T Nation

MMA and Free Weights

So I’m taking a month off from JuJitsu and Muay Thai training to heal some injuries, needed a break, and to get my money right. I’ve been thinking about how important free weights are in training. The more I think about it, the more I start to believe that a strength program might be hampering my fight training instead of helping.

I have pretty descent relative strength already, and I’m not going to lie, it has helped my beginner wrestling game out a lot (faster shots with bad technique and ability to just out muscle guys). However, the strain on the CNS to keep getting stronger just doesn’t seem worth it. Combining BJJ, Muay Thai, and strength training runs me down fast.

We’ve all heard that Fedor Emilianenko gave up free weights when he started getting serious with Sambo, so we have to wonder if that’d work for us? As someone with a strength training background, giving up the weights is going to be HARD. I think I will still do conditioning circuits but building up my 1 rep maxes will be put on the backburner for now.

What are your thoughts?

And to put things in perspective, my bench is about 315, squat is about 400 ass to grass, and deadlift is around 500.

You know your body better than anyone else, so ultimately, the decision will be yours.

Personally, and this is coming from a guy who’s only been training MMA for 10 months, I think it’d be a mistake to totally eliminate weight training all together. How many days are you lifting now?

Have you read Chad Waterbury’s Hammer Down Series? In the strength article, he recommends just 2 days of lifting, combined with some endurance work (1-3 times a week) and of course, MMA training.

Some guys are naturally strong, though. So, maybe take a month or two off of weight training and see if it hampers your progress in MMA training. If it doesn’t, then perhaps just lifting once a week for maintenance wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Don’t know if this really answers your question or not, but I think it at least throws a couple of viable options out there.

-Dan

I think you’re nuts. If anything, ditch the conditioning, you can get it in practice if you train for it (think of the rule of specificity, you want to be in shape to fight, fight).

From my discussion with other guys that train all disciplines that gather in that that is MMA, wrestling is way more demanding in terms of s&c as opposed to ju jitsu, i.e a wrestling practice is way more tiring than ju jitsu and other such disciplines, except maybe boxing. In my experience in wrestling, the guys that lift win, the guys that don’t, lose.

I realize there are odd exceptions to the rule, but strong is strong, explosive and powerful is explosive and powerful, and although training your discipline is A#1, if the guy you’re fighting is much stronger than you or vice versa, the weaker is fucked 95% of the time.

As someone once said (I have a recollection its Lonnie Lowery for some reason), maximal strength is the only “quality” of fitness that improves every other hierarchy on the chain of fitness qualities (aerobic endurance, anaerobic endurance, strength endurance, etc.)

Also, perhaps more importantly, I’ve found that the guys that getregularly injured are the guys that don’t lift or don’t lift properly. If there is one reason I am motivated to lift, it is that. The way you strengthen your shoulder, elbow, knee ligaments and joints from lifting heavy ass free weights is indispensable to a MMA style training regime.

I’m not saying you’ll never get injured, shit happens, but I believew Mike Boyle had that as one of his bragging rights as a strength coach. I think the Waterbury Hammer Down approach is really good; you can make enough progress in your strength training 2x a week fullbody.

You’re not going to turn into Jay Cutler or Dave Tate, but youll definitely support your MMA training, and help keep yourself injury free.

A huge thing is you probably haven’t built up the work capacity to train like a mofo. I know I was dying the first month I really trained wrestling, but I got used to it and was able to work back in the extra curriculars.

When you’re doing strenuous sport training, especially contact, heavily strength involved sport, you have to get used to not always having the best workouts or hitting PRs all the time. Frankly, I don’t think all this leads to overtraining and sometimes you just gotta suck it up, but I’d love to hear others thoughts, especially those with experience on the matter.
But I think dropping the weights altogether is a HUGE mistake

a few words from a fellow fighter who lifts mon-fri and fights mon-thurs for a hour and a half straight not including conditioning.

ive been full contact kickboxing and competing for about 5 years now being 22 years old and 167 lbs flat benching 225-245 lbs. i started to lift free weights about 2 years ago doing 1-2 body parts a day and doing max weight always. i always lift then take creatine about 1-2 hours before fighting(training) because i found that i could strike harder if i did (but not near competition).

i train with 220+ pounders and have no problem hurting them at will because of lifting and can also take numerous hard kicks and punches letting my arms and body protect me. if your already a fast fighter like i am you will only benifit from getting stronger. if i take like 2-3 weeks off of lifting, then the big guys throw me around. as for your cns being tired i havent had such a problem, i eat alot.

