How much training volume can YOU tolerate?

How many hours of strenuous training per 7 day week? I am defining strenuous as: competitive rolling, competitive wrestling/judo, weightlifting, sprinting, intense cardio/circuits? Just drilling technique or teaching does not count.

10 hrs per week is about where I reach my limit and overtrain.

I can (with lots of good food and uninterrupted sleep) manage 3 or 4 hard 2-hr sessions of MMA/grappling/wrestling with lots of intense rolling and conditioning per week. I wrestled a little bit in college while trying to work in at least a day or two of MMA on top of it (wrestling 3x a week, everything for 2 hours at a time).

If I tried to push it further (several times I'd try to wrestle 3x a week and train MMA 3x a week), I usually either got sick or (on 2 occasions) got staph infections. I also wound up with ringworm one time.

If I'm training that much, I usually am unable to push the weights hard enough to build much strength; I don't find it difficult to work in little 10-15 minute conditioning workouts, though; I often did tabatas (or other general interval-type workouts) with sprawls or shoots, which I found to help my conditioning and my technique enormously.

If I'm lifting seriously and trying to build up strength, I can't train more than once or twice a week with any intensity.

I'm facing a possible 1 or 2 year training layoff (due to lack of funds and an intense work/school schedule, though I'm looking into either taking up boxing or trying to continue kickboxing once a week as I am now), so I'm thinking about trying to focus on building up my tolerance to higher workloads during the time period to keep myself in shape and try to prep myself to transition as seamlessly as possible once I'm able to train on a more regular basis.

I saved a pretty good post by forum member Xennova(or Anton Chigurh, or whatever he was going by before he got banned) that addressed the process of progressively building tolerance (while also detailing his own absurdly high level of activity), I'd be happy to put it up if anyone is interested.

ihave done bjj at the hightest at 4 classes in one day at abgout 1.5 -2 hours each and did 3-4 days more of at least 2 classes per day.

Two hours a week.

About 8 hours, at 40 years old. Surpringly though, 5-6 hours per week is enough to maintain a high level of fitness.

mine is about 7-9
weights 3 hours a week
steady cardio 3 hours a week
bjj gi training 1-3 hours a week depending if i get enough rest and eat well enough that week.

right now my goals are to cut weight and get better cardio so i don't gas out heavy bjj sparring sessions.

i'm 31 yrs old.

 Thanks for the replies, Seul I would look at the saved post you have for sure!

So far looks like most people are kinda near my current limit...

This is from a link to a thread on the t-nation forums that Xennova posted for me when I asked him a question, so I don't imagine he'd have a problem with me posting it:

There's been a lot of questions regarding training for MMA especially how to integrate lifting and what not. I have a LOT of ideas bouncing around in my head and this forum has basically been an outlet for it.

So I'm going to present a snapshot of what I was doing for some time along with conversation that I traded with another forum member, CHENZEN, (its ok Mod's I asked his permission first :) ) that happened to be one of my most concise explanations of what I was doing at the time. And Chen raised important issues...anyway


There are a LOT of variables that go into and keep in mind I'm primarily a standup fighter too, my strength levels are way different than most, my weaknesses are going to be vastly different than yours and despite my young age, my 'training age' is probably greater than most...and I have a ridiculous work capacity so don't do what i do...

There are also things I do intuitively (like managing lifting volume and technique training volume) that I don't necessarily outline but are critical to staying in front of the over-training curve. Which if you're a combat athlete is easy to do... most have a balls to the wall mentality which can get us into trouble and we get eager to run ourselves into the ground.

Sometimes less is more.

The lifting goals are MY goals, create your own for what you feel improves YOUR mma game. This requires being more like an intermediate lifter so you know what your body responds to.

Some people might like overhead lifts, some might not. Some might have injuries that inhibit you from performing certain lifts. Some guys might need to just stick with a simple 5x5 bench, squat, row type program.

I'll try to help out everyone I just want to get the ideas out there so we're thinking about shit other than body part splits and or bosu ball deadlifts and crap.

I was going to try and make a free e-book but honestly thats more work than I care to put in. Plus this way if any one has any questions they can just ask me. Please feel free to ask cause otherwise there is a lot of shit I do intuitively that I don't realize I need to actually explain.


