T Nation

Help Gaining Size for MMA?

Hello, I am a 17 year old MMA fighter. (I can’t get in the cage till 18) I’ve had a significant amount of wrestling and grappling experience and have progressed greatly in my sport so far. However, I’ve become skinnier and weaker as of recently. After losing quite a bit of weight I’ve been looking into bulking up.

I walk around at a lean 147 at 5’9" (Horrible, I know) I’ve went down from a lean 160lbs at 5’9" ever since I upped my training regimen.(All the weight lost was muscle) Right now I currently train 5-6 times a week sparring, grappling, hitting bags, and working mitts for about 1.5-3 hours a day. I want to get to a more respectable 185lbs in order to fill out my frame and get to work in the higher weight classes. (Being a bantamweight fucking sucks)

I try to hit approximately 4000 calories every day with a 1000 calorie breakfast, 800-1000 calorie lunch, 800-1200 calorie dinner, and an 800 calorie snack before bed. I keep a clean diet, no junk food, no soda, no proccessed food.

My breakfast is usually oatmeal and protein powder, a peanutbutter and banana shake with protein powder, or egg and cheese sausage sandwiches with bacon every morning.

Lunch/Dinner consists of Mashed potatoes, pasta, quinoa, or rice and steak or chicken. Before bed I try to eat about 8 tablespoons of peanut butter with an eighth of a gallon of milk.

My current lifts are

Deadlift 285x3
Bench 185x3
Weighted pullup 50lbsx5

What tips and tricks can implement in my diet to start slapping on weight while training like this and what weightlifting programs should I implement with this high volume training?
I’ve been looking at wendler’s 5/3/1

Thank you, I appreciate any constructive criticism or ideas that ya’ll could give me.

[quote]Maxwell44 wrote:
What tips and tricks can implement in my diet to start slapping on weight while training like this and what weightlifting programs should I implement with this high volume training?
I’ve been looking at wendler’s 5/3/1
[/quote]

Wendler’s 5/3/1 is good. Maybe the 2 or 3 days a week weightlifting templates would be best for you while you’re training MMA so much.

As for gaining weight, you’re doing a lot of work so you’ll need a lot of calories to grow. If you’re eating 4000 calories a day and still not gaining then try adding 500 more to see if that helps. If it doesn’t then add some more. Seeing as you’re eating 4 meals you can spread this 500 extra calories over those meals and it would be pretty easy. Add some EVOO to your shakes, have a glass of milk with each meal, have another spoonful of peanut butter with your other meals. Anything like that to add some good quality calories to each meal will allow you to eat more over the day.

If you are 5’9, 147lbs, I have no idea why you would want to put on weight. You will dwarf other fighters at your weight now. At 185 you will be facing guys who have cut to that weight from heavier, they will likely be taller and stronger than you, and they will make you their bitch. As for growing, if you are doing all that exercise, especially as a lot of it is resistance based, eat more and you’ll probably find you grow plenty. Grapplers tend to be muscular and strong.

I can understand a guy who says “screw weight classes, I want to get stronger”.
That is a legitimate decision, although it might bite him in the ass for some time competitively.

Anyway, I believe the keys for combining weight and martial training are
-target your weak areas, this can be basic structural mass, strength or explosive functionality. We’re not talking about pretty muscle here.
-do not grind out reps or PRs [too much]. If you achieved a half pound bench max gain after pressing for 30 seconds with cramping gluteii and cremaster muscles, I think you’re frying your nerves.
-avoid high risk exercises or those that produce an overly compunding, damaging effect with your regular training.
Ie unless you’ve got long arms, the deadlift shouldn’t stay in too long. Squatting is much safer in tha regard.
If your neck makes funny noises, ditch doing daily neck bridges etc.

Sidenote:
531 seems mighty popular in these forums.
I know only of one guy who did 531 and that was an old martial arts pal of mine who has great athletic talent.
He lifts occasionally, but, apart from submission fighting and kickboxing, does all sorts of sports.
And it was actually me who enticed him for a 531 shot.

Long story short: after two months, he abandoned it because he got weaker.
Strange, he seemed perfectly suited in my eyes. Rep obsessed, with lots of strength potential untapped.
Whatever.

Still, I think I’m gonna try Wendler’s magic program out myself this year.

[quote]Schwarzfahrer wrote:
I can understand a guy who says “screw weight classes, I want to get stronger”.
That is a legitimate decision, although it might bite him in the ass for some time competitively. [/quote]

It is a legitimate decision for someone who has no real desire to compete seriously at a fighting sport. For anyone that does, particularly someone who is not trying to get a bigger pay day, it is a terrible decision that could well lead to discouragement, injury, and almost certainly humiliation.

