Emulate Georges St-Pierre’s Ring Training with the Powertec Functional Trainer – Part 2
by: Ian Lauer CSCS
The importance of Strength and Conditioning in a Mixed Martial Arts match is obvious. The objective is to understand how vital ART, or “Adaptive Resistance Training” is in reaching your full potential in the ring. Let me reiterate that I am not denying the importance of Traditional Strength Training; instead, I am stressing the importance and value of BOTH types of training. General strength gained from traditional training will help you to overpower your opponent. In some instances this may be enough to win the fight but not always. In many cases when dealing with other skilled fighters you will need more. What is “more?” “More” is EXTREME FOCUSED POWER and FIGHT SPECIFIC CONDITIONING! To give your techniques this EXTREME FOCUSED POWER and FIGHT SPECIFIC CONDITIONING “Adaptive Resistance Training” (ART) is the key. How will you use ART? How will you create ART Exercises?
Tip: Using the Powertec Functional Trainer will give you a huge head start over trying to train without a pulley system!
The development ART exercises is actually relatively simple. The trick is to look at each movement you want to strengthen and use your imagination. Don’t get caught up trying to add unnecessary movements just to be fancy. Focus on the ACTUAL MOVEMENT and see how it is made up of smaller movements in the body. It is the sum of these small movements that result in the technique. When you strengthen these movements in unison the result is a more powerful technique.
Many fighting techniques are just a couple simple movements combined into one. An example of this would be a hook punch. The essence of this punch is a simple trunk rotation with a single arm fly movement. Now sure there are more details to consider; but, when designing an exercise to improve your right-hook power, this minimalist understanding will do nicely. The resulting exercise to improve this technique can be as simple as a single arm fly with trunk rotation. To accomplish this you can use the Powertec Functional Trainer and following this series of steps (for right hook punch):
1. Set the handle at shoulder height.
2. Stand perpendicular to the face of the Functional Trainer 2-3 feet away with right foot closest to the Functional Trainer with the handle in the right hand.
3. Step just far enough away from the machine to lift the weight with roughly a 90 degree bend in the elbow while your arm is extended out from your side towards the machine.
4. Maintaining the 90 degree bend in the elbow initiate a trunk rotation towards your left allowing your feet pivot naturally.
5. With the rotation of the trunk squeeze the arm across the front of the body as you would for a fly movement.
6. Twist back to start position and repeat for desired number of reps.
This is to develop the right hook. Be sure to work the left as well. The left hook is of course the same movement only in mirror fashion. Just as in traditional strength training, a balance of strength in the body with ART will improve your performance in the ring.
To describe exercises for each technique you encounter in the ring would quite literally fill a series of books. This article is just to get the wheels turning. For simple techniques like a punch the ART exercise may be obvious. For more complex movements it may take a little longer to master the concept. If you stick with it, you will be amazed at how the exercises will begin to reveal themselves as you look at the techniques more critically.
When you run into more complicated movements take the time to look at them mechanically. They must be broken down into pieces with two-three movements. When broken down into smaller pieces, exercises can be generated in a functional pattern to increase the strength of each component of the larger movement. An example of this would be the single leg takedown from wresting. The movement as a whole moves through multiple planes and all limbs are involved. When creating strength exercises to increase the takedown power consider the parts of the movement. The arms are reaching out around the leg and then ripping upward. While the arms are doing their thing the hips are dropping downward and then driving upward once the leg is captured. While all this is happening the legs are stepping and driving forward. You can clearly see that there are MANY PIECES to the single leg takedown. How do we deal with this to take full advantage of ART? We decide how far we need to break down the movement in order to create an awesome exercise to increase our FOCUSED POWER.
In the instance of the single leg take down, I like to break it into two movements to encompass the majority of the total movement. The first portion is a forward step while dropping the hips. Do you know what this looks like? A LUNGE! Sure it’s not 100% the same but similar. Now what about the arms? They are moving in a hybrid press/fly movement. These movements make up the first half of the takedown! So what does all this mean? Using this knowledge we can generate an exercise on the Powertec Functional Trainer that will increase the FOCUSED POWER on the Initiation of the Single Leg Takedown. How so?
1. Stand feet parallel facing away from the Functional Trainer with a handle in each hand at just below shoulder height. Your hands are on either side of the chest like you are ready to bench press a bar off of your chest.
