As fighters, it’s natural to “leave no stone left unturned” and do things that we think can give us an edge. But over time and countless mistakes, I’ve learned that some of these practices were unhealthy AND counterproductive to my performance.
Training in a Sauna Suit
One of the things I used to do when I had a fight was do full training sessions in a sauna suit. The amount of sweat I lost was incredibly satisfying, but I was very misguided to believe that this would lead to actual fat loss. Any weight lost during this session is just water, not fat. This can lead to dehydration and not being able to train well.
This is no way to lose weight, and doing so outside of weight-cut week is not healthy.
Waterloading Outside of Weight Cut Week
Another mistake I used to make was waterloading for a month (yes, a month!) leading up to a fight. I carried around a huge water bottle with me everywhere I went, chugging it and refilling it multiple times a day.
Waterloading involves drinking large amounts of water for a period of time and then cutting back drastically in order to lose water weight. However, this can be dangerous and lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances if done for prolonged periods of time. Turns out there is such a thing as drinking too much water.
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Starving Myself to Make Weight
As soon fight camp started, so did my crazy “diet”. I would eat very little and often skip meals altogether. I didn’t eat enough to fuel myself during training, and was never able to give it my best. Not eating enough will lead to decreased energy levels and a weakened immune system. It wasn’t a fight camp – it was a weight loss camp.
Running for an Hour Every Day
Up until just a couple years ago, I was running at least 10-12km every morning, mostly because it was part of the training regimen. While running is a great way to improve cardiovascular fitness, too much of it can lead to overuse injuries and decreased performance in other areas of training.
I don’t regret having done this. Waking up before 5am every morning and doing these runs followed by a full Muay Thai session built up tremendous mental resilience, and I was able to show myself how much I was willing to go through to be a fighter. But research has shown that it doesn’t benefit fighters in terms of power, speed, and strength.
I used to do “recovery” workouts on my rest days. On my days off from training, I used to run 3 miles (5k) to help me “recover”. I’ve since learned that rest days should truly be rest days, meaning doing no training or running. Not resting enough can lead to overtraining, which can lead to injury and decreased performance, so now I prioritize rest and recovery on my rest days.
I’ve made some changes to my training regimen that have helped me perform better and stay healthier. Now, I prioritize proper nutrition, effective training methods, and recovery that truly helps me rest and rejuvenate – so I can improve with each camp and each fight.
It’s important to constantly reevaluate and adjust your approach to training and fighting, and that includes letting go of habits that don’t serve you. Here’s to progress, growth, and leaving those old ways (and ego) behind!