T Nation

MMA and Power Lifting

Just wanting to see what everyones thoughts are on this combination!

I did it. You eventually have to pick one to focus on, as the training goals for each can be divergent, but if you’re not lifting for competition and/or are just a recreational fighter you shouldn’t have too much trouble making them work together. The 2 day a week 5/3/1 split is well liked around these parts, you could do a lot worse than a bare bones 5/3/1 plan, regular fight training, and road work.

[quote]devildog_jim wrote:
I did it. You eventually have to pick one to focus on, as the training goals for each can be divergent, but if you’re not lifting for competition and/or are just a recreational fighter you shouldn’t have too much trouble making them work together. The 2 day a week 5/3/1 split is well liked around these parts, you could do a lot worse than a bare bones 5/3/1 plan, regular fight training, and road work. [/quote]

Same here, just don’t get stuck on the same rut i was on last fight, i was so worried with my deadlift numbers while dieting to fit my weigh classes that i wasn’t prioritizing training more in mma than i should.

playing tennis or jogging would be way more useful for MMA fights than benching or squatting… people who never been in martial arts seriously created lots of myths about training for fights… if you lift too much and especially when the fight isn’t faraway it will make you a punching bag or mannequin for a jiujitsu opponent… seriously, if you want to be a decent fighter spend most of your time by boxing, wrestling, jiujitsu…

actually, if you keep a good diet with enough protein and rest properly, you will have those nice fighter’s muscles just from practicing the sport, even without lifting weights too much. One needs to lift weights if he is a beginner teenager and is really very weak. But I am sure you already have to much strength… but not enough stamina… actually, very little muscle strength is needed… work on your technique because in a fight the technique is speed and power. And everything is useless if you don’t have enough stamina.

I second devildog. It can work if you go for a low volume PL program but you have to prioritise one of the two at some point. And while disagree with Antonio on many points, I agree that endurance and technique are more important for fighting than raw strength. (which doesn’t mean that strength, especially relative strength, won’t help. Lifting up an opponent who’s trying to choke you will show you just how useful deadlifts can be)

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:
I second devildog. It can work if you go for a low volume PL program but you have to prioritise one of the two at some point. And while disagree with Antonio on many points, I agree that endurance and technique are more important for fighting than raw strength. (which doesn’t mean that strength, especially relative strength, won’t help. Lifting up an opponent who’s trying to choke you will show you just how useful deadlifts can be)[/quote

I think most athletic healthy men can deadlift double of their body weight almost without any prior deadlifting training. Actually, I used to lift weights while ago but was never deadlifting, nor even squatting seriously. When I decided to deadlift, I easily lifted double of my own weight and to be honest could even lift slightly more, and that was with no prior training what so ever. Same story was with some other guys I trained with. From my own experience I never had a problem lifting my opponent all the way up and throw him down, but the main thing is to take a proper position and timing to lift him up, it’s very easy to do when you have a skill and practice how to do it, and manage to take a proper position… because the opponent’s body weight isn’t even close to a double body weight deadlift. On the other hand, if you choose a wrong timing, your opponent counters you, or you have no skill, then even a triple body weight deadlift won’t help you. Not even to mention if you are gassed out…

It’s OK to lift some weights if you want just before the season and serious training, but is counter productive during the preparations for the fights.

[quote]Antonio. B wrote:
I think most athletic healthy men can deadlift double of their body weight almost without any prior deadlifting training. Actually, I used to lift weights while ago but was never deadlifting, nor even squatting seriously. When I decided to deadlift, I easily lifted double of my own weight and to be honest could even lift slightly more, and that was with no prior training what so ever. [/quote]

See, I think you’re wrong there. Everybody has a baseline endurance, flexibility, power output and strength level. Gifted athletes tend to have quite high ones with no specific training; in your case, strength seems to be, let’s say naturally occurring. In my case it’s endurance. different people need to work on different weaknesses.

Besides, I’m assuming the OP also LIKES lifting weights so we should let him. It won’t do any harm unless he goes overboard volume wise.

