Physical Preparation Muscle Assessment and Training

performed must be much more event-specific during this phase. Use primarily competitive skills and skill-elements in a controlled, yet challenging environment to prevent injury in the final weeks leading up to an event. Athletes can spar with safety equipment or by "handicapping" themselves. One example is to rotate opponents to keep them fresh. Another example of a handicap is to spar without using a favorite technique, which will force development of weaknesses.

Finally, in phase three it's time to maximize technical efficiency. It is established that high level endurance performance depends on a high VO2 max and a high lactate threshold. VO2 max sets the upper limit for sustainable work potential. The lactate threshold indicates how much of one's cardiovascular capacity can be used in a sustained effort. Multiplying VO2 max by lactate threshold provides a measure of the size of the "endurance engine." In sport, however, victory does not automatically go to the athlete with the biggest engine. Efficiency (or technical skill) is critical to maximizing performance capacity. Someone might have a VO2 max of 85 and a lactate threshold of 90%, but if, during a grappling session, precious energy is wasted by attempting techniques from poor positions of leverage, or an athlete gets caught in a neck crank, it s all for naught!

Of course, technical skill is something to work on all the time, but it must receive particular energy and attention during the late preparatory and early competitive periods. So again, it all goes back to the training factors pyramid discussed in Chapter One. Sport performance is based on technical preparation, which is based upon physical preparation. Just like strength and flexibility development, endurance training is a means to an end, not an end unto itself.

Flexibility Development

Martial artists generally need higher levels of joint flexibility than the general population. Despite this, many martial artists continue to use outdated methodologies in their quest to improve joint flexibility.

The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) offers the following definition: "Flexibility is your ability to flex, extend, or circumduct your body's joints through their intended full range of motion without a substantial decrement in limit strength."42

The term "flexibility" refers only to joints, and never to muscles or other soft tissues. The terms "loose," "supple," and "stretched," "extended," and "elongated" are more appropriate descriptions for these tissues.

Most martial artists typically tend to overemphasize flexibility training to the neglect of developing functional strength while in the stretched position. Significantly improving a joints range of motion without also improving the strength of the surrounding musculature (especially at it's "new" range of motion) can be an invitation for injury.

For example, when an individual has improved his or her flexibility (in a given joint or group of joints) to the point where an additional five degrees of motion exists, the affected muscles now have a reduced amount of overlap between the actin and myosin filaments, resulting in a substantial reduction in force output ability. For this reason, strength and flexibility training programs must occur concurrently.

Whenever human movement is discussed, terms such as "strength," "flexibility," "endurance," and "speed" are used for the purpose of identifying and describing various qualities of that movement. These qualities are isolated only for conceptual purposes. Please

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