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Saw this link over at Ross Enamait's blog.  A 1950's book on Indian Physical Culture.  What's old is new and all that.  There are only so many ways to move and train the human body, whether it's fitness or combatives.  It always comes down to 2 things:  First ya gotta learn it, then ya gotta do it (a lot). 

 
The NSCA’s most recent Tactical Strength & Conditioning Report (Issue 32) has an article that discusses recent peer-reviewed research on “Extreme conditioning programs (ECPs)” which they define as Crossfit/P90X/Insanity type approaches.  What did they find?  Here are some key highlights in my opinion.

1) A military study of almost 1,400 soldiers found that “when comparing the injury rates of soldiers who participated and those who did not participate in ATAC (Advanced Tactical Athlete Conditioning)/ECPs, overall rates of injury were similar, though the ATAC/ECP group did exhibit a significantly greater increase in overuse injuries after the programs were initiated.”    This is one of the biggest drawbacks that I see, the potential for injury caused by failing form as you go flat-out trying to beat your own or someone else’s time, as well as overtraining potential.

2) Another study compared the anaerobic/aerobic power of ECP-trained individuals vs. those who use traditional resistance training (RT).  Results showed no significant differences in VO2 max or Wingate peak power.   The same lab also tested whether ECP-trained subjects differed from RT-trained subjects in one rep Bench press, back squat, medicine ball shot put, vertical jump and the Margaria-Kalamen power test.  There were no significant differences in performance between the ECP and RT subjects on any of these tests. 

3) Another study compared ECP-trained vs. RT-trained subjects on pushup, pull-up, T-test, and sit and reach.  There were no differences in performance on the pushup, T-test or sit and reach test.  ECPs did perform significantly more pull-ups than the RT, although the mean body mass of the ECP group was less than the RT group, which impacts such a test.

4) Another study compared the anaerobic step test and the Cooper 1.5mile run test between CrossFit trained subjects and subjects that followed a ‘traditional’ program recommended by ACSM.  There were no differences on the step test or the Cooper 1.5 mile run. 

Findings and Conclusion

There does not seem to be convincing evidence at this point that ECPs significantly improve aerobic power or VO2 max……The adaptations seen from ECPs appear to be broadly similar to those obtained from traditional RT, as no consistent differences in strength, power, and muscular endurance have been seen when ECP-trained subjects are compared to RT subjects.”

“From the limited evidence to date, it does not appear ECPs offer training benefits which cannot be acquired through more traditional training programs, such as resistance/cardiovascular/HITT training.  These more traditional training modes may also offer the potential for lower injury risk, yet result in the same training adaptations.”

 Can “extreme conditioning programs” work?  Sure they can.  And they may be perfect for certain populations or individuals.  But everyone should decide for themselves what they’re trying to accomplish and what they’re willing to risk if the same results can be achieved from less “extreme” programs.  No matter what you decide, get out there and train.

 
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Some recent things that caught my fancy, you might like
too.
 
24 Free Downloads from Gun Digest 
Ammo, ballistics, concealed carry – probably something here you can download and read during football games over the holidays.  Found HERE
 

 
 
A Roadmap for BJJ by Stephan Kesting
Being a non-grappler (at this time), I found the concept of “positional hierarchy” very interesting.  Can’t say that I’ve seen it laid out like that before, maybe I just
haven’t been actively studying it enough.  Found HERE 
 
 
Jason C. Brown, Top 5 KB for BJJ
Love Jason’s materials and approach to KBs, movement, and BJJ.   My favorite on this list is the “Gorilla Cleans” or alternating DB KB cleans.   These are a go-to exercise when you want to put the hurtin’ on.   YouTube video HERE

Infographic – Why grains are really the bane of a healthy existence 
With the increase in gluten-free interest in our household, and a general feeling that people have been brainwashed into a high carb diet for no good reason, I thought this infographic was cool.
 
8 Sprints 
Because it can never hurt to have another Sprint workout to try.  Found HERE


 
Very interesting post by Eric Wong (here) that discusses tight hips.   I don’t notice it so much in the squatting or deadlift motions that he describes, but I definitely notice a change in flexibility and tightness during Round House kicks with my left leg.  20 years ago this used to be my lead side and I could easily kick opponents taller than myself in the head with either round house or hook kicks.  No more.  If I’m very warmed up and have stretched specifically to kick high, then I can kick at head height.  But it’s work.    
 
