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Abstract

The aim of the study was: 1. to evaluate the effects of conditioning training on body build and physical fitness in elite mixed martial athletes, 2. to investigate the training load structure and assess body build as well as the physiological profile of mixed martial arts athletes. Fifteen MMA male athletes (body mass: 79.8 ± 3.9 kg; body height: 178.7 ± 7.9 cm; body fat: 13.4 ± 1.6%) were involved in the study. The average training experience of athletes equalled 11 ± 1.1 years. Body composition, upper limb peak anaerobic power and aerobic performance were assessed before and after the preparatory phase. During each evaluation, athletes underwent two stress tests: the Wingate test for the upper limbs (upper limb anaerobic peak power measurement) and the graded exercise test until volitional exhaustion (maximal oxygen uptake measurement and second ventilatory threshold determination). Training means were investigated for the workload type, intensity and exercise metabolism. In the follow-up, body fat mass decreased, while anaerobic peak power and aerobic performance improved. Improvement in the time to obtain and maintain peak power in the upper limbs was noted. Training periodization resulted in advantageous body composition changes and improved physical fitness of the MMA athletes.
Journal of Human Kinetics volume 70/2019, 223-231 DOI: 10.2478/hukin-2019-0033 223
Section III – Sports Training
1 - Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, University of Physical Education, Cracow,
Poland.
2 - Department of Cosmetology, Faculty of Rehabilitation, University of Physical Education, Cracow, Poland.
Authors submitted their contribution to the article to the editorial board.
Accepted for printing in the Journal of Human Kinetics vol. 70/2019 in December 2019.
The Effects of Conditioning Training on Body Build, Aerobic
and Anaerobic Performance in Elite Mixed Martial Arts Athletes
by
Łukasz Tota1, Wanda Pilch2, Anna Piotrowska2, Marcin Maciejczyk1
The aim of the study was: 1. to evaluate the effects of conditioning training on body build and physical fitness
in elite mixed martial athletes, 2. to investigate the training load structure and assess body build as well as the
physiological profile of mixed martial arts athletes. Fifteen MMA male athletes (body mass: 79.8 ± 3.9 kg; body height:
178.7 ± 7.9 cm; body fat: 13.4 ± 1.6%) were involved in the study. The average training experience of athletes equalled
11 ± 1.1 years. Body composition, upper limb peak anaerobic power and aerobic performance were assessed before and
after the preparatory phase. During each evaluation, athletes underwent two stress tests: the Wingate test for the upper
limbs (upper limb anaerobic peak power measurement) and the graded exercise test until volitional exhaustion
(maximal oxygen uptake measurement and second ventilatory threshold determination). Training means were
investigated for the workload type, intensity and exercise metabolism. In the follow-up, body fat mass decreased, while
anaerobic peak power and aerobic performance improved. Improvement in the time to obtain and maintain peak power
in the upper limbs was noted. Training periodization resulted in advantageous body composition changes and improved
physical fitness of the MMA athletes.
Key words: performance, physical fitness, aerobic capacity, anaerobic power.
Introduction
The popularity of mixed martial arts
(MMA) in recent years has aroused much interest
in training and physical fitness evaluation for this
sport discipline. Periodization of the training
system in MMA is characterized by the
complexity of developing speed-strength and
endurance abilities, as well as technical and
tactical skills (Gronek et al., 2015). The control and
monitoring of physiological indices with
consideration of the implemented training loads
allow to indicate the current level of endurance
and speed-strength abilities, and, at the same
time, to adjust training loads to the athlete’s
sports potential (Alm and Ji-Guo, 2013; Amtmann
et al., 2008; Pałka et al., 2010; Tota et al., 2014;
Gołaś et al., 2017 ).
Despite the growing popularity of MMA,
there is still no uniform training system which
could serve coaches and instructors as an
indicator when planning and preparing specific
training loads (Lahti, 2016). For the optimal
preparation of an athlete, whose fight most often
requires 3–5 rounds, 5 minutes each, with 60-s rest
intervals between the rounds, sports training
must include balanced development of aerobic
and anaerobic fitness, with reference to both the
upper and lower limbs (Amtmann et al., 2008;
Bounty et al., 2011). The complexity of the MMA
training system, considering technical, tactical and
capacity-related issues, is very challenging for the
coaches.
To the best of our knowledge, there are no
studies that attempted to broadly characterize the
profile of MMA athletes. In previous studies (Alm
and Ji-Guo, 2013; Braswell et al., 2010; Schick et
al., 2010), the physiological profile and body build
of MMA athletes were assessed among small
224 The effects of conditioning training on body build, aerobic and anaerobic performance
Journal of Human Kinetics - volume 70/2019 http://www.johk.pl
sample sizes and only in single measurements;
these, however, did not analyse the implemented
training loads. In this paper, not only the
physiological profile and body build, but also the
training loads of elite Polish MMA athletes were
analysed. The paper also presents the effects of
implemented training on physical fitness of MMA
athletes. The aim of our study was to investigate
training loads during a 14-week training period,
as well as to assess body build and the
physiological profile of MMA athletes.
