RealFighting

THE REALFIGHTING MINIMUM FOR STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING

Part I: Theoretical Basis

Introduction

Minimum Strength and Conditioning?
I hate minimum guidelines.

The whole idea is antithetical to my existence. I am in the business of maximum health, maximum performance, maximum strength, maximum speed, maximum conditioning,1 rep maximums – maximum, Maximum, MAXIMUM, ad nauseum.

When I work with clients, we are in pursuit of an ideal. Strength and conditioning are the most important factors in these regards. Along with nutrition and recovery, proper strength and conditioning are what make washboard abs and champion-level athletes. More is always the goal; less is never acceptable. Today, I will change my thinking just a little…

Reality-Based Defense is Not Maximum Sports Performance

In reality-based defense, staying alive is the goal. There are no medals for first, second, and third place, unless you consider being the one left standing equivalent to being on the awards podium.

As such, strength and conditioning are not the most important factors. In the hierarchy of factors important to survival, strength and conditioning fall behind the following:

•    Length of startle response
•    Ability to react efficiently
•    Willingness to strike effectively
 
Only after the appropriate skills acquisition has taken place, i.e. shortening of the startle response, instruction in evasion, defense and attack, etc., do strength and conditioning become important factors.

If you do not have the skills to survive the initial attack, your strength and conditioning levels are of little consequence, especially if the assailant has a weapon, and is of comparable or greater size. Given these facts, there are some basic assumptions that must be understood in order to create a minimum guideline.
 
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Assumptions / Definitions

Armed Forces / Law Enforcement Strength Norms
The strength norms used by the armed forces – army, navy, air force, and marines, as well as the various law enforcement agencies – SWAT, state police, etc., are not good indicators to use for reality-based fighting.

These organizations place a dual emphasis on overall health as well as combat readiness. All of these organizations rely heavily on equipment, i.e. weapons, other than the human body, to achieve their ends. I don’t know about you, but I don’t carry an M-16, a .45 mm, or a gunship in my back pocket.

The combat training for the armed and law enforcement services are typically geared to prolonged offensive or defensive actions. In reality-based fighting, the encounter is frequently over in less than 3 seconds. As such, strength endurance is of no consequence. You either win or lose – quickly.

Height / Weight Charts as Predictors for Strength

Height and weight charts have little to no significance in the determination of strength norms for reality-based fighting.

This statement may be a little misleading, since larger people tend to have a greater maximal strength, and thus a greater mechanical advantage, over smaller people. Still, in reality-based fighting, your attacker is your attacker, whether they conveniently weigh 98 lbs, or are a very inconvenient 250. Since you never know what size package you are going to be confronted with, we will dispense with height and weight charts. The stronger you are, the better off you will be.

Sex as a Basis for Predicting Strength Norms

Sex should not be a distinguishing factor in determining strength norms for reality based fighting. In the first place, males and females are made of the same tissue. The tensile strengths of that tissue are the same, all other factors being equal, and pound for pound, women are as strong as men.

In the second case, equal rights do not apply to street fighting. A 110 / 160 / 210 lb man snatches a 90 / 210 / 140 lb women’s purse. Or assaults her, or rapes her. Men tend to be larger than their female victims, but this is not always the case. As a result, our strength norms should not be based on an assailant’s theoretical mass, but on our own. This kind of strength is called relative strength.
 
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Relative Strength / Maximal Strength
Relative strength is strength in comparison to one’s own bodyweight.

Maximal strength is an individual’s ability to lift a maximal weight one time.

In many attacks, especially in those by men against women, the assailant has a distinct size, weight, and strength advantage over the victim. As such, relative strength, or the ratio of strength to one’s bodyweight, becomes critical.

        Example: Suppose you have two people; one weighing 110 lbs, and one weighing                180lbs. If     the 110 lb individual bench presses 110 lbs, they have a relative strength         ratio of 110:110, or 1, for that lift.

        If the 180 lb person can bench press 170 lbs, even though they’re maximum strength is         higher for that particular lift (because they lifted a higher weight), their relative strength         ratio is only 170:180 or .94, for that lift.

        In the case of this example, who will be able to work with their respective bodyweight         more effectively? Obviously, the 110 lb individual. As such, the 110 lb individual has             greater relative strength. The greater your relative and maximal strength, the better off         you are in a confrontation.

Energy Systems
There are three energy systems, or ways to convert energy in the human body. One of them involves the use of oxygen, and two do not.

Aerobic
The energy system that uses the addition of oxygen to create energy in the form of ATP (adenine tri phosphate) in the human body is called the aerobic energy system. It has a high ability to create ATP, or energy, but it needs time to do so. Peak aerobic energy production begins after 120 seconds.
 
