Injuries are a part of all sports; add in the full contact and competitive nature of combat sports they become even more common. Most questions I hear in the gym in regards to training is how to mitigate injuries. The single most important thing you can do to reduce injury is not let your ego get in the way and tap early and often. The second is to get very good with your techniques. However, in my opinion, one of the most overlooked aspects of injury prevention is strength training. Think about it. The stronger a tissue is the more load that it can tolerate, therefore the less likely said tissue will get injured.
‘Great’ you say. ‘I need to add in strength training, how do I go about this?’ This is where things can get tricky. You want to add in training sessions that don’t interfere with mat time but also don’t add to your fatigue while you’re on the mats. That’s because high intensity movement + fatigue = poor motor control which leads to injuries. This is where structuring your week is helpful. Given that your mat training is the priority, two to three gym sessions a week should be sufficient. It’s also a good idea to keep your gym sessions short and sharp as another way of avoiding too much muscular fatigue.
‘Well then, what exercises should I do?’ I hear you say. This part is a little easier. Focus on big compound movements that cover the whole body, with a focus on strength, and strength endurance. Select exercises that will have some carry over to your chosen discipline as well. Take downs and throws for example require strong hips, so squats and deadlifts should be a foundation of your program.
The final thing to consider is what volume of work you are going to do in the gym and how you should split your routine. If you’re only in the gym twice a week, my advice is to perform a full body program both days. You should be able to recover enough between sessions with no issues. As stated above, you don’t want to be fatigued on the mat, so my advice is avoid training to complete muscular failure.
If you’re completely new to the gym based exercise, it’s well worth investing in some knowledge. With some assessments and testing you can find out your weaknesses and have a program developed for you to address any areas that need improvement.
At Scarborough physio and Health I specialise in treating combat sports athletes, from everything ranging from rehabilitation and injury management to strength and conditioning.