Methods
Ethical considerations
The design of the study was approved by
the ethical committee of the regional medical
chamber. The participants were informed of the
objectives of research, and provided their written
informed consent to participate in the study. They
underwent proper medical examinations, which
was one of the inclusion criterion for the stress
tests. The treadmill tests were performed under
the constant supervision of a physician.
Study design
Anthropometric measurements and stress
tests were performed at the beginning and at the
end of the preparatory period regarding a fight
scheduled for 3 rounds, 5 minutes each. The
preparatory period lasted 14 weeks.
Stress tests and somatic measurements
were carried out twice in the course of a training
season: at the beginning of the preparatory period
(before training) and after the completion of that
period. During each evaluation, athletes
underwent two stress tests: the Wingate test for
the upper limbs (upper limb anaerobic peak
power measurement) and the graded exercise test
until volitional exhaustion (maximal oxygen
uptake measurement and second ventilatory
threshold determination). The stress tests were
carried out with a 1-day rest in-between,
beginning with the Wingate test. Training loads
implemented by the athletes were registered
during the 14-week training period.
Participants
A total of 15 MMA male athletes were
involved in the study. The average training
experience of the athletes equalled 11 ± 1.1 years.
The participants were competitors from, among
others, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the
Pro MMA Challenge, the Martial Arts
Confrontation, MMA Attack 3, Fight Exclusive
Night and Fight Club Berlin.
Anthropometric measurements
The following anthropometric
measurements were taken: body height, body
mass, fat mass and lean body mass. Body mass
and composition were established using the
method of bioelectrical impedance, with a body
composition analyser (IOI 353, Jawon Medical,
Korea), whereas body height was assessed using a
Martin type (USA) anthropometer with 1 mm
accuracy.
Graded exercise test
This test, performed on a treadmill
(Saturn 250/100R, h/p/Cosmos, Germany),
allowed to determine maximal oxygen uptake
(VO2max) and the second ventilatory threshold
(VT2). The effort started with a 4-min warm-up at
a speed of 8 km·h–1 and the deck inclination of 1°.
Then, running speed was increased by 1 km·h–1
every 2 min. The trial was performed until the
athlete reported volitional exhaustion and refused
to continue the test.
During the test, the following variables
were registered using an ergospirometer (START
2000M, MES, Poland): pulmonary ventilation, the
percentage of carbon dioxide in exhaled air,
oxygen uptake, carbon dioxide production, a
respiratory exchange ratio and ventilatory
equivalent to carbon dioxide. For heart rate (HR)
measurements, a pulsometer (Suunto Ambit 4,
Finland) was used.
In order to determine the VT2 value,
changes in respiratory indices were analysed
along with the increase in work intensity. The
criteria for VT2 determination were as follows: a)
the percentage of CO2 in exhaled air reached its
maximal value and then started to decrease; b) the
ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide reached
its minimal value and then began to increase; c)
beyond the VT2, a non-linear longer increase in
pulmonary ventilation was observed (Bhambhani
and Singh, 1985; Binder et al., 2008). The highest
reported VO2max was assumed as VO2max.
The Wingate Test for upper limbs
The purpose of the test was to measure
anaerobic peak power of the upper limbs. The
Wingate Test in the 20-s version was performed
with a load of 4.5% of body mass (Bar-Or, 1987).
Before the test, participants performed a 5-min
warm-up on a cycloergometer with a load of 1 kg;
by Łukasz Tota et al. 225
© Editorial Committee of Journal of Human Kinetics
the pedalling rate during the warm-up equalled
60 rev/min. After the 2nd and the 4th minute of the
warm-up, athletes completed two 3-s maximal
accelerations, and then went back to the former
pedalling rate of 60 rev/min. The proper test was
accomplished 2 min after the warm-up. The
participants were instructed to reach the maximal
pedalling rate as fast as possible and then
maintain it for as long as possible. The test was
carried out on a specially adapted cycloergometer
(Monark 834E, Sweden), equipped with an
instrument connected to a PC that measured the
time of each single revolution. The ergometer was
positioned on a special stand so that the level of
the connecting rod axis was at the height of the
seated participant’s shoulders. The ergometer
pedals were replaced with handles used for the
upper limbs. The distance between the chest and
the handles was adjusted in such a way as to
allow the elbow joint to remain in slight flexion at
maximal extension. The participant’s trunk was
stabilized for the duration of the test. The applied
software (MCE 5.2, JBA Staniak, Poland) allowed
to register the following indices: mean anaerobic
power (MP), total work (TW), peak anaerobic
power (PP), time to obtain peak anaerobic power
(TOPP) and time of maintaining peak anaerobic
power (TMPP).
Implemented training characteristics
Analysis of training loads was performed
on the basis of training records provided by
athletes and coaches. Training intensity was
monitored using a pulsometer (Suunto Ambit 4,
Finland). Training loads were assessed by
methods of training-load reporting, taking
training means applied in martial arts into
account (Amtmann, 2004; Bounty et al., 2011;
Lachlan et al., 2013; Lahti, 2016). In the paper, data
referring to specific training load characteristics
were summarized in separate 7-day microcycles,
including 8 training units each with 2 sessions on
Monday and Friday and 1 day off (Sunday)
Within each microcycle, to facilitate recovery in
athletes, a massage and a dry sauna were used
(Saturday).
