"Taku" is the screen name for Liam Bauer on the www.mma.tv discussion forum. Liam has over 15 years of strength and conditioning experience to back up the training programs he devises for athletes under his supervision. He initially posted this program (in a rough draft) for those that wanted a good way to build up to what Liam refers to as a "30 gallon gas tank." That 30 gallon tank means that you'll be able to keep going hard at your chosen sport when everyone else has packed their bags and gone home.

The article "ENDURANCE TRAINING FOR COMBAT SPORT" was written by Liam for www.straightblastgym.com but he has given me permission to post it here as well. If you have any questions you can contact Liam at: strengthonline@yahoo.com


When trying to assess your personal strength training and conditioning needs one must focus a critical eye on his or her own strengths and weaknesses. In this manner the time allotted to strength training and conditioning and all its components, can be utilized more efficiently. For example if flexibility never seems to hold you back but you feel like puking after one round of hard sparring, donít waste a lot of time working on improving your side and front splits. Instead maintain your obviously adequate flexibility and focus more attention on endurance training (which happens to be the topic of this article).

There is so much myth, misconception and misunderstanding surrounding endurance training or "Cardio" for combat sports, it is a wonder anyone ever reaches their goals. I hope this article will help clear up some of the confusion and set you on the path towards more efficient and effective training. Iíve decided to keep this article "science-lite" (a third less terminology then your regular science article) so lets define some terms that will come up later. If you need clarification on things or more detail on a certain subject, feel free to
contact me.

Aerobic: The break down of energy in the presence of oxygen. Associated with long duration, low intensity, activity.

Anaerobic: the breakdown of energy without the presence of oxygen. Associated with brief, intense, activity.

L.S.D: Long Slow Distance training, for example jogging for 30 minutes.

H.I.I.T.: High Intensity Interval Training, for example Sprinting as fast as possible resting briefly and repeating.

S.A.I.D.: principal = Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands.

A reference scale designed to provide exercisers with easily understood guidelines regarding exercise intensity.

There are three different systems in the body that are involved in the breakdown and production of energy:

The Phosphagen

Lactic Acid


These systems function on a continuum, no one system is ever totally responsible for all the energy needs of the body at one time. The more brief and intense the effort required the more the phosphagen and lactic acid or "Anaerobic" systems are used.

The S.A.I.D. principal states that the body will adapt specifically to the demands placed on it. If you want to improve your fitness for a certain activity it is best to develop conditioning programs that utilize the same energy systems as your chosen activity. Combat sports are primarily "Anaerobic" in nature. In combat sports one must acquire the ability to work at maximal and near maximal levels for short bursts, actively recover and then do it again. In boxing the athlete fights for two or three minutes and then gets to rest for one minute between rounds. The actual rounds however are made up of these burst recover intervals. At no time during a fight is the athlete truly resting. Even pure Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has this burst recover element, while a match is in progress the athletes never get a total rest. If you are fighting in NHB/Vale Tudo it doesnít matter how long the rounds are, the basic requirements remain. If you are conditioning to fight, skip the "road-work" and do High Intensity Interval Training or "H.I.I.T." instead. While doing these H.I.I.T. workouts, be sure that you are bursting to maximum and near maximum levels. Hopefully it is starting to sink in that for combat sports, L.S.D. training is ineffective. Jogging or running at a steady pace continually for 20-45-60 minutes at a time is really a massive waste of valuable training and conditioning time. To maximize your efficiency while training "Cardio" for combat sports build your routine around high intensity interval training.

When designing your program it helps to have a way to measure intensity. We will use a simple yet effective method known as an R.P.E. or Rate of Perceived Exertion scale. This scale allows the exerciser to subjectively rate his/her feelings during exercise, taking into account personal fitness level, environmental conditions, and general fatigue levels. Perceived exertion ratings correlate highly with measured exercise heart rates and calculated oxygen consumption values. The R.P.E. scale has been found to be a valuable and reliable indicator in monitoring an individuals exercise tolerance and is often used by fitness professionals while conducting graded exercise tests. Here is an example of how to create your own personal R.P.E. scale. Weíll use the numbers ** 0-10 where 0 = nothing at all (the feeling of sitting at home watching TV) and 10 = Very, very hard (the feeling of running as fast as possible for 100-400 meters). You can actually use this R.P.E. scale as a way to measure both intensity and progress. If you are training on a machine* at resistance level 5 and you feel you are at an "8" on your personal R.P.E. scale, you know you have improved when your R.P.E. for the same exercise and resistance level has dropped to a "6" after several sessions. In the following program I will make suggestions for R.P.E. intensity levels to work towards and it will be up to you to match those levels of intensity to your current ability using your personal R.P.E. scale. The program consists of three progressive 4-week phases designed to build and then maintain a base level of "Anaerobic" endurance.


Always begin each workout with a 5-minute warm-up at a level of 3-4 on your R.P.E. scale. Follow this with 5 minutes at a steady pace that is just starting to get hard by the end, level 5-6 on your R.P.E. scale. And then reduce the intensity and do 5 more minutes, back to level 3-4 on your R.P.E. scale. This 15 minutes remains the same throughout the first three phases of your H.I.I.T. protocol. After this 15 minute period proceed immediately to the high intensity intervals, which will be described below. During the intervals you should be pushing hard, striving for about a level 7-10 on your R.P.E. scale. Always finish your session with a 5-minute cool-down, another level 3-4 on the R.P.E. scale.

Phase 1:
Weeks 1 & 2: 4 X 90 seconds work + 90 seconds recovery.

Weeks 3 & 4: 5 X 60 seconds work + 60 seconds recovery.

Phase 2:

Weeks 5 & 6: 6 X 45 seconds work + 30 seconds recovery.

Weeks 7 & 8: 7 X 30 Seconds work + 20 seconds recovery.

Phase 3:

Weeks 9 & 10: 8 X 20 seconds work + 10 seconds recovery.

Weeks 11 & 12: 10 X 20 seconds work + 10 seconds recovery.

The first phase will lay the foundation for the following phases. Obviously you can not sprint for 90 seconds at the same pace you can keep up for a shorter duration. Your job is to go as hard as you can for the given time specified. During recovery periods you may go as slow as you wish but DO NOT STOP MOVING! Active recovery is always better than passive recovery and will help remove the buy-products of your anaerobic overload more effectively. Once you reach phase 3, you can remain there in maintenance mode. Avoid boredom and stale training by changing machines* every 2-3 weeks as well as continually striving to train at higher resistance levels on each machine. * If you feel you are not fully recovering be sure to add extra rest days where needed. These sessions should be done 2-5 times a week, experiment to find what works best for you. Do your best to get in at least two sessions per week. If you are diligent you should start noticing an improvement right away. By the time you finish phase three you should be on your way to having a 30-gallon gas tank.

*For the H.I.I.T. portion of your training I recommend the following machines in order of my preference:
1) Versa Climber.

2) Air Dyne Bike.

3) Elliptical walker with arm attachments.

4) Rowing ergometer.

5) Cross country Ski simulator.

These machines have been selected because they work the entire body as a unit rather then just the legs alone. Although the machines mentioned are my favorites, anything will work, rope skipping, running, biking, stair-climbing etc. If you do choose running or rope skipping I recommend cross training with one of the above recommended machines to reduce the potential for overuse injuries due to the inherent impact on the joints from these activities.

** Example of an R.P.E. scale with values from 0-10:
0 = Nothing at all

1 = Very easy

2 = Easy

3 = Moderate

4 = Somewhat hard

5 = Hard


7 = Very hard



10 = Very, very hard


Contact me if you have any questions: scrapperathletics@gmail.com


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