Training Too Often Without Proper Recovery

Training too often without proper recoveryis a common error I’ve seen time and time again in Combat Athletes.

MMA and Combat Sports in general are some of the toughest sports on the planet. Hands down the athletes are as well rounded as they come, however, the problem with MMA in particular is you have so many disciplines to learn/keep fresh in your mind that you could literally fill your day with training, learning and acquiring new skills, and on top of that keeping your body in optimal condition is also a must.

I get it – I get where these athletes are coming from and I think most of us that have been in or around a professional training environment would understand the pressures and the drive to get better that these guys and girls have. That being said, I’ve seen top level amateurs who are having to work all day and maybe only will be able fit in training at night be in better shape or not get as tired as some of the professionals – the reason being is the amateurs only have those select hours at night or in the morning to train whereas as soon as athletes turn professional they seem to think that training hard 4-5 times per day is now what they must do. Not so – they are not giving themselves a chance to recover, therefore they are just beating their bodies down further session to session.

… but Woody I’m a professional, this is my job to train” – I’ve heard this from countless top level guys when myself and other head coaches set out a plan which they think isn’t enough training. Correct – you are a professional and it is your job to train but it is also your job to recover, eat right and be smart with your training. When you are away from the gym is when the magic happens – if you have done all your recovery correctly you are going to feel great going into the next day’s training.

The way I described it to one of my guys was by asking a simple question every time he trained – “How do you feel, no bullshit, how do you feel from 1-10?”.

The replies varied but usually were around a 5/6 (a number I knew he was placing higher because I had sent him home from training for being too tired before, and sometimes he would sleep in and miss our training). I asked him “Do you not think it will be better if we cut your training down so that when you train you are at a 7/8/9 rather than doing 4 sessions at a 5? Just give it a go.” Low and behold it worked well for him and he was getting more out of his sessions and improving every time rather than training under a constant state of fatigue mentally and physically.

I now try and get whoever I train to use a HRV (heart rate variability) app – this can serve as a good guideline for what state of readiness their body is in every day.

This is our job as coaches to educate our athletes. We have to remember that a lot of these guys, especially athletes I’ve trained from America and Eastern Europe have grown up on the daily wrestling grind. That shit, from what I’ve heard, is full on; live, breath, eat wrestling, so that being said it’s our job to re-educate them into what is right for their bodies now. They have to realise that they are not ages 8-18 anymore and they have to train smarter not harder!

A sample weeks training for some of our MMA athletes 7/8 weeks out from a fight would look something like this:










Strength & Cond.

Mobility & Kickboxing Drills



Pad Work

Kickboxing Drills

MMA Drills/Pool recovery/OFF


Strength & Cond.

Mobility & Kickboxing Drills





Sparring/Pad Work


Strength & Conditioning


Sauna/Ice Baths






As you can see – it’s still a pretty full timetable for these guys, obviously – this varies from athlete to athlete – what skill training they need to focus more on, how far they are from a fight and what condition they are currently in. If their nutrition, supplements and recovery techniques aren’t on point it can lead to injury and sickness.

Also the intensity’s of the sessions are up and down – if I do a very hard Strength and Conditioning session with the athlete on Tuesday morning, I will let their Wrestling coach know so that he can see how the athlete is in the afternoon and if he’s fatigued he may be sent to do some active recovery on a bike or he may just do wrestling drills and no ‘live’ wrestling. It’s very important coaches talk to each other.

Remember this is a blueprint, a plan, anything can happen in fight camps and you have to be able to adjust things accordingly for your athlete. If you see them really fatigued – give them a day or two off completely from normal training no matter what day it is, or add some more recovery work in there.

Remember as the Coach – you guide the athlete, otherwise they will be doing 5 sessions a day, I’ve seen it! If you are looking to improve your athletic performance the right way, I would suggest reaching out to a few Strength & Conditioning coaches until you find someone who is a good fit for you. I myself work with athletes worldwide, and happy to have a chat to anyone interested in training hard and having banter.

Andrew Wood – S&C Coach - Vis Vires Athletics
Coaching Athletes Worldwide
Instagram: @woody_visvires

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