The intensity zones were determined in
accordance with the schedule by Rooney (2008)
and a modification by Tota et al. (2014) (Table 2).
Endurance training was implemented
with heart rates individually determined on the
basis of the results obtained in the graded exercise
test: below VT2 (below HR at VT2), at the VT2 level
(HR at VT2 ± 3 beats·min–1) and above VT2 (above
HR at VT2). In strength and power training
implemented in the subsequent microcycles, the
load was also individualized and adjusted to the
one repetition maximum of each athlete (1RM).
Specific training means were divided
according to the workout type. In data collection,
the following types were differentiated: a) a
general workout (including running), b) a specific
workout, i.e. exercises dedicated to specific
fighting styles (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai,
wrestling, sambo, judo, kickboxing); and c) a pre-
competitive workout, consisting of the mentioned
style techniques, as well as learning and
improving positions: strikes, takedowns, and
tapouts.
In the division of training means, work
intensity (exercise metabolism) was also taken
into account. A detailed description of the
implemented training is presented in Table 3.
Stretching exercises were not included in
the report on the implemented training loads as
they constituted an integral part of the warm-up
and cool down.
Statistical analysis and presentation of results
The results of the study are presented as
arithmetical means and standard deviations. The
consistency of distribution regarding the assessed
indices with normal distribution was investigated
with the Shapiro-Wilk test. Changes in the
assessed somatic and physiological indices were
evaluated using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
Statistical analysis of the results was performed
using Statistica 10.0 software (StatSoft) for
Windows.
The differences in all the analysed indices
were considered statistically significant at the
level of p < 0.05.
Results
After the 14-week training period,
advantageous changes were observed in body
mass and composition, as well as in indices
characterizing aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Body
mass of athletes decreased by about 2.7 kg (from
79.8 ± 9.9 to 77.1 ± 6.8 kg; p = 0.03) in the follow-up
period (Table 3).
Following the preparatory period, VO2max
significantly improved during the graded exercise
test (from 55.1 ± 4.1 to 59.7 ± 6.0 mL·kg–1·min–1; p <
226 The effects of conditioning training on body build, aerobic and anaerobic performance
Journal of Human Kinetics - volume 70/2019 http://www.johk.pl
0.001). Work intensity at VT2 also increased (from
77.3 ± 6.2 to 86.9 ± 5.7%VO2max; p < 0.001). After 14
weeks of the preparatory period, anaerobic peak
power increased relatively to body mass (p <
0.001), with shortened TOPP and prolonged
TMPP. The detailed changes in somatic and
physiological variables during the follow-up are
presented in Table 3.
During the 14-week preparation phase,
the study participants completed 112 training
units. Their total duration equalled 167.1 hours,
including 51% for aerobic, 22.4% for aerobic-
anaerobic, 16.2% for anaerobic lactic and 10.4% for
anaerobic alactic energy metabolism. Table 5
presents a detailed analysis of the training loads
during the 14-week study period.
Table 1
Intensity of reported training loads
Range of intensity Energy system Percentage of
maximum capability
Duration (min:s)
1 Aerobic 80 3:00
2 Aerobic-anaerobic 81–90 1:30–2:59
3 Anaerobic lactic
91–100 0:11–1:29
4 Anaerobic alactic 0:10
Table 2
Changes of chosen somatic and physiological indices in the studied Mixed Martial Arts athletes.
