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BJ Penn Q&A on Strength and Conditioning


For reasons that will be obvious, Penn has put up (And taken down) the following article.

Posted by MMA NEWS on March 24, 2011 at 8:44pm
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Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ â??The Prodigyâ?? Penn took to the BJPENN.COM Forum this week and gave our members an opportunity to ask questions about his

relationship with the Marinovich brothers.

Fans have been crying out for the Marinovich brothers to come back to BJâ??s camp ever since their departure and for the first time BJ has opened up on the topic and discussed

the matters surrounding the change in camp as well as his training philosophies.

And without further delay the Q n A ran down like this.

Fan question 1: What happened between you and Marv?

Penn Response:
The last time I saw or trained with Marv was one month before the first Frankie Edgar fight. We trained in Hilo for two months and he left one month before the fight, which is

normal (Marv always leaves 4-5weeks before all the fights that we have worked together Florian, Sanchez, 1st Edgar fight) but this time we were trying to make him stay the

whole way because he is a great trainer and we like him. We were doing Marvâ??s training in the morning and striking/grappling at night. As we came to a month out from the Edgar

fight me, JD, Parillo, and Kenny Johnson wanted to move the striking/grappling in the morning so we could focus on the sparring and skill stuff before we were too exhausted

from the sprints, rowing machine, and all the other stuff Marv likes to do.

Marv didnâ??t like the idea of doing his workouts in the evening and he requested to leave. I have spoken to him a few times over the last year and I honestly believe nobody has

dedicated their life to athletic performance more than he has. He is the best I have ever seen in my life when it comes to sports performance. A big problem when putting

together a training camp is to have all the coaches agree on what workout should be done. Marv will always want to sprint and row and Parillo will always want to do boxing,

Kenny wants to do wrestling stuff, different personalities will always cause differences in opinions. Long story short, there was no fallout, Marv left one month before the

fight like he always does and that was that.

Fan question 2: Would you ever work with them again?

Penn Response:
Itâ??s tough to say, I would listen to him on all his knowledge and I use all his theories constantly on a daily basis. But it is important to use all Marvâ??s theories in an MMA

aspect. That is the key to the whole thing. In MMA you donâ??t run in the ring and there is no ball, so you have to know how to put Marvâ??s theories by doing the correct

movements like punching a bag or grappling etc.

Fan question 3: Are you using their techniques and do you plateau easily with their system?

Penn Response:
Good question!

Marv is more like a head coach guy, he knows so much that he doesnâ??t want to sit behind anyone and i donâ??t blame him for that. That man is a genius, if you use Marv you have

to give him full control. Their system is made so you can never plateau, they just keep upping the ante.

Fan question 4: Did their program benefit you and do you feel just as good or better without them?

Penn Response:
Marvâ??s program was definitely beneficial. It has made me understand how to get my body explosive, I will use what Marv has taught me for the rest of my life. I feel like i am

a better MMA fighter today because I am using Marvâ??s theories but with MMA movements. Naturally MMA isnâ??t Marvâ??s sport, his sport is football so he will be more knowledgeable

at teaching his passion.

Fan question 5: When you fought Kenny and Diego you seemed like you were in the best shape of your life, do you see it the same way?

Penn Response:
When i fought Diego and Kenny I was in the same shape I was in for the Sean Sherk fight. Would you agree?

Fan question 5: Will you ever bring them back or will you do something else so you donâ??t gas out in your next fight?

Penn Response:
People believe in a myth that I donâ??t train hard. My problem is that i get crazy and train too hard. I believe I left the third round in the gym, itâ??s like cooking and adding

too much salt, you will ruin the whole meal...hopefully that helps you understand me:)

Fan question 6: What is the most important thing you have learned from Marv and take with you today and what do you think about Diego Sanchez calling you out on Twitter?

Penn response:
Well, what Marv has taught me is so valuable, I donâ??t even want to say it on the public message board.

Diego is making his way back up, I respect a fighter who stands up after a loss and gets better, Right now I gotta focus on Fitch.

Fan question 7: What caused you to change camps, did you find any shortcomings of the program and I want to know if you thought the program was lacking something or if your

body peaked and no longer responded?

Penn response:
As far as football goes I am sure there are very few if any shortcomings in Marvâ??s system. He is the man period!! When it comes to MMA, I am finally under the impression after

15 years of doing this stuff is that nothing can replace the real training (boxing, grappling, MMA, sparring and bag work)

Now the secret is using Marvâ??s theories in those areas to make you better than everyone else. I live and die by Marvâ??s principals, I love them so much I wouldnt even give them

out on this forum. His theories are the reason why my takedowns are improving and why I am becoming more explosive. The most important thing to remember about sports is doing

one sport doesnâ??t necessarily help you in another sport.

If i went to a boxing gym and the coach said sprint every day Iâ??m sure I would win a track meet but I would get pummeled in the ring if all I did was sprints. You have to do

the real training, but adding Marvâ??s theories in the real training could give you knowledge no boxing coach has.

Fan question 8: Donâ??t sprints, running hills or steps provide parts of the cardio process ring work cannot offer and shouldnâ??t they be incorporated as well?

Penn Response:
Sprints are a necessary part of a cardio program and I always add a few days of sprints in all my camps. But when you sprint and do the rowing machine and do a bunch of other

workouts everyday you leave yourself either neglecting or too exhausted to do any of the real MMA training, thus your skills will decline.

MMA training = anaerobic conditioning, 3-5 mile runs = aerobic conditioning, that is all of the conditioning covered right there.

