The fact that trainees begin to reduce the
amount of skill training they perform, in
order to achieve strength/size goals is the
true debate we are looking at. There is no
real doubt that anabolism can occur when the
proper conditions are met ( rest, diet,
recovery issues). Being able to achieve that
state, while in the midst of MMA training, is
highly doubtful. There is too much demand on
the body to make a lot of progress in both
areas at once.
6. This dilemma is the reason I have often
offered various "exotic" workout routines for
the trainees who are beyond the beginner's
stage. Once the "plateau" is hit, the exotic
routine offers a way for the weight trainee
to further his understanding of what
continual benefits may be gained from weight
training while still participating in a full
MMA skill training regimen. The exotic
routines allow the trainee to focus on the
combination of mental focus and exertion of
their strength to accomplish difficult tasks.
These routines offer extreme challenges which
are, admittedly, not ideal for continual use
as a training routine. However, they prepare
the trainee more completely to use the full
measure of the strength they have achieved.
The mental toughness and psychological focus
necessary to complete these routines are the
greatest benefit of performing them. It is
this area, I believe, that most trainees can
use more development, rather than merely
trying to increase their bench press by 10
The pursuit of more size/strength once the
plateau phase is reached becomes a much
slower long-term approach if the trainee
truly wishes to maintain or increase his
skill level. The sacrifices needed to cause
rapid growth/progress at this point will
almost inevitably lead to losses in other
aspects of training. Therefore, we should
accept the fact that we can progress at a
slower rate than the bodybuilding "rags"
promote. We simply have more on our plate.
This is the greatest moment of realization we
can have as MMA trainees: to understand how
our totality of training must be balanced and
controlled to achieve steady progress in all
areas at once. We can focus on toughening
our minds so that we can use all of that
hard-earned strength, gradually increase that
strength, and still maintain or improve our
skills. We must simply realize that we are
So, beginners should go for it with a good
basic weight training program. More advanced
trainees should begin to balance the types of
challenges they use in order to preserve the
other qualities they have worked so hard for.
And, we should all remember that each of us
is still subject to certain physiological
rules. The differences between us are not as
great or important as the similarities.
I hope this brings out some good discussion
among the members of our forum. Remember,
this is only my opinion.
The fact that trainees begin to reduce the
I began this post (parts 1 & 2) since there is a great
majority of questions from members who basically want
to be Arnold Schwarzenegger with awesome MMA skills.
Please take no offense at that comment, I simply mean
that we want the whole package. My comments here are
meant to ask us to analyze what sacrifices and
imbalances in our training we are willing to endure to
achieve high-level muscular size/strength status.
We can ABSOLUTELY continue to get stronger and bigger
as we train MMA, but not at the rate of dedicated
bodybuilders. Our energy expenditure in our other
modes of training will not allow (non-steroidal)
trainees to progress at their maximal anabolic rate.
Therefore, we must decide carefully how much time and
energy to give to the pursuit of "a little more size,
etc." when we understand what it will cost us in terms
of our other training needs.
I believe that many of those seeking new routines, etc.
are not fully aware of the reduced rate of progress in
muscular growth that ancillary MMA skills training,
cardio-specific drills, etc. can cause. MJBrack made a
good point regarding absolute maximal anabolism in his
comments on dietary requirements. It was publicized
that Bulgarian weightlifters, reknowned for their
incredible performances, ate diets of greasy sausage,
etc. to ingest huge amounts of protein and fatty acids.
This certainly aided their anabolic status, but they
also had tremendous rates of early heart disease and
other maladies associated with that type of diet. I
doubt that any MMA fighter would want to carry the
extra pounds of fat that was a byproduct of that diet.
Also, that diet would not fit into a schedule which
includes lifting, MMA skills, and cardio. Even the
Adkins diet is coming under fire for being so unhealthy
for its users. Yes, you lose weight, but you may also
deposit an incredible amount of plaque in your
coronary arteries due to the high fat content of that
My point remains that it is an extremely specialized
goal to attempt to reach an individual's maximal
anabolic state. Any energy expenditures not directed
toward that goal will hinder the rate of progress, NOT
NECESSARILY STOP PROGRESS. We must simply be aware as
we train to monitor our status in multiple ways, being
alert to the various parameters which are affected by
imbalances in training effort/time/energy expenditure.
