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Roadwork – How Important is it Really?

By Danielle DeVor

Used to be, back in the day, the hallmark for making sure a fighter had plenty of stamina is what they called “roadwork”. This meant every single day, getting up and running for several miles before you even made it to the gym.

The belief was that if you could run for several miles every day—say five, then the fighter would have plenty of stamina to make it through a 12-round fight. But, in recent years, it has been discovered that since running is aerobic and boxing is anerobic, it is a poor exercise to ensure stamina in the ring.

For MMA, I would argue that this is even more important to not fall-back on old school thinking. Especially when MMA uses not just punches, kicks, and dodges, but grappling as well.

So, what would be a better exercise to increase stamina?

Some have recommended interval training, but I am going to go a step further.

There’s a reason Georges St. Pierre trained in Gymnastics. It is an anerobic sport.

In his prime, St. Pierre seemed to have a never-ending gas tank. Nothing seemed to make him tired. He not only had strong core, but evenly developed leg muscles to match those in his arms. It all makes a difference.

Think about the number of fighters who have skinny legs and big arms. I don’t know if you have been watching, but I sure do. They get tired easily. They have maybe one good round, then have the spend the rest of the time trying to stay on their feet.

But fighters who have evenly matched arms and legs, they tend to be able to handle the demands of the sport much better.

This isn’t about just gym training either. You can be muscle bound from lifting weights in a gym and have no stamina at all. Why is that? Because lifting weights gives the body very short bursts of energy output. Most of the time, using machines where you are sitting down.

That is very different from standing and moving and dodging. A fighter needs to have a strong core and foundation (stomach and legs) that are both flexible and balanced to help the fighter move. Then, they need a strong back and arms combined with that core to have power punches because you should be punching with the force of your entire body, not just your arms.

Georges St. Pierre had all of that. Gymnastics gave him the foundation to combine it all together to make a fighter who could withstand the intensity of the sport of MMA.

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