Somatic indices
Index Before After p
BM (kg) 79.8 ± 3.9 77.1 ± 3.1 p=0.03
BH (cm) 178.7 ± 7.9
LBM (kg) 69.1 ± 3.7 68.9 ± 3.2 p=0.18
FM (kg) 10.7 ± 1.5 8.3 ± 1.1 p<0.001
F (%) 13.4 ± 1.6 10.8 ± 1.2 p<0.001
Aerobic performance
Before After
p Before After p
max max VT2 VT2
t (min) 19.1 ± 1.5 19.7 ± 1.0 p=0.91 10.1 ± 1.0 12.0 ± 0.7 p=0.80
v (km·h–1) 15.7 ± 0.8 16.2 ± 0.7 p=0.03 11.0 ± 0.6 12.0 ± 0.4 p=0.49
HR (beats·min–1) 182 ± 6.2 182 ± 6.5 p=0.55 153.8 ± 8.2 164.0 ± 5.0 p=0.01
VO2max (L·min–1) 4.4 ± 0.2 4.6 ± 0.3 p=0.04 3.4 ± 0.6 4.0 ± 0.6 p=0.11
VO2max (mL·kg–1·min–1) 55.1 ± 4.1 59.7 ± 6.0 p<0.001 42.6 ± 3.3 51.9 ± 3.5 p<0.001
VE (L·min–1) 142.0 ± 19.4 147.5 ± 17.2 p<0.001 75.1 ± 14.2 94.2 ± 16.0 p<0.001
%VO2max-- 77.3 ± 6.2 86.9 ± 5.7 p<0.001
%HRmax-- 84.3 ± 2.9 90.0 ± 2.4 p<0.001
Distance (m) 3787.3 ± 228.9 3874.7 ± 172.4 p=0.13 – –
Anaerobic performance
Before After p
MP (W) 860.3 ± 102.0 886.3 ± 86.2 p=0.61
MP (W·kg–1) 10.8 ± 0.6 11.5 ± 1.0 p=0.19
PP (W) 1014.9 ± 134.2 1082.3 ± 120.8 p=0.49
PP (W·kg–1) 12.7 ± 0.6 14.0 ± 1.1 p<0.001
TOPP (s) 3.6 ± 0.5 3.1 ± 0.2 p=0.16
TMPP (s) 2.9 ± 0.4 3.3 ± 0.4 p=0.87
before, after = laboratory tests performed before and directly after the 14-week training program; max =
maximal level of the index; BM = body mass; BH = body height; LBM= lean body mass; FM = fat mass;
%F = percentage of fat in body mass; VT2 = second ventilatory threshold; t = time of work in the graded
exercise test; v = running speed during the test; HR = heart rate; VO2max = maximal oxygen uptake; VE =
pulmonary ventilation; MP = mean power; PP = peak power; TOPP = time to obtain peak power;
TMPP = time to maintain peak power
by Łukasz Tota et al. 227
© Editorial Committee of Journal of Human Kinetics
Table 3
Characteristics of the training cycle
Microcycle
Preparatory Intensity (Energy metabolism)
General Specific Pre-
Competitive Aerobic Aerobic-
anaerobic
Anaerobic
lactic
Anaerobic
alactic
min % min % min % min % min % min % min %
1 300 58.8 150 29.4 60 11.8 331.5 65 102 20 51 10 25.5 5
2 300 57.1 150 28.6 75 14.3 367.5 70 78.75 15 52.5 10 26.25 5
3 350 50.7 240 34.8 100 14.5 483 70 103.5 15 69 10 34.5 5
4 350 50.7 240 34.8 100 14.5 414 60 158.7 23 69 10 48.3 7
5 360 46.2 300 38.5 120 15.4 468 60 179.4 23 78 10 54.6 7
6 360 45.6 300 38.0 130 16.5 474 60 118.5 15 118.5 15 79 10
7 350 43.2 310 38.3 150 18.5 486 60 121.5 15 121.5 15 81 10
8 350 42.2 300 36.1 180 21.7 498 60 166 20 83 10 83 10
9 250 27.5 350 38.5 310 34.1 409.5 45 273 30 136.5 15 91 10
10 210 23.1 375 41.2 325 35.7 364 40 273 30 182 20 91 10
11 180 21.4 330 39.3 330 39.3 268.8 32 168 20 252 30 151.2 18
12 180 21.4 350 41.7 310 36.9 252 30 193.2 23 226.8 27 168 20
13 90 16.8 195 36.4 250 46.7
160.5 30 214 40 107 20 53.5 10
14 45 12.3 120 32.9 200 54.8 146 40 91.25 25 73 20 54.75 15
Total 3675 3710 2640 5122.8 2240.8 1619.8 1041.6
Discussion
The aim of the performed study was to
analyse training loads, as well as to assess body
build and the physiological profile of MMA
athletes. Studies investigating training loads
together with training effects expressed as
changes in somatic variables as well as
characterizing aerobic and anaerobic fitness in
MMA athletes are rare. Our paper is addressed to
coaches, instructors and athletes pursuing
optimization of training loads in MMA.
MMA is a sport discipline demanding a
prescribed body mass (weight class) during
competitions (Lahti, 2016), to make fights more
spectacular and minimize the risk of injuries. As
in other combat sports requiring weight limits, the
dangerous phenomenon of rapid body mass loss
in the days preceding the official weigh-in has
been observed in numerous athletes (Jetton et al.,
2013). This most often results from water loss and
dehydration linked with excessive physical effort
(Jetton et al., 2013). Many authors emphasize the
necessity to lose body mass through systematic
reduction of fat mass, which does not negatively
affect the level of physical fitness as opposed to
losing body mass because of rapid dehydration
(Jetton et al., 2013; Marinho et al., 2011). It has
been shown that from among 822 athletes training
judo, 86% declared a 5% weight loss before
competitions (Artioli et al., 2010). In the present
study, we observed a decrease in fat content from
13.5 ± 1.6% to 10.8 ± 1.2% as a result of the 14-
week training program. Many studies
demonstrate that in combat sport athletes, a low
level of fat is preferable: 12.25 ± 0.54% in MMA
(Alm and Ji-Guo, 2013), 14.5 ± 1.5% in boxing
(Guidetti et al., 2002) and 7.4 ± 1.2% in wrestling
(Demirkan et al., 2015).