Energy = cal/carbs/protein and creatine helps also. if you want to stay at the same weight just regulate your DIET to do so, your already probably burning a bunch of calories working out so much. as for injuries i get them every day but i just work threw them.

-novice lifter and nutrition knowledge but a great fighter, hope this helps some.

[quote]carter12 wrote:
I have pretty descent relative strength already, and I’m not going to lie, it has helped my beginner wrestling game out a lot (faster shots with bad technique and ability to just out muscle guys). However, the strain on the CNS to keep getting stronger just doesn’t seem worth it. Combining BJJ, Muay Thai, and strength training runs me down fast.
[/quote]

Your lifts are impressive.

What is your current training volume?

Here’s the thing: A lot of guys will give their opinions. Most opinions are worthless. And it might take you a while to learn what works best for yourself. So you need to do risk management.

If you lost a substantial amount of strength, how hard would that be to get back? Let’s say you lose strength and realize that hurts your performance. Won’t it be hard to get that strength back? Take the conservative route.

Reduce training volume with the goal simply to be to maintain current strength levels. You should be able to do this by lifting only twice a week for 30 minutes.

Don’t lose your strength while you consider what is the best option for you. See how training just to maintain strength works for a while before giving up weights alltogether.

If you feel better with the reduced training volume, great. But maybe you’ll find out that you need that strength for the fights.

Don’t to anything drastic. Cut down your volume and see how that affects you.

[quote]Djwlfpack wrote:
You know your body better than anyone else, so ultimately, the decision will be yours.

Personally, and this is coming from a guy who’s only been training MMA for 10 months, I think it’d be a mistake to totally eliminate weight training all together. How many days are you lifting now?

Have you read Chad Waterbury’s Hammer Down Series? In the strength article, he recommends just 2 days of lifting, combined with some endurance work (1-3 times a week) and of course, MMA training.

Some guys are naturally strong, though. So, maybe take a month or two off of weight training and see if it hampers your progress in MMA training. If it doesn’t, then perhaps just lifting once a week for maintenance wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Don’t know if this really answers your question or not, but I think it at least throws a couple of viable options out there.

-Dan[/quote]

I forgot what makes Waterbury an expert on MMA training? Because he and his fanboys say he is?

Until he produces a couple of top fighters, he’s just another (very educated) guy with an opinion.

[quote]carter12 wrote:
And to put things in perspective, my bench is about 315, squat is about 400 ass to grass, and deadlift is around 500. [/quote]

On a related note… In another post you mentioned being frustrated with how to set goals for your martial arts studies.

It’s likely you are suffering from a mild case of overtraining. Hence, the frustration, confusion, and fatigue. You’re wise to reduce training volume.

If I’m not mistaken, you’re a young guy who wants to fight professionally. The smartest thing you can do is reduce your training volume. You still have plenty of time to accomplish your goals.

It is a good idea to periodize.

And I don’t just mean you weight training. I mean you BJJ/MT/MMA as well. Training doesn’t mean going all out all the times or sparring at full speed/full contact.

Sometimes it is a good idea to give your body a break and incorporate “technique days” where you roll with no strength and cooperatively with your training partner. Same thing for sparring in MT. Sometimes it is a good idea to just slow things down and drill the fundamentals over and over again.

Depending on what your body can take, perhaps 1 down week every 2-3 hard weeks. And maybe the first training week you do an even mix between live training and cooperative drill training. During week 2 (and possibly 3 as well) you go all out, and then back off for a week.

