Conditioning for Beginners

 A while back someone asked me what a good set of exercises would be for someone starting out in armoured combat. I am a bit late in responding to this request as the person was looking to get into some shape for Easter (and this is next week). Anyway if anyone is interested you can always come and find me at an event.

So beginning conditioning.

Most SCA combatants do not come from a sporting background. I was defiantly typical in this regard. Role playing games and painting miniatures do not prepare you for the physicality of armoured combat.

One of the most important aspects of fitness you can work on is your short to medium term endurance and recovery. I wrote post about this here. While I think high intensity intervals are awesome for armoured combat you do need to have a minimum level of fitness to not totally kill yourself doing these. Remember this is supposed to be enjoyable…ok…mostly.

So look to building up a base level of aerobic capacity first. Rowing machines, bikes, elliptical machines and treadmills are all good. If you are capable of running then this too is good and the “couch to 5km” program is an excellent place to start. Be able to sustain 20-30 min of constant effort. Your breathing should be such that you can talk but not sing. This is a heart rate of about 50-70% of your maximum heart rate.

From here you can start doing some HIIT or sprint training. Or a very effective way of building your fitness is to stay in armour as long as possible. Go to the stage you would normally stop. Have a short break and then fight 3-5 more bouts. Just make sure you are able to maintain form and not cause injury.

I would also suggest doing some resistance work. This is more about building up flexibility and your joints to protect them from injury. Body weight exercises here are fine. Squats are king for fighting. So make sure you warm up, just get your heart rate up and your body warm. Now do one complete round of the following. If you can have a break and do another round. Aim to be able to do three rounds.

  • 20 Squats – make sure you are not leaning forward and the weight is on your heels.
  • 10 push ups
  • 20 walking lunges (that is 10 leach leg)
  • 10 dumbell rows (use a big milk container as a weight) or 10 incline pull ups
  • 20 second plank
  • 30 star jumps

Do this two or three times a week but not on consecutive days. Once you can get through this three times then you should be moving onto other routines.

So this is probably a good plan for those wanting to work on their fitness for fighting.

What I do however need to mention is that any conditioning work MUST be backed up by a good diet. Quit smoking. Do this now. Stop drinking all that coke. Eat a lot more vegetables. Avoid processed food. What you eat and drink is the main contributor o your long term health.

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