Sometimes knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. MMA is a relatively new sport where its coaches have borrowed training strategies from many other areas: karate, boxing, jiujitsu, and wrestling, just to name a few.
But MMA is not like any one sport. It requires a unique training strategy. For example, a guy who develops his conditioning like a boxer will shortchange his performance, come fight day.
My job is to build super athletes. When an athlete hires me to look at his current training and nutrition program I have to figure out what he’s doing wrong. In essence, I’m a problem solver: a guy who has to take out what’s bad and replace it with something good.
With that in mind, these are three of the biggest mistakes that a fighter typically makes, and how to fix them.
1. TOO LITTLE STRENGTH TRAINING:
Take any two fighters with similar levels of skill and the stronger guy will win. Many coaches, including myself, believe that the reason a male athlete will always beat a female athlete, in any sport, is because the guy is stronger.
But arm curls and leg extensions won’t make you strong, no matter how much weight you use. You must build strength with compound exercises that carryover to the ring or cage. Here’s what you should be able to do:
Pull-ups and Dips: 5 reps with 25% of your body weight attached to a chin/dip belt.
Deadlift: 3 reps with twice your body weight.
If you don’t measure up, pick up a copy of my book, Huge in a Hurry, since it’ll show you how to build strength fast.
2. TOO MUCH JOGGING:
Ever since Rocky laced up his running shoes, fighters around the world have spent endless hours pounding the pavement. The problem with jogging for an hour is that it develops the wrong energy system, it’s very hard on your joints, and it develops countless muscle imbalances around your hips. Indeed, jogging will make you weak, sore, and stiff in all the wrong places.
Sprinting, however, is great:
Especially when you make it a total body exercise. Get a 100-pound sandbag, bearhug it, and sprint as hard as you can for 40 yards. Take a quick breather – less than 30 seconds – and do it again. Repeat for 10-15 minutes.
3. NO PRE- AND POSTWORKOUT NUTRITION:
Your body needs plenty of high quality nutrients at the right time to boost performance and recovery. Stepping into a sparring match on an empty stomach is a bad idea. You must have a supply of nutrients already packed into your body to fuel your efforts. One banana and a scoop of whey protein, 30 minutes before you train, will give your body the fuel it needs.
After a hard workout, your muscles are depleted of glycogen, amino acids, and various vitamins and minerals that are necessary for recovery. Furthermore, training acidifies your body, and this slows recovery. One-half cup of organic raisins will provide the necessary carbs, vitamins, and minerals to recharge your body. In addition, raisins are alkaline, which means they neutralize your acidic muscles. Combine raisins with another scoop of whey protein, directly after training, and you’re well on your way to recovery.
Pre-workout (30 minutes before): 1 banana plus one scoop of whey protein.
Post-workout (immediately after): ½ cup of organic raisins and one scoop of whey protein.