2. Step forward with one foot into a lunge as you press/fly with your arms down low towards knee level.
3. Step back to start position
4. Repeat with opposite foot
5. Continue for desired number of reps
Does that make sense? It’s not terribly difficult to master this movement and it will dramatically increase your FOCUSED POWER when initiating the takedown. So now how do you finish? You must perform ART on the second half of the movement. What would that look like?
Let’s pick up where we left off. We were in a lunge position and just grabbed the leg down low. In the second half of the movement we must rip the arms upward and drive forward as we elevate the hips. Blah blah blah, you say! What does that mean? Actually it’s relatively simple. We will work from the bottom of a lunge position and go from there.
1. Set the pulley handles low towards the bottom of the Functional Trainer.
2. With a handle in each hand beside the hips and from a lunge position (one foot forward the other back), to initiate the movement step forward with the back leg directly beside the front leg.
3. While you are stepping forward perform an upward fly-like movement with the cables.
4. Step back into lunge position with the opposite leg while letting the arms return to start position and repeat.
When performed correctly this engages the same musculature used in the hip drive, forward step and upward arm rip just as in a single leg takedown! There you have an excellent exercise to massively increase the final power of the Takedown. Look at each of these exercises individually and then see how the duo take you through and strengthen the entire Single-Leg Takedown movement.
Am I saying that to be a great fighter all you need to do are strengthen your Hook Punch and Single-Leg Takedown? OF COURSE NOT! What I’m saying is that by studying your own movements you can create exercises easily with the Powertec Functional Trainer that will simulate your fight patterns closely allowing you to gain serious FOCUSED STRENGTH. YOU MUST WORKOUT PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY!
Going back to George St. Pierre, here is a man who is at the top of the game and he is pushing himself EVERY DAY. He is pushing BOTH Physically AND Mentally. He breaks down each movement and critiques it to see how he can make it better. This is precisely what I’m asking of you as well. Explore your techniques! Understand them! Strengthen them! Doing these once, twice, or three times is relatively easy. Let’s consider doing these movements 20, 30 or even 100+ times. This is where we separate the men from the boys. This is where we evolve from simply FOCUSED STRENGTH to FIGHT SPECIFIC CONDITIONING
St. Pierre exhibits amongst the very best in respect to FIGHT SPECIFIC CONDITIONING. He is like the energizer bunny in the octagon! Do you have what it takes to develop that level of conditioning? Why should you work to develop it? Well that’s simple! When you are in a fight, there aren’t many things that will break your opponents will faster than when he is dragging ass and you are so well conditioned that you still have that spring in your step and that smile you wear when you know you are about to destroy him! So how do you develop that St. Pierre like Fight Specific Conditioning?
Of course you fight and spar just like you normally would. Then you take your training to a new level. You adapt your ART to increase your level of Fight Specific Conditioning! There are many ways to accomplish this. One of my favorites though is to train in “ROUNDS.” Just as you have “rounds” and rest periods during a fight you can have the same “rounds” and rest periods in your strength training.
An example of this would be if you are working on five minute rounds. You can pick five exercises and perform each for One minute one right after the other. After the five minutes are up take a break comparable to that in a standard fight (Stay on your feet and keep moving). Then repeat for the necessary number of rounds. For the entirety of the workout you can do the same exercises or different ones in each round. This is entirely dependent upon your goal for the workout. This depends on your focus that day and your total training days per week.
It is very important to remember when training for Fight Specific Conditioning both ENDURANCE and INTENSITY. People often assume that CONDITIONING and ENDURANCE are one in the same. Not true! Conditioning is the product of BOTH Endurance and Intensity. One way to increase your overall Conditioning is to work on each Endurance and Intensity individually. How you do accomplish this?
To increase Endurance increase the TIME OF THE ROUNDS to 7-8 minutes while lowering the Intensity. To increase Intensity, reduce the TIME OF THE ROUNDS to 2-3 Minutes while exerting as much possible energy in that time. By varying the length of the rounds and intensity you will prompt your body to adapt and become better conditioned for the ring.
So what would the timeframe for a conditioning schedule look like? Assuming you train on the Powertec Functional Trainer 3 times a week!
– Monday: (INTENSE Day) 8-10: 2-3 Minute Rounds
– Wednesday: (ENDURANCE Day) 6-8: 7-8 Minute Rounds
– Friday: (Fight Specific Conditioning Day) 5: 5 Minute Rounds
This schedule provides your body with the type of Adaptive Resistance Training Timing necessary to maximize your Fight Specific Conditioning as you increase your Fight Specific Power.
– Ian Lauer CSCS