I'm working on a training program for MMA/Thaiboxing...kind of a mismash of shit i've learned from various coaches, articles, personal experience, etc... i have everything worked out in my head but right now I just have the program for myself I think i'm going to write it all out though.

I was thinking about submitting it to T-Nation, but I'm torn between that and just making it a free e-book.

anyway here's the rough notes of it figured you'd like a peek.

Bodyweight Limit: 180lbs

Overall Strength Goals:
Power Clean and Press 315#
Deadlift 600#... break powerlifting top 100 for BW
20 Overhead squats with Bodyweight
>> Back Squat (a2g) at least 2.5xBW (425) 10reps
>> Front Squat at least 2x BW(340) x10reps
>> Power Snatch Max at least 1.5xBW
>> Overhead squat Max at least 1.5xbw (255@ 170#)

Phase I, Improve power clean. Phase II, Improve Back Squat. Phase III, Improve DL. Phase IV, Front Squat

Phase I:

3 day rotation- Tu, Th, Sa
Warmup- Dynamic movements, OHS 1-3x20

-ME (4-6 singles over 90%)
> Snatch Pull from floor, Powerclean From Blocks, Snatch pull from blocks (Thigh level)
- Accessory, 1, (4rm x 2-3+ 1 widowmaker set)
> RDL, GM, Back Squat, Front Squat
- Integrated Assistance Work
> Javorek Complex x5
> 10x1 min Rounds, Power-Endurance

-ME (4-6 singles over 90%) + 1 widowmaker set
> Seated OH press, Push press, Incline barbell press
-Accessory, 1, (HEAVY 3-5rm x 3-5 + 1 widowmaker set)
> Weighted Chin, Bent Row, 1 arm row
- Integrated Assistance Work
> Arm Strong + 2min rounds x 3-5

> Jump Squat, Power snatch from blocks 80-85%
- Accessory 1, (6rm x 2-3 + 1 widomaker set)
> Snatch Pull, RDL, OHS
- Accessory 2, (6rm x 2-3 + 1 Widowmaker set)
> GM, Front Squat, Back squat
- Integrated Assistance Work
> Magic 50 + 2min rounds x 5


Out of season, change friday to DE: Upper day

> Speed chins, ballistic bench
- Accessory, 1, EDT
> Dips/Chins
- Accessory, 2, Timed sets/high reps
> OH Presses, db bench
- C2 Rower
> 2 min sprints above target HR (175), 4-5.


--Morning Conditioning--
3 day rotation- M, W, F

- 20min shadowboxing
- 2 Conditioning Drills

- 20min shadowboxing
- 2 Conditioning Drills

- Track Work



6 rounds, 3min each (Heavy, Wrecking, Wall bag), last 30s. punch out drill, 1min rest
3 rounds, 2min each (keep away), 30 s rest

-Magic 50-
Perform 5 circuits of the following:
5 Dumbbell Snatches Per Arm
5 Dumbbell Swings Per Arm
10 Burpees
Rest 60 seconds and repeat

>>>>>>>>>>>> You should know right away who i took this one from.

- 4 rounds, 30s each period, 3min rounds, 30s rest
>> left double kick (high low)
>> right double kick (high low)
>> Jab-MatatOOM-lowkick (right)
>> jab-right-switch lowkick (left)
>> body punches, knee, kick, teep
>> Leaning Knees (wrecking ball)

-Power Boxing-
10 x 1-minute, all out with specific combo for 1 min, with 30s-60s rest

- Staying Power -
4 x 1-minute power boxing 1min-30s rest
5 x 30-second punch out drills 1min-30s rest

-Fighting Burpee-
Burpees, 30s
Shadowbox, 30s
continue for 2-3min
1 min rest
repeat for desired # of rounds

-Work Capacity-
explosive chin-ups x 5
Medicine Ball Slams x 10
Burpees x 15
Weighted High Steppers x 20 ...use suitable substitute

-Sequential Fatigue-
10 burpees (sprint down and back)
10 plyopushups (sprint down and back)
15 diamond pushups (sprint down and back)
10 tuck jumps (sprint down and back)
Jog down and back to start

-100m Challenge-
6 laps. Run straights jog curves

-Hill Sprints-
10 uphill

10x 400m, 1min rest

-Arm Strong-
1 arm snatch x5
1 arm jerk x 5
1 arm row x 5
repeat with opposite arm
1min rest.

