The concept of ‘peaking’ is vital in sports. Learning how to train at what period of time is as important as the way an athlete trains.
In team sports, it’s often not the club that dominates the first part of the season or the middle stretches – but the club that heads into the post-season on a roll. Teams try to manufacture their training regime, their practice schedules, workouts etc. to ensure everyone is clicking physically and mentally.
Individual sports are no different. Chael Sonnen, in a wide-ranging interview with Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report mentions how his own training camps have often peaked too soon and left him frustrated heading into fights.
Sonnen used conversations he had after a training session with Georges St. Pierre to highlight this point, specifically in regard to GSP’s experiences with legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach. GSP told him that Roach noticed his prized pupil, Manny Pacquiao, was a fighter who trained everyday, so he was at his peak five or six weeks into an eight-week camp and then would decline. GSP altered his training camp as a result of his work with Roach.
Sonnen has not made the same adjustments yet – the conversation with GSP came during his current training camp for the Rashad Evans bout – but noticed he had similar problems as Pacquiao, in which he would peak too soon. In fact, Sonnen says it’s the reasons he often volunteers for short-notice fights.
“…when there is a short-notice fight, I always raise my hand. I always say, “I’ll do it.” And I always get all this credit. All this street cred for being such a tough guy who’s willing to fight at any time. But the reality is, I do it out of selfishness. I believe I’ll be better if I take it on short notice.”
Clearly, training regimes are different for everyone. Some fighters probably feel they do better with long camps while some prefer short. Some fighters want higher intesnity while others want less. Sonnen is one of the more cerebral fighters in the game and knows that the way one trains will always fluctuate and change.
“As soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, it changes with age. You get a little bit older and that number of workouts, that number of days in training, changes. So there’s no perfect answer.”