I'm having difficulty finding information on sports specific training for those who want to improve their abilities in the martial arts. For example, what tend to be the weak areas of their fitness level that need the most attention? And what are most sports specific exercises for this type of client?
Your question on specific training for martial arts could be quite diverse. For example, is the person you are training a grappler (wrestling, jujitsu, judo, sambo...), an up-right hands and feet man (kenpo karate, tae kwon doe, tang su doe, hapkido...) or an all arounder (UFC, K2, Pride, ValeTudo...)? This has an impact on the time spent in different areas of conditioning. However, like with most power sports, there can be some general training guide lines to add to the specific training items.
General conditioning for power sports, like martial arts, can follow many pathways. The way I understand it is like this;
- Establish some type of aerobic conditioning program. Interval training is an excellent way to develop aerobic capacity through repeated anaerobic intervals. It seems that a work period of two to three minutes of at least 80 percent effort or above with one to three minutes of rest between the bouts will improve the cardio-pulmonary system most efficiently. Your overall work volume can be determined by the level of tolerance. An example we use for one of the interval days looks like this: 3 x 1 min @ 80%, rest = 1 min/3 x 2 mins @ 85-90%, rest = 2 mins/3 X 3 mins @ 90%, rest = 2 mins. This takes roughly 30 minutes.
- Develop general strength. We like to use compound exercises like squats, bench press, pulldowns... select your favorite multi-joint exercises. Again, an example looks like this: 4-5 exercises for 4-6RM x 4-6 sets with rest as needed. Basic but effective. Complete once per week.
- Power development is done with body weight and dumbbells. The BW stuff is completed with speed in mind: rope climb, chins, dips, push ups, one- to two-legged jumping, which leads into plyometrics. The DB work loads are moderate weights that can be moved for eight to 10 reps with speed. Use several sets until the movement starts to deteriorate (slow down) then stop. This should also be done once a week. This training can be looked at as more specific to your needs than the general strength.
- Circuit training is another excellent way to develop fatigue tolerance. Usually, we do this on whatever weight training machines are around. I try not to have more than eight machines. All of the exercises you did not do on the other days are done now. Complete two to three laps with 12 to 15 reps each machine. Stop at the end of each lap and drink or stretch for a few minutes to muster up another lap of fast moving from rep to rep and machine to machine. It can be a grueling workout.
Specific training really falls in the dojo or gym where you train. I like to use the swiss ball for balance and mid-section work, partner resistance for overall reaction drills and then bag work or skills work for your "thing." Everyone seems to have a different view on what is effective. My opinion, at this time, is do what your client wants to do and can do without harm or anxiety. Sometimes combative training is tough on the joints and the mind. Going through different techniques repetitively without being punished is an effective way to develop skills and get a workout. I leave this area up to you.
The only "weak" area for most combative people is trying to stay injury free. Specific conditioning needs are just doing them in a logical manner to avoid over training. Remember, your client does your workout but probably more training at his dojo. Balance is certainly a key element in this matter and life. Good luck!