2009 Combat Sports Performance Summit
By Will Brink ©2009
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is one of the fastest growing – not to mention popular – sports in the world. I recently attended the 2009 Combat Sports Performance Summit, which was held at Excel Sport & Fitness in Waltham, Massachusetts on Match 1st.
This was one day seminar covered a wide range of topics specific to the strength & conditioning needs for MMA and other Combat Sports of interest. The audience was a mix both MMA athletes and coaches, and one wise guy writer made up of yours truly.
As MMA is a relatively new sport, and there’s a fair amount of confusing information out there in terms of what’s optimal for the strength & conditioning needs for MMA. Put more bluntly, there’s a lot of jokers (read not really qualified to teach strength & conditioning for MMA) who have jumped on the bandwagon, but more on that in a second.
The primary speakers for this seminar were Carl Valle, John Sullivan, and Jon Chaimberg. Carl and John are both top tier coaches in their own right, and their personal information can be found on the Excel strength web site. Jon Chaimberg is the strength & conditioning coach for many of the top MMA fighters, such as Georges “Rush” St-Pierre (GSP), David Loiseau, Nate Marquardt, Rashad Evans and others so his “creds” go without saying…
The seminar had a nice ramp up from the more general to the more specific. Carl started off the day with a talk called “Athletic Development – Integrating Sport Science into Combat Sports.” His talk covered some of the macro concepts regarding how the known principles of effective strength and conditioning can be incorporated into MMA training on the larger level. It was an excellent primer warm up discussion for understanding some of the major concepts for effective strength and conditioning principles that can be applied to MMA.
John Sullivan – who hosted this seminar at the aforementioned facility – gave a talk entitled “Sport Specific Training- Transferring your strength & conditioning training to the mat or octagon.” John is also a moderator for my forums and an advisor and trainer listed on my OptimalSWAT web site. This was a practical “real world” discussion on various strength and conditioning modalities for MMA oriented athletes. His talk was also a nice review of some of the scientific literature on issues of concern and importance to MMA/combat sports athletes, which was a nice segway into Jon Chaimberg’s talk. Sullivan (“Sully”) has extensive experience as both a trainer and competitive athlete and that very much showed in his talk.
Jon’s Chaimberg’s talk was called “Peak like Pros- Learn insider ways of preparing to peak when it counts” where he went into an extensive discussion on exactly how he trains his athletes for peaking for their matches. Jon, like the other speakers, balanced nicely both the science of training (e.g., the known principles of physiology, bio-mechanics, etc.) and “real world” application of those principles specific to MMA athletes. He emphasized the fact that some forms of training are applicable to MMA athletes and some are not, and knowing the difference is essential to success for any coach attempting to train MMA athletes. In fact, he showed several youtube clips of “coaches” who shall remain nameless who are training some well-known MMA fighters who clearly have no business training these athletes. It was a great tutorial of what not to do as a coach. As with the other speakers, he stressed smart training over just hard training, and the “old school” methods of simply taking pride in working an athlete to total exhaustion as a marker of training success was a sure way to injury and or over training. I couldn’t agree more. Finally, he also stressed the need to work with athletes as individuals with individual needs vs. any cookie cutter programs.
Afterwards there a round-table discussion with the three speakers with audience QnA with the speakers on training for combat sports.
Conclusion. The above is a non-specific coverage of what was a very in-depth day of seminars for the MMA/combat sports athlete and coaches with speakers truly qualified to give the advice. Future summits are planned and I highly recommend attending one. Although geared toward MMA, I can honestly say most athletes or coaches would benefit from much of the information presented at these seminars, so I would not shy away from them if you are neither an MMA athlete or coach. People interested in attending future summits, should keep an eye on the Excel strength web site.