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Bodyweight Conditioning Workouts
Lee Lee Aldridge
Reality Based Fighting Concepts
There is quite a controversy regarding the use of bodyweight exercises, or calesthenics, to assist in the training of an MMA athlete. The controversy is not whether or not to incorporate these exercises (it's pretty much agreed that they are beneficial), but how to use them and how to structure workout routines.
Let's first take a quick look at how bodyweight exercises are similar to, and different from, weight training exercises:
The similarities between bodyweight exercises and weight training exercises is simply that a muscle does not "know" what source of resistance is being applied to it. The muscle merely contracts against a defined "load". For many trainees, the load produced by bodyweight exercises is sufficient to cause gains in strength as well as endurance. By the making the proper choices of exercises used, bodyweight exercises can be made as hard or easy as the trainee wishes. In a like manner, adjusting the weight on a barbell can alter the resistance of a chosen exercise. A good example of how bodyweight exercise can be "adjusted" to suit the physical condition and strength level of the trainee is the squat. You can perform two-legged squats and hold onto a chair, etc. to assist you if you are fairly weak at this movement. You can perform one-legged squats with no assistance if you are much stronger. While the same motion and muscles are used, the load can be adjusted quite radically through the use of this one/two sided concept. Another example is regular pushups or one-armed pushups: big difference.
The differences which come to mind between bodyweight exercises and weight training work are mostly in the degree of support lended to the body as it performs a motion, and the degree of "isolation" which is experienced during a motion. By support, I am referring to the difference between using your abdominals and back, etc. to stiffen your body as you perform pushups vs. lying on a hard bench for support during the same basic movement. The bodyweight exercises force you to use more control over the tension you create in your body to perform a movement. Notice I didn't state that weightlifting does not involve using other muscle groups for assistance. (You merely need to perform a hard squat, bench press, military press, etc. to realize that many muscle groups come into play during weight exercises which target mainly one muscle group.) The differences lie in the posture control while you move your body through space in bodyweight exercises. Since you fight without a barbell, etc., it makes sense that one should be familiar with the feeling of controlling one's body as it moves around. It is this sensitivity, the familiarity of knowing how to achieve certain motions with maximal efficiency, that is the greatest contribution of bodyweight exercises (in my opinion!).
The best feature of using bodyweight exercises is that the equipment required is CHEAP!!! You can do these routines while traveling, during a break at work, etc. without the worry of equipment, etc. This fact makes bodyweight exercises valuable for the reason I've cited many times over the years:
THE BEST WORKOUT IS THE ONE THAT YOU WILL DO!
Now, instead of boring you to death by describing how to do a pushup, I'm going to give a shameless recommendation, which I do not often do. The finest bodyweight routines, and the finest collection of positive results I know, are found at:
Wayne "Scrapper" Fisher (also known as FISH) is one of the world's most knowledgeable and successful trainers using bodyweight exercises. I myself have experienced substantial gains in my conditioning by using his methods and routines in combination with my other training. Thousands of others have had equally positive results from his teachings. For that reason, I give Scrapper my highest recommendation possible. (For the record, I receive no compensation for this statement.)
Wayne "Scrapper" Fisher was a Navy Diver for 10 years. He was assigned to SEAL support teams for 4 years during that time. He is one of the few non-Special Forces personnel to attend and graduate from the SEAL Hand to Hand Combat Instructor Course. He spent three years training with World Jujitsu Champion, 2-Time World Racquetball Champion, and SuperBrawl Champion Egan Inoue.
He fought in, and WON, FutureBrawl 6, an 8 man no-holds-barred tournament in 1996. He won his professional MMA debut fighting in SuperBrawl 13 in 1999. This man is no stranger to the training needs of the NHB fighter! It is his inside knowledge and experience in the fight game which gives him the extra edge in designing workout routines for MMA fighters.
FISH runs "Basic Training By FISH", a military-style fitness class used by serious operators across the country. Clients include Federal Law Enforcement Officers, Federal Fire Fighters, Military personnel preparing for Navy Dive School, those preparing for BUD/S (SEAL), and those preparing for SAR (Search and Rescue Swimmers). His program is the OFFICIAL program used by military commands to get active duty military personnel up to the standards for physical fitness. The Naval Station at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii sent him 57 personnel (up to 11/02) who had failed the required Physical Fitness Test. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE INDIVIDUALS GOT OFF THE "FAILURE" STATUS LIST!!
In recognition of the success of his program in this application, the Naval Station sent him more personnel in December 2002. They sent him 115 more personnel in need of dramatic improvement in their Physical Fitness Scores!
His classes produced a 100% success rate for those individuals who were preparing for SAR (Search and Rescue Swimmer) duty.
OK, that's enough of that. The guy knows his business, and his enthusiasm and commitment to success is evident in his results. FISH makes himself available via email, etc. to anyone who needs help with his training. His reputation is spotless in the business, and he doesn't waste his (and your) time by pushing wild advertising claims, etc. He just delivers solid, documentable results.
FISH has video tape workouts available, as well as a combination DVD/audio tape set which can act as your personal coach if you're not in front of the TV. Feedback regarding all his products and information has been 100% positive. Scrapper follows through and makes sure that everything is OK with any orders. It's a rare pleasure to do business with an honest and upright guy.
For those of you who've read my columns since the beginning, I'd like to thank you. You know by know that I don't tolerate "mystical" and "outrageous" claims or gimmicks when I talk about working out. I am, in all honesty, attempting to steer you to a reputable authority on this subject. Check out the website, there's nothing to lose! Next, we'll get back into weight training, and step things up a notch with some intermediate and advanced routines and exercises!
Lee Lee Aldridge
Reality Based Fighting Concepts