Competition demands universal physical
fitness preparation from MMA athletes, allowing
to conduct an effective fight in all planes (Souza-
228 The effects of conditioning training on body build, aerobic and anaerobic performance
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Junior et al., 2015). Laboratory tests provide the
assessment of metabolic process efficiency during
subsequent macrocycles and mezocycles; on this
basis, it becomes possible to individualize training
loads. Anaerobic fitness of combat sport athletes
is usually determined using the Wingate test for
the upper limbs (Pałka et al., 2013). In this study,
anaerobic peak power obtained with the Wingate
test performed for the upper limbs equalled 10.8 ±
0.6 W·kg–1 in the first trial and 11.5 ± 1.0 W·kg–1 in
the second one.
Generally speaking, duration of a sports
fight in a competition varies between 15 and 25
minutes, meaning that a high level of aerobic
capacity is required from athletes (Alm and Ji-
Guo, 2013). A short, 60 s rest interval between
rounds forces the athlete to fight under conditions
of significant fatigue (Lech et al., 2010). A high
level of aerobic capacity determines fast recovery
and allows to maintain proper fight intensity
throughout its duration (Rooney, 2008). As
evidenced in previous research, VO2max of 58
mL·kg–1·min–1 is indispensable in MMA athletes
(Lahti, 2016). In our study participants, 14-week
training significantly improved VO2max (55.1 ± 4.1
vs. 59.7 ± 6.0 mL·kg–1·min–1), reflecting athletes’
good aerobic fitness, as well as appropriate
adjustment of training means. Results of tests
determining VO2max in amateur and professional
MMA athletes indicated the range of 57–62
mL·kg–1·min–1 (Alm and Ji-Guo, 2013; Schick et al.,
2010). In other, similar sport disciplines, the mean
maximal oxygen uptake equals 56.8 ± 3.8 mL·kg
1·min–1 (wrestling) (Barbas et al., 2011), 53.8
mL·kg–1·min–1 (judo) (Little, 1991), and 63.8 ± 4.8
mL·kg–1·min–1 (boxing) (Smith, 2006). The studied
athletes also presented apparent improvement in
indices at the second ventilatory threshold level.
The heart rate at the VT2 increased (153.8 ± 8.2 vs.
164.0 ± 5.0 beats·min–1), as well as work intensity
at VT2 (from 77.3 ± 6.2% to 86.9 ± 5.7% HRmax).
During the preparatory phase,
periodization of training involved training means
focused on technical, aerobic and anaerobic fitness
along with tactical preparation. For recovery
facilitation, massage and sauna baths were also
included. Running training was implemented in
individually assigned ranges of intensity (below
and above the VT2 intensity). The
individualization of strength training in the study
group resulted from the adjustment of training
loads to 1RM. Within the 14-week preparatory
period, the general preparation phase, specific
preparation and pre-competition phases, as well
as super-compensation and match phases were
distinguished (Lachlan et al., 2013). The first stage
in training periodization was the general
preparation phase, which lasted 5 weeks. When
planning training loads for this phase, special
attention was paid to aerobic exercises,
acquainting athletes with new fighting
techniques, and improving the already known
ones; strength training was also introduced. The
volume of aerobic training was continuously
increased, but its low intensity was maintained. In
the specific preparatory stage and the pre-
competition phase (5 weeks), the intensity of
training sessions was continuously increased,
while training volume decreased. Sparring
matches and interval training were introduced to
develop strength endurance and power. The last
periodization stage was the pre-competition
phase. Its duration was strongly individualized
and remained within the range of 8–14 days.
Lowering the volume and intensity of
implemented training was characteristic of this
phase.
In the physical fitness preparation of
MMA athletes, strength training plays an
important role; it improves local strength
endurance and movement economy. Optimization
in planning subsequent microcycles consists in
competent planning of strength and power
training. When preparing a training unit, special
attention should be paid to the proportion of
concentric, eccentric and isometric contractions
(Bompa and Buzzichelli, 2015).
In the 14-week training program,
periodization of training included maximal
strength training (heavy and moderate; loads in
the range of 65–100% 1RM), supplemented with
isometric training, as well as explosive strength
training (ballistic training, plyometrics, sprinting,
agility; loads within the range of 80% 1RM) (Lahti,
2016). The results of a previous study confirmed
improvement in strength endurance after strength
training (Jung, 2003). Yet, researchers are still
seeking optimal training that would most
efficiently prepare an MMA athlete for a fight
(Lahti, 2016). In our study, maximal strength
training units were implemented in each
microcycle, and their volume was systematically
by Łukasz Tota et al. 229
© Editorial Committee of Journal of Human Kinetics
increased until week 12 of the preparatory period.
Moreover, isometric exercises were included in
training.
