As a trainer who spends a lot of time in the gym coaching both strength and conditioning as well as Muay Thai technique classes I see a lot of people do a lot of different workouts and following different types of protocols. Some good, some not so good. Here's a quick list of a few common mistakes I see that you should avoid.
1. Starting to lift weights right before a competition.
Building strength is a long-term commitment. it doesn't happen overnight and it's something that should be maintained with consistency. What I see a lot of people do is sign up for competition and decide they need to get strong with only three or four weeks before the event. The weeks preceding competition should be spent focusing on cardiovascular conditioning, and game planning. Adding an intense strength workout during this phase will make recovery from your skill, sparring and conditioning workouts much tougher and you won't see very much improvement in your strength. The best time to starting getting strong is in the months before and after competition with some time spent deloading in the weeks immediately preceding your competition event. Don't get me wrong, maintaining strength is important but starting a new strength routine immediately before the competition will not prove beneficial
2. Focusing on the wrong Energy Systems.
A lot of the time people think that if they're fighting two or three minute rounds they need to only work inside the parameters of two or three minutes. While that does make sense to some degree chances are you are already training those energy systems while you are sparring, drilling, doing pad work, bag rounds etc.
That particular blend of energy systems needs to be able to recover, so instead of overdoing it, add some different tempo/duration drills to your training. There are short duration exercises like the Olympic Drill which allow you to work your ATP – PC system which is important to be able to perform at high intensity. Long, Slow ,Distance training is somewhat controversial in the combat sports but there are some importance benefits that can be gained by such as increased stroke volume (how much blood is pumped per beat of the heart), recovery, and mitochondria density/volume.
3. Not knowing the difference between cutting weight and losing weight.
Fortunately I don't see this as often anymore but it’s still something to be addressed. Some people make the mistake of "cutting" weight, that is, dehydrating, too soon before competition. Ideally, if you need to make weight you start by slowly decreasing your calorie intake many weeks before the competition. If you are new to cutting weight you should do a practice run of a few pounds months before you compete. This will allow you to see how easy or difficult is for you to dehydrate, re-hydrate be able to perform. Cutting weight in itself is a skill and requires some practice and diligence. It should not be done to any extreme as it can be quite dangerous if not done properly.
4. Spending too much time on the wrong type of training.
While it is important to maintain cardiovascular conditioning ,strength and power, and avoiding injuries it is more important to develop your skill set and the proper sport specific conditioning. Ideally you should spend most of your time working within the parameters of your sport. For example; if you're training for a Kickboxing match five days a week at two hours a day you should spend at least eight of those hours working your skill and conditioning doing Muay Thai, with 1 to 2 hours of extra curricular strength strength, running, swimming, prehab etc. This is a general rule of thumb, but spending more than 50% of your time on non-sport specific training right before an event is not a smart use of your time. Use the time after the event to recover and then work on non sport specific attributes.
Also, focus on the event at hand. I often have to tell my students "If you're competing in BJJ, don't worry about your striking - focus on your tournament and when you're done, then come back to class" or vice versa.
If you have any questions on these, or have some other things you see others do that don't seem to make sense, put them down in the comments below!
Dan Slobodin -