by Don Heatrick
I’m often asked how I choose exercises for a fighter’s gym session.
So I’ve broken down the steps I mentally run through when planning a strength and conditioning session – to ensure productive progress for every minute in the gym.
So let’s get to it…
My 9-step logic to selecting the best/most appropriate exercises for each category in any gym based session.
As I explain my thought processes, I’ll flag up some topics that may be new to you.
Where I can, I’ll provide you links to articles and videos that will deep-dive into those more thoroughly for you.
There’s a hierarchy to the decisions involved in choosing the best exercises for a fighter, so let’s begin at step 1…
Step 1. Which athletic quality(s) am I looking to develop?
Step 2. Which movement pattern am I looking to develop?
Step 4. What training equipment is available?
Step 5. What restrictions does the layout of the training facility present?
– perhaps you can’t throw med balls at walls
– there are no bumper plates
– or it’s too crowded
Step 6. Are there any equipment setup constraints on the intended supersetted exercises that are trained back to back?
– is the gym equipment poorly laid out (across opposite sides of the gym)
– is there no room to superset two paired exercises together
– or maybe there aren’t enough barbells or dumbbells
Step 7. Are there currently any injury or mobility restrictions to consider for the fighter?
– shoulder internal or external range of motion or injury?
– range of motion or injury to hips, knees, ankles, elbows, wrists, or lower back, etc.
Step 8. What’s the fighter’s relative “training age” for this particular movement or athletic quality?
– Are they adapted to plyometrics (such as box jumps, hurdles, bounds, and depth jumps) without causing overuse injuries?
– How about skilled kettlebell technique (like swings, push presses, jerk presses, cleans, and snatches)
– or power lifting technique (such as squats, deadlifts presses, and rows) or olympic lifting technique (like high pulls, snatch, clean, and split jerk)
Step 9. Select an appropriate exercise based on all the above!
The main thing here is that EVERY exercise, in EVERY session must be fully justified. If there’s no reason for an exercise to be there, it should be removed.
If the targeted athletic benefit can be developed during Muay Thai training, then it should be, not in supplemental S&C sessions! S&C should develop qualities that aren’t adequately built using Muay Thai training alone.
The predominant focus of each training block (movement, strength, power or speed) is the absolute priority. Although I recommend a conjugate or concurrent periodisation model for fighters training (where strength, power, and speed are simultaneously trained)… only one or two athletic qualities are targeted for development, while others are maintained.
For example you could develop both strength and aerobic power.
Adding something to a training session invariably means taking something else away. These decisions are always justified by going back to step 3 “Which training block am I looking to match from the fight camp blueprint?”
Don’t fall into the trap of just adding more and more, and ending up with a program that doesn’t make a fighter better – and just makes them fatigued!
Do check out the links scattered throughout the text transcript above to get extra detail on the topics I’ve discussed.
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Thank you, and I’ll catch you next time.