The 3 Principles of Strength & Conditioning for Combat Sports

By Ciaran O'Regan

Let’s face it, combat sports are nuts.

In choosing to partake in combat sports, we are willingly putting ourselves into positions in which our bodies are at great risk. We essentially prepare ourselves day in and day out to come out on top when we finally test our damage-inducing and avoidance capabilities against those of our opponents.

This element of health risk is not a bad thing. Rather, in my eyes, it is what makes combat sports such a powerful “vehicle for the development of your human potential”, to quote Joe Rogan.

The sheer intensity of what getting into a ring/cage entails, as well as the risks involved, are in my eyes what makes combat sports so special as they can really dial in your mindset and teach you a lot about yourself. The intensity and risk it what allows the development of very favourable psychological and physical traits.

A couple of these favourable psychological traits are extremely high levels of discipline and mental toughness. For some fighters though, their discipline and mental toughness can lead them to train in a way that may, in fact, be counter-productive to achieving peak performance on the only day it really fucking matters: competition day.

Fighters may choose training modalities and volumes that may not just lead to no actual performance improvement, but may actually result in injury either during their S&C work itself or in their martial arts training as a result of what they did in the gym or on the track.

This is why I want to lay out a really simple guideline of 3 principles of S&C program design that may help in viewing the role of a strength and conditioning program in the big picture.

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