It’s none of my business what the OP decides, but if he is serious about being an MMA fighter, I believe it is a terrible decision to fight at such an inflated weight. we are talking about the best part of 40lbs of mass (lean muscle presumably) that the OP wants to add. No fighter in history has blown up like that and done better for it. Even Pacquiao has only put on 30 or so lbs in the course of his entire career.

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
If you are 5’9, 147lbs, I have no idea why you would want to put on weight. You will dwarf other fighters at your weight now. At 185 you will be facing guys who have cut to that weight from heavier, they will likely be taller and stronger than you, and they will make you their bitch. As for growing, if you are doing all that exercise, especially as a lot of it is resistance based, eat more and you’ll probably find you grow plenty. Grapplers tend to be muscular and strong.[/quote]

The guy has a point… I grew up in Brazil and doing BJJ, when I moved to the US I was 14, 6’0’’ and 150lbs, which meant I could drop a few lbs and be a giant in grappling tournaments.

Now you have to decide whether you wanna get bigger and be a jacked heavier fighter, or if you wanna have a huge reach and be lanky like Anderson Silva. If you really want to get stronger you’ll have to eat a tremendous amount, the training you’re doing is probably already intense enough to develop some good functional strength.

The fact that you mentioned having gotten weaker as time went on indicates that you’re burning more energy in training than you’re consuming, so again eat more and see if that makes a difference.

Good luck!

I understand the concern on artificially moving up in weight, but the majority of fighters slap on slabs of muscle to be competitive in higher classes. If I throw on enough weight and make serious progress in compound lifts such as squats and deads, I’m not going to get muscled. If I can get to 185 I’ll be cutting back down and fighting at 155 which would be perfectly fine. Sure I could make 135 my stomping ground, but it’s unhealthy and leaves me unsatisfied at the end of the day.

And on another note the advice I’m getting is eat more. That sounds like sound advice. Is it as simple as that?

First, I tend to second LondonBoxers advice, getting bigger will not really be to your advantage in terms of weight classes.

However, if you have made up your mind (and it sounds like you have), then yes, eat. Eat lots. and lift heavy stuff. What you think is “lots” of eating is actually not lots at all. Here is an article from this site that helped me:

I still don’t think you’re doing yourself any favours though.

[quote]Maxwell44 wrote:
I understand the concern on artificially moving up in weight, but the majority of fighters slap on slabs of muscle to be competitive in higher classes. If I throw on enough weight and make serious progress in compound lifts such as squats and deads, I’m not going to get muscled. If I can get to 185 I’ll be cutting back down and fighting at 155 which would be perfectly fine. Sure I could make 135 my stomping ground, but it’s unhealthy and leaves me unsatisfied at the end of the day.

And on another note the advice I’m getting is eat more. That sounds like sound advice. Is it as simple as that?
[/quote]

You’re going to bulk 40lbs and cut 30lbs for a fight? Then you are going to put that 30lbs back on over night and dominate everyone? My strong advice from 14 years of actually having competed is to suspend your judgement until after your first fight, at your natural weight. Go through the process of making weight. The misery of starving to just cut 7lbs you don’t actually have spare. Then see how much you fancy dropping 30 in the week up to the fight.

If you tell me you have to be dedicated to be a champion, that you are special, that you can do it because you have unique discipline for your age, I am going to rip my own arm off and beat you with it. It’s just fucking absurd. No-one bulks 40 and cuts 30 and is fighting at their optimum. Leaving aside the obvious issues with weight training distracting from skill development, you are talking about doing something no serious non-professional, non-payday seeking fighter should ever do.

I actually boxed several guys around the 5’9 mark, at middleweight. They were much stronger than me. You’re right, maybe you wont get muscled. You know what happened when I was 4 inches taller and a shit load more mobile than them? I didn’t let them get anywhere near close enough to me for their strength to be worth a damn. This is what will happen to you if you get remotely advanced in your fighting career.

Yeah those weight gains and cuts are not realistic, let alone healthy. And there’s no way around it, if you want to grow while training and burning tons of calories you’re gonna have to eat a lot and you’ll have to eat clean to keep you at an optimal weight

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
I actually boxed several guys around the 5’9 mark, at middleweight. They were much stronger than me. You’re right, maybe you wont get muscled. You know what happened when I was 4 inches taller and a shit load more mobile than them? I didn’t let them get anywhere near close enough to me for their strength to be worth a damn. This is what will happen to you if you get remotely advanced in your fighting career.[/quote]

Not disagreeing with your advice, I’d just like to point out the difference between boxing and MMA/grappling in this regard. Whenever I beat a taller, more technical fighter grappling (it happens, promise), it’s always because of my athleticism, pressuring and muscling my way to dominance. That doesn’t translate nearly as well to my boxing (where I’m admittedly still figuring out what kind of fighter I should be).