I’d say there are two primary reasons: a) connective tissues have gone thru a natural aging process and tightened up (yup, it happens) and b) I don’t stretch and kick like that anywhere near as much as I used to (it also happens – it’s called family, work, volunteer activities etc.).

So I’m definitely going to add these first two techniques, Static Active Hip Rotation and Lateral Leg Drop, to some regular mobility work and see what kind of effect it has. 
Will keep you posted, but let me know what you think.  (The video is linked Below, or can be accessed thru the original article). 


 
I don’t have a “BOB” training dummy.  And this is the first place I’ve lived that I haven’t installed a makiwara in the backyard.  So the other night when I was resting between sets of pull-ups, I just started pounding the 4 x 6’s and it gave me an idea.   Why not use the support posts as a surrogate BOB or Makiwara?

So I created some target areas.  One at knee height, groin height, solar plexus, and face height as a reference point. So now in between sets of pull-ups, I’ll do 10-20 kicks – front kicks, step to the side kicks, crossover kicks (see photos).  With or without a finger jab or palm heel as an “entry” or just to judge
distance.  
 
I find a lot of benefit in kicking a target that is firmly mounted and doesn’t have “give” or flex.  It requires you to have a strong foundation.  It requires good balance.  It helps with your judgment of distances.  And it makes you get used to hitting something firm and unforgiving. There’s instant feedback when you hit the post - if you’re off balance or the distance isn’t right, then you get thrown off upon impact or you can’t effectively absorb the counter force.   A valuable learning experience no matter how you slice it. 

This is a training method that goes back hundreds/thousands of years.  From
the “Pell” used by ancient Romans for practicing sword strikes (a DIY Pell found here), to the traditional Okinawan makiwara (interesting article and plan here).  I remember reading about Mas Oyama in “The Kyokushin Way”, punching and kicking trees and boulders while training alone in the mountains.  Always seemed pretty cool to me in a crazy kind of way.  
 
Bottom line, find something hard to hit and practice hitting or kicking it. You may be surprised what you learn.
 
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Good article in Feb 2012 issue of the Strength & Conditioning Journal that discusses specific needs for female Mixed Martial Artists.  In general, a focus on increasing lean body mass, upper body strength, and preventing injuries, especially in the knee. 
  
In an effort to increase LBM and testosterone  levels, the authors (Schick, Brown, and Schick) emphasize multi-joint lifts  (squat, clean, deadlift etc.), decreasing rest periods between sets, increasing
sets (at least 3) and increasing intensity.  Makes sense, but it never ceases to amaze me the number of folks that seem to emphasize single joint, machine based “weight training”. Unless you’re trying to rehab an injured part or you’re prepping for a bodybuilding competition, I don’t know why you’d consider most single joint exercises or a
machine.

I really liked a couple of their interval training examples given.  The first was a Circuit
weight training session.  Meant to be done 3X with a minute rest in between (to mimic an MMA fight).  

Exercise            Reps/duration
Jump rope                 1 min
BB rev lunge              10-12
Push Press                 4-6
Bent row                    8-10
Hang clean                 4-6
Deadlift                       6-8
Med Ball jump squat    6-8
Med Ball rotations        20
KB swings                    10-12
Plank                            1 min

The second included MMA specific exercises and requires a partner and/or grappling dummy.  Each technique done for 30s ea, 3 min total, one minute rest between rounds.

Round 1
Shadow Box; Takedowns on dummy; Guard passing drills; Ground & Pound; Arm Bar submission drills; Triangle Submission drills

Round 2
Kick heavybag; sprawls; punch heavy bag; knees in clinch; elbows drill; shrimping drill

Round 3
Kickboxing with pads; tie ups; knees in clinch; sprawls; isometric bridge; ground & pound
 
I liked the focus of this article.   It’s one of the first I’d seen specifically targeted at female MMA.  With the rise of athletes like Ronda Rousey, I think the trend for female participation in the combative arts is likely to increase for the foreseeable future.  



 
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Great recent article at Beyond Strength.  With an emphasis on Strength as the base and then Conditioning, as well as references to Martin Rooney, Dan John, and Alwyn Cosgrove, it would be hard for anyone in the combative arts to go wrong in applying this philosophical approach.  

I tend to use a bunch of intervals and complexes in my training.  There was a time period where I found myself focusing more on strength and conditioning than I was on technical skills, so I’ve tried to shift the focus.  If/when I have time to train, then I make sure I get the skill work done first - punch, kick, pad work, stick, knife etc.  Then I get some strength/conditioning in.  Here’s where the intervals and
complexes work well.   
 
