as his training improves, he becomes fast enough to out run the whole town (Rocky theme music playing in the background). Best of all, it seems all of this running correlates to his badass ability to get hit in the face repeatedly and win fights. I remember as a little kid, I used to go for long runs every day thinking I would get strong like Rocky.
I also think of Muhammad Ali. Reporters would follow him as he went for long runs each and every day as part of his training. As a post-workout recovery of sorts, Ali would tell the reporters how he was the greatest human being to ever put on a pair of boxing gloves. He was of course, a man that walked his talk and became arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time. Ali inspired hundreds if not thousands of up-and-coming fighters to follow his training to a T. He and other boxers established the classic fighter stereotype that, in order to have good cardio conditioning, you must run miles upon miles (called “roadwork”) everyday.
Here’s the thing though,
1. An MMA fight is only 15 minutes long
Running for miles upon end, although it can be effective at increasing long distance cardio endurance, is simply inefficient. Many of us that aren’t paid to train, just don’t have the time to spend an hour running every day on top of grappling and striking practice. Let alone trying to squeeze in any strength/conditioning training. It’s simply impossible. Even if you’re not a fighter, running long distances eats up more time you can be spending weight training and fat shredding using MMA workouts which yield much greater results in literally a fraction of the time.
2. There are different types of “endurance”
Running long distances does very little for explosive movement endurance such as strikes and take downs, which use a different energy system: fueled by ATP, to create fast and powerful muscle contractions. It also does very little for isometric muscular endurance so crucial for the clinch and ground game.
This being said, running long distances is a relic of the past when it comes to fight training and MMA fitness. Scrap any long runs you may have planned for the rest of your life. It’s time to train smart.
Running for pretty much every goal of fitness (apart from long distance races of course) is to be done a much different way for best results. Whether it be for fat loss, speed, and/or conditioning, the following practices are the best way to run as backed by scientific studies on metabolism, cross training methods of the best MMA fighters in the world, and my own personal experience.
Hang up the sweatsuit, ditch the Chuck Taylors (keep the Rocky theme music), and strap on some track cleats… it’s time to get in fight shape.
The very best way to use running as a cross training tool for MMA or as a supreme fat loss tool is to do SPRINTS. Very simple: pick up some track cleats and head to the track or my personal favorite, find a nearby open field and go barefoot.
Some things to keep in mind:
Check out some videos on youtube on proper sprinting form if you’ve never ran track before. Make sure you run with your toes and calves, NOT on your heels (this is why I run barefoot). Not only will you run faster, but you will be much safer on every joint of your body: this is the natural way to run.
Action Step of the Day: MMA style running workout
1. MMA style full body warm up (remember, you should be SWEATING before you start any workout). Do NOT static stretch in any way, shape, or form.
2. Run 3 warm up lengths of 100m, gradually increasing the speed each time. Rest 30 seconds in between.
3. Run 10x100m sprints with 30 seconds rest in between.
4. Stretch hamstrings, quads, calves, hips, and glutes using isometric stretching techniques.
That’s it! In under a half hour, you have just improved your speed, explosiveness, and your cardio conditioning (trust me, 30 seconds of rest is not very long at all). Best of all, because these sprints are at such high intensity, your metabolism will shift into fat shredding mode for the next 24 hours.
As always, train hard brothas and sistas, and if you haven’t done so,
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