Barbell Upright Row x 3-8
Barbell High Pull Snatch x 3-8
Barbell Front Squat Push Press x 3-8
Barbell Behind the Head Good Morning x 3-8
Barbell Bent Over Row x 3-8

Yikes you're the freakin energizer good stuff

Couple thought's

1) Glad to see your emphasis on the posterior chain and not benching thank god

2) If you personalize the article as YOUR plan/experiment in fight conditioning it will do great...but can you hear the newbies " what if i don't know how to do a snatch pull and i only have plastic weights and i don't really like training legs so can i just do ME/DE curls and bench and would it still be effective if i only train once a week...."

Maybe clean the template up ( although i know it's a rough draft ) and provide progressions based on your experience coming up as a fighter to the level you're at now

3)How far along are you to reaching your strength Goals?

4)I actually do a similar workout but way simpler ( no disrespect) based on the conjugate method but done full body 2-3 times a week 1 explosive lower or upper body 1 me exercise either lower or upper 1 weighted calesthenic exercise in the 5-10 rep range(pistol,handstand push,chin variant,dips etc) 1 remedial circuit done to hit any small body parts missed (band circuit for arms,scapular drills,x band walks,pull throughs etc) followed by some sort of finisher ( Bas's thai boxing or boxing done for 3 to 5 rounds,ross's minute drills ,etc) on the other days i do my skills training and more Ross or Bas stuff or javorek complexes,mobility work etc........

But i'm not a competitive fighter and have "issues" left over from football,wrestling,weider training in the early 90's and Bad TMA training back in the

5) restoration would be paramount and from a guy with bad hips and shoulders let me just say you're hitting ALOT of volume during the course of the week plus your sparring so your joints will take a beating ( A price any competitive fighter has to pay ) paying attention to CNS fatigue would be a issue

6) Your fighting at 155 you cut alot of weight or do you train down and cut the last 5-10 the last week?

7)I like that you are paying attention to your total set rep volume per workout.....people forget that fighting is relative strength mixed with strength edurance so you can't go to crazy with your sets....

8) Silly question but you think attaining your strength goals might interfere with your skill training? simply cause as i'm sure you've found out the hard way as have i the body only does 1-2 things really well at any given time ( when i chased my totals in the big three i got strong as shit but when went to back to my fight training my rate force development was great but i gassed in 93 seconds..i'm serious it was BAD)

9) all in all great freaking work.....trim the rough edges..streamline a bit and i think it's a great piece of work ( I like all the different influences..i'm the same way

I don't know you but you obviously LOVE this game and all the training we gotta get you to rest lol

Yes in the article I'd make it known that this is primarily an example of what I AM doing right now and what I'm working through. But I would provide a template as well as the obvious snap shot of what I'm doing right now.

My plan is to note that just like in other combat sports, everyone has unique styles and that your training program has to be modified to fit that persons style of combat.

As well as the fact that every athlete is different and will have different concerns.

For example...

I have above average handspeed so i'm not all that concerned with a dynamic day. Though, hitting the heavy bag is inherently plyometric so I am still working that attribute. Also striking power is primarily from the legs so I have an emphasis on that.

I like certain lifts that I feel will fit my athletic goals (power clean & press, overhead squat for 20) because i feel that they're well rounded goals.

Overhead squat bw for 20
> strength-endurance in total musculature
> stability
> mobility
> flexibility

Power clean & press
> full body explosive strength

the sub goals (front squat, etc) are basically what I feel I will need to accomplish to OH Squat 20reps with my bodyweight.

Power clean & press currently I'm doing 275x2 clean and 225x3 push press at a bw of 168 (bw as of today)... snatch pulls REALLY are what shot up my power clean. If i can snatch pull it high and fast, I can power clean it for 2-3.

