Diary of a POW! MMA Intern: His Exercise of the Week

Diary of a POW! MMA Intern: His Exercise of the Week
Slowly extend your arms out away from your starting position. Lift your belly button up towards your spine to maintain a strong core. You should keep your hips slightly elevated to avoid your lower back from sagging. Return to your starting position.

My Exercise of the Week:

My MMA workout of the week is what I call the “Total Gym.” Essentially it is the same movement as the ab-roller except done on a suspended cable with a pulley. Using a wide stance with the hands roughly in a shoulder-width position, you “roll” forward slowly, making sure the shoulders and elbows are steady otherwise it could get ugly if you move too quickly and extend your arms too far forward. This exercise requires significant shoulder, upper back, arm, and core strength to execute. This exercise could be modified by changing the stance (wider stance increases stability), positioning the feet so that you are more or less perpendicular to the ground (making it easier), or it could be done on the knees. Alternative exercises include the ab roller (on the feet and knees) and on a swiss ball, rolling out on your hands to forearms either on your feet or knees.

My Training This Week in MMA:

Ever since my elbow started acting up I’ve been terribly depressed. Not being able to lift weights for a week is sort of like breaking a child’s favorite toy—other modes of exercise are just not as fun, such as jogging. I hate jogging.That might sound a bit contradictory considering I ran track and it would if I were a distance runner, but I’m not. Sprinting as fast as you can and feeling the wind rush over your ears is exhilarating—counting miles/laps isn’t. That’s not to say running long distances isn’t exciting, it’s just something I avoid like the plague. That’s because I’ve been plagued by shin splints.

Once or twice a week I’ll jump on the treadmill and do 30 seconds of sprinting followed by 150 seconds (2.5 minutes) of complete rest. I choose the treadmill out of convenience. You can easily do HIIT on a track.

The first time I did this workout I noticed that the belt stopped moving while I was resting with my feet on the sides of the treadmill, so I had to restart the whole thing. I solved this problem by pressing down on the belt with one foot and letting the belt swing my leg every now and then.

The reason why I choose a 1:5 work to rest ratio is to stress a particular energy system—the anaerobic (without oxygen) system, which is predominantly used in sports relying on repeated maximal or near-maximal efforts such as wrestling, martial arts, sprinting and weight lifting. I’ll do a 1:5 ratio for 2-3 weeks then move to a 1:4 ratio (20 seconds work to 80 seconds rest) and finally a 1:3 ratio (15 seconds work to 45 seconds rest). This way I’ll be able to work a broader area of the anaerobic energy system. The key is to work at a high intensity so that after 12-15 minutes, your legs feel like mush. My rule of thumb with sprinting is this: stop if you cannot maintain good form.

With this sort of program I’ll be able to work on anaerobic endurance and power, hopefully improving my capacity to “roll”. One or two sessions per week may seem like a small amount of work but I have to take into consideration the work I’m doing during class. Often I’d been so gassed after some “light” sparring during jiu-jitsu class that I would have to curl up in a ball for 5 minutes just to catch my breath. Either it’s that intense or I’m just that unprepared. It’s most likely a combination of both, more so the latter than the former.

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