Posts Tagged ‘fighting’

Living in Las Vegas, Nevada affords me many great opportunities, not the least of which is being smack dab in the middle of MMA’s epicenter.  Being a rabid fan of MMA, partaking in MMA training (Specifically Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu) and having the honor of working with many of the incredible MMA athletes (amateur as well as professional) gives me a multi-dimensional viewpoint when it comes to what works and doesn’t work with MMA conditioning training.  I am humble in my approach as I feel I am forever a student of the body and I would like to believe that is what helps me to achieve great success with my clients.  I don’t pretend to know it all, but rather I voraciously pursue furthering my knowledge base by means of reading cutting edge scientific journals, attending as many relevant certifications as possible and just flat out keeping an open mind.

mma_by_henster311-d367sda

Something I see happen all too often, is a random trainer calling himself a “MMA conditioning specialist” with little to no practical knowledge or experience in the field.  Training Mrs. Smith to lose 10 pounds of fat is ever so slightly different from training an elite athlete to perform at his/her peak in competition.  (Did my sarcasm show through just now?) While a lot of these trainers might have good intentions, they are sadly setting themselves and their clients up for failure by applying antiquated belief systems and training paradigms to what might be considered the single most challenging athletic endeavor out there: MMA.  These athletes need a flowing, balanced blend of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance that is tailored to their own unique physiology in such a manner that the outcome is a harmonious dynamic of purposeful movement that does the “Art” portion of the moniker justice.

A true professional MMA conditioning coach approaches their athlete with a goal of improving their structural and movement based efficiency, facilitating effective improvement in the goal based aspects of the program and all the while minimizing opportunities for injury and/or overtraining.  This requires a thorough grasp of exercise science and the ability to apply it in an individualized manner that is both progressive and periodized as needed to accommodate the athlete’s goals. The balancing of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance is of paramount importance to the MMA athlete’s success.

There are three main steps to this process:

  1. Assess the athlete for goal orientation as well as physical needs/capabilities
  2. Design the program based around the information provided by the assessments
  3. Instruct the athlete utilizing the well-designed program

If you or someone you know is thinking about working with a MMA conditioning coach, make sure that coach can answer the following questions:

  • What muscles groups should be trained? Why?
  • What basic energy sources (e.g. anaerobic, aerobic) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the types of muscle action(s) (e.g. isometric, eccentric) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the primary sites of injury for the particular sport or activity, and what is the prior injury history of the individual?
  • What are the specific needs for muscle strength, hypertrophy, endurance, power, speed, agility, flexibility, body composition, balance and coordination?

A true professional will be able to answer all these and more.

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I suppose if you are dressing up for Halloween as Bane, it might be a good idea to strap on one of those fancy MMA high altitude simulating masks, but if it doesn’t happen to be October 31st, there is a pretty good chance all that mask is doing is making you look like an idiot.  All the rage these days, training masks that have been popularized by the psuedo-science laden MMA magazine advertisements and Facebook ads alike, don’t hold up to the stringent demands of real science. Let me drop some actual knowledge on you about these  masks so you can better choose your workout gear going forward and hopefully avoid those nasty looks people keep giving you..

bane mma mask

What do these masks promise to do for the unsuspecting user?

  • Improved oxygen uptake
  • Improved anaerobic capacity
  • Increased lung capacity

The claims by the manufacturers of these masks are loosely attributed to the mask simulating training at high altitude (because the breathing restriction aspect of the mask allows less air/less oxygen in each breath) which allegedly causes the user to have lung efficiency adaptations.

So now we know what the claims are, let’s take a look at the science to see if it supports these claims.

