In any competition, at the basic or elite level, the best conditioned athletes, the ones who have prepared wisely in their strength and conditioning training, their technical training and their strategic planning are the ones who are most likely to have thier hands raised. The mat god in the club might crumple under the pressure of competition, the go-hard-or-go-home guy might get injured during camp and the person who only trained technique might gas out in ninety seconds and get dominated.
Joel Jamieson is recognized as “The Conditioning Guy” throughout the fitness industry and has been training elite level athletes for almost twenty years. Since he was a student at the University of Washington, in addition to working with athletes, he has been researching, meeting with experts all over the world and producing educational content for those of us who wouldn’t have access to these experts otherwise.
For four days only, from February 20-24, 2017, Joel will offer enrolment to 8 Weeks Out University, a continuing education platform for athletes and coaches worldwide to stay on the cutting edge of athletic performance theories and techniques. This review will focus on one of the courses offered in 2017, Jamieson’s “Intro to Team Sports Conditioning”.
Purchase as part of 8 Weeks Out University – Access for 2017 – $197USD
(1 of 8 courses), offer valid February 20 – 24, 2017
If you’ve trained anywhere, whether it’s BJJ, MMA or team sports, I’m sure you’ve been exposed to people who feel that more is more: they don’t take rest days, they always train at full speed and they always have some kind of injury they’re nursing. One of the issues that contributes to fight cancellations more than anything is injury due to overtraining.
There is no greater example of someone who lost years of his career due to overtraining injury than former UFC World Champion Dominick Cruz. You can see him talking about his first injury during a sparring session when he was training four times a day on The Ultimate Fighter. The conversation starts at 29:34 if this link doesn’t hold time correctly.
When an athlete is overtraining, s/he is more likely to perform movement in substandard patterns. That heavy squat might be a bit off and she’ll get a back injury, he might move the wrong way at the wrong time and tear his ACL. Also, if you or your athlete is not planning his/her strength and conditioning training properly and allowing for recovery after high intensity training, you’ll be less likely to actually hit true maxes and improve because the athlete will never be fully recovered and fresh enough to do so.
This is where Joel Jamieson, the author of Ultimate MMA Conditioning comes in. MMA fans will recognize two of his most accomplished athletes in the sport, One FC Champion Bibiano Fernandez and long-time UFC Champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson.
In this course, Joel teaches us how to carefully tailor conditioning programs to assess and prepare athletes to perform at the elite level in their sport. He explains how to choose the exercises and methods that will allow them to move quickly and powerfully to execute the particular techniques required in competition. This can be a delicate balancing act and that’s why he provides testing advice, and a downloadable Excel template, for monitoring the athletes’ progress and comparing them to proven performers.
Intro to Team Sports Conditioning teaches coaches how to plan their athletes’ conditioning training on a year-round basis, not just during the off season or during a training camp. In BJJ, we know that Worlds, Pan Ams, Abu Dhabi or Europeans happen at around the same time every year so we can plan our general physical preparation after those tournaments and train progressively towards them as we get closer to competition.
This course provides sample training programs as well as a whole module focused on how to test yourself or your athletes to ensure that they are responding as expected and avoiding overtraining.
I bought Joel’s book, Ultimate MMA Conditioning a few years ago, which I have actually read and forgotten a lot of because I think back then, of it was so new to me it was hard to absorb. I recommend if you are a combat sports athlete or coach and you haven’t had a lot of exposure to this type of educational material that you buy this program, watch it, and then read the book. This course is probably enough for you if you already have some experience but for me, I needed both.
The book is also great to have, especially if you don’t have data or wifi at the gym, because you can tag what you want to and have it handy if you need it for reference. Or I guess you can just buy the whole package and then you’ll have BioForce HRV, also, which is a good idea.
I would recommend this course, and 8 Weeks Out University, to any coach or athlete who wants to have a high level of conditioning and performance or those who simply want to stay on the mats well into middle age. I’m 41 and I’m only 110lbs so I have to really take care of my body to continue training in the sport. In team sports, athletes are assets and ensuring they are trained and cared for properly is the key to success.
Check out my reviews for two of the other 8 Weeks Out University courses, The Fundamentals of Movement and American Football Physical Preparation. My next review will focus on The Fundamentals of Strongman Training but unfortunately I won’t have it finished before the deadline to enroll is up. In addition to these four courses, four additional HD courses from various experts will be added to the curriculum.
In this model Joel Jamieson told us a bit about his background as a conditioning coach for combat and team sports athletes and he provided an overview for how this program is structured.
Jamieson stressed the value of first understanding what makes someone a good athlete in their particular sport and secondly, what plan and what methods can take your athletes where they have to go.
Monitoring measurements, assessments and tools help coaches and athletes to determine whether or not their training is effective or whether adjustments should be made.
