Even the man upstairs took a day off to rest. Incorporate these techniques into your weekly routine for optimal results.

In this 6-part series, I will briefly explain the essential pieces that comprise a complete strength and conditioning program for a MMA athlete.

The six components are:
1. Dynamic Warm-Up
2. Explosive Movements
3. MMA-Specific Resistance Training
4. Flexibility
5. Metabolic Conditioning or Energy System Development (ESD)
6. Regeneration Time

While we may not include all six components into every single session, they are the foundation for our complete 8 to 10 week camp.

This last section is more of a “random thoughts” list regarding recovery for you to consider. Most of us are familiar with the intense wear and tear MMA athletes endure during a typical training week. We witness the product of their hard work on weekend Pay-Per-View shows. But these athletes can’t train hard 7 days a week? Certainly, with all the disciplines to consider in MMA, over-training must be a concern… I fully support a periodized program that includes everything from intense Tabata sprints to a relaxing Sunday afternoon massage.

Here are some other methods that work well during your rest day or “off time”.

1. Rest
During our 8-week programs, guys are typically training 6 days per week. 1 day of rest is complete rest. Other than running some errands, walking the dog, or maybe getting a massage, we aren’t doing a whole lot. This is vital for tissue recovery and muscle repair. Your body was “beat up” (quite literally) all week long; it needs time to shut down the engine and recharge the battery. That 7th day can consist of lounging around on the couch, watching some football, and getting some nutrient-dense, quality calories into your system.

2. Nutrition
You wouldn’t put cheap, low grade gas in your high performance Bentley would you? So why fill your high performance body with fast food and other highly processed meals… You really are what you eat so it doesn’t make sense. The foods you eat are vital in helping you get the most out of every camp, every session, every set, and every rep. I always recommend my clients and athletes eat a clean, well-balanced diet. One that is high in organic, lean protein, nutrient dense carbohydrates, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Admittedly, when it comes to supplements, I am not a huge proponent of loading up on pills and powders. I always say eat real food first. Remember, a poor diet supplemented is still a poor diet. However, considering busy lifestyles and financial constraints, supplements may be a viable option for you to get the necessary nutrients your body needs.

3. Massage/Bodywork
There are many types of massage therapies available. If you are a MMA fighter, my feeling is that it’s best to find a therapist that has experience working with athletes. Someone that can help you relax, feel good, and help out with any sore, tight, or inactive areas of the body. Massage work will also help with – improved circulation, improved flexibility, reduce swelling & cramping, and the release of endorphins.

4. ART (Active Release Technique)
If you have experienced ART therapy before, then you may not categorize this in the recovery or relaxing category. While some ART techniques may be a bit uncomfortable, it really is a necessary evil if you are dealing with injuries and/or imbalances. Basically, ART is a soft tissue movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.

5. Mental Rest
For MMA athletes, I really think it’s important to “get away” from the fight game now and then. I think it is important to have balance in your life, and not let your sport (or anything for that matter) totally consume and run your life.

• Take up an active hobby like surfing or hiking
• Listen to your favorite band on your iPod
• Go to a concert with your girlfriend or wife
• Spend time with friends and go have a couple drinks
• Read a motivating book
• Go watch a movie

These are just a couple suggestions to help your body and mind unwind from a challenging week of training. Include a few of these techniques into your weekly routine and prevent over-training and ensure success.

About Doug
Doug Balzarini is currently the strength and conditioning coach for the Alliance MMA Fight Team in Chula Vista, CA. He is also the founder of DBStrength.com, which provides fitness-related articles and education. Previously, Doug worked at Fitness Quest 10 for 6 ½ years as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE).

A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State University. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, Spinning certification, FMS training, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in dozens of fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers.

For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.