The Ladder of Death

I am a huge fan of UFC prefight shows since I truly enjoy seeing the work athletes put in and the types of exercises they do before the fights.  One thing I noticed is that throughout time, the training evolved and became much more sports specific.  Another thing I noticed that the use of lower impact and functional strength exercises  such as the use of agility ladders, bosuballs, kettlebells and battle ropes have increased.  Considering how much stress is being put on these athletes with their daily martial arts training it only makes sense to get these athletes to do functional, less impact exercises that can provide best results.   The coaches learned how to get the most bang for the buck with these methods.   Of course there will always be programming done which will call for different types of training during different phases but my point is the coaches came a long way on figuring out how to make sure athletes stay injury free and not burned out with addition of less impact and functional exercises.  

The cool thing about these functional and less impact exercises is that I not only suggest them to high level athletes that are taking a beating on their bodies, on a daily basis at their sport, but I also suggest these exercises to folks with the average fitness level.  One of my favorite tools to use in the gym is an agility ladder.  They cost about 10 bucks and they will be one of the best investments you make.  You can always make one yourself or use chalk on your drive way if needed.  Everyone seems to use agility ladders for agility and speed but I like to use them for strength and endurance as well.  Some of my workouts will be short and I will focus on speed but some will be long and I will focus on strength and endurance.  This can  be a great tool to get your legs stronger,  explosive and make them last longer.   

Strength and Conditioning Workout #1

Icke shuffles                         1 Minute

Ladder In and Out             1 Minute

Side Straddle Hop             1 Minute 

Ickey Shuffle                         1 Minute

Centepede                             1 Minute

While you are doing the workout try going as fast as possible and at the end of the 5 minutes take a 3 minute break and repeat for 4 sets.  With time decrease the sets and increase the duration of the workout.  This means you want to add different drills and make each set longer than 5 minutes.  The goal is to build up to 1 set of 20 minutes (with 20 different  drills).    This will make your legs scream and you will then understand why I call it the ladder of death.   Eventually you will want to do the 20 minute workout with a vest or a slam 30-40 lbs slam ball.  Slam balls are great since the exterior of the sand is filled with air and this helps with absorbing impact during the hops which decreases the impact that is absorbed by your joints.  Please make sure to do this on a soft surface such as grass or mats with a good pair of  athletic shoes.   The stronger you are, you can always increase the weight of the slam ball or wear a vest and hold on to  a sand ball.  You can alternate the slam ball on each shoulder or you can bear hug it.  

Strength and Conditioning Workout #2

Icke shuffles                         1 Minute

Ladder In and Out             1 Minute

Side Straddle Hop             1 Minute 

Ickey Shuffle                         1 Minute

Centepede                             1 Minute

Kettlebell Swing 15-20 Reps.

This workout is another great one to teach your legs how to be explosive after fatigue.  At the end of the 5 minutes it will be quite difficult to swing the kettlebell.  If you're not in shape you may want to build up to this one.  Feel free to change the kettlebell weight depending on your fitness level in order to get in the 15-20 range.  Rest 2-3 minutes then repeat 4-5 times.     Always be safe and have a blast!