FSB Step 3: Athletic Resistance Training

The Fight Shape Blueprint

Step 3 of 6: Athletic Resistance Training

When it comes to resistance training what most people know comes from the world of bodybuilding and unfortunately bodybuilding was not designed for athletes – just for having big muscles for people to gawk at.

When you train like an athlete, don’t expect to look like a bodybuilder.


If you’re cool with this, what you can expect is in increased performance on the mats and in the cage and an efficient, lean physique not a bulky slow inflexible body.

To train like an athlete you need to take into consideration 3 key concepts:

  1. The BIOMOTOR abilities relevant your sport
  2. The fundamental MOVEMENT PATTERNS
  3. FOCUSED training phases

Athletic Resistance Training Component #1
The BIOMOTOR Abilities

The term biomotor abilities was first coined by legendary strength coach Tudor Bompa who also brought the concept of Periodization to the Western world from what was formerly known as the Soviet Union.

In total, there are 8 biomotor abilities:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Coordination
  3. Strength
  4. Power
  5. Speed
  6. Endurance
  7. Balance
  8. Agility

The key to effective resistance training is spending the proper amount of time using the right exercises and methods in the Biomotor abilities important to your sport.

Mixed martial arts requires high levels of all of the above while martial arts and combat sports such as grappling, wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu require more strength and strength-endurance, while striking arts like boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai and karate requires more speed, power and flexibility.

So it’s all about choosing the right exercises and putting them together into a program that covers the Biomotor abilities you need to get in top fight shape.

Athletic Resistance Training Component #2
The Fundamental Movement Patterns

The movement patterns (MPs) are a concept first talked about by Paul Chek and they consist of 7 fundamental movements that make up pretty much every movement we can perform as humans:

  1. Squat
  2. Bend
  3. Lunge
  4. Twist
  5. Push
  6. Pull
  7. Gait


The key to ATHLETIC resistance training is to focus on these movements, versus isolation movements that gained popularity due to bodybuilding.

Typical movements in sport (and life) rarely occur at one joint in one plane of motion;  most techniques require multiple joint movements in 2 or all 3 planes of motion.

Picture throwing a simple right cross - your hips and core rotate, your shoulder flexes and your whole arm rotates - a little bit more going on than a tricep kickback or preacher curl!

Now don't get me wrong - isolation movements are still useful in activating weak or inhibited muscle groups, in fact, they're better than compound movements when rehab and activation is the goal.

But unless that particular movement is relevant to your sport, you’re better served focusing on the MPs, which are all about compound movements like Squats, Deadlifts, Pullups, Pushups and Lunges.

Gait is anything cyclic like walking, running, or for martial artists, shuffle steps, and the Kick pattern is just that – any exercise or movement that looks like throwing a kick.

Focus on these movements and you'll get the most bang for your buck when you train, especially when you combine these first two concepts with the 3rd...

Athletic Resistance Training Component #3
Focused Training Phases

If you’re short on time, it’s tempting to try and train everything all in one workout, including strength, endurance, power and speed.

While amateur trainers promote workouts that say you can get all of these things in a single workout, they’re leading you astray [or, they're lying to you, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt].

While doing workouts like this may get you results for a period of time, you WILL hit a plateau.

Unless you’re a beginner, the only way to make consistent gains is through Focused Training Phases.

Let me guide you through this graph to illustrate the benefits of this approach:


In this example, the athlete, let’s call him Mike, starts off with ENDURANCE being his strongest area of fitness.

Because of this, the best area to focus on is STRENGTH.

The reason why he shouldn’t start with POWER is because strength, is the foundation for power, based on the mathematical equation for power:

Power = Force (Strength) x Velocity (Speed)

Once Mike builds a good base level of strength, he then moves to power.

What happens next?

Well, Mike then does an endurance phase and because he’s already built up strength and power, he’s able to endure stronger and more explosive movements.

This is how you develop the holy grail of martial arts fitness: POWER ENDURANCE.

This is the absolute best time to use circuit training with exercises specific to your sport (we'll cover this in the next step where we'll talk conditioning).

Here’s the BEST PART of using Focused Training Phases:

Training like this will allow you to continue to make gains over the long-term while simultaneously minimizing the amount of time you have to spend each week working out because you’re NOT trying to fit everything in.

For most, 4 weeks is the ideal amount of time to spend in each phase to continue to make gains.

And a nice psychological side effect – 4 week blocks keep your workouts interesting since you’re not doing the same workout all the time and you can look forward to a new workout every month in addition to consistently higher performance and fewer overuse injuries.

If you're a pro fighter or competitive athlete, strength and conditioning it's easy to get motivated for your S&C workouts because you know they'll help you perform.

But for the rest of us, a little bit of variety helps keep training fun because there's always a new challenge and it makes it much easier to stay consistent, which is the key to long-term results.


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