Overhead squat, I'm not very close to approaching. I can do 3 with my bodyweight but my olympic squat is pretty fucking weak. I think its a flexibility issue or something's not firing right. I have a buddy who O-lifts but he lives in the san francisco bay area (8hr drive from me)

I'm visiting him this weekend or next weekend (not sure yet) and he said we'll figure it out when I'm up there. When I get that straightened out I think I'll be a LOT closer to that goal.

And yea no benching haha, thing is i figured its cost benefit. Overhead pressing increases my bench because I dont activate my pecs very much when I bench, mostly shoulders and triceps... so why spend time between benching and overhead pressing when i can just focus on one and increase the attributes of both. Plus everyone really likes to say "well bench pressing is in the same plane as punching so its more sport specific"


The punch is such a complicated movement it makes the power clean look like a wrist curl. the kinetic linking involved includes so much its fucking pop-locking in fast forward.

If you bench like you punch you'd either hurt yourself or not be benching period.

what you need to do (imo of course) is increase the attributes that effect your punch through ME/DE/RE (dumbed down is basically strength, explosiveness, and hypertrophy)
and where you apply this new strength is in hitting the bag and actually training the technique. which is why i feel its so important to include this in the accessory work.

I can flat bench 125lb dumbbells for a triple, but I never felt that carry over to my punching. I front squat more, and bam my striking (period, kicks, knees, elbows, everything) goes up. so i started to focus more on whats important and what i see WORK rather than just heresay a lot of strength coaches toss around.

Anyway a good analogy for it is that if you're an olifter you HAVE to train your lifts for the technical proficiency but where you gain the strength for them are the front squats and clean pulls, etc. Same here, break down what attributes you need to improve upon but STILL train your technical movement (and in an ME format that would be a 30s-1min around, or just count 10x10... 10 punches, rest, etc.)

In my program I want to do my best to detail that EVERY fighter is going to be unique and should choose their own "indicator lifts" based on their style, previous injuries, ability to complete the lift, etc

Most guys probably can't Oly squat without pain so box squat is fine... and Sumo dl might not be best for some guys because of the heavy work the hip will be putting in, but then again might be better for some BJJ guys to give them better explosiveness.

Also I only have 2 dedicated sessions to stretching (though i always do a dynamic stretching warmup) but thats because I'm pretty flexible already so i dont need it, someone else might though... not just for flexibility but for recovery as well.

Again I'd like to emphasize to people that this isn't a "n00b" program... you really have to be an experienced lifter and intuitively know what works for you.

That's pretty much conjugate lifting period.

I like your training idea with the total body lifts I had that idea for a 2 day lifting schedule. i used that previously actually and if i feel my cardio needs more work i still go back to that... I like it for maintaining strength though gains are not uncommon, especially with the EDT work.

ME: Upper
DE: Lower
(or vice versa depending how I feel)
> 15 min EDT pair assistance work for both (Squats and presses)
> superset upper and lower assistance again.

ME: Lower
DE: Upper
(again, or vice versa...)
> 15min edt pair
> superset

As far as the volume in my program thats what I feel makes it unique.

I've read a LOT of mma training manuals but none of them have ever in my opinion addressed HOW you're supposed to get used to the workload of lifting, conditioning, AND technique/sparring/etc training.

So I'd dedicate a whole section to that progressive overload basically what I used for myself.

I'll give you the gist of it.

I did gymnastics, ran track, tried out for my college football team (made it but basically was just going to be a practice dummy and decided against it), wrestled on a club team for a while too...

When I sat down and realized that no matter what, even if I was homeless and lived under the freeway or was rich beyond my wildest dreams, I'd still probably train to fight... and want to be a fighter.

Sooooooooooo I stopped everything else, no lifting at all really. I did a shitload of cardio and started training Muay Thai... I did that till I adjusted to the workload of muay thai training.

Then i decided what time i'd like to do my conditioning

i started with light calisthenics and jogging, moved onto dragging sled less jogging, moved on to all three, then additional bagwork and sprints, then some mixed it up.

Now I was training two times a day built up over a roughly 10 week period.

Basically continued that progression till i was able to train multiple times a day and 5-6days a week. I always approached it SLOWLY and go through phases where I lift 4 days a week, 3 days a week, 2 or I might not lift at all. But the only thing I NEVER miss out on is actual fight training.

