Whatever sport you’re involved in, plyometric drills will improve your fast-twitch muscle fibers, reaction time, and cardio conditioning. They will also help you to be lighter on feet, allowing you to move faster and easier. Most of us who been around athletics know that guy who is strong as hell, but he can’t move for shit. What good is a 300lb. bench press if you can’t use it? I’m not sayin’ you shouldn’t work on maximal strength, because strength is important for sure. Just make sure you can use it….. and use it fast.. How do you get better at doing that you ask? Well, here it is. This is a great plyometric program that MMA legend Randy Couture uses and I strongly suggest adding it once or twice a week to your existing program. You’ll definitely feel the difference in your legs after a couple of sessions. You can find the video here:
In order to get the most out of this style of training, there are two things you need to do.
1). Buy an interval timer that you can break down into 30-second increments. It would also help if you have a timer that can automatically do this for multiple rounds. I recommend the gymboss timer. It can be found at gymboss.com.
2). Try to get as much work in as possible in the 30-second increment.Don’t pace yourself. 100% effort. You won’t get as much benefit out of the drill if you pace yourself.
I usually use this as a stand-alone workout, then throw in some core work afterwards. 30-second intervals will greatly increase your work capacity, allowing you to train longer and with greater intensity during the week. These type of interval workouts are effective because they are short, intense, and allow you to increase your cardio without sacrificing muscle. (Long distance, slow paced cardio workouts can actually make you lose muscle.) The interval that I most frequently use is as follows:
Burpees x 30-sec
Jumping Jacks x 30-sec
Split Jumps x 30-sec
Burpees x 30-sec
Jumping Jacks x 30-sec
Mountain climbers x 30-sec
That is one round. It will last for three minutes. You will work through the six calisthenic exercises with no rest. (You will find that the jumping jacks and split jumps actually give you a little rest since they are not as intense as burpees and mountain climbers.) You can either set the rest period in between rounds from anywhere to 30 sec. up to a minute. This will depend on your conditioning level. Try to complete 4-6 rounds. Be forewarned…..the burpees and mountain climbers will jack up your heart rate like crazy, so start with longer rest periods in between rounds. As you continue to practice this drill, your work capacity will greatly improve and you can then shoot for shorter rest periods. Notice I said Practice. I found that by thinking about it in this way takes away some of the pre-stress workout and allows you to just jump right in. You will make rapid conditioning gains by adding this to your existing routine 1-2 per week, not to mention feel lighter on your feet and,believe it or not, increase your flexibility. I can’t say scientifically how it does it, but it just does. Try it and see for yourself. The great thing about interval training is that it can be done almost anywhere, provided you have a timer and about 15 minutes to spare. It’s easy, start the timer, work your ass off for 15 minutes and your done. Simple and effective.
During all the years I have spent training, I can’t even tell you how many different books, articles, magazines, and DVD’s I have sifted through trying to find the best exercises and programs. Gotta look for that secret edge, ya know…Well folks, here’s what I found. No matter which way ya slice it, the traditional compound movements work the best. I’m sure its safe to say most of us have been up late night and came across infomercials that promise the latest and easiest gadget to give you that six-pack you’ve wanted for 10 years. Most, if not all of them….bullshit. Just another way to get in your pocket. The ab rocker chair, the Gazelle (that gay thing that looks like skiing in place), and best of all….wait….the shake weight. HA! You know why people, and maybe even yourself, bought these things???? Because they wanted to be lied to. That’s it in a nutshell. Well, after years of jerkin’ off to every different exercise and program under the sun, I’m gonna cut through the red tape and give you the most effective, or bang for your buck exercises out there and show you how I put it together. They are as follows:
Chin-ups/ Pull-ups. Has there ever been anything invented that works your entire upper body more effectively that this old standby?? I don’t think so.
Bodyweight Rows off of straps or a rope. Extremely effective for building up your upper back, grip strength, and surprisingly, your biceps.
Dumbell/Barbell Military Press- go heavy on these and watch your overall strength development skyrocket.
Bodyweight Squats/Progressing up to the One-legged Pistol Squat- I know it’s gonna come under scrutiny, that the barbell squat is the ultimate lower body exercise….but at what expense?? First of all, your placing a heavy-ass load on your spine and you don’t think thats not gonna cause you some problems down the road? Speaking from experience, it did for me. Also, if your an athlete, you still need to be able to run, jump, fall, dive, etc…, and I have found that people who devoted a lot of time to the barbell squat lost a lot of these qualities in the process. There’s a reason why many people involved in combat sports steer clear of loading up the barbell. 9 times out 10 is just to impress some broad at the gym, and little do they know that at the end of the day, that chick doesn’t really care about that anyway. But that’s a whole nother post. Bottom line, stick to bodyweight squats, one-legged pistols, and the glute-ham raise and you’ll be fine. You can use strongman implements when you want to work on total body strength.
