Evolution of sport, fitness, life . . .

Posted on March 17, 2011. Filed under: Exercise | Tags: , , , , , |

I love MMA (mixed martial arts).

But not for the reasons you think.  Well, not just those reasons.

I realize some will read this and think I’m one of those poor fools suffering from Testosterone poisoning.  You know the type, the wannabe tough guy who has never faced a life or death situation, and has no real concept about how violence affects real life.

Don’t worry, I’m not going that route.

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I love UFC and MMA because it gave me a family.  I also enjoy it because it is a living, breathing testament to the evolution of sport right before our very eyes.  I only hope more professionals in the Sport sciences realize this, before the details and history are completely lost.

When I watch MMA, I see the chain of events that has happened in every main sport before it.  Only this time I get to witness it upfront and personal.  And it serves as a great parallel to the fitness industry

For example like any sport MMA started out fairly raw and unorganized.  The UFC was basically an infomercial for Brazilian Jujitsu.  Which as a former wrestler I appreciate.  Growing up, I saw many people did not have a healthy appreciation for ground fighting.

As the sport progressed, it became about having the winning technique and style.  Just like any other sport.  Take for example the NFL.

If you go to the online video site, Hulu, they have the NFL program “America’s Game.”  If you watch them you will notice at different stages through the years, they are marked with a specific style change that changes how everybody else plays.  San Francisco and the “West Coast Offense,” is one of my favorites.

The same thing happened in the UFC.  Only instead of the decades it took the NFL, it took  them a few years.

First submission style was dominant.  Then the kickboxers realized that submission guys had no real take-down offense, so they avoided going to the ground and began winning.  Then the wrestlers realized no one had any solid take-down defense, so they began taking guys down and just punching them, hence the term “ground and pound.”  This continued on till finally you have athletes who understand the various styles and work on all of them.

Currently to be a successful MMA athlete you need to be able to strike like a Muay Thai kick-boxer, take guys down and avoid take-downs like a wrestler, submit the upper body like a Jujitsu guy, and the lower body like a Sambo guy.  I’m simplifying this to a degree to try to keep this blog within reasonable length.

As the styles become more standard, now comes the athletic evolution, or proverbial changing of the guard.  This happens in any and every sport.  And once it happens it is amazing the flood gate that opens.

For some the evolution is mental.  Much like the four-minute mile.  Seemingly impossible to achieve.  But once someone did, within 10 years, 300 people did it!

Usually the evolution is more so physical.  For example quarterback Johnny Unitas was about 6’1″, 195 pounds .  Peyton Manning is 6’5″, 235 pounds.  In fact it’s rare to see any quarterback under 6’3″ nowadays.

The same can be seen in MMA, especially with standardized weight classes.  First we had athletes who fought at whatever weight they walked around at.  Now if a guy fights at 185, chances are his walking around weight is 200-205.  Which made sense as guys tended to have a greater body fat ratio.  But as the S&C (strength and conditioning) evolves we will see a return to a more reasonable walking around weight closer to the fighting weight.  A good example of that is Frankie Edgar, a fighter who I like more and more as I watch him.

As this continues the S&C component will evolve to personalization.  Although similar in applied tasks, I doubt the workout Peyton and Big Ben go through are exactly alike.  So will the training go towards accentuating strengths and improving weaknesses on a fighter.

Every once in a while, within a sport we get to see the traditional, foundational style vs the newer evolved version.  Typically this happens when a certain athlete is past their prime and its usually sad to watch.  This Saturday however we should have a better example as Rua vs Jones, should give us an idea if the changing of the guard is upon us.

The most fun about this is I see the same parallels in the fitness industry.  Especially when it comes to fat loss.

Many seem to over look that training for specific fat loss is still an extremely new industry.  And much like MMA it has started with people fighting for their specific style.  It’s all about Pilates, or all about yoga, or all about CrossFit, or all about H.I.T, or H.I.I.T,  or Zumba, Step Aerobics, or anything else you can think of.

Today we have a growing number of coaches who like MMA are realizing a blend is the best way.   Not only is it overall more beneficial, it’s much more fun for the client.  In the course of my training I have used Kickboxing drills, BOSU, medicine balls, kettlebells, bands, barbells, steps, dumbbells, stairways, hills, sandbags straps, Calisthenics, Pilates, Yoga, wrestling drills, etc.  And will likely continue to use various tools.

However instead of waiting for everyone else to catch on, I have chosen to jump ahead to more personalization ;).

You can also do this for yourself in your own routine.  You can do a Calisthenic/Pilates sequence for your warm-up, a general full body weight lifting routine for the workout and then a short yoga routine for your cool down.

Example:

warm-up:

  1. Body weight Squat – 20
  2. Wall Push-up – 20
  3. Arm Reach and Pull – 5
  4. Pelvic Curl – 5
  5. Swan Prep – 5
  6. Wall Roll-down – 5
  7. Jumping Jacks – 30

Workout

  • Push-up (or some variation)
  • Deadlift
  • Split Squat/Lunge
  • Row
  • Plank
  • Standing Press

Cool Down

  1. Pelvic Tilt
  2. Cat Stretch
  3. Downward facing dog
  4. Lunge Stretch
  5. Arms Raised Stretch or Urdhva Hastasana
  6. Forward Bend Stretch
  7. Lay on your back and take deep breaths or Savasana

I kept this fairly general but I hope it illustrates the point for you.

Don’t get bogged down with fitness dogma.  Saying one method of exercise is the only way, makes about as much sense as stepping in to a UFC ring when all you have ever studied is Tae Kwon Do.  Be an MFA, a mixed fitness artist :).

If you are not sure how to be one, than do like any serious athlete would do.  Find a good coach.

Because unlike the sport world, your health doesn’t take an off-season.

So don’t limit yourself, embrace what is out there, find what is useful for you and your health.  And leave the rest for others to debate.

Best Health

Coach W

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