  • Improved oxygen uptake – This one falls apart REAL quickly. The basic principle of the oxygen deprivation mask is riding the tails of LLTH (Live Low Train High) principle…. i.e. you wear the mask only when you are training to simulate altitude. This has been proven false. In the study, “Is Hypoxia Training Good for Muscles and Exercise Performance?” authors Vogt and Hoppeler clear this up by stating, “… A common feature of virtually all studies on “live low–train high” is that hypoxic exposure only during exercise sessions is not sufficient to induce changes in hematologic parameters. Hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations usually remain unchanged with “live low–train high.”  Next…
  •  Improved anaerobic capacity – In the study “Effects of intermittent hypoxic training on aerobic and anaerobic performance. ” authors Cable and Morton found that hypoxic training (using a mask or training at altitude) had, “no enhanced effect on the degree of improvement in either aerobic or anaerobic performance.”  Damn you science!!!
  • Increased lung capacity – All right, last chance here training masks! On the third and final chance at bat, the training masks actually deliver….well…kinda.  It is true that there indeed is an increase in lung capacity due to the restricted nature of these masks, however, that increase did NOT lead to an increase in any of the important aspects of performance such as VO2MAX or anaerobic capacity. Darn!

mma mask fitness

While it might feel like I am here to bash the entire genre of altitude simulation/MMA training masks, the reality is I am just trying to be a clear voice of science founded reason on the topic.  I think it is important to note that while the above info beats down the mask’s ability to back up the claims of the marketers out there, it does actually have a very viable use for MMA athletes.  Wearing these masks makes it hard to breath and “smothers” the user so that they have to adapt psychologically to wearing them and thereby become prepared should an opponent block their breathing in a fight(this is legal to do in MMA) it won’t have as dramatic of an impact on the training mask user.  See, one good point after all!

If you don’t mind looking like a dork and you want to improve your mental game for MMA, then a training mask might be the thing for you!  Everyone else, keep on doing whatever you were already doing…

I have been working in the fitness industry for nearly 20 years and have always worked hard to seek out the best science founded information with which to develop both my clients’ and my own workouts.  One of the confusing topics I have waded through many times over is the ongoing debate in the strength training and bodybuilding communities as to whether a single set of an exercise is superior for building size and strength than training with multiple sets.  I have always worked out using multiple sets and gotten great results from that type of training.  I am, however, not so short sighted as to assume that because I got great results that it was “causation” instead of merely “correlation.”

I hear it all of the time:

Client“Jason, I started doing crunches and I lost 3 inches off my midsection!”

Me:      “Did you also change your food intake and your cardio training?”

Client“Well, yes, but it was the crunches that made me lose the inches!”

The inherent demand for logic and reason that my brain imposes on me precludes me from formulating a steadfast opinion without having done my due diligence in research first. So I offer you a look at the some of the information I have used to formulate my opinion on this much talked about debate.

The idea that a single set of an exercise might be more effective than traditional multiple set training was first popularized in the 1970s by Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus strength training equipment. It was Jones’ belief that a single set per exercise taken to the point of failure was the most effective type of training for improving both strength and size. This type of training is often called HIT or High Intensity Training and was made famous by the late Mike Mentzer (He called it Heavy Duty Training) and 6 time MR Olympia Dorian Yates. In a series of published articles circulated throughout the strength and bodybuilding communities, Arthur Jones wrote about what he believed to be the superiority of single set training.  This subsequently sparked heated debate on the issue that continues to this day.

The debate drew the attention of exercise physiologists around the world, resulting in a growing body of research data examining the issue. However, despite an abundance of research studies physiologists were not able to resolve the issue. The main problem was that the research was equivocal; some studies supported the idea that a single set was more effective than multiple sets, other studies found multiple sets produced greater increases in strength and size, but most studies found no statistical difference in results between the two training methods. In short, there was no consensus in the research.

In general most research indicates that multiple sets tend to produce somewhat larger increases in strength and size. However, the issue is that the difference in results between the two has not been large enough to definitively say that multiple sets are superior. On average multiple sets produce a few percentage points greater increase in strength and size, usually in the range of 2-10%, but this difference has not been large enough to be statistically significant (statistical significance is important to show that the results are not just a matter of chance).

With research unable to declare a clear winner the debate continued unabated. Despite the lack of consensus the physiological community generally accepted multiple sets to be superior to a single set, which drew some very vocal and deserved criticism from a few scientists.