Hanging Straight Leg Raises/knees
Dips- a close second to chin-ups/pull-ups for upper body development. Believe it or not, great for working the chest as well if your not interested in developing breast-like pecs from 62 sets of bench presses.
Hammer Curls/Ez-Bar curls- Curls for the girls…..
Push-ups/push-up variations- wide grip, close grip, regular, elevated feet, with a weighted vest, doesn’t matter. Just do ’em.
Trap Bar Deadlift- Doesn’t get any more simpler that this people. Load a hex bar up with some heavy weight and lift it off the floor. The hex, or trap bar, is great because it allows you to load it up without placing all that weight on your spine. The lift with this type of bar actually turns it into a squat/Deadlift combo, with much less chance of injury to the lower back. One word. Awesome.
Deadlift/Rack Deadlift- For those of you who have been hangin’ around a weight room for a significant amount of time and have the deadlifting technique down pat, I added this one on the list. Rack Deadlifts are great because you start the movement a little higher up on the body as opposed to starting on the floor, allowing you to use a significantly larger amount of weight. I added this to the list because there is something about having that amount of weight in your hands that gets the blood goin’. It does for me anyway. Before you attempt this lift, I would strongly suggest strengthening your lower back and abs. You must work these areas to protect yourself from injury on heavy Deadlifts/Rack Dead’s. Which brings us to the final exercise..
Ab wheel roll-outs/Standing wheel roll-outs- You know that ab wheel with the handles that you hardly see anyone using anymore?? Ya, that one. It works great. Do yourself a favor and pick one up. Start out on your knees and work up to about twenty. Once you hit that point, try to stand up about three or four feet from the wall and extend out until the wheel hits the wall. Return. As you progress, start moving further and further from the wall. This device is great for developing lower back and core strength, along with a hidden benefit of hamstring development.
That’s it. These are the main exercises that I rotate on a regular basis. Like I said in the Intro, the whole trick to making consistent gains, while not burning out or getting injured, is to make subtle changes once you hit a training plateau. I will break this down further and give examples in the following posts.
The Bas Rutten MMA workout is a stellar routine that will get you in phenomenal cardio shape. The great thing about this workout, (or not so great depending on how you look at it), is that you can’t pace yourself to make it easier. When hear the combinations called out, you fire ’em out with 100% power and intensity. There are also some defensive sprawls mixed in which breaks your breathing rhythm even further, improving your conditioning. You can use this workout with a partner holding pads, or you could just hammer away on the heavy bag. Either way will work effectively.
This workout contains four Audio CD’s, along with one Video DVD that has Bas himself showing you how to use this system.The Audio CD’s consist of: Boxing, Thai Boxing, All-Around Fighting, and the All-Around workout CD. On the Boxing and Thai-Boxing CD’s, you will hear Bas’s voice calling out various combinations which you throw on command. On the Thai boxing CD, you’ll either throw a kick or a knee depending on what is called for. You can either choose two or three minute rounds, depending on your conditioning level. (Note: I highly suggest that you start with two minute rounds, the combinations are called out very fast. You will be winded.) The All-Around Fighting CD is roughly the same as the boxing and Thai boxing CD’s, except there are sprawls mixed in when you hear “defense”. This is killer because your changing levels and will skyrocket your heart rate. I frequently use three rounds of this CD as a warm-up before any type of workout; it really loosen’s you up and gets your body ready for whatever your going to throw at it. The All-Around Workout CD is longer than the previous CD’s and mixes in some power training. Push-ups, sit-ups, bicep curls, and neck bridges are included to involve some strength work alongside the cardio aspect. This is vitally important because the two must go hand-in-hand. Strength without endurance will do you no good during competition, or whatever you are using these CD’s for.
I must say that purchasing this CD collection was one of the best things I did to improve my conditioning levels. This set will allow you to:
1). Improve stamina and power
2). Burn bodyfat like candlewax
3). Improve speed and reflexes
4). Have fun and reduce stress levels by firing out different punch combinations and kicks/knees.
I have purchased a few of Bas Rutten’s products, and guess what, they’re all golden. Just to give you a little bit of backround about the man, he is an accomplished Dutch Thai boxer who also won the prestigious King of Pancrase World Championship belt in 1995. He defended that title two more times successfully before moving on to become the UFC World Heavyweight Champion in May of 1998. Bottom line, the guy really knows his sh*t when it comes to MMA conditioning. Now retired, he claims that he still uses this same system with the fighters that he trains. I believe it. They are that effective. So if your a competitive fighter looking for and an edge, or just a weekend warrior who’s looking to lean out and harden up, this CD collection is definitely for you. I had a little bit of a difficult time trying to upload the instructional DVD that accompanied the workout CD’s, so I attached this clip to give you an idea of the Thai boxing routine with a partner holding pads. Like I said though, you can still do this routine on the heavy bag if you want. Just keep in mind that you will be hearing the combinations called out on the CD in comparison to the guy holding the pads calling them out like he does in this clip.