The individualization of aerobic training
in the studied athletes was based on determining
workloads at VT2, and the subsequent
implementation of specific tasks with optimal
intensity. Aerobic capacity also plays an
important role in combat sport athletes (Tota et
al., 2014). In the studied group, aerobic training
was implemented in the form of running at
different intensities (below and above VT2
intensity), depending on the training cycle. A
notable element of our training program worth
emphasizing was the initial phase of athletes’
training devoted to low-intensity but long-
duration exercises. Many authors indicate the
importance of training with an intensity above
VT2, and then at perithreshold intensity during
aerobic training, therefore, pointing to the
possibility to increase training volume without
the risk of overtraining (Seiler and Tønnessen,
2009). Interestingly, it has been demonstrated in
some studies that improvement in aerobic fitness
increases the rate of phosphocreatine re-synthesis
(Forbes et al., 2008), an important substrate during
MMA sports fights. Training at such intensity was
implemented in the whole preparatory period;
however, until the 8th microcycle, the volume of
these units first increased, and later decreased,
while the proportion of high intensity training in
a microcycle was elevated.
In the middle of the preparatory phase,
high intensity training (above VT2) was
introduced in the form of running and circuit
(functional) training. To a certain degree, it
resembled an interval workout; the tasks
performed in the specific circuits were to reflect a
ring fight and included various fighting
techniques. They involved sprint and maximal
isometric efforts (wrestling). During this period,
there was also a decrease in the volume of the
implemented training units with an intensity
above VT2. These units most often supplemented
technical training of specific fighting styles.
To a considerable degree, the course of an
MMA fight is based on intervals of various
duration (attack, recovery, attack). Therefore,
when planning high intensity training units of
both lactic and alactic intensity, the authors aimed
at developing similar exercise protocols. In these
exercises, the authors attempted to combine
maximal strikes (strikes and takedowns) with
maximal isometric intensity (i.e. wrestling efforts),
which were often separated by exercise focused
on technique development. The main purpose of
these training units was to increase buffering
capacity and tolerance to metabolic acidosis
(Hawley, 2008).
In a year-long training cycle, a
professional mixed martial athlete plans 3–5 fights
every 6–12 weeks (Bounty et al., 2011). Therefore,
optimizing the training process in order to include
periods of improving aerobic and anaerobic
energy pathways, as well as recovery (super-
compensation), is extremely complex. Many
authors emphasize the significance of
individualization in planning training loads, thus,
criticizing the frequently encountered and applied
“one size fits all” method (Kiely, 2012). In this
study, the authors did their best to make the
individualization of the training process the
priority in planning and implementing training
loads. The individually determined heart rate
zones for developing aerobic fitness resulted in
improvement of most indices for both VT2 and
maximal intensity. The indication of the maximal
workload and implementation of training loads in
relation to 1RM improved all the variables
assessed in the Wingate test.
Conclusions
In conclusion, MMA is a versatile
discipline, demanding individual training plans
prepared on the basis of physiological test results.
As in other sports disciplines, there is no
universal training plan for MMA that could be
implemented to equally improve aerobic and
anaerobic (alactic and lactic) fitness. Therefore, it
is recommended to elaborate individual training
protocols that would improve the described
physiological variables in an optimal way and
allow to fully develop athletes’ physical fitness.
Implementing new training methods and
perfecting the former ones will help optimize
training. The proposed and implemented 14-week
training program resulted in advantageous
changes in participants’ body composition, as well
as improvement in the upper limb anaerobic peak
power and aerobic fitness of the MMA athletes.
230 The effects of conditioning training on body build, aerobic and anaerobic performance
Journal of Human Kinetics - volume 70/2019 http://www.johk.pl
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Corresponding author:
Dr. Łukasz Tota
Department of Physiology and Biochemistry,
University of Physical Education
al. Jana Pawła II 78, 31-571 Cracow, Poland
Phone.: +48 12 683 12 23
E-mail: lukasz.tota@awf.krakow.pl
... The strength and conditioning training programs for the Specific Training group can improve the physical fitness, balance, endurance, and flexibility in professional MMA athletes [125][126][127]. Kostikiadis et al. [127] compared a 4-week intervention of strength training and specific conditioning for short-term, high-intensity, low-volume MMA composed of two sessions, with session (1) (Strength training + Power exercises) and (2) Power exercises + SIT speed exercises) in the performance of national level MMA athletes. ...
... These findings suggest that programs based on strength and conditioning training implementing high intensity and low volume organized according to the specifics of combat demands can generate positive effects on the athletes [127]. Corroborating these results, Tota et al. [126] found that 14 weeks of periodized strength and conditioning with general, specific, and pre-competitive mesocycles proved to be useful, as the training protocol was able to reduce body fat and improve anaerobic peak power (Wingate test for upper limbs) and aerobic capacity (Vo2 and determination of the second ventilatory threshold) in MMA athletes. Chernozub et al. [128,129] conducted two relevant intervention studies with MMA athletes focusing on strength training. ...
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This review aimed to analyze the findings in the literature related to Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) through an exploratory systematic review and to present the state of the art from a multifactorial perspective. The review was conducted in accordance with the PRISMA statement, with a search performed in the Scopus, PubMed, and Web of Science databases. Participants were competitive athletes (amateurs or professionals) of regional, national, or international levels. Of the 2763 registries identified, 112 studies met the eligibility criteria. The pooled sample size and age were 20,784 participants, with a mean age of 27.7 ± 6 years for male and 28.9 ± 3 years for female, with the vast majority of athletes being male (94.9%). MMA athletes were 17.2% amateurs, 73.8% professionals, and 9% were not reported. The scientific literature related to MMA reported injuries (n = 28), weight loss (n = 21), technical and tactical analysis (n = 23), physical fitness (n = 8), physiological responses and training characteristics (n = 13), psychobiological parameters (n = 12), and interventions applied to MMA athletes (n = 7). Therefore, this exploratory systematic review presents practitioners and researchers with seven broad summaries of each facet of performance of importance in this population of athletes.