I might skip conditioning or lifting but never actual fight training (which is pretty conditioning oriented itself so i've never seen a drop-off in my conditioning because I push its either maintained or improves...which is pretty fucking cool)

The important thing about is to identify what attributes you need to train, how you'll go about doing that, and remembering that you're a FIGHTER not a weight lifter so all your work (especially acccessory work) should be done with an emphasis on making you fight better.

Which is why I like heavy bagwork intermingled with the accessory work. 1 min is a short time to hit the heavy bag, but 10x1min rounds is really like doing plyometrics plus you train yourself to have the ability to go balls out for one minute. which is NOT a bad thing if you ever need to save a round. You can't do something if you've never done it before training.

Other attributes, power endurance, etc can be trained with weights etc. But the only way to make them REALLY sport specific is to actually just hit the bag and such but manage the time frame in a way that it works the facets you wish to improve upon (in my opinion).

I can do 3x20 rep squats to improve my kicking endurance, or I can just spend a few rounds doing double kicks. the movements are far, far too technical to be pissing around.
While the squat thing has merit, its rarely super necessary. Your movement efficiency and motor unit control will ONLY improve by actualliy performing these highly complex techniques.

Not to pick on him, but Martin Rooney in his fight training dvd has a guy doing zercher squat lunges to improve his shot.

While this is cool as balls and something i'd probably reccomend at some point... its not something to make your bread and butter on.

If you want to improve your shot... work your shot... thats the ONLY way to truly replicate the mechanics.

Then take apart the movement and find what you think is wrong.

Does it hurt your knee to bend into that position? is your drop step not fast enough? do you feel weak when you go to lift your opponent?

solution: you probably need to hypertrophy your VMO or some other habilitation work, rebound jumps off of a box will increase the speed in your drop step, and front squats will improve your overall strength.

see what i mean? I think thats a better solution than coming up with some crazy gimmic exercise that you can't really load. I mean people have a hard time loading zercher squats much less a zercher lunge. thats in the same area as 1 arm rows on a swiss ball to me.
Its cool... it works for a while... but if i dont have time to bullshit around I'd rather do something else.

Restoration... not much to do other than manage your volume, build up slowly and see how much you can do as an individual which damn near always will be different. My job has me sitting on my ass most of the day so I can afford to train 6 days out of the week because im not doing much else.

I also usually get a decent nights sleep so thats another big benefit. If you have a wife and kids or something important like that obviously you have to divide up your time because unfortunately unless you're a pro and getting paid to fight this is just a hobby so other things come first.

Hell even most pro's dont get paid enough. So other than managing volume and diet/nutrition (which i'd get into as well) there isn't a whole lot that you can do imo. But if you slowly build up your work capacity i bet most people would be surprised what they can do. Its kinda funny to me how many people try to do EVERYTHING without some sort of progression.

Anyway I'd include sandbags, and kettlebells, and other strongman type shit in the complexes and what not but I dont have access to that stuff and since this is my personal training thing its based around what I actually have access to, and I only have a keg, sledgehammer and stuff at home.

But hope that helps you get an idea of what i'm going for

Well sorry if i spoke too've filled in alot of gaps in this message.I like your philosophy man.....similar to mine....I find most MMA/Combat training material is sinking to the depth's that the "functional" crowd did in the last decade......trying to mimic every sports movements and environments and then place them under a load.....sounds very good science but ...

Not everybody has the same weak links in the kinetic in a attempt to sound good these theories end up screwing up what people seem to forget the purpose of conditioning for sport strengthen and condition whatever areas NEED work in order to better compete or participate in their given sport.

A powerlifters job is to squat,bench and dead....your job as a fighter is the execute whatever techniques express your style of fighting.....a sprinter sprints.....a baseball player swings a bat you get the picture.Your fight training and sparring are the most important aspect of your game,skills pay the bills, your conditioning program serves the purpose bulletproof those areas of your body that require work in the most direct manner possible for that given areas weakness.

