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Combat sports is, one of the most demanding of any contact sport disciplines. For this special breed of athletes, Strength and Conditioning (S&C) is a crucial component of their training programme.

We recently spoke to a man who knows more than just a thing a two about the demands of the sport and for a very good reason – he is one the most sought after coaches when it comes to strength and conditioning training.

Muhammad Abdillah Alkhatib or ‘Arab’ is an omnipresent figure in the local fight scene. If he’s not in the gym putting his charges through grueling fitness regimes, he can be spotted cornering fighters at events.

“I started, if I can recall, just over about 10 years ago as a freelance personal trainer. Along the way I upgraded myself through courses, diplomas and certifications in fitness and performance training.”

Sometime in 2011 or 2012, Arab was working out of a studio gym in Boat Quay. It was a few doors down from what would be his homecoming, Juggernaut Fight Club.

“I started spending a lot of time at Juggernaut Fight Club and slowly got hooked to the challenging environment. The friendly competitive attitude and most of all the cameraderie amongst the fighters was what truly drew me closer. Arvind (The Bossman) noticed what I had to offer in terms of coaching and he took me in. Both he and Ali (the boxing coach at that time) showed me the ropes and what I needed to know about the sport. And most importantly about coaching fighters.”

Although Arab did take on opportunities at other gyms both locally and overseas, but as they say, no matter how far you go – home always beckons.

“I came to a point where I realised that fight sports is where I truly belong. I can’t help that I’m a Juggernaut, strong and proud.”

Arab is not only a coach, he is a practitioner and that allows him to really understand the importance of S & C training. On this and immediate benefits, he had this to say.

“In a nutshell, it is to improve performance in athletic competitions. S & C also helps athletes with injury prevention and one of the most important aspects, the proper mechanics required within their specific sport or in my case, discipline. It covers the entire development of the athlete or fighter and is what is needed to improve physical performance. As for immediate benefits – because we are all wired differently, it varies.”

With everything else, there are often misconceptions about strength and conditioning training. So what are they?

“The most common (among fighters) I would say is the perception that anything to do with weights will get them too big and slow or will cause them to lose flexibility and speed. It’s like the sight of weights equates the image of a bodybuilder. There are so many functional ways to train strength and there’s more to strength than just lifting strength for performance. Strength training does not necessarily make a fighter slower or heavier.”

But how does Arab cater to the specific or specialised needs of his clients? Read Part II.

Photos: Courtesy of Muhammad Abdillah Alkhatib Facebook.

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