What do you weigh? Im 245 and it took me a few months to deadlift 500lba. I doubt you can go and get someone off the street that weighs the same with no training to go into the gym and lift that up.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Antonio. B wrote:
I think most athletic healthy men can deadlift double of their body weight almost without any prior deadlifting training. Actually, I used to lift weights while ago but was never deadlifting, nor even squatting seriously. When I decided to deadlift, I easily lifted double of my own weight and to be honest could even lift slightly more, and that was with no prior training what so ever. [/quote]

See, I think you’re wrong there. Everybody has a baseline endurance, flexibility, power output and strength level. Gifted athletes tend to have quite high ones with no specific training; in your case, strength seems to be, let’s say naturally occurring. In my case it’s endurance. different people need to work on different weaknesses.

Besides, I’m assuming the OP also LIKES lifting weights so we should let him. It won’t do any harm unless he goes overboard volume wise.[/quote]

Great! if one wants to lift weights that’s absolutely perfect… I just wanted to share my experience about MMA, I think I am entitled to do so because I have a couple of dozens official fights, and more than ten years of training experience.

[quote]Antonio. B wrote:
Great! if one wants to lift weights that’s absolutely perfect… I just wanted to share my experience about MMA, I think I am entitled to do so because I have a couple of dozens official fights, and more than ten years of training experience.
[/quote]

You ARE entitled to share your experience, no one (including me) is trying to shut you up I think :slight_smile: but you’re generalising. I don’t know a lot of people who could deadlift 2x/bodyweight with no prior strength training. I do know, however, people who have crazy endurance without ever doing roadwork, sprints etc. Different people have different weak points and strength is clearly none of yours. Plus, the OP WANTS to lift heavy; he asked how he should do it, not if.

A buddy of mine is an amateur fighter. He pretty much does all things strength training. A couple months back we talked about what helped him the most with his fighting (aside from technique training, sparring, etc.). What he told me was a combination of squats, deadlifts, olympic lifts and calisthenics.

He would do it like this:

Mondays: Muay Thai + Wrestling
Tuesdays: Calisthenics for 2 hours
Wednesdays: Boxing
Thursdays: Calisthenics for 2 hours
Fridays: BJJ + sprinting
Saturdays: 8 sets of 3 snatches, 4 sets of 5 cleans, 5 sets of 5 back squats, 5 sets of 3 deadlifts
Sundays: off

He bought a couple of DVDs from this guy:

I have found that the best way to train for improving your MMA game is to FIGHT. That being said, PL has always helped my fight game, substantially more so than CrossFit crap or circuit training. I personally feel cardio is WAY overdone by fighters outside of training. With the often long and intense training bouts, adding cardio is just going to shoot cortisol through the roof.

Jogging IMO is one of the most overrated forms of exercise out there. Sure it will burn fat and increase endurance, but it slows down athletes while leaving them more susceptible to injury. Both are things you DO NOT want as an athlete, especially a mixed martial artist. I have found my best results from training very hard MMA 3 days/week while PL 3 days/week. 2 days/week are light MMA days (focus mits, rolling) that last <90 min. Maybe once a week I’ll throw in sprints or hills or something.

It really does not make sense to train too much endurance as a mixed martial artist. Focus on pushing back your lactic threshold. Jogging daily is silly. Yeah a bunch of guys do it, but I bet they would be better with alternate methods. Train hard, rest hard, cut the some of the endurance conditioning, and eat right. As for PL, staying strong will keep you healthy and moving well, which every athlete wants. I focus on speed-strength/strength-speed training when MMA training volume is high.

Add a little heavy strength training and hypertrophy stuff on top of that. Also, really focus on soft tissue work and mobility work, trust me your body will appreciate it! Plenty of people do things differently than I, but this has made my training/fitness go through the roof (physique, performance, overall health). Even those who have been successful could improve in certain areas of their training.

[quote]Ckenney wrote:
I have found that the best way to train for improving your MMA game is to FIGHT. That being said, PL has always helped my fight game, substantially more so than CrossFit crap or circuit training. I personally feel cardio is WAY overdone by fighters outside of training. With the often long and intense training bouts, adding cardio is just going to shoot cortisol through the roof.