As I’ve been saying in these discussions before though, it’s all about what weaknesses are in your game. And gaining 40lbs probably isn’t the solution. Ever.

I’ve cut like this before. And I’d cut fat from 185 to w/e would be very lean. As a freshman I walked 143lbs and cut down to 125. We have access to IVs to recover quickly. Grappling is completely different than striking, the only people I ever have trouble with are people who can grab me and pressure me by way of being thicker more powerful athletes.

Bulking 40 over a period of two years is completely reasonable. Cutting away fat and being able to make 155 is not freakish. If I was a boxer I would sit at my weight, but I’m not.

Going through wrestling and grappling I’ve had over 20 weight cuts ranging from 8-20lbs. I understand my game will primarily improve from technical training, I’m working on that. But I’d like to fill out my frame too.

I’m never going to fucking cut 30lbs of water weight, that’s suicide.

[quote]Khaine wrote:

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
I actually boxed several guys around the 5’9 mark, at middleweight. They were much stronger than me. You’re right, maybe you wont get muscled. You know what happened when I was 4 inches taller and a shit load more mobile than them? I didn’t let them get anywhere near close enough to me for their strength to be worth a damn. This is what will happen to you if you get remotely advanced in your fighting career.[/quote]

Not disagreeing with your advice, I’d just like to point out the difference between boxing and MMA/grappling in this regard. Whenever I beat a taller, more technical fighter grappling (it happens, promise), it’s always because of my athleticism, pressuring and muscling my way to dominance. That doesn’t translate nearly as well to my boxing (where I’m admittedly still figuring out what kind of fighter I should be).

As I’ve been saying in these discussions before though, it’s all about what weaknesses are in your game. And gaining 40lbs probably isn’t the solution. Ever.[/quote]

I agree with everything you said. I may have misread, but I thought the OP was asking about MMA. I certainly don’t profess to be any kind of expert on MMA, and since you have more experience in it, I am happy to defer to your opinion on this. I would have thought though that in a sport where you have to first contend with striking before grappling, excessive size would not be beneficial. Certainly not as the OP seems happy to bulk to 185 and then cut fat as a large part of getting down to 155.

[quote]Maxwell44 wrote:
I’ve cut like this before. And I’d cut fat from 185 to w/e would be very lean. As a freshman I walked 143lbs and cut down to 125. We have access to IVs to recover quickly. Grappling is completely different than striking, the only people I ever have trouble with are people who can grab me and pressure me by way of being thicker more powerful athletes.

Bulking 40 over a period of two years is completely reasonable. Cutting away fat and being able to make 155 is not freakish. If I was a boxer I would sit at my weight, but I’m not.

Going through wrestling and grappling I’ve had over 20 weight cuts ranging from 8-20lbs. I understand my game will primarily improve from technical training, I’m working on that. But I’d like to fill out my frame too.

I’m never going to fucking cut 30lbs of water weight, that’s suicide.[/quote]

OP, the point you seem to be making is that you are going to get bigger and noticeably fatter for 2 years, before losing mostly fat to get back down to a weight 8lbs heavier than you are now. That, to be honest with you, just sounds a little daft. If ever there was a case where that time and effort would be better spent on improving a discipline you are weak in…

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:

[quote]Khaine wrote:

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:
I actually boxed several guys around the 5’9 mark, at middleweight. They were much stronger than me. You’re right, maybe you wont get muscled. You know what happened when I was 4 inches taller and a shit load more mobile than them? I didn’t let them get anywhere near close enough to me for their strength to be worth a damn. This is what will happen to you if you get remotely advanced in your fighting career.[/quote]

Not disagreeing with your advice, I’d just like to point out the difference between boxing and MMA/grappling in this regard. Whenever I beat a taller, more technical fighter grappling (it happens, promise), it’s always because of my athleticism, pressuring and muscling my way to dominance. That doesn’t translate nearly as well to my boxing (where I’m admittedly still figuring out what kind of fighter I should be).

