Alactic Sprint Conditioning

Ability to produce high power outputs, repeatedly, whilst maintaining low amounts of fatigue especially during rest (stalling and holding periods) in grappling/MMA matches is crucial to good performance.

MMA and BJJ conditioning often takes the form of simulated rounds, doing non-specific exercises in order to build what is perceived to be match specific fitness. Think athletes doing 30s sprawls, followed by 30s swings followed 30s tire flips and so on. This however amount to nothing more than 5 minute grind. Just ask the athletes and they’ll tell you it’s far more frenetic than that. This grinding approach is thankfully losing ground. Shorter sprint intervals with longer periods of rest are starting to receive the attention it deserves.

Alactic sprinting merely a 100% effort where the body is able to use its ATP and phosphocreatine store without drawing on oxygen to deal with metabolite build up. If we can increase our capacity for this type of work we can recover faster between each sprint.

Alactic Power: Maximum output in one endeavor, trained by full recovery alactic drills, like sprint jump explosive throw…

Alactic Capacity: same drills, but with shorter rest periods (dictated by the sport so in this case MMA and BJJ)

Going back to our physiology text books we know that power and capacity of the main energy systems looks like this.

Anaerobic-alactic power — < 8 seconds
Anaerobic-alactic capacity — up to 20 seconds

Anaerobic-lactic power — 20 to 30 seconds
Anaerobic-lactic capacity — up to 90 seconds
Aerobic power — 90 sec to 2 min
Aerobic capacity — > 3 min

We want to work largely on Alactic power and Alactic capacity. I find this in conjunction with work capacity from sparring and training works extremely well for building conditioning for the rigours of grappling and MMA.

While there are numerous options when it comes to planning sprint intervals here is what I usually use. I like the use of battle ropes, sprints and sled pushing as the main means, sometimes you have to get creative depending on your equipment options. Special mention goes to watt bikes and rowers where you can track power in watts and track for drop-offs over time if you are not taking enough rest between bouts.

Alactic Power Sprints

–  < 8s : 2+ min rest for 6-8 sets

– 1-2 times per session @ 90-95% of max speed / effort

– 1-2 times p/week usually after heavy lifting sessions

– Sprints, prowler/ sled pushing, agility, explosive jumps

Alactic Capacity Sprints:

– 10-15s : 60-90s- rest for 6-8 reps (possibly even shorter when peaking)

– 1 times per session @ 85-95% of max speed / effort

– 1-2 times p/week usually after moderate lifting sessions

– Sprints, prowler/ sled pushing, agility, explosive jumps

After these types of sprints you shouldn’t be on the floor sucking air it probably means you’ve pushed too hard for too long or not had enough rest between sprints.

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