Sync this with your weight training. Every training bloc ramp up to a peak for whatever your goals are in that 3-4 week training bloc and then back off again and ramp up to a new peak.

You could do the very simple idea in weight training of dividing your training blocs into (1) AA/Hypertrophy (don’t overlook the importance of joint strength); (2) Max strength; (3) Max power; (4) Strength Endurance.

Thus, you would have a 12-16 week training cycle (depending on whether you use 2-1 or 3-1 mesocycles. Full body training 2-3 times per week. Until your body adapts to the volume of training, you may want to see how 2 days per week feels. Even within the training week I suggest either H-M (for 2 training days per week) or H-L-M (for 3 training days per week).

I would also make sure that you have at least 2 full days off per week where you do no training whatsoever, whether strength, MMA or Conditioning. Use active recovery protocols during the heaviest/hardest 2 weeks of the 3-4 week training blocs.

And remember, the quality of your training is more important than the quantity.

Good luck.

I train MMA as well, although it is more of a hobby. I noticed the same thing as you, my body just doesn’t respond well to lifting 3 X per week balls out, and then hitting the mat in the PM… (especially if you’re a relative beginner, your joints will be twisted like spaghetti, heavy deadlift singles are a bad idea with spaghetti joints.)

I have seen how Fedor trains too, and it is clear that his focus is on technique and conditioning but bear in mind that is after he built a solid base of strength with free weights… and some would say that he has gotten out-muscled by some fighters, still.

If you’re however not content with your base of strength yet, periodisation may be the key as Checkmate suggests.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
Djwlfpack wrote:
You know your body better than anyone else, so ultimately, the decision will be yours.

Personally, and this is coming from a guy who’s only been training MMA for 10 months, I think it’d be a mistake to totally eliminate weight training all together. How many days are you lifting now?

Have you read Chad Waterbury’s Hammer Down Series? In the strength article, he recommends just 2 days of lifting, combined with some endurance work (1-3 times a week) and of course, MMA training.

Some guys are naturally strong, though. So, maybe take a month or two off of weight training and see if it hampers your progress in MMA training. If it doesn’t, then perhaps just lifting once a week for maintenance wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Don’t know if this really answers your question or not, but I think it at least throws a couple of viable options out there.

-Dan

I forgot what makes Waterbury an expert on MMA training? Because he and his fanboys say he is?

Until he produces a couple of top fighters, he’s just another (very educated) guy with an opinion.[/quote]

Not to speak for CW, but I know that he’s trained in BJJ for several years and I believe, also does some Muay Thai. He’s also trained MMA fighters, so I think he has some idea of what he’s talking about.

[quote]Djwlfpack wrote:
Not to speak for CW, but I know that he’s trained in BJJ for several years and I believe, also does some Muay Thai. He’s also trained MMA fighters, so I think he has some idea of what he’s talking about.[/quote]

Posts like this remind me why it’s foolish to discuss issues on message boards. I never said he didn’t know what he was talking about. What I said is that his opinions are UNTESTED. Indeed, here is EXACTLY what I said: “Until he produces a couple of top fighters, he’s just another (very educated) guy with an opinion.”

You quoted his article as if it were Gospel. But he has not proven himself to be a MMA training god. Until that happens, his opinion is one of MANY.

[quote]CaliforniaLaw wrote:
Djwlfpack wrote:
Not to speak for CW, but I know that he’s trained in BJJ for several years and I believe, also does some Muay Thai. He’s also trained MMA fighters, so I think he has some idea of what he’s talking about.

Posts like this remind me why it’s foolish to discuss issues on message boards. I never said he didn’t know what he was talking about. What I said is that his opinions are UNTESTED. Indeed, here is EXACTLY what I said: “Until he produces a couple of top fighters, he’s just another (very educated) guy with an opinion.”

You quoted his article as if it were Gospel. But he has not proven himself to be a MMA training god. Until that happens, his opinion is one of MANY.[/quote]

Why is it foolish to discuss this? I didn’t quote his article as if it were Gospel, I simply suggested it might be something the OP might want to read to gather some more information on the topic he presented.

