Velocity Based Training for Combat Sports

Why training with velocity is the future of S&C for combat athletes! PART 1.

Every fighter wants to be the fastest, fitness, strongest and most powerful in their chosen discipline.

They want to be the fighter that can go the distance when needed, get the knock out when the time presents itself and maintain great their technique to look good putting on a show of skill.

Every coach wants the same, plus see the fighter perform at their best

Making all that happen is a fine balance of art (fighting) and science (strength and conditioning, nutrition and psychology).

All fighters want EVERYTHING right now, but in reality finding the balance, instilling the traits of a winner and improving the physiology of an athlete takes a long time. 

You can’t rush this process!

It is a process of learning what works, what doesn’t, testing, measuring, refining and fine tuning it all until you find the perfect mix of athletic improvements as a fighter grows in skills.


Fighters HATE Gyms!

“Lifting weight puts on weight”

“Too much bulk makes me slow”

“The more I weight the harder my weight cut will be!”

That’s just three excuses I have heard, and I have heard them all many, many times.

You're Right!

Lifting weight puts on weight… If you stimulate a hypertrophic response and train like a body builder for aesthetics over athleticism.

Too much bulk will make you slow…. if you lift slow and again stimulate the growth of slow twitch muscle fibres.

The more weight the harder the cut will be…. if you come in fat with low muscle mass, slowed metabolic function and a depleted fuel source from terrible fight camp nutrition.

Your cut will SUCK!

If you get your weights, nutrition and training wrong, you’ll be praying to make weight!

Weight training in the gym has incredible benefits to a fighter, lets list a few.

  • Greater lean muscle = improved resting metabolic rate (RMR) = more food to fuel you for performance
  • Increased muscle mass = reduced injury risks
  • Increased strength = increased ability to move a given weight (like your opponent) with less energy expended.
  • Greater power = increased ability to quickly produce force against said weight
  • Improved energy metabolism = increased efficiency of energy systems to produce repeatable efforts of strength, power, speed etc

I can’t see your bullshit excuses making much sense anymore, can you?

If you still have excuses, the above list could go on and on, but I don’t have time for that in this blog.

Hit me up via email if you have more excuse, because I bet I have heard it before and can point you in the right direction. 

The real problem here is a lack of understanding of what needs to be done in the gym to best prepare a fighter for athletic improvement.

One key to this complex equation of strength and conditioning for combat athletes is training in the gym with velocity.

Josh “KAMAKAZE” Kuhne. The bench throw is an amazing exercise for a fighter. When done correctly, it will improve punch speed and power!

What is velocity based training (VBT)?

Simply, VBT is monitoring the speed of the weight moved during the exercise in the gym.

Classically, weights programs in the gym are based on %’s of Rep Max or %RM.

Come in lift Xkg for so many reps, for however many sets and well get this result from the exercise prescribed.

The problem with this for fighters is, that you do not know how ready your athlete is to move that set weight, that many times for that amount of time.

Fighters inherently over-reach, over-train and are exhausted or aren’t far off burning out.

This is due to high work loads, high intensity, poor rest, low recovery and poor nutritional practices in many combat sports.

Now, if that fighters comes into the gym to perform a set weight, for a given reason. Let’s say we want our fighter to be faster.

Under the above conditions your effort against the weight will be decreased, the bar will slower to begin and slow further over the set as you induce peripheral (muscle) and central (neurological) fatigue.

This now goes against your main aim of the building speed in your fighter.

Instead as the bar speed reduces, the stimulus changes and so does the physiological adaptation in the athlete.

The slower the speed of the bar gets, the more it stimulates slow twitch muscle fibres, stimulates hypertrophy, lengthens the time of the set influencing a change in energy system demands and metabolic response.

Effectively giving you a completely different response to what you were looking for in the first place.

Do this for too long and it reinforces the belief that: “Lifting weight puts on weight” and “Too much bulk makes me slow”

Its not the gym’s fault, it’s the programming and monitoring.

You are using the wrong metric (weight) to measure improvements in performance.

No: 1 Aussie Flyweight Shannon “Turkish Delight” Ross in action. Shannon has been using VBT for years to amazing results.

You should be using velocity!

So your probably thinking, I’ll just drop my weights and move it faster!

Yes you could do that. But if your bar speed is too fast, again it will not deliver the outcome you want.

We all know what zone training is with heart rate (HR) right?

Train in this zone, get this response from your cardiovascular system. Polar, garmin, myzone are just a few brands in this wearable tech space to assist.

VBT is the same.

But instead of using HR to gauge output and effect, we can use velocity zones.

Stay Tuned for part 2 of our series on VBT for combat athletes!