In response to these critics a number of “meta-analyses” have been conducted by researchers in recent years to see if the conflict could be resolved. A meta-analysis is essentially a study of studies. It is a way of analyzing the results of multiple studies on the same research hypothesis to see what can be learned by looking at the entire body of research data as a whole versus the examining the results from individual studies. A meta-analysis can often more powerfully estimate the “effect size”, the true difference in results, in comparison to the smaller “effect size” of a single study. Measuring “statistical significance” is different than measuring “effect size”. The advantage of measuring effect size via a meta-analysis is that it may reveal actual differences that were missed by examining the statistical significance of the results of the individual studies comprising the meta-analysis.

Let’s have a look at these meta-analyses and see if they have finally put to rest the whole single set versus multiple set debate.

Strength Studies

The first meta-analysis was conducted by Rhea et al (4) in 2002. Examining 16 studies Rhea reported that 3-set training produced superior results to 1-set training. In 2003 Rhea et al (5) conducted another meta-analysis, this time of 140 published studies, and concluded that 4-sets produced maximum strength gains in both trained and untrained subjects. Both of these studies received some criticism due to the criteria Rhea used for study inclusion and also for his statistical analysis methods.

A third meta-analysis conducted in 2004 by Wolfe et al (6) of 16 studies found multiple sets to be superior to a single set in trained subjects and in programs lasting 17 to 40 weeks. As in both Rhea’s meta-analyses, Wolfe’s study received some criticism for his statistical analysis methods.

Aware of the criticism of the previous three analyses, Kreiger (3) conducted a fourth meta-analysis in 2009 specifically designed to improve upon the limitations of the previous studies. He examined 14 studies with 92 effect sizes measured across 30 groups of subjects comparing 1-set, 2-3 sets, and 4-6 sets. He found that 2-3 sets produced 46% greater increases in strength than 1 set in both trained and untrained subjects. Interestingly, he also found no difference in results between 2-3 sets and 4-6 sets. Performing more than 3 sets did not produce a greater increase in strength. Kreiger’s study strengthens the findings of both of Rhea’s previous studies. There were some differences between Wolfe’s findings and Kreiger’s findings in terms of the effect of volume of training but Kreiger’s study also strengthened Wolfe’s finding that multiple sets produce superior results to a single set. Finally, a 2010 meta-analysis of 72 studies by Frohlich et al (1) found single set training to be the equal of multiple set training for short training periods but multi-set training to be superior over longer periods of training.

In summary, there is now a consensus in the research literature supporting the idea that multiple sets are superior to single set training for increasing muscular strength.

Size Analysis

All of the meta-analyses cited above examined differences in strength gains; none examined the issue as to whether single or multiple-set training elicited greater muscle size gains. Increases in strength are caused by both neural and hypertrophic changes and it is possible that the superiority of multiple sets for increasing strength might be due to a greater neural effect and not hypertrophy. It is possible that multiple sets might be superior for increasing strength but not size so this issue needed to be resolved also.

In 2010 Kreiger (2) addressed this topic with another meta-analysis designed to determine if multiple set training elicited greater muscle hypertrophy compared to single set training. Examining 55 effect sizes across 19 groups in 8 studies he found that multiple sets produced 40% higher increases in muscle hypertrophy regardless of the training status of the subjects or the length of the training program. Kreiger also concluded that the 46% greater increase in strength from multiple sets revealed in his earlier meta-analysis was largely due to greater hypertrophy and not neural factors.

Interestingly, while Kreiger found no significant difference in hypertrophy from 2-3 sets or 4-6 sets he did find a trend for greater hypertrophy with 4 or more sets. One weakness of his analysis was a limited number of studies that utilized 4 or more sets so he stated that no definitive conclusion could be reached as to whether 4 or more sets was superior to 2-3 sets for inducing muscle growth.

