A member wrote in to mention that he can’t or shouldn’t follow the fighter’s training plans because he is a soccer player. While I agree to some degree I would argue that certain fitness characteristics are shared and that many training principles cross over nicely, especially during a Foundation or pre-season period.

Both the fighter and soccer player require: 
Leg strength 
Hip speed and strength 
The ability to ‘sprint’ and to recover quickly 
Good aerobic efficiency 

The soccer player might, and I say might, need greater overall endurance. But it should be clear that, to survive a 2-hour fight practice, which is longer than a soccer game a fighter needs a high degree of endurance as well. The fight itself is shorter than the soccer match but the volume of training done to prepare for it is likely similar. The fighter needs a high VO2 Max, perhaps higher than the soccer player. Maximum oxygen uptake is directly linked to the oxygen demand by the working muscles. One can argue that the fighter uses a greater mass at higher intensity so the oxygen requirement is higher. I could nitpick further but the only significant difference I see – apart from each sport’s technical demands – is the fighter’s need for greater core and upper body strength. This being the case many training movements and methods may be shared up until the point when sport-specific demands become more important than strength and conditioning demands.

Despite the fact that sharing some training procedures may be useful I have written a month of pre-season work directed toward a field sport like soccer. The emphasis is on intervals at VO2 Max intensity since a pre-season increase will allow higher intensity work to be done later, along with faster recovery. Explosive power is trained as well to address the player’s need to accelerate, change direction, and put the power of the hips and legs into the ball.


I am assuming a good foundation (training history and experience) and adequate fitness already. I also assume a high level of work capacity, and an athlete who can tolerate three hard training sessions per week. If this is not the case do something different. The emphasis is on strength and conditioning. Sport-specific practice is of secondary importance during this period. All sport-specific training is undertaken at a maintenance load.


The objective of this pre-season training block is to increase general work capacity so the athlete can tolerate more work later, and recover quickly. Running intervals target maximum oxygen consumption. Increasing VO2 Max will allow more, higher intensity work to be done later. Gym intervals target work capacity, and teach the whole body to tolerate acidity and utilize lactate as fuel, but also use quadrupedal movements to drive O2 consumption higher. Power Endurance workouts on days 18 and 26 are classified as Interval Weight Training (IWT) and target development of explosive power endurance using athletic/whole body lifts combined with high intensity aerobic exercise, which should be done at similar intensity as the VO2 Max intervals (90-95% MHR). The Endurance sessions, as well as the 45-60 minute Recovery pace sessions target aerobic capacity, which is vital to quick recovery following field sprints, and for rapid creatine replenishment as well.

Duration, Frequency: 4 weeks, 6-7 training sessions per week (2 are classified as Recovery)
Volume: 8-10 hours per week
Characteristics: Interval (VO2 Max intensity), Explosive Power, Power Endurance, also Sport-specific practice

Before starting:

  1. 1)  Test Maximum Heart Rate (MHR) to scale interval intensity

  2. 2)  Test Primary Lifts for 1RM to scale intensity: this block requires Jerk, Back Squat, Front Squat, OHS, Clean

Weekly Load:

1x Low-intensity volume (sport-specific), “aerobic”: 60-90 minutes 1-3x VO2 Max interval (or Power Endurance) sessions per week 1-2x General Strength, and/or Explosive Power sessions per week 1x Play sport, 2-3 hours per week

2x Recovery workouts OR full rest, or use sport practice as recovery

This will not be easy.

Program written by Mark Twight, Founder of Gym Jones 

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