I'm not a sports scientist, a doctor or even particularly intelligent; but I'll try and offer some things that have helped me.
Traditionally, martial arts training heavily emphasises aerobic fitness, which resulted in long monotonous sessions.
Its not the optimum method of training and it's not efficient in terms of time, exertion or fatigue.
This is not to say that steady-state exercise is obsolete, it just says that variety is required.
"Cardio," "Fitness," "Conditioning," "sport specific exercise."
It's hard to capture in one word, but we need to prepare ourselves;
to move quickly enough - to exert enough force - over an extended period of time - against a resistant opponent
It is very difficult to paint three walls with one brush.
There are different systems that need to be addressed.
Speed - Anaerobic Phosphagen (0-30 secs)
More speed is something we are all trying to obtain - hand speed, footwork, work rate... we all want more of it faster.
Despite perception, this can be trained and it can be improved. I have found that with a good anaerobic system the body recovers more rapidly from exertion and prepares itself for further expressions of rapid, explosive movement.
A lot of people hate training this system...
OLY lifts are difficult to master, sprints are taxing on the CNS, jumps and throws will take the spring from your step very quickly and prowlers leave you with fluke.
Its not easy pushing yourself to be explosive every single time.
But if you perform ONE explosive rep before each session; its one more than none. It is money in the bank.
Training aids; Olympic Lifts, Short Sprints, Jumps and Throws, Prowler, Sled work.
Force - Anaerobic Glycolosis (30 secs - 2 mins)
I'm a dummy, so I call this "muscle fitness." This is all out exercise from 30 seconds to 2 mins.
Its also what makes me burn from lactic acid.
It allows a fighter to quickly express their force in rapid succession - like with strikes or grappling phases.
I have one coach I work with for this element of my preparation and he prepares a lot of circuits integrating both bodyweight exercises and weighted exercises for the development.
They are NOT for everyone, but I am a die-hard believer in the use of kettlebells for developing this system; for ME.
Training aids; Circuits. Complexes, Kettlebells, Tabatas
Endurance - Aerobic System (long duration)~
I stated above that steady state cardio is not obsolete. And it's not.
I'm a big UFC fan and sometimes I find it surprising how some really explosive, professional athletes can be completely gassed by the second round. I'm not even going to get into my beloved professional boxing here...
I'm going to share with you a secret. I HATE soccer. I hate it***
Despite my contempt, I have to respect and acknowledge that from very mediocre levels upward, these guys are mobile on the pitch for 90 minutes. This is obviously down to a great base-level aerobic system, developed through continuous training of skills with the ball, practise games, running drills and whatever else these girls do in training (sorry guys...)
So here's where I embrace the term "sports specific conditioning."
Way back when, somebody asked Eddie Futch; "Is swimming good training for boxing."
Eddie Futch - the pugilistic prophet that he was, replied; "Boxing is good training for boxing."
There is no better method of developing cardiovascular endurance for combat sports than ring/mat/cage time.
Wrestlers wrestle, Boxers spar, BJJ players roll...
I think Sento outlined it really well above. You can tailor your rounds to improve what aspect of fitness you wish to develop.
And the more rounds or repetitions you perform consistently, the more fuel you are putting in your tank.
Yes there are specific exercises you can perform;
Training aids such as; Distance Running, Fartlek Training, Swimming, Cycling, Rowing, Hiking, Weighted Walks
But they can become time consuming and monotonous.
By consistent ring time you will increase your aerobic base, you wont quit working with a partner, you will develop skill, you will expand your fighting repertoire and I think you'll have a lot more fun doing it.
@BigEasy24 I know you're not a novice and I'm sorry if that sounded a little preachy, but hopefully this thread could steer some newbies in the right direction in future.
As a specific answer to your query this is how I program my own training;
When I've got a fight coming up I will box 6/7 days a week.
3 x 1.5 hour sessions, 3 x 2 hour sessions.
Those obviously get me fit, but on top of those I like to do;
3 Anaerobic Phosphagen days integrated with my Strength work,
2 Anaerobic Glycolosis sessions are two tailor made sessions
1 day I will specifically go out for a leisurely run to add to the aerobic tank.
Dear God, I sincerely fing hate soccer.