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Two minutes is about the amount of time you need to get cold-cocked with a bottle, stabbed, and beaten, with about 90 or more seconds for your assailant to give your broken remains a few kicks for good measure, run to the end of the block, and get a beer. Aerobic training, where street fighting is concerned, is a waste of time.

Anaerobic
There are two anaerobic energy systems – the ATP-CP energy system, and the glycolitic energy system. The particulars of the two energy systems do not really matter for the purposes of this article; just understand that both systems peak in their energy output in less than 10 seconds and less than 50 seconds, respectively.

In English:

**The ATP-CP energy system is the only system that matters in reality-based fighting**

If you survive that long, then, and only then, does the glycolitic energy pathway become important.

Energy System Power / Energy System Capacity
The power of an energy system is its ability to produce at peak output. The capacity of the system is its ability to sustain any level of function. The table below sums up these terms and their relevance:


TABLE GOES HERE………………………………………..


Putting It All Together
So, given that your ability to run 3 miles and do 35 pushups doesn’t mean that much when it comes to fighting in the street, what does?
 
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Strength Tests for Realfighting: What to Test
What follows is a list of appropriate strength tests and their minimum norms. Keep in mind that this is only a list, and does not provide instruction in the proper 1RM (1 repetition maximum) lifting technique, which will be covered in part II of this article.

Equipment
The equipment necessary to perform these exercises is found in almost every gym of any consequence in the free world today. You will require an Olympic barbell set, a bench press, dumbbells, a leg platform or aerobic bench, and a squat rack or power rack.

You should not, under any circumstances, require a weightlifting belt, knee wraps, etc. These lifts should be performed completely under your own power.

Regardless of age, sex, or weight, I recommend that if you are interested in maximizing your survival from an attack, you be able to produce the following minimum results in these strength tests:

Day 1: Lower Body
The lower body tests vary depending on skill level. Assuming you can perform a back squat perfectly, and have no knee, hip, or back problems:

Back Squat: a 1RM equivalent to 160% of your flat bench press.

If you do not possess the skill to perform this lift safely, then perform the following two lifts:

Barbell Petersen Step Up: 1 set of 8 repetitions on each leg with a weight that is 74% of your 1RM in the bench press.

Barbell Split Squat: 1 set of 8 repetitions on each side with a weight that is 66% of your 1RM in the bench press.

By performing both of these lifts, you will get a clear determination of your leg strength at the beginning and the end of knee and hip extension. FYI, most people will fail to meet the lower body requirement, due to weakness in the hip extensor / knee extensor areas.

At the conclusion of these tests, you should call it a day, and return the next day for a second round of testing.
 
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Day 2: Upper Body
Flat Barbell Close Grip Bench Press: a one-repetition maximum (1RM) equal to or greater than 75% of your body weight.

Standing Mid Pronated Grip Straight Bar Curl: a one-repetition maximum (1RM) equal to 30% of your 1RM in the bench press.

Seated DB (dumbbell) External Rotation: 1 set of 8 repetitions on each side with a weight that is 9% of your 1RM in the bench press.

45° Incline DB Trap 3 Lift: 1 set of 8 repetitions on each side with a weight that is 10% of your 1RM in the bench press.

Day 3: Glycolitic Capacity
If you have performed these tests and come out with satisfactory numbers, then the following test is for you. If your numbers were lacking in any of the areas, then this last test is a waste of time. It bears repeating a second time:

If you do not possess the strength to meet the above criteria from the first two days, you are better off investing your time and energy in strength training, rather than trying to meet day 3’s requirements.

Quarter mile sprint on the track: after appropriate warm up, sprint one lap around the track. Less than 90 seconds with your lungs still intact (even if they don’t feel like it) earns you a passing grade.

About Mark Diaz and Physiqology, THE SCIENCE of PERSONAL TRAINING
Mark Diaz is a NYC personal trainer and strength coach. His company, Physiqology, is a peak performance center devoted to professional and amateur athletes, as well as motivated individuals from the private sector. Physiqology’s mission is to combine the best information that science and practical application can offer to create world class physical results in the home, the board room, and the playing field. At Physiqology, Mark and his associates specialize in the science of personal training.

 [link, “Mark Diaz is a NYC personal trainer and strength coach. His company, Physiqology, is a peak performance center devoted to professional and amateur athletes, as well as motivated individuals from the private sector. Physiqology’s mission is to combine the best information that science and practical application can offer to create world class physical results in the home, the board room, and the playing field. At Physiqology, Mark and his associates specialize in the science of personal training.” to http://www.physiqology.com/WHY-PHYSIQOLOGY/index.html]