No Season for MMA Fighters

UFC weigh in Fight Night 59

How to stay in shape all year round?

In my opinions on how to stay in “fight shape,” I need to state the obvious. You should never really let yourself get out of shape. I understand if you want to take a week off, drink a few beers and crush some pizza after fight camp. That’s fairly normal. I wouldn’t suggest taking a month off, gaining 30 lbs

1.  Preventative maintenance.

Invest the time to take care of yourself. Learn to manage your soft tissue through skillfully using foam rollers, tiger tails and other self-massage like the Rogue supernova. The cost of these 3 items is the same as one 90-minute massage and will bring you months, if not years of use.

2. Maintain your strength

When it comes to strength training, the magic happens when your train around the 80% mark. This percentage is very manageable in a trained athlete and should keep you strong throughout the year. When you can always hit these numbers, moving up slightly in weight should be a viable option without having to worry about DOMS(Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and neural fatigue.

3. Focus on compound movements

Train the deadlift, pull-up, barbell bridge, horizontal press and loaded carries on a weekly basis. It’s up to the fighter to determine volume, load and intensity but these exercises will get the job done. Keep the reps around 5 on most of these and you should be set.

Remember, no one ever dominated someone in the cage by training with bosu balls, ellipticals and p90x. Stick to what has worked for the last 50 years and eliminate meaningless training.

4. Train at fight speed

You don’t get explosive through slow movements, circuit training and long distance work. Sure, the aerobic system plays a role behind the scenes, but you need to train explosively to be explosive.

The mistake coaches make is when every form of conditioning is HIIT based. You cannot develop power in a fatigued state. They key is to perform some type of lactic work in each session. I have a great success at Skill of Strength by performing lactic capacity work at the end of the lift and beginning of conditioning.

There are several ways to train this way including plyos, sprints, sled work, medball throws and battling ropes are just a few options that work very well.

5. Hire a strength coach that works with fighters.

For some, it’s the missing piece of the puzzle. I am familiar with strength & conditioning and have years of experience in self training. However, as the day of fight gets close, I should not busy by analizing my conditioning and build strength program by myself. Many fighters have no problem hiring a striking coach, BJJ coach and wrestling coach. Then they go out and get their strength and conditioning from the internet. My suggestion is hiring a S&C coach with a good understanding of MMA.


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