”You know the escape, you just got tired. What’s the lesson?” ”Don’t get tired.” ”Let the other guy get tired.”
-Chiwetel Ejiofor in Redbelt

For me, I’ve always attempted to avoid conditioning. Not that I’m not in good shape, I mean I am but not ”fighting shape”…there’s a difference. It requires the total athletic package for one main purpose—don’t get tired.

There are secondary and tertiary goals such as speed and power, etc., which most certainly matter, but rule number one is DO. NOT. GET. TIRED. (and imagine me saying that using Al Pacino inflection for a similar line in The Recruit).

So, as the quote from my man Chiwetel above suggests, don’t get tired, let the other guy get tired first.

I don’t care how good you are, you can be Floyd Mayweather if you want, but when you gas, you are a sitting duck—even with the worst opponent. Don’t be one who gets tired first.

Trust me, I haven’t come to this conclusion without MUCH resistance. I have forever focused on being the more technically proficient fighter, as well as being the most relaxed fighter—to get every mile I can out of my limited gas tank (a metaphor for conditioning), but I now know it’s just not enough.

I had been avoiding the drudgery of conditioning because I never had a reason not to.

You get tired in sparring, eh, so what? You can just quit and nobody really cares. But try losing a fight because you were tired…different feeling. That’s what happened to me.

I’ve had one amateur boxing match, and although my opponent was actually really good, that wasn’t the reason I lost.

I lost because I got tired. Hell, he was tired too, but when I needed that third round to win I didn’t have any gas left to push the pace.

That’ll be the last time I lose because I wasn’t physically prepared beforehand.

There’s no excuse not to be conditioned

A monkey could do it. I don’t mean that in the sense that there isn’t a science behind getting in the correct condition, I mean that once the path is laid out for you, there’s no excuses—it’s just hard work from there.

I think what gives me the most encouragement is seeing all those no-talent world champions over the years. They may be short on talent, but they have world class work ethics. A lot of boxers come to mind, Mickey Ward for one. For MMA, Rich Franklin even tells you that the reason why he wins is because he simply outworks people. Of course those guys aren’t talentLESS by any means, but nobody’s going to confuse them for Anderson Silva or Floyd Mayweather Jr either. What they do do though is they make damn sure that they’re not going to lose because they got tired.

If you can push the pace without fear of getting tired you’re going to beat most guys who are more talented than you. They simply won’t be able to keep up.

Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.

Train like an athlete

I mentioned earlier that adhering to our number one rule for fighting would require the total athletic package, so what better way to do that than to train like an athlete?

Training athletically is much more in depth than just running or moving a bunch of weights around. Sure, that’s part of it, but those are just two of the many ways to go about it. Everything that I’m going to show you is meant to make you more athletically prepared for fighting.

What is the total athletic package?

There could be some argument here as to what that actually is…but don’t worry this isn’t the NFL combine, I’m talking more about athletic principles than 40’ inch verticals and 4.3 forties (although you’d be my hero if that were the case).

When I say we’re training to achieve a total athletic package I just mean there are certain principles that are going to be important to any athlete competing in any sport, and those are:

1. Muscular Strength
2. Muscular Endurance
3. Cardiovascular or Cardiorespiratory Endurance
4. Balance/Stability
5. Flexibility
6. Coordination & Spatial Awareness

What’s the point?

I guess I could of said the number one rule for fighting is don’t get inflexible, uncoordinated, imbalanced, tired, weak, and slow but that just didn’t seem as catchy.

I’ll quote NFL strength consultant Dr. Ken Leistner to more appropriately summarize the point of all this (via The 4 Hour Body), he said: the goal of strength training is to reduce injury potential first, and to increase performance second.

The former is self-explanatory, and the latter a bit vague until you break it down into more specific principles like the 6 above.

Those will translate into the stamina to outlast your opponent, the speed to hit and not get hit, the power to end it early, and recovery time to make the minute between rounds seem too long.

And of course the added benefit of looking like GSP or Gina Carano…actually that might be the best part.

You gotta deserve it

In Mike Tyson’s formative years and through his first title fight he was unbeatable. It always bugs me when people look at his career as a whole and discount the first half because of the second. My favorite thing to say when referencing his career is: Tyson never lost…he only beat himself.

The man lost his mentor, changed trainers, and then there’s Don King. He was then surrounded by yes men and stopped putting in the hours that made him the baddest man on the planet. My point is if you put more work in than anybody you’re going to reap the rewards unlike anybody…you stop—it stops.

You want to win? You got to deserve it. That leads me into one of my favorite quotes by Mike Tyson’s mentor and the philosophy that I would like all of us to adopt when thinking about all the blood, sweat, and tears we have ahead of us:

When two men step into the ring, one and only one deserves to win. When you step into the ring, you gotta know you deserve to win. You gotta know destiny owes you victory , cause you trained harder than your opponent. You sparred harder. You ran farther.” -Cus D’Amato

Let’s know we deserve to win. Here’s to working hard. Work-outs coming up.