Intervals - since I don’t have the fancy HR monitor (yeah, I know I should get one), Fixed intervals are the easiest for me to implement.  Usually in the 20-30 second work range, with 2X rest.  Occasionally I’ll throw in some 1:1 work:rest sets or 2:1 work:rest.   One of the rope intervals that I use follows this sequence

30’ x 1.5” rope: 30 seconds “Fighting”, 60 seconds rest
50’ x 1.5” rope: 20 seconds “Fighting”, 40 seconds rest
50’ x 2” rope: 10 seconds “Fighting”, 20 seconds rest
Repeat 3-5X

By “Fighting” I mean that the rope is not anchored by anything and the goal is to keep the rope moving for the entire period and to keep the entire rope off of the ground.  I learned this from John Brookfield at a Perform Better seminar a few years ago.  
 
Complexes – I mostly use Rep based or AMRAP style complexes with KBs, BW, and Sandbags.  Here’s a sample KB complex:

Snatch 5L; Overhead Carry (scaled to space available)
Snatch 5R; OH Carry
C&P 5L; Rack Carry
C&P 5R; Rack Carry
One arm Swing 5L; Farmer’s Carry
One arm Swing 5R; Farmer’s Carry

Set a timer for your preferred round length (ex. 5:00 min) and see how many times you can get thru.

That’s all for now. Get out there and train, because your next opponent probably isn’t just
sitting around eating Krispy Kremes.


 
Only had time for a quick workout before dinner.  Just did a some Tabata style rope.  Three 4 minute rounds of rope patterns done in 20 sec on/10 sec off fashion.  Two minutes rest in between rounds.  Then a finisher in the back yard which consisted of:

     4 Burpee Pulls {burpees with a pullup on the “jump” portion}
     Farmer's Carry, two 70 lb. KBs, ~ 20 yds
     Lunges – back to the pullup bar

 Repeat for 4:00 min total

 I liked this finisher. Well rounded, push, pull, carry, squat, lunge.  All wholesome goodness.  Could have added a sandbag to the Lunges, but didn’t feel like messing
around with getting any more equipment out.   Could also add or substitute Bear Crawls, Crab Walks, or other Quadrapedal movements in place of the Lunges.  
 
There you have it. About 30 minutes total with a quick warm-up, 4 x 4:00 minute rounds, and rest periods.  Quick and dirty, then done.  


 
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An article in the recent Tactical Strength and Conditioning report, July/August 2013, Issue 29, outlines a pilot study and sample program using KBs for Firefighters.  Although the sample size was small (n=5), the exercises are solid and the program fundamentally sound.  One of the reasons that I like it is that it shows how a few basic exercises (in this case Turkish Get-up, 2H Swings, Military Press, Front Squat)  followed in a disciplined fashion over 12 weeks can result in substantial strength gains (33-200%).  
 
The program consists of 4 sessions alternated 3X/week for 12 weeks.  
 
A1, B1, A2
B2, A1, B1
A2, B2, A1 
B1, A2, B2 etc.  
 
Training Session A = TGU + 2H Swing
Training Session B = Military Press + Front Squats

The specifics for A1, B1, A2, and B2 can be found in the article linked above.  Basically they
consist of focused practice for time (ex. 10 minutes of TGU, 20 min Swings), ladder progressions, or sets of 5X5 or 3X3. 

This looks like a great program to focus on the basic KB lifts.  And if you could only do 4 KB exercises, these are the 4 I would  pick anyway.  The sequence and reps are laid out for you, so it’s a no brainer to follow.   Why not give it a try?  My plan is to work on this as an 8-week cycle as I ease into some KB work after tweaking my back in July.  

 
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Muhammad Ali Compilation -  Need some inspiration for hand & foot speed + movement?  Check out this compilation.  I saw Ali at Notre Dame’s Bengal Bouts (charity boxing tournament) in 1988.  He was in attendance the one night that I went to watch.  As he passed thru the crowd, less than an arm’s length away from me, he seemed to be a mere shell of a person.   There was no recognition of the crowd calling his name, no emotion, no registering of even being present at the event.   A very sad drop from his physical prime, because he was amazing.  

The Earth is our Gym - I like the one quote from Mike Rashid:  “Be your own motivator".  And I love to workout outside.