“Every cell in the body requires a constant supply of energy. Conditioning is directly related to energy production and energy expenditure, as well as the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis.
Homeostasis is the maintenance of the body’s internal environment within the required physiological ranges in the face of varying internal and external stressors… all for the purpose of continuing energy production.”
The reason we think about homeostasis is because depending on what environment we put our body in, including athletics, our bodies will adapt to produce the energy we need to survive. There are two types of energy. First: aerobic, which is endurance based so we’d see athletes like marathon runners being at the top of the charts in aerobic capacity. Then, we have powerlifters who only need to be able to produce shorts bursts of energy, anaerobic energy, to achieve those heavy lifts. The endurance athletes aren’t as powerful as the weightlifters and the weightlifters gas very quickly.
The focus of this program is those in-between athletes who require both types of energy like combat and team sports athletes. Jamieson explains that the easiest way to understand this is to look at the anaerobic power reserve.
In addition to training and understanding the different types of energy, in BJJ or any sport, how the athlete chooses to use the energy reserve s/he has will determine how the match will play out.
Your level of conditioning also affects your recovery time so if you’re out of shape, it will take much longer for you to recover and be ready for your next match if you ended up winning based on points you earned before you gassed in the first match.
Jamieson explains to coaches watching this program, “Your goal as a strength and conditioning coach is to design an effective conditioning program that allows your athletes to deliver the maximum sustainable power over the course of their sport or event. And that’s what we’re going to talk about when we get to the rest of the program and talk about how to actually build a conditioning program.”
In this module, Jamieson explains the importance of understanding what components define performance. He also stresses that when coaches build their models and they compare them to the performance of their athletes, they should correlate to each other, meaning that the physical qualities they are measuring and monitoring should improve performance as they improve on the charts. Physical preparation is the key component in allowing athletes to use their technical skills and follow game plans as efficiently as possible.
For the Anaerobic system, athletes can test max strength on lifts, jump height, throws, etc. A downloadable Excel template is available for download so you can record and monitor your own athletes according to the provided guidelines.
Jamieson stressed at the end of this module that without a performance model, you’re just guessing at what needs to be trained rather than effectively preparing your athletes to effectively train for their sport.
Everything was so new to me when I began training strength and conditioning specifically for BJJ, I didn’t really understand what I was doing but as I’ve continued learning, courses like this one have been a major key. This course complements American Football Physical Preparation because we’ve seen some of these exercises demonstrated for us already so we are better prepared when we see them in this program; kind of like when you see different people teach BJJ techniques, you get something different from each one. The courses in 8WOU build upon each other very well.
In this module, Jamieson goes in depth into the high / low method including the theory, exercises and sample scheduling. You can click the highlighted text to get an overview of the method but basically the athletes are scheduled for high CNS days followed by low CNS days to get the benefits of pushing the body on the high day and recovering on the low day while still progressing with techical work or accessory movements. This allows the athlete to avoid the middle ground and the build-up of fatigue.
Screenshot: High Intensity Methods
Screenshot: High Intensity Methods
Joel has an athlete demonstrate different high intensity methods as he explains how they affect the conditioning. He stresses the importance of being fully recovered on high intensity training days because it is critical that the athlete perform the exercises with perfect technique. In addition to the demonstrations in the video, the write up includes instructions that you can copy and print to take to the gym with you.
In this module Jamieson also explains how to determine an athlete’s anaerobic threshold. Having a heart rate monitor is very useful when using these methods and these days, there are a lot of different options. Most people have one on their Fitbit that they never use.
The write-up explains that using the Threshold Method “taxes the limits of the aerobic system. The threshold range is the point where the anaerobic system starts to contribute a significant portion of total energy production.”
Jamieson has discussed long, slow cardio previously in his article Roadwork 2.0. In this module he demonstrates and explains low intensity methods and exercises. Because these methods are used to promote recovery, it is very important to follow the instructions for the intensity of each exercise so the athlete does not accumulate fatigue.
“Low-intensity methods are designed to promote recovery, restoration, improved aerobic fitness, mobility, stability, etc. This prepares the body for subsequent high-intensity training sessions.”
“The primary goal of active recovery is to speed up recovery by training similar muscle groups in similar patterns to high-intensity days, but with much lighter loads.This increases blood flow and improves oxygenation and nutrient delivery to the tissues that need repair.”
This module focuses on an overall plan for the whole year for your sports team or athlete. In team sports, there is usually one or two seasons where athletes actively train and compete with an off season where they are not competing. This course’s focus is on progressively training the athlete throughout the training year, during which time different training methods, intensity, exercises and strategies will be used. The goal being having the athlete in peak physical condition when it matters.
