In the last several weeks, I’ve discussed the process of Krav Maga Worldwide’s testing procedures. I started by making sure to clear up negative connotations about what many fear is the purpose of testing – meaningless profit generation, cruel hazing, or an empty cheerleading session. Then I tried my best to explain what a test can and should be – a realistic evaluation of one’s ability to function under stress, giving the student confidence based upon accurate simulation of stress.
This week, I’d like to hit on some points about the physical preparation leading up to a test. Again, as with the previous posts, this should be equally applicable to a new student taking their Yellow Belt test, or a seasoned instructor who is a candidate for Black Belt. Bear in mind that everyone’s physical needs, tolerance for stress, fitness level, dietary needs, and need for rest are different, so these suggestions are anecdotal and based on personal experience, but are not necessarily hard and fast rules.
Krav Maga tests are physical ordeals – no doubt about it. Many people have said that their first Krav Maga test is the most difficult physical challenge they’ve ever experienced. To get ready from a fitness standpoint, my suggestions are as follows:
- If you do consistent strength training, feel free to scale back the weeks prior to the test. This will allow your energy reserves to be directed towards increased training and mental toughness.
- Likewise, there’s no huge benefit to doing long slow distance such as marathon training, long swims, cycling, or intense hiking.
- If you DO want to run, bike, or swim, do so in shorter bursts followed by rest time. Ten to twelve cycles of interval training will maximize your recovery ability, which is crucial mid-test since Krav Maga training is essentially a series of bursts followed by rest.
- Take multiple classes in a row. Getting used to doing Krav Maga training for a few consecutive hours is the best preparation for a test, since a test will be several consecutive hours.
- Stop training altogether 2 days or so prior to the test. If you MUST move around, do some light cardio or review of your techniques, followed by stretching, yoga, or other non-impact training.
I get more and more questions about this category of test prep the more that various nutritional information (and misinformation) is readily available.
- The big point is – DON’T MAKE ANY DRASTIC CHANGES TO YOUR DIET A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE TEST. Want to go vegetarian? Sure – but don’t do it in the weeks preceding a test. Want to try a strict paleo or primal plan? Great – but again, don’t do it a few weeks before the test.
- A few things that EVERYONE agrees will work against your training are refined sugar, alcohol, and excess caffeine. No one thinks these things are a good idea, and these three are the exceptions to the above rule.
- If you’re training more, it’s understandable to eat a bit more. But with most Americans’ diet, it’s almost definitely not necessary.
- Most people will not drink too much water, but it is possible. But in general, drink more than you think you need.
- This is a newer concept to me, but about a year ago I started getting very methodical about my sleep. I made sure to get at least 7-8 hours per night. My training went through the roof – gains during lifting, increase in will power, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Simply put, I felt more prepared to train hard and eat right when I slept well.
- Next week I’ll be covering the mental/cognitive aspects of preparation for a test, and this suggestion spans both the physical and the mental – try to limit your intake of technology, especially during mindless times. I’m not saying skip your job if you are a web designer. I am saying that a few less hours of Candy Crush or Netflix will aid your ability to rest, which in turn will speed up your recovery.
- Take great care of your injuries, whether newer or recurring. Bandage joints, take anti-inflammatories, get a massage, go to the chiropractor. Whatever it takes, you don’t get a higher grade on an exam by fighting through avoidable pain prior to the test.
- Another one I got from Gym Jones while doing their 300: Cast and Crew prep workout – contrast showers. Basically, the idea is that you spend 2 minutes or so in the shower with it as hot as you can, then 1 minute or so in the shower as cold as you can stand it. I don’t know all the science behind it, but I know from direct experience that it works.
I’m sure there are more, so please, add your own thoughts, strategies, or proven techniques for physically prepping for a test! In the coming weeks, we’ll cover mental/cognitive preparation, emotional/psychological preparation, and how to respond to your testing results no matter what they are!