Jogging IMO is one of the most overrated forms of exercise out there. Sure it will burn fat and increase endurance, but it slows down athletes while leaving them more susceptible to injury. Both are things you DO NOT want as an athlete, especially a mixed martial artist. I have found my best results from training very hard MMA 3 days/week while PL 3 days/week. 2 days/week are light MMA days (focus mits, rolling) that last <90 min. Maybe once a week I’ll throw in sprints or hills or something.

It really does not make sense to train too much endurance as a mixed martial artist. Focus on pushing back your lactic threshold. Jogging daily is silly. Yeah a bunch of guys do it, but I bet they would be better with alternate methods. Train hard, rest hard, cut the some of the endurance conditioning, and eat right. As for PL, staying strong will keep you healthy and moving well, which every athlete wants. I focus on speed-strength/strength-speed training when MMA training volume is high.

Add a little heavy strength training and hypertrophy stuff on top of that. Also, really focus on soft tissue work and mobility work, trust me your body will appreciate it! Plenty of people do things differently than I, but this has made my training/fitness go through the roof (physique, performance, overall health). Even those who have been successful could improve in certain areas of their training.[/quote]

Ugh.

[quote]Ckenney wrote:
I have found that the best way to train for improving your MMA game is to FIGHT. That being said, PL has always helped my fight game, substantially more so than CrossFit crap or circuit training. I personally feel cardio is WAY overdone by fighters outside of training. With the often long and intense training bouts, adding cardio is just going to shoot cortisol through the roof.

Jogging IMO is one of the most overrated forms of exercise out there. Sure it will burn fat and increase endurance, but it slows down athletes while leaving them more susceptible to injury. Both are things you DO NOT want as an athlete, especially a mixed martial artist. I have found my best results from training very hard MMA 3 days/week while PL 3 days/week. 2 days/week are light MMA days (focus mits, rolling) that last <90 min. Maybe once a week I’ll throw in sprints or hills or something.

It really does not make sense to train too much endurance as a mixed martial artist. Focus on pushing back your lactic threshold. Jogging daily is silly. Yeah a bunch of guys do it, but I bet they would be better with alternate methods. Train hard, rest hard, cut the some of the endurance conditioning, and eat right. As for PL, staying strong will keep you healthy and moving well, which every athlete wants. I focus on speed-strength/strength-speed training when MMA training volume is high.

Add a little heavy strength training and hypertrophy stuff on top of that. Also, really focus on soft tissue work and mobility work, trust me your body will appreciate it! Plenty of people do things differently than I, but this has made my training/fitness go through the roof (physique, performance, overall health). Even those who have been successful could improve in certain areas of their training.[/quote]

I used to think the same and quit endurance training; in a way, I still regret it. The trick is not to go for an easy 5-mile jog, but something like a 2-3 mile distance - all out. Strength is completely useless in the ring when you’re gassed after a minute and can’t apply it.

Thank you for not giving some smart-ass remark nighthawkz. A lot of people take advice and try to make it into an argument on here. In the field of Strength and conditioning, the people who try to make others sound stupid tend to be stupid. Anyways, my point is this, if you are training MMA hard enough, you are likely incorporating plenty of intense cardio in your sparring, drilling, etc. I just feel in terms of applicable cardio, this is the best solution. The reason why I like powerlifting for MMA is that many of the aspects of training in powerlifting (strong hip extensions, posterior chain strength, serratus development) have a solid crossover yet do not impede training by overloading the glycolitic pathway/creating too much soreness. Plus anybody who says size/strength does not matter in a fight has never been in a clinch or underneath a freakishly strong opponent. It is quite exhausting/demoralizing. Other aspects of powerlifting will benefit health and performance such as activation of often dormant muscle groups(ex. glutes, lower traps) and increased joint strength, stability/mobility. Plus heavy lifting makes you feel great. I get what you are saying about gassing, but from my experience, an extra few rounds of hard sparring or drilling will do more than going for a run, unless you are cutting weight or just want to switch things up for a change.

