Getting the most performance out of yourself requires experimenting and reporting.
This past week, I ran a little experiment on myself. I have published my fitness routine a few weeks ago here, but I wasn’t entirely happy with it.
You see, most of my exercise was non-martial arts activities. I would get 2-3 training sessions a week, with only 1 that had rolling in it. The other sessions were technique sessions.
Why? Because I found that the wear and tear of sparring was too much. With weight training, conditioning work, stretching and mobility, plus runs and walks – the sparring just was too much to stack on to that.
In the weight lifting world, they use a term called Maximum Recoverable Volume (MRV). MRV represents the amount of physical output your body can perform and still recovery from optimally. Typically, your MRV is high for young athletes, and goes downhill as you age. Unfortunately, this is a real phenomenon that has to be respected.
So I noticed in the past few weeks that I seemed to be having a harder time doing my workout routine. Last week, I decided to remove everything and just focus on doing grappling. The goal was to get 3 good session in and see how my body responds. I managed to sneak in a 4th one on Sunday, and made it without injury. That prompted this meme from me:
Yes! I made it through without injury, but I will say on Monday I was sore. Particularly, certain problem areas seemed to just get worse after each session. These areas only seem to get aggravated by grappling.
So this week, I’m going to work to get 3 martial arts sessions in, 2 weight training sessions, 2 conditioning sessions, 3 walks, 3 leg mobility sessions, and 3 shoulder mobility sessions. This might sound like a lot, to add on, but previously I was doing about 50% more outside of the martial arts. I’m also switching my focus on weight training.
I got to work with a lot of different bodies last week, and strength for me was never an issue. I felt I had an abundance of strength and stamina, and found myself holding back quite a bit. I was pretty close to hitting all the optimal benchmarks at 202lbs: 335lbs bench press (1.5xbody weight, so 303lb), 375lb squat (2xbody weight, so 404lb), 465lb deadlift (2.5xbody weight, so 505lb). So my bench was already over what I needed, but my squat and deadlift could improve a bit. However, I believe those to be mainly technique issues and will continue to work on them.
But at this point, I don’t feel I need to add any more mass. I’m hanging around 200lbs, and historically I don’t like being above 205lbs at 5’9″. So from this point, I’m just going to focus on maintaining strength, increasing stamina, power, and mobility. So I’ll probably look to lean out a little bit, maybe to just under 200lbs.
I’m able to make these calculations because I have measured myself. I record everything from what I eat, sleep quality, workouts and performance. This lets me know what works and what doesn’t. I can then evaluate myself and decide to test something out to see if I can improve my performance.
It might sound like a lot of work, but it isn’t. It is work though, and establishing the routine might be a struggle for the first couple of weeks. But technology has made tracking much easier. I probably spend about 10 minutes a day recording metrics. That is a small price to pay for understanding myself better and optimizing performance. I believe any serious athlete must be tracking results if they wish to rise to the top.
The fact is, there isn’t one recipe for success. We are all very different. We have different caloric demands, weights, dietary restrictions, body frames, metabolisms, psychology, and much more. Just a difference in one of these factors can cause massive differences in the approach to reaching maximum performance. That means you are going to be doing lots of experiments over the years, working to figure out what approach will get you the best results.
Ideally, we would find a champion with a close match to ourselves. But unless you happen to be Jon Jones brother, you probably are going to have to find a somewhat match and tweak the hell out of it. And that’s fine! It’s a process of trial and error. But it’s important to measure and record your results, as otherwise, you will never learn from these experiments in a meaningful way.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree?
Comment with your take on this. And if you like this article, please do me a solid and share it with your friends. Thanks!
Thank you for your observations. I also noticed that my routine is just getting old and not actually working out for my fitness goals so I am relieved to hear that it happens and instead of trying to add more weight to my routine I have decided to take a serious look at what I really need to work out on. Have a good day.
Just like with a diet, a fitness routine can plateau after a certain point. Remember that the body is always trying to be as energy efficient as possible, so if you stick to the same routine your body will eventually develop enough muscle and strength to be able to perform the activity without increasing energy demands. Normally this is where people will continue to add weight, which will then force a body to adapt and develop some more muscle to overcome the load. But even with that, over time of doing a very similar routine, you’re gains will be very slow and incremental. In that regard, working different ranges of motion, exercises, etc. You might be able to get more increase than sticking to the same formula. Even that though, once you put on a certain amount of mass on your frame, It would become increasingly difficult to make gains. It all depends on what your goals are. Mine were never about becoming as big as possible, rather to be strong, healthy, and lean. I have the frame where I can bulk up to 220 lb, but I don’t feel as good at that weight then when I’m at around 195 lb. So it’s a trial and error process to figure out where you feel best at. You won’t know until you actually do it, and nobody can do the work for you unfortunately. So the best thing you can do is have fun with it and enjoy the ride 🙂