The Science off Martial Art Training

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such as running, cycling, stair climbing, swimming, rope-skipping, and so forth. This aerobic foundation is what creates the necessary "machinery" which will serve to create a better anaerobic working capacity later in the cycle. In other words, as aerobic fitness improves, athletes are able to work harder and longer before reaching the lactate threshold.

When attempting to develop or improve aerobic capacity, training should take place between three and six days a week. The total duration of work in each session might be anywhere from ten minutes to an hour or more. Longer durations are inappropriate for martial artists, unless they expect their competitive event to require more than 30 to 45 minutes of continuous activity. The intensity of training should, by definition, be low (if it was high intensity, it would be anaerobic, not aerobic). Although many heart-rate formulas have been used with success, the age-old "talk test" is very accurate. If someone can carry on a conversation during the aerobic workout, the intensity is appropriate. If unable to talk, reduce the intensity. Save super-intense training for the anaerobic interval phase later in the training cycle. Remember, the goal here is not to raise the lactate threshold. Instead, athletes in this cycle are developing the foundation; the peak will be added later. One last point: while progressing through the macrocycle, the content of aerobic activities should gradually progress from a wide selection of different activities, to a smaller, more specific group of activities. For example, when establishing an aerobic base, one might cycle on Monday, swim on Tuesday, run on Wednesday, and so forth.

When it comes to aerobic training, "the more is better" philosophy of so many athletes is counterproductive, particularly with regards to strength and body composition, as the following findings suggest:

• According to a recent study published in Muscular Development magazine, muscle necrosis (tissue death) and inflammation can be observed in the calves of marathon runners seven days after a race.40

• According to Dr. Marc Breehl, a leading anaesthesiologist specializing in cardiac surgery, the enlarged hearts of aerobic athletes are weaker, not stronger than those with anaerobic backgrounds.41

So, the idea is to "get the most bangs for the buck" by doing as much aerobic training as it takes to maximize aerobic capacities, but also to stop when experiencing diminishing returns. Too much aerobic exercise, at too hard a pace, impairs strength training sessions and inhibits recovery from the training program.

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