November 3, 2012 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Wellbeing 4

I know much of this post is already well known by a lot of people but following some personal experiences I thought it may be worth revisiting a few points.

Look at the actual application of strength and conditioning in combat sports/BJJ as the main example. We all want to be a strong munki, this is the obvious benefit that an appropriate and relevant strength and conditioning training can bring to a combat athlete as stated on the tin, there are the other aspects, like injury prevention, rehabilitation and psychological and mental focus.

As a simple Munki I’m just going to look at it very simplistically. So why have an actual program? A truly periodized program that has been needs assessed and is worked out with the athlete and if appropriate the athlete’s technical trainer it can only really be a benefit to them both. Recovery, quality of training, staying in one piece!

However going off personal experience and various forum posts I have read, it seems that in the UK the role of a strength and conditioning coach is a grey area and it appears a misunderstood and sometimes maligned aspect of training. I can understand this with the title of Strength & Conditioning Coach thrown around so much, almost as much as a used banana skin.

Every athlete wants to be faster, strike harder and hold their position, well the basis of this is being stronger. Not bigger, as like a bodybuilder, but stronger like a competitive weightlifter. Like combat athletes competitive weightlifters have weight categories too, but are able to lift way more than their own body weight in an explosive way.


Zoe Smith 58 kg Division, GB 2012 Weightlifting Squad – with 80 kg on the bar.

So why can’t the same principles be applied to combat athlete. They both need strength, speed and flexibility. (Studies done at the Montreal and

Barcelona Olympic games showed olympic weightlifters to be second only to gymnasts as a group in flexibility.) All very useful traits to a fighter.
Now you may be thinking this is an over simplistic view (remember simple Munki), but strength and conditioning is just about giving the athlete improved tools, which then allows them to be more effectively moulded by the sport specific technical training.

So how is this achieved? One essential component of the prescribed athletic enhancement program is the incorporation of appropriate levels of predetermined (per individual munki) levels of stress, yes I said stress!! Yes, physical training, working and life in general exerts stress on the body. Not just Mrs Munki shouting at me to tidy up.  Applying these stressors correctly and in an appropriate order is what benefits the athlete. This is why the strength and conditioning coach has to work with the athlete, so they can work within the athletes other stressors (technical training, work, real life).

The different levels of applied stress prescribed by the S & C coach are both crucial and necessary for the “adaptation” of the body to take place. This adaptation it what developers the athlete’s various physical (strength/power) qualities.

The original model of periodized training, was developed as part of the Eastern Bloc training in the 1960s however the adaptation process is derived from the “General Adaptation Syndrome” outlined by DR Hans Selye.

**SCIENCE WARNING** Just wanted to provide a warning as I drift off into some technical stuff.


Figure 1

For the athlete the model shown in Figure 1 starts with the initial Alarm Phase, which would be the application of an appropriately intense training stimulus, this counts as stress to the body (the progressive overload principle). This results in a disruption of the homeostasis (equilibrium) of the body, so initially the athlete’s performance will decrease. The body then responds to the applied stimulus (Resistance Phase) by recovering and repairing itself working its way back to the initial equilibrium (homeostasis). The Resistance Phase includes a period of “Supercompensation, where the body adapt’s to resist the stress more efficiently. This takes it above the previous baseline so it can better manage the initial intense overload should it occur again. So this is where the athlete’s performance will increase. The “Exhaustion” or “Detraining” Phase follows with a reduction to the body’s level of homeostasis. This could be due to continuing the intensity of stress for too long and not allowing appropriate in cycle recovery. ****End of Science Bit*****

The S&C practitioner has the responsibility to manage adaptation and incorporate the appropriate levels of programmed stress (exercises) to be performed by the athlete’s for whom they are responsible. To do this in a safe and controlled way, that does not impede their technical training and improves performance but also helps to prepare the athlete against training injuries. This is just a very short comment by an Old Munki, that I hope makes you think about your own training and possibly challenge any negative existing perceptions you may have about strength and conditioning and the specialist coaches.  I hope you found it interesting and it didn’t drive you bananas.injuries.

Foot Note

For a full explanation of the Hans Selye GAS principle you can go here