... Even though MMA combat is characterized by intermittent periods of high-intensity muscular actions interspersed by short periods of recovery [1,4,8,9], the fight strategy adopted by the athlete will determine the predominance of force manifestations during its course [8]. For example, grappling maneuvers require expressions of isometric strength, which is considered a critical physical quality for distinguishing elite grapplers [8]. ...
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... The long-term preparation should influence the development of specific physical skills as well as the somatic parameters of the volleyball players. In particular, on their body composition as it is a result of the level of adaptation of the organism to the load within the conditional preparation (Tota et al., 2019). This adaptation is manifested not only in the motor performance of the athlete, but also on their physical fitness and health (Malá et al., 2015). ...
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The study aimed to evaluate changes in selected biochemical indicators among mixed martial arts competitors in subsequent periods of the training cycle. The research involved 12 mixed martial arts athletes aged 25.8 ± 4.2 years competing in the intermediate category. Selected somatic indicators were measured twice. Biochemical indicators were assessed five times during the 14-week study period. Serum concentrations of testosterone, cortisol, uric acid, myoglobin, total protein, interleukin 6, and tumor necrosis factor, as well as creatine kinase activity were determined. One hour after sparring completion, there were significant increases in cortisol (by 54.9%), uric acid (22.0%), myoglobin (565.0%), and interleukin 6 (280.3%) as compared with the values before the simulated fight. The highest creatine kinase activity (893.83 ± 139.31 U/l), as well as tumor necrosis factor (3.93 ± 0.71 pg/ml) and testosterone (5.83 ± 0.81 ng/ml) concentrations (p = 0.00) were recorded 24 hours after the simulation. Systematic observation of selected blood biochemical indicators in the training process periodization in mixed martial arts helps understand adaptive, compensatory, and regenerative mechanisms occurring in training athletes.
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Pre-exhaustion (PE) has been applied in resistance training to manipulate the order of performing two resistance exercises, a single joint exercise to momentary exhaustion, followed by a multi-joint movement which includes the same muscle group. This method ensures greater recruitment of muscles or muscle groups in the multi-joint exercise to further increase muscle strength and overcome strength plateaus. The purpose of the present study was to investigate muscle activity by electromyography during high-intensity (95% of 1 repetition maximum) bench press (BP), before and after PE of the pectoralis major (PM), anterior deltoid (AD) and triceps brachii (TB) muscles in order to determine the effects of PE of the prime movers. Eight healthy athletes, experienced in resistance training, participated in the study. There were four sessions of the experiment. Session 1 was aimed at determination of one repetition maximum during a flat BP. Session 2, 3 and 4 consisted of performing a BP after PE of the muscles studied by the incline dumbbell fly, front deltoid raise, and lying triceps extension exercise. Peak concentric TB activation following TB PE (mean ± SD, 147.76 ± 18.6%) was significantly greater by ANOVA (η2=0.82, F=5.45, p=0.004) compared to peak TB activation (114.77 ± 19.4%) before TB PE. The statistical analysis for PM and AD did not show any significant differences. Coaches should not expect the usefulness of PE protocol to elicit higher PM or AD activity or fatigue, but they can use it to increase TB activity before high intensity BP exercise.
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Objective The purpose of this study was to review current knowledge on exercise physiology and sports training that can be applied to develop training programs for Mixed Martial Arts. Methods A non-systematic literature review was conducted to search for articles related to history, physiology and training of Mixed Martial Arts and other Martial Arts such as Judo, Wrestling, Jiu-Jitsu, and Karate. A review on aerobic, anaerobic, strength and power training was also conducted and directly related to Mixed Martial Arts training. Results There is scarce scientific information about training methods and physiological responses to specific efforts in Mixed Martial Arts. Many studies were reviewed and meaningful information on physiology and training were summarized for application in Mixed Martial Arts. Conclusion The present study provides a review on important physiology and training aspects for successful preparation of Mixed Martial Arts athletes.
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Objective: The aim of this study was to identify the physical fitness and anthropometric profile of mixed martial arts (MMA) athletes and the correlations between these variables.Subjects and methods: Thirteen male MMA athletes (30 ± 4 years-old) participated in this study. They were submitted to anthropometric measurements and the following tests: adapted flexitest, sit-ups, push-ups, long jump, flexed arm hang, 1RM bench press and squat.Results: Main results are as follows: body mass (kg): 82.1 ± 10.9; body fat (%): 11.87 ± 5.11; flexibility (score): 18.38 ± 4.07; sit-ups (rep): 43 ± 11; push-ups (rep): 41 ± 9; long jump (m): 2.19 ± 0.25; flexed arm hang (s): 34 ± 11, 1RM bench- press (kg): 76 ± 23; 1RM squat (kg): 73 ± 15. Furthermore we observed results showed significant correlations between anthropometric variables and physical fitness: body fat and long jump (R = -0.75); body fat and flexed arm hang (R= -0.67); height and squat 1RM (R = 0.67); arm circumference and bench press 1RM (R = 0.77).Conclusion: MMA athletes involved in this investigation have showed poor neuromuscular performance. Body fat was negatively correlated with both power and strength endurance performance, while arm circumference was positively related to upper body maximum strength.
