How do you Peak?

Everyone has got their own theory for getting ready for a competition.  There are a few standards like tapering beforehand and carb loading the night before (if you’re not cutting that is). We’re going to give you our take below.  Just a side note, everyone is unique and reacts differently to training and recovery and nutrition so the key is experimenting and finding what works for you.

Now if you have a competition to prepare for a month or three away, you can set up a week to week, day to day plan leading up to it.  A week out from the competition start slowly tapering down.  Cut lifting weights 5-7 days out to give your body ample time to relax and loosen up.  Go from two a days to one a days.  Allow yourself an extra hour or two of sleep if you can.  Don’t expose yourself to potentially dangerous situations at practice, just work on refining your speed and technique.  Maintain proper nutrition, cut out the greasy fatty foods that slow you down.  Gradually start dropping your weight so that you’re within five to eight pounds, a small enough amount that you can sweat it off the day of weigh-ins. 

But what if you’re competing every week? Twice a week? And you don’t have time to slowly taper down a week in advance?  In that situation it’s all about maintenance and consistency.  Now I don’t mean skill wise, you always want to be continuously improving there. I mean physically and nutritionally. Keep your weight stable to within an amount that you know you can drop the day of.  Don’t balloon back up after weigh-ins then get stuck dropping it all off the next week; that is unneeded stress on your body. Take the day before your competition to taper down, get a light workout in to stay loose, work on timing and technique rather than going too hard.  Get a solid night’s sleep.

However, all of this physical tapering and peaking doesn’t mean anything if your mind isn’t into it.  If you are mentally off during a competition, it doesn’t matter how great physically you are.  Your mind is just like any other part of your body, it needs rest.  The day before a competition, clear your mind.  Relax, meditate, watch a dumb movie, read a light book, anything to ease your mind so you will be ready to focus when it matters.  At the end of the day that is really the most important.  It really is all mind over matter, especially at a high level when skill wise everyone is virtually equal.

So consult with your coach.  Set up a plan.  Experiment with different routines leading up to smaller competitions to find out what works and what doesn’t.  And remember to make sure you have plenty of Rapid Rehydration for immediately after weigh-ins.

Take off your hoodie!

When should you be cutting weight?

There is an endless debate between coaches and competitors on when to cut weight? Do you do it during practice? Do you do it on your own time? Both? Neither? (Well ok, that last one is not an option). 

The arguments are simple.  Many athletes like cutting weight during practice.  They still participate during practice but wear additional layers to sweat more, or some even just do cardio in the corner of the gym to lose the weight and don’t participate.  The pro argument is that it saves them from having to do an extra workout which will allow them to save their strength and decreases the opportunity for injury.

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 The con argument is that their training suffers.  They are missing out on valuable practice time where they could be improving.  Practicing while wearing extra layers and dehydrating yourself does technically count as practicing, but your performance and concentration suffer during this time and the benefit of training is greatly reduced.  Not only that, your training partners are suffering as well, as you are not able to train hard with them.  Which argument is stronger?

During my life on the mat I have been on both sides of the spectrum, as a competitor and now as a coach.  Personally, I’ve always been of the opinion that you should cut weight on your own time.  Practice is for practicing.  To be successful as an elite athlete, one must put in extra hours on their own time, these extra hours could be used for cutting weight.  Selfishly, when I go to practice to train, I don’t want my training partners to be cutting weight; I want them working out and testing me.  Besides, cutting weight during practice really takes the fun out of practicing.  At the end of the day, we’re playing a game, it should be fun.

This is just the opinion of a retired athlete turned coach.  At the end of the day, the most important thing is that after your cut weight, you grab some Rapid Rehydration.

Different Types of Dehydration

Different types of dehydration?

That’s right. There are different kinds of dehydration. All are bad in their own way and potentially very harmful if untreated.  Rather than go through the technical terms let me lay it out this way.  Three types, Normal, too much water, too little water and ‘normal’.  It gets a little confusing, but stick with me.

When you have too much water in your system which will dilute your blood. This happens if you drink too much plain water or distilled, if you are just going way too far out of your way to avoid salts. Wait, you can be dehydrated by drinking too much water? Relax, we’ll explain.  Your body needs salts and other electrolytes to function.  Don’t deprive it.  In this case, you should make sure you add salts to whatever you’re eating and drinking to rebalance. To ‘rehydrate’ in this situation, put extra Rapid Rehydration in your water, i.e. 2 packets instead of one in 16oz of water.  This will have a higher concentration of salts and electrolytes and will help you recover better.

Next is too little water.  Ok, that I can get.   This happens when you have consumed too much salt and not enough water.  This is a typical condition for most Americans who eat a lot of processed food with added salts and preservatives.  In this case, you should be drinking water with no added electrolytes to balance out and eat some unprocessed meals.  

However, when you think of dehydration you are probably thinking of the ‘normal’ dehydration – that is when you lose roughly the same proportion of salt and water that you normally have in your body.  This is usually what happens when you sweat, your sweat has some salt in it as various other things like ammonia, urea and other ingredients that aren’t relevant to this topic.  When you’re working out and sweating a lot, this is what’s happening.  It is always important that what you’re drinking during or after training has some electrolytes.   

This is the situation that Rapid Rehydration was specifically designed to treat.  When you get severely dehydrated in this way, your blood has lost a lot of its water and salts, causing it to thicken.  Now your blood is denser, all of the stuff in it (cells, plasma etc) doesn’t have as much water to move around in (Think when you are making chili, you start with a lot of liquid as it boils down, the chili gets thicker).  Rapid Rehydration has a lower concentration of ‘stuff’ as standard sports drinks so it helps force the essential water and salts back into your cells.  That’s why when you drink standard sports drinks like Powerade when you’re dehydrated, they tend to sit in your stomach and bloat you; they are absorbing too slowly.  Gatorade and other standard sports drinks have more ‘stuff’ in them and are made when you blood is at its natural hydrated state. So if you never let yourself get even slightly dehydrated, crack open some Gatorade.  But as soon as you get even a little thirsty, time for Rapid Rehydration.

All of these conditions result in cramping and decreased mental and physical performance.  All of these conditions are harmful, and when taken to the extreme can be fatal.

TAKE A SHOWER.

No one likes training with a stinky partner. But if the smell is the worst thing about them not being clean, consider yourself lucky. Skin diseases and illnesses are a HUGE problem in combat sports.  Some are harmless and just ugly like ringworm, acne, and athletes’ foot, but some can potentially lead to serious illness and even death. That’s right. Take a shower or you will die.

Ice Ice Baby

It seems like every year or so there is a new hot way to recover after training. Stretch, don’t stretch, heat, cool, ice bath, contrast, cool down slowly, stop suddenly, use a roller, don’t use a roller… so many options, who knows?  And like anything else, you can always find some ‘scientific study’ or ‘expert’ who claims to know with absolute certainty.