Am I suggesting CW’s article is the ONLY way to train for MMA fighters or those who train in MMA? No. I never said he was a MMA training god, either. Don’t twist my words around. All I did was point out that CW’s trained in MMA himself and also trained some fighters (I have no idea what type of fighters they were or their record).

Thanks a lot guys.

I am a full time student + work + training so I have to monitor recovery so my grades don’t suffer. Trust me, I need all the brain power I can get.

But still, I was probably just coming down with a small case of vaginitus when I was thinking about that. Weight training will definitely remain a part of my program.

By the way, I’m no pro fighter yet but I can say from experience that the Hammer Down series does what it says it does!

…off to study…

[quote]carter12 wrote:
And to put things in perspective, my bench is about 315, squat is about 400 ass to grass, and deadlift is around 500. [/quote]

You did the right thing by saying “315”, but the other numbers are what got you caught. Eric Cressey just got done mentioning how stupid it makes people sound when they use numbers like “400” and “500”.

Quit lying, you aren’t strong.

If you’re overtraining, lower the volume, or increase your calories(G-flux).

[quote]Hannibal King wrote:
carter12 wrote:
And to put things in perspective, my bench is about 315, squat is about 400 ass to grass, and deadlift is around 500.

You did the right thing by saying “315”, but the other numbers are what got you caught. Eric Cressey just got done mentioning how stupid it makes people sound when they use numbers like “400” and “500”.

Quit lying, you aren’t strong.

If you’re overtraining, lower the volume, or increase your calories(G-flux).[/quote]

Thank you internet numbers police.

Sorry it hurts your feelings that you haven’t put in the work that I have.

Send me a PM if you want my address so you can come fucking train with me.

Don’t even know why Im’ posting this but to be more clear for the numbers police I guess…

last week:

squat 365 x 4

about 2 months ago:

deadlift 485 x 3

yesterday:

bench 315 x 2

I said about because I don’t do powerlifting competitions and it’s been a while since I went for a 1 RM.

Happy jackass?

I know Cressey is a good guy but just because he says it doesn’t mean you should immediately jump on his dick.

[quote]carter12 wrote:
Don’t even know why Im’ posting this but to be more clear for the numbers police I guess…

last week:

squat 365 x 4

about 2 months ago:

deadlift 485 x 3

yesterday:

bench 315 x 2

I said about because I don’t do powerlifting competitions and it’s been a while since I went for a 1 RM.

Happy jackass?

I know Cressey is a good guy but just because he says it doesn’t mean you should immediately jump on his dick.[/quote]

Impressive numbers, espeically considering all the MMA training and school work you are doing. There’s always going to be people who call B.S. on what people post for their stats, but that’s just the nature of the beast, unfortunately.

[quote]Hannibal King wrote:
carter12 wrote:
And to put things in perspective, my bench is about 315, squat is about 400 ass to grass, and deadlift is around 500.

You did the right thing by saying “315”, but the other numbers are what got you caught. Eric Cressey just got done mentioning how stupid it makes people sound when they use numbers like “400” and “500”.

Quit lying, you aren’t strong.

If you’re overtraining, lower the volume, or increase your calories(G-flux).[/quote]

Missed your point…did you have one?

[quote]carter12 wrote:
Don’t even know why Im’ posting this but to be more clear for the numbers police I guess…

last week:

squat 365 x 4

about 2 months ago:

deadlift 485 x 3

yesterday:

bench 315 x 2

I said about because I don’t do powerlifting competitions and it’s been a while since I went for a 1 RM.

Happy jackass?

I know Cressey is a good guy but just because he says it doesn’t mean you should immediately jump on his dick.[/quote]

You shouldn’t be so insecure. You know what you lift, so WGAF what someone on anonymous message board thinks? Besides, as you note, he uncritically accepted Cressy’s assertion that people who use “round” numbers are per se lying. That tells you all you need to know about his intelligence.