The problem a lot of athletes and trainers make is that MMA is an anaerobic sport. So in theory it makes sense to train the anaerobic system during strength and conditioning

but the problem with that mentality is that those two shorter energy systems are very explosive and very exhausting.

One is 10sec.(atp) and the other is 90sec(lactic acid system). Working those systems outside of doing MMA training will result in fatigue and will tire you out for the real

training. MMA training itself is enough to get the anaerobic conditioning with the correct technique. All the while you are training explosive energy systems outside of MMA

you are neglecting your aerobic energy system which is the only one you canâ??t get doing MMA training.

That is why boxers run and box, running for a distance is the best way to build your aerobic capacity without breaking your body down too much. You only have so much energy in

a day, week or year and you have to use it wisely. I say get most of your anaerobic conditioning from real training (grappling, sparring, bag work) and get your aerobic from a

nice 3-5 mile run.

Go look at Aliâ??s training regimen or Tysonâ??s or Mayweatherâ??s or Sugar Ray Robinsonâ??s, none of them do fancy workouts. Just train the sport and run. Fighters have to train

different than any other athlete because there is no running and no ball in the ring/octagon.

Circuit training = no improvement in MMA skills and no aerobic capacity work.

Sprinting = no improvement in MMA skills and no aerobic capacity work and if you decide to hold a high heart rate (170-180) for 30 min for aerobic capacity you will be so

exhausted you have to go home and rest. Your workout is done, good luck grappling or sparring after that.

rowing machine = no improvement in MMA skills and if you decide to hold a high heart rate (170-180) for 30 min for aerobic capacity you will be so exhausted you have to go

home and rest. Your workout is done, good luck grappling or sparring after that.

Fan question 9: Was there anything that Marv did that directly improved your striking?

Penn Response:
A boxing coach is the one who would have to make that adjustment. Marv is a tough S.O.B. but heâ??s not a boxing/grappling coach. Marv wants to do the workouts he know and you

canâ??t fault him for that but to say Marv can teach boxing and grappling is not fair to him. Marv likes to do sprints and rowing machine and build certain muscles in your body

that he feels you need. When you got one trainer wanting to train everything else but the MMA training and you got MMA coaches on your back asking you when was the last time

you threw a punch it becomes tough to control the situation.

Fan question 10: It seemed that that Marinovich brothers had a focus on balance, explosiveness and working fast twitch muscles. How do they differ from Rob Garcia and other S

and C coaches and what is their main objective?

Penn Response:
Most S and C coaches donâ??t know MMA at all. Itâ??s not their fault itâ??s just how it is. Rob Garcia I actually like because he has been involved with many fight camps and boxed


Rob wanted to be head coach of my camp and I told him there was no position like that involved so he resigned. It was all in good faith and there are no hard feelings. I love

that guy.

In my opinion, you get the right balance and everything else you need doing the sport itself.

I forget where I heard this story: A student asked his karate instructor what workouts he can do to make himself better at karate while his teacher was gone. His student

wanted to know what kind of cross training he could do. The master looked at him and said karate. The student was dumbfounded at first but then realized what the teacher was

saying. The only way to get better at karate is by doing karate.

Fan question 11: Do you think bringing in a MMA specific S and C coach would make a difference?

Penn response:
There is no such thing as an MMA specific S and C coach. The only coaches like that are the striking or grappling coaches. The real truth (my opinion) is that you donâ??t need

all those other workouts for fighting. All you need to do is train fighting and run but I believe itâ??s only because in fighting being the fastest runner or best ball handler

doesnâ??t matter.

I believe a S and C coach actually has to convince the athlete to do his workouts because it takes away time from the real deal like punching bag or grappling. But athletes

today think it is normal to do all these other workouts because somebody made a business out of it before we were born. Imagine telling Sugar Ray Robinson to do cross-fit

instead of the real boxing training, i wonder what he would think?

Fan question 12: (More of a statement) Michael Jordan was already considered the best basketball player of all time before he started doing cross fit training and only started

using it to extend his career.

Penn Response:
Thanks for the info about Jordan, Iâ??m trying to extend my career also. Trying to make each workout count and get the most bang for my buck. The best camp is the one with the

best time management. Look at Aliâ??s workout routine see what he did and then add grappling and now you got the perfect MMA training schedule. Itâ??s not rocket science but we

like to pretend that it is.

I am probably the biggest BJ Penn fan out there, but I think a solid S&C plan can only help an athlete.

The fighters at ATT are legendary for their S&C program.
Vera has stated that Thiago Silva is THE strongest guy he's ever fought...and Vera fought at HW and trains with the Nogs and Phil Davis.


Thanks for that.
He's wrong btw. Just look at GSP owning everyone. Greater skill, greater strength, greater power, etc.


He has a point though, GSP was already a beast athletically before he hooked up with Chaimberg or Owings.


I think this is obvious - you're going to develop strength and power best with a program that is designed to develop strength and power. If you already have that, then it's a waste of time focusing on it - you should work on your technique. But to say you don't need to train specifically for strength/power is stupid.

This is true for EVERY sport on the planet. Look at how sprinters train - they don't only sprint. They spend a ton of time in the weight room as well. Basketball players - same thing. Basically any sport out there, you will see a mix of S&C + skill work. The mix depends on where you're at in your training.


kind of, sports like boxing or basketball don't require much strength. i think rippetoe talks about this actually but in mma it's style dependent imo, nick diaz adding 200 pounds to his bench ain't gonna do shit for him