Summary

The debate as to the superiority of single versus multiple set training has been on-going for around 40 years. High intensity training (HIT), originally popularized by Arthur Jones in the 1970s, promotes the idea that single set training is superior to traditional multi-set training for improving both strength and size. Until now research on this topic has been equivocal and unable to resolve the dispute. However, six recent meta-analyses have confirmed that multiple set training produces greater increases in both strength and size than single set training in both trained and untrained subjects.

References:

1. Frohlich M, Emrich E, Shmidtbleicher D., Outcome effects of single-set versus multiple-set training- an advanced replication study. Res Sports Med. 2010 Jul;18(3): 157-75

2. Kreiger JW., Single vs. multiple sets of resistance exercise for muscle hypertrophy: a meta-analysis. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Apr; 24(4): 1150-9

3. Kreiger JW., Single versus multiple sets of resistance exercise: a meta-regression. J Strength Cond Res. 2009 Sep; 23(6): 1890-901.

4. Rhea, MR, Alvar, BA, and Burkett, LN. Single versus multiple sets for strength: a meta-analysis to address the controversy. Res Q Exerc Sport 73: 485–488, 2002.

5. Rhea, MR, Alvar, BA, Burkett, LN, and Ball, SD. A meta-analysis to determine the dose response for strength development. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 456–464, 2003.

6. Wolfe, BL, Lemura, LM, and Cole, PJ. Quantitative analysis of single- vs. multiple set programs in resistance training. J Strength Cond Res 18: 35–47, 2004.

7.  Trainingscience.net  Single set versus multiple sets – New research 2012

 

Living in Las Vegas, Nevada affords me many great opportunities, not the least of which is being smack dab in the middle of MMA’s epicenter.  Being a rabid fan of MMA, partaking in MMA training (Specifically Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu) and having the honor of working with many of the incredible MMA athletes (amateur as well as professional) gives me a multi-dimensional viewpoint when it comes to what works and doesn’t work with MMA conditioning training.  I am humble in my approach as I feel I am forever a student of the body and I would like to believe that is what helps me to achieve great success with my clients.  I don’t pretend to know it all, but rather I voraciously pursue furthering my knowledge base by means of reading cutting edge scientific journals, attending as many relevant certifications as possible and just flat out keeping an open mind.

Something I see happen all too often, is a random trainer calling himself a “MMA conditioning specialist” with little to no practical knowledge or experience in the field.  Training Mrs. Smith to lose 10 pounds of fat is ever so slightly different from training an elite athlete to perform at his/her peak in competition.  (Did my sarcasm show through just now?) While a lot of these trainers might have good intentions, they are sadly setting themselves and their clients up for failure by applying antiquated belief systems and training paradigms to what might be considered the single most challenging athletic endeavor out there: MMA.  These athletes need a flowing, balanced blend of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance that is tailored to their own unique physiology in such a manner that the outcome is a harmonious dynamic of purposeful movement that does the “Art” portion of the moniker justice.

A true professional MMA conditioning coach approaches their athlete with a goal of improving their structural and movement based efficiency, facilitating effective improvement in the goal based aspects of the program and all the while minimizing opportunities for injury and/or overtraining.  This requires a thorough grasp of exercise science and the ability to apply it in an individualized manner that is both progressive and periodized as needed to accommodate the athlete’s goals. The balancing of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance is of paramount importance to the MMA athlete’s success.

There are three main steps to this process:

  1. Assess the athlete for goal orientation as well as physical needs/capabilities
  2. Design the program based around the information provided by the assessments
  3. Instruct the athlete utilizing the well-designed program

If you or someone you know is thinking about working with a MMA conditioning coach, make sure that coach can answer the following questions:

  • What muscles groups should be trained? Why?
  • What basic energy sources (e.g. anaerobic, aerobic) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the types of muscle action(s) (e.g. isometric, eccentric) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the primary sites of injury for the particular sport or activity, and what is the prior injury history of the individual?
  • What are the specific needs for muscle strength, hypertrophy, endurance, power, speed, agility, flexibility, body composition, balance and coordination?

A true professional will be able to answer all these and more.