GET­TING READY TO RUM­BLE

T3’S MIXED MAR­TIAL ARTS FIGHTER GRAP­PLES WITH THE LAT­EST TRAIN­ING TECH TO SEE IF IT CAN PRE­PARE HER FOR A FORTH­COM­ING CAGE BAT­TLE

Australian T3 - - MAN VS TECH - WORDS POLLY BEAUCHAMP PHO­TOG­RA­PHY JOE BRANSTON

DING-DING!

You need to have men­tal and phys­i­cal de­ter­mi­na­tion to fight in a cage. You have to be pre­pared to push your­self, es­pe­cially when train­ing. There will be times when all you want to do is sit on the sofa and eat cake; but you know you have to go to your train­ing ses­sion and stay on the clean diet.

Be­fore the T3 team con­tacted me to see if we could raise my fight­ing and train­ing game with the lat­est tech, I used old-school meth­ods: run­ning, hit­ting bags, spar­ring… But with a fight com­ing up in four weeks, it’s time to step things up a level.

WEEK ONE

I de­cide to start the week with a six-kay hill run, plus some judo, Brazil­ian jiu-jitsu and kick­box­ing. What bet­ter way to track my run­ning per­for­mance than with the new Ap­ple Watch Se­ries 2? I’ve got the alu­minium bezel, as it’s slightly lighter (30 per cent lighter, ac­tu­ally – Ed) with the white sport band. I can leave my phone at home while I’m out, thanks to the built-in GPS, and get a de­tailed re­port of my run – in­clud­ing where I sped up and slowed down – in the Ac­tiv­ity app on my iPhone when I get home. And, of course, I can con­tinue to mea­sure my heart rate.

Hav­ing the right footwear is vi­tally im­por­tant. I pre­fer to do my run­ning on the roads or cross-coun­try, so train­ers have to have the rel­e­vant foot/an­kle sup­port and cush­ion­ing to pre­vent shin splints. For my run, I slip into a pair of Un­der Ar­mour’s SpeedForm Slin­gride run­ning shoes. They fit me like a glove, al­most mould­ing to my feet. When I got them, I won­dered if they were too light to give me the rel­e­vant sup­port, but I’ve had no an­kle-rolling or foot/shin pain at all. They’ve also got great grip for when I move in and out on the punch­bag, and lift weights.

Cloth­ing is equally im­por­tant. You don’t want to be train­ing in baggy cot­ton gear that soaks through. Plus, baggy cloth­ing is dan­ger­ous when rolling, as fin­gers

MMA, or Mixed Mar­tial Arts, is a tough busi­ness. If you’re not good enough to de­fend your­self and attack your op­po­nent as nec­es­sary, you get punched in the face (and th­ese gloves aren’t as padded as box­ing gloves), kicked all over your body, grap­pled to the floor and put in all man­ner of locks.

and toes can get caught and bro­ken. Breath­able, de­cent-fit­ting Ly­cra is favourable; the Un­der Ar­mour gear I have is light and comfy, which is ideal. You sweat but don’t feel sweaty or weighed down.

WEEK TWO

I want to push my­self fur­ther and set my­self tougher goals – so I turn to Sam­sung’s IconX for my five-kay run on the Thurs­day. This is a ‘hear­able’ that’s es­sen­tially two wire­less ear­buds with ac­tiv­ity-track­ing built in. They also have 4GB of stor­age, mean­ing I can upload my songs so that I don’t need to take my Watch or phone out for a run. The touch in­ter­face is con­fus­ing at first, but once you get used to the num­ber of taps you have to do to be­gin a work­out – voice feed­back guides you here – it’s easy. And then you can see your re­sults, in­clud­ing heart rate and dis­tance, in the S Health app.

You can also set rou­tines us­ing the app, and get feed­back on when you’ve achieved them – im­por­tant when try­ing to reach fat­burn­ing zones and push­ing your­self. It all adds up to track­ing runs more ef­fec­tively and learn­ing more about your fitness as you work out. Plus, get­ting live feed­back on my heart rate while run­ning was great, though it’d be bet­ter to do this man­u­ally.

WEEK THREE

It’s Satur­day in week three. This is a rest day and, be­cause I’m not do­ing any phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, I can prop­erly mon­i­tor my rest­ing heart rate – and the gen­eral health of my heart. The Garmin In­dex smart scale is some­thing I never thought I’d need – but the num­bers I get from it give me a fas­ci­nat­ing look at my body. As well as my weight, fat mass, mus­cle mass, water mass and bone mass, the Garmin scale spits out a BMI and keeps tabs on my progress as I edge to­wards my goal weight.

If I wanted it to, I could store the de­tails of up to 16 peo­ple – handy if I had a ros­ter of spar­ring part­ners who needed to know what their bod­ies were do­ing as well. All of this info is tracked via Garmin Con­nect, an in­tu­itive app that gives a com­pre­hen­sive data set of your body mass and heart health. Los­ing weight safely is so im­por­tant; too many fight­ers un­der­take dras­tic weight cuts that can have a se­ri­ous im­pact on their health and per­for­mance.

WEEK FOUR

It’s the fi­nal week of my train­ing be­fore I meet my op­po­nent. And for my work­out on the Wed­nes­day, I turn to the Sparbar Pro. This is, in lay­man’s terms, a ro­tat­ing stick on a punch­bag that aims to im­prove hand speed, de­fence and head move­ment. You hit the bar and it spins around to ‘attack’ you. This is a per­fect bit of kit to in­cor­po­rate into your train­ing, par­tic­u­larly at home when you haven’t got your coach or a train­ing part­ner there to pad/throw punches back at you. Us­ing this, I quickly learnt that I drop my hands far more than I should, so it en­cour­ages good de­fence and helps to get your head mov­ing! I feel like this could mas­sively tighten up my box­ing skills, and help with hand speed – I imag­ine it’s a bit of kit that most fight­ers would want at home or in their gym.

By com­bin­ing tech with my typ­i­cal train­ing regime, I feel as though I know my body – and fitness – bet­ter. I’ve been able to push my­self fur­ther than be­fore, and the Sparbar Pro has given me more con­fi­dence in my box­ing, de­fence and head move­ment.

FIGHT DAY

It’s Satur­day. I’m at the venue. I’m in the cage. There’s an ex­pec­tant buzz in the air as the au­di­ence take their seats. All of my train­ing has lead me to this, and glory is at the end of my fin­ger­tips. I stare my op­po­nent in the eyes and don’t look away as the ref­eree asks us if we’re ready. The adren­a­line starts pump­ing. My con­cen­tra­tion lev­els heighten. The bell sounds…

“The Garmin scale gives me info about my body that I didn’t know I needed.”

The train­ing is gru­elling, and the tech is here to help

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