CONDITIONING has been an integral part of training for combat sports ever since there have been combat sports. As soon as the first combat athlete gassed – probably within the first minute or two of the fight no doubt – it quickly became obvious that any sort of hand-to-hand combat is incredibly physically grueLling and not easy to do for long. Because of this, combat athletes and coaches alike have long been searching for the most effective ways to get in better shape and ready to fight from bell to bell.
For countless years, one of the most relied-upon methods used by wrestlers, boxers and other combat athletes to accomplish this challenging task was good, old-fashioned roadwork. Everyone from Muhammad Ali to Aleksandr Karelin to Nick Diaz has been seen hitting the pavement and putting in their miles when getting ready for a fight.
In recent years, however, despite the obvious success of those who have used it in the past, a growing trend in martial arts circles has been to condemn any form of longer, slower-paced training as outdated, overrated and unnecessary. The typical argument used to support such statements is that combat sports are not long and slow events and so training to get in shape for them should not be long or slow either – this is the basic principle of specificity, coaches often say. Many have even claimed that anything other than high-intensity intervals are a waste of time and can lead to
detrimental decreases in speed and performance.