If you follow 8 Weeks Out on Facebook, you may have seen the Bondarchuck Principles series where Martin Bingisser explains the transfer of training and classification of exercises. Jamieson uses this concept to help coaches and athletes understand how to select exercises and methods and to cohesively plan their programs over the whole training year.
When looking at the plan, Off-Season conditioning is broken down into two blocks, early and late off-season, to prepare athletes for pre-season and in-season. The focus is on developing general motor abilities, energy system qualities, overall work capacity and to rehab/prehab athletes. Joel breaks down exercises and methods used during this period and explains why each type is used and stresses that everything done in the off-season is to allow the athlete to recover from the previous in-season and prepare for the pre-season where training will begin to get more sport-specific.
In jiu jitsu, your in-season might be scheduled for Worlds, Europeans, Pan Ams or Abu Dhabi. These tournaments happen around the same time every year so this strategy is what you could be thinking about as you plan your physical preparation program. Your off season prepares your for the rest of the year.
In this module, Jamieson explains how to be more sport-specific when preparing athletes for the in-season. He offers a high/low method-based schedule with a discussion about how particular methods and exercises are used. We’ve seen most of these conditioning methods demonstrated earlier in the course. Different strategies will be used for different positions, as we’ve discussed in American Football Physical Preparation.
Joel emphasises, “It is critical to communicate with skills coaches to understand the volumes, intensities, and structure of the pre-season training camp so that you can add to this training rather than detract from it.
On high days, the goal of strength work is to maintain the level of strength built in the off-season. Energy system work should become highly specific to the aspects of skill.”
The pre-season builds upon the off-season training to ensure that the athletes are prepared physically, but still recovered from the previous season, to ensure success in their sport during competition.
In-Season Conditioning: 6:06
During the in-season, conditioning coaches focus on keeping athletes healthy so they can perform well in competition. Jamieson stresses that athletes should maintain power and conditioning during the in-season but avoid using additional non-specific conditioning work so they can avoid fatigue. What’s most important is sport-specific skill work and strategy.
It’s important during the in-season, also, to monitor athletes to ensure that training, travel and competition does not accumulate fatigue and detract from their performance.
“Every program is built on an accurate performance model, a complete evaluation, an annual plan, and effective monitoring.”
Everything we’ve learned so far about volume, intensity, methods, exercises and strategy comes together in this module as we learn how to organize, adjust and monitor the program we’ve created for athletes for the whole year. Traning blocks are broken down into mini-blocks with a particular focus and each individual athlete is monitored to ensure they are responding as expected.
Jamieson provides options for testing and monitoring athletes to ensure they don’t experience excessive fatigue. The spreadsheet you downloaded in module 3 can be used here to ensure results are meeting expectations; if not, coaches can adjust.
Downloadable sample programs are provided.
Jamieson mentions fatigue throughout the course and in this final module, we learn more about what it is and its effects on athletes. Overtraining happens over time and becomes a chronic imbalance between stress and recovery. This chronic imbalance can cause a decrease in performance and in the worst cases, result in injury.
Signals for overtraining are provided but some of them are undetectable without some type of measuring tool. Coaches can measure an athlete’s fatigue level using tools like body composition, performance, heart rate, heart rate variance, RPE, lab testing. Joel describes what each tool is and how it’s used in detail, as well as the expense level. All of the data can be compiled and analyzed to recognize trends and adjust as necessary.
Currently, I am tied to a fixed training schedule because I have to be there to teach beginner class and lifting so I find that I get cranky and sick of BJJ if I’m not careful with my sleep, diet and down time. I’m taking advantage of having BioForce HRV to monitor my fatigue levels; I can track my sleep patterns with my Fitbit and see how it aligns with my HRV and resting HR statistics and then adjust my behaviour accordingly. I can also adjust the volume and load on my lifting days if I am showing fatigue on my HRV reading.
I got 79.41% on this quiz and the passing score is 80%, which made me sour because I took the test twice after reading the answers from my first attempt and then got the same score. Test confirmed for possibly rigged against me.
Overall, this program was excellent except for the quiz. I felt I would ace it but was incorrect, just like I was 20.59% of the time in the quiz. Maybe you will do better.
I hope I’ve answered all of your questions about Joel Jamieson’s Intro to Team Sports Conditioning. Be sure to “Like” 8 Weeks Out on Facebook and follow them on YouTube and Twitter. Joel frequently provides free, quality content so you don’t want to miss out. Also, browse his online store; there you’ll find essential tools that will take your training to the next level.
Sign up for 8 Weeks Out University to access all four (with four more on the way) HD original series here for an annual fee of $197USD from February 20 – 24, 2017 only! After that, registration will not be open again til Spring/Summer. To purchase Intro to Team Sports Conditioning for $97USD, click here to access Bioforce Project.
Thank you for reading my review. If you’d like to be notified about future reviews, add me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter! See you next time!