I hear you on the example you gave about benching and martin rooney loading up his fighters shots with a zercher lunges to improve the just messes with that motor skill...the fighter would be better served by drilling his shots and and seeing where's he's he slow?....does he lack leg drive...and attack that area directly.

Newbies can improve just by getting stronger all over with a general program but if you really want to take your training to the next level you have to learn to identify what areas your weak own example....despite the fact at the time i could bench 455 at punches were a little slow and lacked power at my should i spend more time benching cause punching happens in a similar ....due to the fact that punching power has been proven to be derived from the ground through the posterior chain and kinetic linkage and blah blah..

I only improved when i built up my explosiveness through my backside via speed pulls because although i could deadlift 3+ times my bodyweight....i was strong but DE work and jumping drills took my striking to a whole other level along with sparring and drilling my ASS off.....

But the next guy might have another weak link in his chain ...anyway i could go on and on but i totally agree with your approach and support it .Put it all together man and get it out there....i'd read that article or buy that manual....


teh end

Special thanks to the guys I bounced this off of, Dante ("DoggCrapp") who inspired me to put this up for free instead of trying to market it or something :-p, Dave Tate, Ross Enamit, "Wiggy", "Scrapper", and "Taku"... all of whom I've blatantly stolen ideas from :0) and of course T-Nation who gives us cool free shit like I dunno...this website, domestic shipping, our own forum... thanks

Again, none of these are my thoughts (though I wish I understood that much about training and MMA), all are Xennova's.

I would of course delete it all immediately if he objected.

When I trained for my first fight, I had 42 sessions in 40 days. Conditioning and pure hard drilling/sparring.

I think I still could take it if someone would pay me to do that = I needed only to worry about eating, sleeping and training.

 I am not sure how much I can actually tolerate. I train no more then about one and a half (1.5) hours per week. But this includes the moving around and set-up, warm-ups etc. I would say if I only look at the actual, High Intensity effort portions of my workouts (the parts where I am going as hard as possible) the total time is less than 30 minutes per week. 

Below is the minutes I spend actually working hard:

Tuesday - Strength training = 12- 20 minutes  (total time including rest = about 30 min)

Thursday- H.I.I.T. Versa-Climber =  5 minutes (total time including rest = about 20 min)

Saturday- Out-door sprinting = 1.33 minutes (total time including rest = about 30 min)

When you look at your own workout, subtract the talking, B.S.-ing, warm-ups, cool downs, rest intervals, water drinking etc and see how long you  actually work hard.


 Thanks for posting Seul,  everyone else too.

Everyone who hasn't posted: how many hours do you train intensely  in a week? And how many Can you?

I have about 5-7 strength and conditioning workouts a week.

I'm on the mat an additional 5 times a week.

I suspect that the amount of total time is fairly high, but the amount of "intense" work is relatively low.


I am curious as at what pattern you run your sprints in?

Something like 5 x 100 yds, with increasing intensity?

I have been doing anywhere from 3 x 100 yds to 7 x 100 yds. I think I am going to do 50 yds today, however.

The more volume, the more buildup is my theory. I.E if I do 5 sprints, Round 1 would be 50% max intensity, Round 2 75% max intensity , Round 3 100% , Round 4 100%, Round 5 75-100%. That could expand and contract based on how many sprints I actually do. If I did 10 total, I would start around 20-25%, etc. Does that make any sense?

BTW, I have never been a track athlete, and never had any firm coaching. I just got out there and started running hard an fast, taking what little I learned from watching the Olympic athletes when they come to town (which is fairly often).

Wrestling, jits, and stand-up really aren't a problem. When I was really into competition, I boxed for 2.5-3.5 hours/day for 5 days/week. That is on top of road work and a few strength training sessions every week too.

My tolerance for high intensity weight lifting and long roadwork sessions or intense, high volume sprint sessions is minimal. I'll get sick really quick by pushing those and training adaption takes a dive. For instance, I just got back from a 3 week overseas vacation where I didn't work out. I was stronger in half my lifts and very close to the same level of strength in my other half. Obviously, I needed the rest.

3 hr/wk BJJ and judo rolling, 3 hr. week S & C

Somewhere between 10-13 hours. But if I trained full-time and could do two-a-days and take a nap it probably be more.