Remember, there are many HUGE weightlifter types who
would collapse before being able to complete one of
Scrapper's bodyweight workouts. This is an example of
an unacceptable imbalance for MMA practitioners. Not
every match will end within the anticipated time limit.
Case in point: Mark Coleman vs. Pete Williams. After
this match, Coleman revamped his training regime. His
great improvement and re-dominance of the sport show
that imbalances can affect even the greatest fighters
in the game, and resulting decreases in performance are
possible even for them.
Lee -aprt from occasionally performing what you refer to as "exotic" routines, what implications do your theories have for mma strength training? ie in terms of regime.
Good to hear from you again.
I spoke to Pavel Tsatsouline about this very question
in February. He was discussing his multiple sets of 5
reps program, and I asked him how he would incorporate
it into a "cross-training" application such as martial
arts. He said that you would have to monitor your own
body, and adjust the intensity of the lifting program
to follow your energy levels. He suggested doing the
same set/rep scheme, but simply lighter, so no great
demands were placed on the body at some times during
your cycle. This is in keeping with what I have been
stating, that we cannot produce maximal anabolic
stimulus continually during mixed MMA training routines
and schedules. So, he puts built-in "rest" days into
the lifting program. These prevent backsliding into
weakness, but don't deplete energy reserves. I'll
write another post soon talking about routines for
use by advanced trainees (besides the exotic ones)
that won't kill your other training abilities.
Thanks for your participation in this discussion. I
hope more members put out their thoughts on this
I must say I really enjoyed reading these posts!!!
Dude, Good stuff. I think a very logical question to ask is "how strong is strong enough for what I do?" Someone posted about the difference between a 400 and 500lb DL, what do you gain from investing the energy to make that increase? I think the bennefit depends on your technique, experience, size, and skill.
If your plan of attack is to overpower others with basic moves in a short time, then lifting heavy should be a priority. The 100lbs will pay off in a big way. If you approach matches in other ways then your training should reflect those ways, the 100lb may not make a difference.
If you try to be good at all things, you will fall short in at most things. Tactics invloves taking risks in some areas in order to exploit others. You can minimize the risks in a few ways. You can become so strong that limitted skill does not become a factor by spending all of your energy getting stronger. The risk is that you will face an opponent who's skill can overcome your strength. Or you can spend some energy gaining strength and some gaining skill. The risk is that you may or may not have enough strength or enough skill. Be highly skilled if you choose, but it will be at the cost of some other aspect of training. Be strong if you choose, but realize you sacrafice to get there.
I end posts with "Train as you fight" and firmly believe this. Decide what you want to be good at, then be so good at it that 95% of what your opponent tries doesn't matter. How you handle the other 5% is what will determine greatness. D
good points all. and as long as we're talking "reality", I've always thought far too many guys, fail to recognize that they lack the genetic
makeup to become "musclemen". strength training has much to offer for everybody, but achieving dramatic
musculature is unrealistic goal for all but a small % of the population. As with women who are encouraged to aspire to look like Barbie/playmates, the media teaches
young men to look like Arnold. Unfortunately, that's unrealistic; and I think a lot of frustration, injury, and wasted time/years could be avoided if people knew and accepted that reality.
And as to the tradeoffs between MMA and intensified
weight training to overcome a plateau, let's not overlook the increased likelihood of injury and illness that comes with such increased intensity, esp when combining that training with MMA training. Hard to progress in MMA if you strained your back trying to get that DL from 400 to 500lbs; or if you're getting a cold every other month due to overtraining. And the older you get, the more susceptible you are to both.While I wish it was otherwise, these are the realities of training.
So, I agree with the points you make. Well thought out, and info that should be very helpful to others.