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Human aggression/impulsivity-related traits are influenced by complex genetic and non-genetic factors. The aggression/anxiety relationship is controlled by highly conserved brain regions including the amygdala, hypothalamus and periaqueductal gray of the midbrain, which is responsible for neural circuits triggering defensive, aggressive, or avoidant behavioral models. The social behavior network consists of the medial amygdala, medial hypothalamus and periaqueductal gray, and it positively modulates reactive aggression. An important role in the incidence of aggressive behavior is played by secreted factors such as testosterone, glucocorticoids, pheromones, as well as by expression of genes such as neuroligin-2, monoamine oxidase A, serotonin transporters, etc. The authors deliberate whether aggression in sport is advantageous (or even indispensable), or to what extent it can hamper attainment of sport success. Methods of reducing and inhibiting expression of aggression in athletes are indicated
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The aim of this study is to examine the physical and physiological determinants of wrestling success between elite and amateur male wrestlers. The wrestlers (N=126) were firstly assigned to 3 groups based on their competitive level (top elite, elite and amateur) and then 6 groups according to their body mass (light, middle and heavy weight) and their competitive level (elite and amateur). Top elite and elite wrestlers had significantly (p<0.05) more training experiences and maximal oxygen uptake compared to the amateur group. In separating weight classes, light and middle elite wrestlers had significantly (p<0.05) more training experience (7-20%) compared to the light and middle amateur wrestlers. No significant differences were detected between elite and amateur groups (light, middle and heavy weight wrestlers) for age, body mass, height, BMI, and body fat (p>0.05), with the exception of height for heavy wrestlers. Leg average and peak power values (W and W/kg) in Middle Weight Elite (MWE) were higher than Middle Weight Amateur (MWA) (6.5 and 13 %, p<0.05). Relative leg average power value in Heavy Weight Elite (HWE) (W/kg) was higher than Heavy Weight Amateur (HWA) (9.6 %, p<0.05). It was seen that elite wrestlers in MWE and HWE statistically were higher V02max (12.5 and 11.4 % respectively) than amateur middle and heavy weight wrestlers (p<0.05). The results of this study suggest that training experience, aerobic endurance, and anaerobic power and capacity will give a clear advantage for the wrestlers to take part in the elite group.
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Background This study attempted to produce answer to the question: Is physical endurance in judo contestant at junior age and Study Aim: related to the adopted fighting strategy and the level of sports performance?Material/Methods: The study covered 10 judo contestants from three clubs in Poland. First stage encompassed registration of their competitive activity level. On the basis of this record, contestant's fighting activity, efficiency and level of perfor- mance was assessed. Another stage of the investigations focused of evaluation of their aerobic and anaerobic en- durance on the basis of testing methods used in the Institute for Human Physiology in the University School of Physical Education in Cracow. The strength of the relationship was concluded based on the value of Spearman's rank correlation coefficient.Results: As was observed on the basis of statistical analysis, level of anaerobic endurance shows strong relationship with the method of fighting observed among young judokas. Time to reach maximal power seems to be of particular importance. Its value correlated with efficiency of contestants' actions taken during second phase of fight and with the level of sports achievement.Conclusions: The results of the present study should be taken into consideration by judo club coaches during planning and implementation of training schedules among young contestants.
Article
Background & Study Aim: The main aim of this study is answer to the question of which indices of body's physical capacity differentiate professional judo from other athletes at different chronological age and sport experience. Material & Methods: The study encompassed 25 professional judoists at the age of senior, junior and cadet, numbered among the best athletes in Poland. Te study included the measurements of indices of morphological body build, followed by the Wingate test and graded exercise test to exhaustion. Results: The study results revealed that the groups of judo contestants, varied in terms of chronological age and training experience, did not differ in their maximal aerobic capacity (VO2max). Te groups of athletes differed significantly in terms of time of exercise over the TDMA threshold. Anaerobic capacity, determined by total work (TW) in the Wingate test, differed across the groups of judoists included in the study. Te averaged levels of this index were highest in the senior group while the lowest values were found in the group of cadets. Level of phosphagenic capacity, expressed by the results of peak power (RPP), showed the highest levels in seniors. However, no signifcant intergroup differences were observed for the level of this index. Conclusions: Many years of specific judo training contributes more to development of anaerobic than to aerobic functional capacity. Faster initiation of the anaerobic energy transformations and higher amount of work done over the TDMA during graded exercise test in seniors compared to juniors might affect the course of the judo fight.