[quote]Ckenney wrote:
Thank you for not giving some smart-ass remark nighthawkz. A lot of people take advice and try to make it into an argument on here. In the field of Strength and conditioning, the people who try to make others sound stupid tend to be stupid. Anyways, my point is this, if you are training MMA hard enough, you are likely incorporating plenty of intense cardio in your sparring, drilling, etc. I just feel in terms of applicable cardio, this is the best solution. The reason why I like powerlifting for MMA is that many of the aspects of training in powerlifting (strong hip extensions, posterior chain strength, serratus development) have a solid crossover yet do not impede training by overloading the glycolitic pathway/creating too much soreness. Plus anybody who says size/strength does not matter in a fight has never been in a clinch or underneath a freakishly strong opponent. It is quite exhausting/demoralizing. Other aspects of powerlifting will benefit health and performance such as activation of often dormant muscle groups(ex. glutes, lower traps) and increased joint strength, stability/mobility. Plus heavy lifting makes you feel great. I get what you are saying about gassing, but from my experience, an extra few rounds of hard sparring or drilling will do more than going for a run, unless you are cutting weight or just want to switch things up for a change.[/quote]

See CKenney, you confuse disagreement with stupidity. That’s silly. Stupid even. originally I thought you were just a bro who liked lifting and thought ‘it will like super improve your fighting ability’, but I’m wrong. You’re a dude who already thinks he can fight, and who also happens to lift (probably quite well, maybe) and has fallen for the ol’ cause/correlation curse.

Buuut, I don’t think you fight very well. That’s because I know you train wrong and I know you don’t understand the mechanics of boxing and kicking. Maybe you’re a gee whiz at Jits… I dunno.

However, to the original poster: Power lifting is very good for MMA. But really only for the grappling and ground game aspect of it. It wont dramatically improve your kicks, punches or mobility and may even hinder your strike ability over the long run. I think the point made by a couple of guys here is some good advice: If a fighter’s skill set diminishes, or his performance sparring or in the ring plateaus then he needs to focus more on that, maybe even cut away from the heavy weight lifting. More time on the mat is better than more time under a barbell if you intend entering the ring, or cage or gorilla nest pit.

Most people on those fighting forums oline have no clue about what’s really going on in a fight… Of course, there are some guys like I have noticed here Fightingirish26 - he has an idea about boxing and MMA indeed, and I guess he was or still is a decent fighter himself. While most other the guys…:))

OK, just short info - if someone “fights” by using his pure muscle strength, wether we talk about wrestling or striking, he is already not a real fighter, because everyone who has had a real training and experience in a ring or on a mat knows that neither for striking nor wrestling you need a lot of pure muscle strength, and the main idea of any martial art is to win by using technique of that particular discipline and not the muscle strength.

Trying grab and take someone on the ground by using your strong muscles just not going to happen (unless that would be a fag from a computer office):)), but the worst thing, this way you will get gassed out jus in a matter of 30 - 40 sec… the conditioning and improving your stamina doesn’t even help if you don’t make your fighting moves and technique efficiently. Working on your stamina may only allow you to stay not gassed out for 20 sec longer… while improving your technique and efficiency allows you to fight and not to get tired for 15 min, 12 rounds and so on…

I am not even talking that in order to make an explosive, quick and effective move, either striking or sambo, you need to be relaxed and unfortunately it’s very challenging skill to develop, while lifting heavy barbells make it even way more difficult because it not only teaches you wrong muscle motorics but also develops and teaches you to keep your muscles tense way for too long time… That is why as a resistance exercise for a fighter only plyometrics or weight not exceeding 30 % of your PB has to be used, because this allows you to stay relaxed before you explode and also to move weight reasonably quickly. However, three weeks before the fight even those have to be removed from your training…

I just have to tell you because some people can get me wrong: Body weight in a fight or fighting sports matters a lot, but that’s why in sports you have weight classes. While to gain significant amount of functional muscle for fighting is absolutely impossible. General conditioning is very important for a fighter, but not lifting heavy weights. Heavy weights could only benefit a young guy before he actually starts training martial arts, and only if he is very weak to begin with, like he can’t properly bench or squat a barbell of his body weight.

