Want fighter-level fitness without the bruises? Get it here
Want a mixed martial artist’s body without the broken bones and bruises? Try the programme that’s taking the fight world by storm – no sparring required
In mixed martial arts, ‘less’ isn’t a word you hear often. With dozens of skills to master and a blend of explosiveness, endurance and strength needed in every bout, fighters almost always aim for more: cramming in a lifting session after sparring, or half a dozen hill sprints on technique day. The work ethic is awe-inspiring, but the dangers of overtraining and injury are ever-present. And, says fight coach Joel Jamieson, it doesn’t have to be that way.
‘Mixed martial arts is all about balance,’ says Jamieson, who has been training fighters for over a decade. ‘Conditioning – which means improving your work capacity – is about more than just building mental toughness with a “how hard can you go” approach. You do have to train hard, but you can only do so much.’
Since starting out in 2003, Jamieson has worked alongside top MMA coach Matt Hume – trainer of current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson – and has got some of the greatest ever fighters into shape, from fomer middleweight champ Rich Franklin to current UFC welterweight champ Robbie Lawler. But while his advice is obviously invaluable, that doesn’t mean you should train exactly like one of his fighters.
‘The highest-level guys are training eight to ten times a week,’ says Jamieson. ‘We can’t expect someone working a nine-to-five job to put the same time in, so the volume in this plan is toned down a little. But that means you can up the intensity.’
This training programme is designed to strike a balance between volume, intensity and rest. According to Jamieson, if the variables are skewed in the wrong direction, the result is either a plateau or overtraining, where progress can go backwards.
‘Although each workout includes exercises that will challenge the entire body, each has a different emphasis,’ says Jamieson. ‘Workout one is focused on lower-body move- ments, workout two targets the upper body and workout three emphasises total-body explosive power.’ This means you work your entire body efficiently across the week without exposing yourself to overuse injuries.
‘This balance should extend to your diet,’ says Jamieson. ‘You obviously want whole natural foods, not junk. I don’t believe athletes should be on low-carb or high-fat diets. You want about 1g of protein per kilo of bodyweight and somewhere in the range of 20% of your total calories from fat. The rest of your diet is made up of carbohydrates, based on the amount of activity you’re doing that day.’
Strength and conditioning for MMA is still a fairly new science. ‘If it was easy you wouldn’t see fighters running out of steam halfway through a fight,’ says Jamieson, who is leading the charge with a scientific approach. So forget the tough-guy workouts and train with balance. You don’t even have to worry about black eyes. For more training expertise from Joel Jamieson, visit 8weeksout.com