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Train Smart for your Art



…often asked from our Norwich based gym students is what strength, cardio or fitness relating training should they should be doing outside of the Thai Boxing, BJJ, MMA classes etc. The honest answer is quite simple. However, the solution depends on the individual’s available time.

What does this mean? Well, what available time do you have and what does your current training schedule, if you have one, look like?

So, for instance (I am going to use a familiar schedule) if you have an Icon Jiu-Jitsu class on a Monday evening, Iceni Thai Boxing class on a Tuesday evening, Wrestling classes in Norwich on a Wednesday, Thai Boxing AND Jiu Jitsu on a Thursday, similar on a Friday and sparring classes on a Saturday, blah blah blah. This is an already busy schedule where you focus on the ‘art’ itself, with very little time to work on fitness/strength etc.

However, ask yourself this; within each of the classes, are you working hard? Are you sweating? Are you fatigued afterwards? Granted, sometimes you may not be. The class may have been mainly heavily based on technique and not so much fast or explosive movements. However, specifically in a Thai Boxing or BJJ sparring session, in our Norwich gym especially, we see most people working hard and most people sweating hard, regardless of their skill level.

Maybe though, despite this, you still feel like your MMA sparring partner is fitter or your BJJ rolls with the big, strong guy are too physically draining. Maybe those Muay Thai gym clinch battles feel like too much of a war and you are worn out too quickly. Whatever it is you are feeling, it’s most probably nothing to do with your strength, your fitness or how much work you put into that last run, deadlift, etc etc. It is more than likely that you are not focusing properly on technique over muscling your way our or frantically working your way out of a situation.

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…is what’s required. Your focus should be on your strengths as much as your weaknesses. Provide an answer to your opponents question. As in they keep catching you with a head kick, then provide a better answer to that ‘question’, or better solution to that problem.

My answer to ‘What should I do to improve my Thai Boxing?’ is ‘Do more Thai Boxing and drill, drill , drill'‘. My answer will not be ‘go and lift some heavy weights’ or ‘do a yoga class’. However, if your schedule allows it and you ask the question ‘how do I get stronger?’ or ‘how to I improve flexibility in my hips?’ etc. Then my answer will be maybe to say ‘lift heavy weights’ or ‘do a yoga class’. Although I will be much more specific than this of course.

However, if it is going to the gym, lifting heavy weights or doing a yoga class instead of the Thai Boxing class, the MMA class or the BJJ class etc, then I will not give this advice, it doesn’t make any sense to not perform your art to improve your art, does it?

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If you have time over lunch and your work schedule allows and it is convenient to, then go for a run or go to the gym and lift weights, do a yoga class etc. Excluding the latter, (because it shouldn’t) if you feel that even this is causing you performance issues due to overtiredness, in your Thai Boxing class for instance, then tone down the sessions a little and make it work with your evening classes.

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…and make them fit intelligently with the rest of your weekly schedule. For example, if you know that tonight’s class is heavily cardio based, Muay Thai for example, then focus on something that won’t hinder that. It may seem like a leg workout would be crazy the afternoon before, however, it depends on the individual. For instance, the aches and muscle soreness I sometimes get, usually won’t hit until the next day or the day after. Which means the evening session, in my case, won’t be hindered by ‘pains’ and that leg kick won’t feel like I am being attacked by a deranged donkey! If, however, I do feel tired, then I will make a note of it and pull back a little. Give it a chance though, especially with a new routine. You sometimes need a session or two to get used to it.

Of course, you can go for a run, cycle or do yoga in the morning. You could run or cycle to and from the Thai Boxing, MMA or BJJ class. There are lots of ways to fit in more, IF (that’s a big IF) your schedule allows it. Be honest with yourself though, do you have time? Often we say we don’t when in fact we do.

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The worst thing you can do is not carefully consider and phase in your schedule. Don’t just go balls to the wall, flat out fit in as much as you can and then burn yourself out! This will quite simply do the opposite of progression, you will see regression. SO, make sure in that monthly or weekly schedule, you fit in some rest time. Sleep, foam rolling, decent stretching or simply doing something different with your time. This is so, so important.

You probably won’t be able to just pick the perfect workout routine from YouTube or from that fitness blog or magazine. A routine and training schedule that’s right for you will need to be carefully considered. Something that fits in with your life, with your current training habits, diet etc, will need to be looked at by a fitness professional and even more so, by someone who has also walked the path, competed or trained as a martial artist, fighter etc.

So, in summary, don’t subsitute your classes for a crossfit class etc, unless you want to be better at crossfit. Train your art, drill it, make it work for you. You will thank yourself in the long run. However, if your schedule allows it, then speak to a personal trainer or a strength and conditioning specialist and get something put together that’s solid!

Onward and upwards Warriors, go and improve yourselves!

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