The length of each pad work round depends upon the purpose of the pad work. Is the pad work designed to develop explosiveness or aerobic fitness or to develop lactic acid tolerance or something else entirely? Short intense rounds tend to stress the anaerobic system, while longer easier rounds can challenge the aerobic capacity.
The length of round is also dependent on the particular sport being practised. Boxing typically has three-minute rounds with 1 min rest between each round. Thai boxing also has three minute rounds but with 2 min rest between each round. MMA has 5 min rounds with a minute rest between each round. Obviously if a person is training for fight in a particular sport the length of pad round should reflect the length of a competition round.
The only exception to this would be if the pad work was being undertaken to develop speed or explosiveness. It is very difficult if not impossible to maintain full speed and explosiveness for more than a couple of minutes. The body and the nervous system get tired and inevitably slows down. At this point if one is training speed it is a good idea to stop, fully rest and continue when maximum speed is possible again. So speed rounds tend to be shorter.
Conversely aerobic fitness rounds will be performed a low intensity so can be for a longer time as the aerobic energy system responds better to a more steady type of exercise. Areobic rounds can be 10-20 minutes long.
In the beginning of pad work training it is a good idea to do as many rounds as possible until technique breaks down. Keeping training after this point will only hinder the development of good technique. There is a point beyond which continuing to slug away on the pads with poor form and low-power will be detrimental. It is far better to rest and start again when fresh than continue with compromised technique.
For beginners 3x2 minute rounds with 1 min rest between rounds is a good place to start. As fitness increases and skill improves more rounds can be added gradually building to 6x3 minute rounds for kick boxers and 5x5 minute rounds for MMA fighters. A person who can perform this amount of training in a technical and disciplined fashion with high-intensity can consider themselves pretty damn fit.
How to increase padwork intensity
There are many ways to increase the intensity of pad work
- The pad holder can add in striking blitzes such as frequent 10 punch sprints to up the effort.
- The pad holder can call for a certain number of bodyweight exercises such as press ups, tuck jumps and burpees at any time.
- The pad holder can incorporate a lot of footwork and changes of direction as this makes the striker work harder
- The pad order can call for longer, more complex striking combinations that require more effort
- Certain high-intensity sport specific moves can be added to make things harder. For example in MMA sprawling and tackling can make things really tough.
- The length of around can be lengthened or shortened to increased intensity. Sometimes longer rounds force a person to work harder and sometimes shorter rounds allow the person to expend more energy quickly.
- Mixing pad work with bag work can make training harder as the bag allows for application of maximum power whilst the pads are used to improve speed and reaction time.
- The fighter can add extra resistance by using weighted vests or resistance tubing so that pad work is harder. There are many good products on the market now there are designed to help the athlete work harder.
- UFC fighter Sean Sherk developed a respiratory training device that limits the intake of air making the lungs work harder. His training mask which looks like a gas mask is worn during pad work or conditioning and it is claimed turbo charges fitness by forcing the body to extract more oxygen from a limited amount available through the holes in thr mask. This unique bit of kit does take some getting used to and can feel quite claustrophobic but many MMA fighters swear by its effectiveness.
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