[quote]nighthawkz wrote:

[quote]Antonio. B wrote:
I think most athletic healthy men can deadlift double of their body weight almost without any prior deadlifting training. Actually, I used to lift weights while ago but was never deadlifting, nor even squatting seriously. When I decided to deadlift, I easily lifted double of my own weight and to be honest could even lift slightly more, and that was with no prior training what so ever. [/quote]

See, I think you’re wrong there. Everybody has a baseline endurance, flexibility, power output and strength level. Gifted athletes tend to have quite high ones with no specific training; in your case, strength seems to be, let’s say naturally occurring. In my case it’s endurance. different people need to work on different weaknesses.

Besides, I’m assuming the OP also LIKES lifting weights so we should let him. It won’t do any harm unless he goes overboard volume wise.[/quote]

He did say athletes. If you’ve been training any sport intensely enough you’ll be able to do a double bw deadlift without much specialized training if it all. The hardest part would be grip.

Besides that I disagree with him and agree with you that you train your weaknesss with regard to anything in life.

It’s important to realize that powerlifting is a sport. So what is the OP really asking? Can you do both sports at the same time? or does the exercises involved in powerlifting help mma? If it’s the second case, then you have to realize those exercises are there to make you stronger. What separates them for powerlifters is their training cycles and programs. Just because your 1 rep max is 1000lbs doesn’t make you strong, if you can’t lift anything 10x without conking out. Design a program for your needs. There are pl that can squat your car and can’t walk up a flight of stairs because of pain in their joints.

[quote]Antonio. B wrote:
Most people on those fighting forums oline have no clue about what’s really going on in a fight… Of course, there are some guys like I have noticed here Fightingirish26 - he has an idea about boxing and MMA indeed, and I guess he was or still is a decent fighter himself. While most other the guys…:))

OK, just short info - if someone “fights” by using his pure muscle strength, wether we talk about wrestling or striking, he is already not a real fighter, because everyone who has had a real training and experience in a ring or on a mat knows that neither for striking nor wrestling you need a lot of pure muscle strength, and the main idea of any martial art is to win by using technique of that particular discipline and not the muscle strength.

Trying grab and take someone on the ground by using your strong muscles just not going to happen (unless that would be a fag from a computer office):)), but the worst thing, this way you will get gassed out jus in a matter of 30 - 40 sec… the conditioning and improving your stamina doesn’t even help if you don’t make your fighting moves and technique efficiently. Working on your stamina may only allow you to stay not gassed out for 20 sec longer… while improving your technique and efficiency allows you to fight and not to get tired for 15 min, 12 rounds and so on…

I am not even talking that in order to make an explosive, quick and effective move, either striking or sambo, you need to be relaxed and unfortunately it’s very challenging skill to develop, while lifting heavy barbells make it even way more difficult because it not only teaches you wrong muscle motorics but also develops and teaches you to keep your muscles tense way for too long time… That is why as a resistance exercise for a fighter only plyometrics or weight not exceeding 30 % of your PB has to be used, because this allows you to stay relaxed before you explode and also to move weight reasonably quickly. However, three weeks before the fight even those have to be removed from your training…

I just have to tell you because some people can get me wrong: Body weight in a fight or fighting sports matters a lot, but that’s why in sports you have weight classes. While to gain significant amount of functional muscle for fighting is absolutely impossible. General conditioning is very important for a fighter, but not lifting heavy weights. Heavy weights could only benefit a young guy before he actually starts training martial arts, and only if he is very weak to begin with, like he can’t properly bench or squat a barbell of his body weight. [/quote]

Ahhh my old friend, so good to see you’ve come back! hahaha. Seriously, welcome.

But “Antonio” here does have a point, and all of us who do any art know that the key to not getting tired - or “staying strong” throughout a fight/match/whatever - is staying loose and not wasting energy. For me, this was the hardest possible lesson to learn, and only after two years am I seriously beginning to understand it.

No matter how strong you are, meeting strength with strength, or technique with strength, is going to tire you out pretty damned quick, no matter what complexes you’ve been doing or what your one-rep max in any lift is.

But not tensing up when punching, not trying to out-muscle someone on the mat… these are the things that conserve energy and allow us to take advantage of the openings when they appear, even if it’s 10, 20, 30 minutes in.

Fighting and wrestling are just totally different animals than lifting… and this is from someone who still lifts and truly loves lifting.

not much to add… for some people lifting is important to the fight game for some its not…