One of the country’s premier fightconditioning coaches divulges the SECRETS TO BUILDING AN OCTAGON-READY PHYSIQUE. Spoiler alert: It’s gonna suck.
As fans of goal-driven periodization, it’s hard for us to advocate training schemes that promise multiple adaptations at once because, well… science. Whether it’s the pursuit of more muscle, greater strength or decreased body fat, the body simply responds best to weeks-long bouts of specialization. Right?
Well, the elite in mixed martial arts — particularly those of the past five to 10 years — seem to defy conventional wisdom, stepping out of the gym and onto the mat with exquisitely crafted torsos and inhuman levels of fight-closing endurance. But these sleek gladiators don’t just look good under the bright lights; their internal machinery also has been tweaked, tricked into producing physical dominance on demand, like a hacked slot machine that always pays out.
“Mixed martial artists are some of the fittest athletes on the planet,” says Scott Ramsdell, National Academy of Sports Medicine MMA conditioning specialist and president of Fitness Solutions (fitsolutions4u.com). He is also the president of the Everlast Lab (everlastlab.com) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and one of the architects of the recent revolution in fight training. “Due to the demands of their sport and the rigorous structure of their competitions, they are forced to be good at everything … striking, grappling and jiujitsu. They also need to be well-rounded, well-conditioned athletes with an incredibly large aerobic gas tank and the ability to function for prolonged periods within their anaerobic upper limit. They need to possess explosive muscular power while at the same time, possessing extended muscular endurance.”
And, of course, mastery of these many domains means another, superficial benefit: “The aesthetics of mixed martial artists are long, lean torsos with a high percentage of muscle and a relatively low percentage of body fat,” says Ramsdell, who has worked with headliners such as Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar. “Training like a mixed martial artist not only provides functionality but also the overall look most people are striving for.”