How to Train Lowers by Ethan Altmann
This is a short article on how to train lowers by Ethan Altmann. If you don’t know who he is, he is considered one of the best lower freestylers ever and has been a judge on numerous occasions. You can check out his best video at the end of this post. As well as an interview we did a few years ago.
One of the most important aspects of improvement in freestyle is how you go about splitting up your week’s training. I hear of lots of people training 2-3 times a week for 2-3 hours each time. This gives between 4-9 training hours per week – let’s say the average training time for a freestyler is 6 hours per week. As far as level improvement goes, this is not the most efficient way of dividing your 6 hours. Training 1 hour 6 times per week allows for greater focus on each individual aspect of lower body freestyle. Everybody will have a preference as to which area they would like to excel in but for the sake of explanation I will prioritise like so:
1) 3 rev 2) NT 3) 2 rev
This is how I would divide 6 trainings:
Monday: 45 minutes 3 rev followed by 15 minutes long combos
Tuesday: 45 minutes NT followed by 15 minutes long combos
Wednesday: 45 minutes 3 rev followed by 15 minutes long combos
Thursday: 45 minutes 2 rev followed by 15 minutes long combos
Saturday: 45 minutes 3 rev followed by 15 minutes long combos
Sunday: 45 minutes NT followed by 15 minutes long combos
Here you can see that in one week:
3 rev = 135 minutes NT = 90 minutes 2 rev = 45 minutes
Ratio = 3:2:1
This training technique is precise and methodical – the 15 minutes of long combos at the end is there for as after 45 minutes of intense training on a specific area there will be fatigue and there is little chance of pushing your limits in this area once the fatigue kicks in. However, with fatigue in your legs the training of long combos will maximise endurance improvements as the tricks involved are already implicit in the muscle memory so there is no chance of damaging what has been learnt in the session, instead you will simply be teaching your muscles to do these simpler tricks once fatigue is there…a skill vital in being able to push your combos to their limits once you combine the 3 rev/NT/2 rev training with the long combos.
However, the structure of your trainings is by no means the most important thing, the way in which you actually train is far more important:
The intensity of your training is essential, breaks should be minimal and you should be focussing on breaking down the combos into manageable chunks. By this I mean that if for example you are training amatw amatw nt (assuming it is not easy for you/already implicit in muscle memory) you need to focus your mind on specific things at different times. For example, you should do hhtw and then try and clear your mind and focus purely on the crossover, once this is done you have to once more clear your mind and resist any temptation to hesitate, once you have begun the amatw nt motion you once more clear your mind and begin to focus on putting your remaining power into the final crossover motion.
This mental breakdown of a combo that lasts just 2 seconds is essential in learning anything new in any aspect of lowers. In order to really understand how to break the motions down you should record your trainings. After each training, watch attempts back and analyse where mistakes lie and what you can do correct them, then implement the analysis next time you train that combo. It shouldn’t necessarily be the following day as for combos that truly challenge you I find that training it daily puts too much pressure on yourself and leads to mental blocks. So, train it one day…after training the following day, analyse the previous days training and train that the next day.