Physiology VS. Arbitrary Numbers: Enter Heart Rate Training

There seems to be a trend within the last few years of people attempting to create different exercises. I don’t see anything wrong with making something better but I think it’s rediculous to try and invent something different for no other reason than to be different. Most people assume that what’s trendy is what’s cutting edge. So if it’s different it must be better. This is hardly ever the case. What’s really important is how your training is executed. Not just what exercises to do, but how and when to do them, how many sets to do, how many reps to do, how long to rest, when to change the exercises, etc. The devil is in the details. I do think improving things, continuing to learn and refine your tools, and out of the box thinking are critical. But first you must understand “in the box” thinking. Most people haven’t devoted enough time to that, but would rather come up with idiotic exercises to put them up on Youtube to try to standout.

Enter Physiology: Heart Rate Training

I’ve had a few martial arts competitors tell me that they didn’t think their sport was providing them with hard enough conditioning to dominate a fight or tournament without the fear of gassing out. For the past few years I’ve spent a considerable amount of time developing training that can provide the fastest progress towards getting someone as conditioned as possible. One thing I’ve messed around with during this time is heart rate training.

Most of the time it’s runners that use heart rate monitors, and most of the time you hear people trying to stay within their target heart rate zone or the fat burning zone. I could care less about either of those two things because 1) MMA is an anaerobic sport and not an aerobic sport. And 2) The fat burning zone is a bunch of old outdated B.S. Staying in that zone to burn more fat is the worst way to burn fat.

What we’re looking for is how high we can get the heart rate up to, and then how fast we can get it back down. The faster it drops back down the more conditioned you are. The longer you can train at a very high heart rate, the more conditioned you are. From there we’re figuring out what’s the best progressions to use to ensure continual progress (that is the hard part).

Below are a few videos of two of my MMA athletes that compete. One competes in Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and the other kickboxing and boxing.




What we did was simple but not easy. We didn’t try to create some crazy new exercises for this. We utilized the basic time tested proven ones. But we changed how they were done. We changed the details. Both of them did the exact same workout. The only thing different was the rest.¬†Instead of prescribing arbitrary rest times between rounds, we based everything off their heart rate and ability to recover. One was given rest until his heart rate hit 135 beats per minute, and the other 145 beats per minute. We looked at how high their heart rate got, how high their heart rate came back down, and their perceived exertion.

Our mission at USI is to utilize the best training methodologies and to continue to learn, grow, and evolve to ensure the most cutting edge training, nutrition, and supplementation possible to maximize performance in the short yet safest way possible. We do this by staying in academia, developing the best resources, and by testing and measuring everything we do.

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