What kind of "junk training" have you seen in combat sports gyms? I was inspired to write this blog after watching a video on the topic of "junk training" by Firas Zahabi. While there are some excellent ideas there, I wish Coach Zahabi would have given an itemized list of what he considers junk training, but he only talked about jumping rope as an example. So this blog will focus on the specifics of what I consider to be junk training.
I can see ANYTHING becoming junk training if it's used as a substitute for real progress instead of a supplement to it.
When new unathletic guy are starting out- everything makes them more athletic; the very act of getting off the couch and doing SOMETHING makes them better than they were. But for a serious athlete, maximizing the efficiency of how you use your training time is crucial so as not to waste the few precious hours you have to hone your craft.
That being said, I've also seen a ton of stupid, time-wasting exercises, drills, and techniques being peddled as the latest and greatest thing. What have you seen?
My full list would depend on who I'm training. Right now, most of the people I train put in between 4-10 hours a week in the gym. That's not a lot. With training time that limited, you have to be extremely careful not to waste it with junk training.
I do what I can to maximize the efficiency of the classes I teach. However, there's always someone who thinks they're better off doing whatever their particular training hobby is within their comfort zone instead of learning how to sit out and finish a double leg takedown when the other guy tries to sprawl on them. And then they get all bent out of shape when they get squashed by everybody and have no clue how to respond the next time they show up.
The "I can make it on my own" guy is a prime example of junk training that I hate to see. They feel like they're doing the work because they're hitting the bag, skipping rope, or whatever, and getting tired and sweaty. But at the end of the day, they haven't learned anything about fighting. Now, if this guy wants to do his routine as a supplementary workout OUTSIDE of classtime, then cool, that can actually be highly beneficial. However, time and time again, I see these folks who think they're too cool for school and/or too lacking in the emotional maturity required to take part in the learning process which involves getting your butt kicked over and over year after year.
The "I already know how to do that" guy is another guy to watch for notable examples of junk training. When the coach tells them to do an exercise with the intention of reinforcing an important principle, this guy will miss the forest for the trees, usually doing it once or twice, then sitting on the sidelines chatting for the remainder of the time instead of using the time to learn and develop attributes. I've even had a few "I already know how to do that" guys pay me for private lessons specifically to learn a certain technique, and then flat out refuse to do any of the exercises required to master the technique because they already "knew" how to do them. To which I responded, "I don't care what you know. The other person in the cage trying to hurt you doesn't care what you know. The people watching the fight don't care what you know. Nobody gives a damn about the ideas in your head. It's what you do that matters. Now do it."
So basically, hiring a coach or trainer as an personal accessory/status symbol/ego booster and not actually following through with their coaching is major junk training.
The "I'll be ready when..." guy and his close cousin the "I used to could" guy are both frequent junk trainers. They'll spend more time talking your ear off about what they did in the past or what they plan to do in the future (if the planets happen to align in just the right way) then they will actually doing anything athletic.
Then you've got the speed bag wizards, the jump rope queens, the heavy bag hobbyists, the TMA trickers, the "reality based self defense" guys, the "everything always comes back to my favorite technique" guy, and a whole range of one trick ponies who like the idea of MMA training, but they'd rather show off what they already know than add anything new to their skill set.
Focusing on form over function is junk training. And I see this a lot with the concept of "drilling". Here's where I take issue with semantics: "Drilling" IS training with resistance with a very specific goal. (eg: drilling mount escapes. The guy on the bottom tries to escape mount while the guy on top tries to stay on top)
Going through the motions to learn a new move (or to focus on details you might have missed on a familiar technique) is called a "sequence". Both are important. But, sequencing is sometimes abused to the point of redundancy (eg: traditional martial arts classes where more value is places on doing nice looking kata or pretty forms than actually knowing how to fight)
Junk training also comes from hero worship- specifically emulating habits or training methods from popular athletes, without understanding why the athletes had those habits in the first place.
A great example of this is WTF taekwondo (the kind you see in the Olympics) A casual viewer will notice right away that many TKD players spar with their hands down at their sides, leaving their heads completly unprotected. And this looks patently absurd- and in a very real way, it is. High level TKD players use this strategy as a feint to tempt their opponent to throw a head kick so they can more easily time a counter. Mastering this style of feinting is quite difficult and takes a great deal of time and practice. Meanwhile, low level TKD players don't see the feints and counters, instead, they simply see their heroes dropping their hands, so they do the same thing without the proper tools to back it up. And that is most definetly junk training.