As I’ve been saying in these discussions before though, it’s all about what weaknesses are in your game. And gaining 40lbs probably isn’t the solution. Ever.[/quote]

I agree with everything you said. I may have misread, but I thought the OP was asking about MMA. I certainly don’t profess to be any kind of expert on MMA, and since you have more experience in it, I am happy to defer to your opinion on this. I would have thought though that in a sport where you have to first contend with striking before grappling, excessive size would not be beneficial. Certainly not as the OP seems happy to bulk to 185 and then cut fat as a large part of getting down to 155. [/quote]

Yeah, not agreeing with his approach at all, but given his wrestling background, I’m assuming his MMA game will rely heavily on grappling, where being athletic is typically more important than being rangy.

Not an expert on MMA at all myself; this is all just opinion based on observation and experience from other disciplines.

[quote]LondonBoxer123 wrote:

[quote]Maxwell44 wrote:
I’ve cut like this before. And I’d cut fat from 185 to w/e would be very lean. As a freshman I walked 143lbs and cut down to 125. We have access to IVs to recover quickly. Grappling is completely different than striking, the only people I ever have trouble with are people who can grab me and pressure me by way of being thicker more powerful athletes.

Bulking 40 over a period of two years is completely reasonable. Cutting away fat and being able to make 155 is not freakish. If I was a boxer I would sit at my weight, but I’m not.

Going through wrestling and grappling I’ve had over 20 weight cuts ranging from 8-20lbs. I understand my game will primarily improve from technical training, I’m working on that. But I’d like to fill out my frame too.

I’m never going to fucking cut 30lbs of water weight, that’s suicide.[/quote]

OP, the point you seem to be making is that you are going to get bigger and noticeably fatter for 2 years, before losing mostly fat to get back down to a weight 8lbs heavier than you are now. That, to be honest with you, just sounds a little daft. If ever there was a case where that time and effort would be better spent on improving a discipline you are weak in…
[/quote]

Gotta concur with this. I can see a lot of reasons for wanting to gain 40lbs at your height, but none of them have to do with fighting. Working on your game, strength training if necessary and gaining weight over time as a part of the process seems a more healthy and effective approach to me than setting a weight gain goal usually reserved for strength athletes.

My opinion, of course.

Maxwell44,

I am going to go for moderation here.

First, cutting weight is tough. You already know this. What, at 17, you may not have such an intuitive handle on is that sometimes it can cause problems much later in life. Some people manage to cut weight their whole lives and not have serious problems. With others it can wreck them later on in there careers in terms of longevity and injury.

That said you sound like you really want to put some quality weight on, and that is fine. I would suggest that you aim for 10-15 pounds however. That should give you 7-10 pounds of muscle and let you still make 145 or 155 EASY. My understanding of the life of an amateur MMA fighter is that they often have to deal with taking fights on short notice, so you will not be in the same situation as a pro who can come down from 180 to 155, or even a scholastic wrestler who knows what weight he is wrestling at for the next to or three meets.

The advice of 5/3/1 plus food is pretty solid for gaining. I would strongly suggest you read this article though, and make it a goal to hit “game changer” in every category rather than just putting on scale weight.

The same author’s “Mass Made Simple” program could really assist you in your goals.

Unlike pure grappling, in MMA reach is going to give you serious advantages in striking. Long limbs can also aid you in a variety of chokes(triangle, anaconda, d’arce, etc) and in defending kimura’s, americana’s, and leg locks. I wouldn’t give up the chance to be the tall guy all that quickly. ESPECIALLY if you are coming from a strong wrestling background. That will put you in a position to bolster the issues of coming in thinner and taller(guys getting under your hips when they shoot, muscling you around, etc.) while giving you some anatomy to help make up for your still developing technique in striking. An extra 2 inches of reach will make fundamental boxing DEVASTATING on a shorter guy unless he is much better. From MMA witness how height works for the brothers Diaz(especially Nick’s issues when he faced the taller Condit) and John Jones. In the world of boxing look at the Klitschko brothers.

Regards,

Robert A

Thank you for all the feedback. I checked out the links provided and I definitely learned a lot. I need to up the calorie intake, follow a solid lifting program like 5/3/1 and perhaps not go for as heavy of a weight as I originally chose. I appreciate the assistance.

No problem mate.

No harm meant by anything posted. Just all too often young guys lose sight of what is important in an effort to be huge and a bad ass fighter with it. I’ve been there, and I reckon (not that this sort of thing can really be measured) the 6-8 months where I shifted my focus at the wrong time cost me a national championship title. Failing to dedicate myself completely to my boxing meant that when opportunity came knocking, I was just off the pace of where I could have been had I spent the time honing my abilities. Those sorts of small margins can be the difference from winning and being one of the guys who almost did it. Especially true in the amateurs.