I got a question the other day, which made me elaborate a bit on something that was clear in my head but nobody had ever asked before for an explanation. Since lately a major portion of my solo training is in the form of physical conditioning (the topic that has been addressed several times already), the discussion first touched upon the aspects of what is the contents of my sessions, but then, more importantly, on how does it affect my martial training.
Now, in the strength & conditioning circles the debate on the adequacy of the distinction between general and specific exercises and workouts is seemingly endless, but my approach is somewhat different. Namely, what I will be briefly presenting here is not aimed at the same goal as the concrete conditioning plan, but rather as something of an auxiliary-type work to be done alongside one’s main, discipline-specific training. However, it is not to say that I don’t use the same kind of exercises or methods, but their implementation might differ, depending of the desired outcome.
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When including any exercise in my training, it will be treated either as developmental or preparatory. In short, the former type of exercise strives to develop certain attribute(s) that will hopefully positively affect the trainees’ performance, especially in the long-term. As such, it is done over periods of time, possibly following some sort of progression. The latter type is primarily meant to prepare a practitioner for the demands of any particular training session, or maybe the series of sessions. In consequence, they are implemented on a shorter term basis.
It also stems from the above explanation that the developmental exercises could be done both as part of regular training sessions (for example, during the warm-up section) and on their own, in separate sessions. On the other hand, the preparatory work only makes sense if done immediately prior to the main portion of the discipline-focused session. In that regard, we could say that the developmental work loosely relates to the standard idea of general conditioning, and the preparatory to the specific. Yet, there is big difference in the intensity, load and other aspects of programming. Therefore, neither side of my dichotomy is really the replacement for the proper S&C program, should you need one.
Another point to ponder is that many exercises and movements could belong to the either category, depending on how and when they are included in one’s training. Take one of the typical groin stretching exercises as an example:
In many martial disciplines it would be a good developmental exercise in an attempt to facilitate the better form when doing the horse stance.
But, in BJJ/grappling it could be the main preparatory exercises when working on the so-called rubber guard technique and its aspects.
Following the same logic, the overhead press might be perceived differently when done explosively with a light load (ballistic manner) and slowly with a heavy load (grinding manner). Which of those would be developmental or preparatory from the perspective of a striking combat system? How about a grappling method?
I hope this short article has provided some useful insights that may help you take different and applicable look at your training, but ultimately, it is simply my way of thinking about particular aspects of my training, so it is most certainly not an attempt to offer the new be all end all paradigm.