A Fighter’s Workout Part One

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic

Written by Travis “the Gorilla” Thompson

We all want to be bigger, faster and stronger right? Isn’t that what is pounded into our heads, or at least for males since high school football? Well the truth is, you can’t peak in all three at once. In combat sports, the key is POWER not strength nor speed but the right combination of both. This can be supported through basic physics:


In the equation, mass is the same as strength and force represents velocity or speed. Consider the two extremes. Think of someone big and strong pushing somebody; it will not hurt nor leave a bruise. It will only off-balance the being for a moment. This example represents a large mass with minimal velocity. At the other end, consider a 65MPH gust of wind. This time the object is moving fast, but has minimal mass and again only off-balances but does not injure a being. Let us combine the two and use a baseball as our mass and set its velocity to 65MPH. Any volunteers want to go down to the batting cage and let the machine throw pitches at 65MPH at them? This is taking a mass, speeding it up in which case the power is increased as our volunteers’ bruises are going to demonstrate. So, what is the best type of exercise for combat sports?

First, let us clear up the discrepancy between anaerobic and aerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise is training at a higher intensity for shorter periods of time. It can include the training of the bodies various muscle groups as well as short bursts of cardiovascular training. Aerobic exercise is prolonged exercise such as running several miles at a moderate pace.

Aerobic vs Anaerobic Workout

Anaerobic training at the right intensity can increase aerobic levels but the reverse is not always true. Firstly, anaerobic training is not restricted to weights but does need a form of resistance. Circuit training can elevate ones heart rate increasing their cardiovascular system while building muscle at the same time. More popular today is High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT. HIIT is shorter work-outs that leave the subject feeling completely depleted by the end of their work-out due to the fast pace which elevates the heart rate and cardiovascular muscles while simultaneously building the beach body muscles.

On the other side, committing exclusively to aerobic exercises can be detrimental to your beach body muscles herein classified as: the core (upper/lower abs, oblique’s and, lower back), legs, chest, back, arms, shoulders and neck. Going back to the evolution theories, human bodies are adapted to hold fat over muscle for two important reasons. First, early humans would often have to go several days without eating therefore the body adapted to holding fat for such emergencies. Secondly, fat requires fewer calories to maintain than muscle mass does. For example, if we take two test subjects, one being a body builder the other being an average person. If they both consumed the same number of calories taken from the exact same foods in a day while engaging in identical exercise, the body builder will have burned significantly more calories throughout the day as the muscles expend significantly more calories. Doing extensive periods of aerobic cardio will cause the body to begin breaking down muscle tissue rather than fat. An optimal time frame for aerobic activity should be about 20-30 minutes at a challenging pace, never an hour if you want to maintain muscle mass. This can be adjusted depending on the individual’s goals. For MMA, workouts should focus on sprints over distance running. Our breed of athletes need to be able to go max effort for the duration of a competition. This can range from a five minute grappling match to 3×5 minute rounds of MMA totaling 15 minutes with 2 minutes of rest. Being able to run at 65% for 45 minutes to an hour is wasting a half hour or more of your day and breaking down your muscles. With this in mind, what should we do for cardio?