T Nation

Ok, I Think I Need a Serious Hand

First thing first : some words about me. My name is Terry. I am 27 ; 1m80 (5 feet 9) ; 73,5kg (162 pounds) with approximately 12% body fat (my abs are not showing). I work as a psychologist (physically this work is not too demanding but mentally it can be quite tiring). I have been training MMA for about 5 years now and using weight for more than 7 years. My mother tongue is French, I am very very very sorry for my poor English!!

So obviously I am not a beginner but I think that I still have a lot of things to learn. I have many goals for 2009 and I was wondering if I could have your help guys. It is very hard to get good advice on training in Belgium.

This is how I trained the last 6 months : I train everyday (except when I am sick, reaaaally tired or a case of absolute necessity). I love training and I consider a day without a training a shitty day! I alternate a day where I work on my ground game (BJJ and/or GnP), a day where I train my stand-up (mostly thai boxing but also wrestling, combination of wrestling and strikes, boxing from time to time), the third day is dedicated to physical training (mostly weight training, more on this later).

This is how I eat for the last month. I read many articles from Mr Berardi and I changed my nutrition to this :

7:30am : 100 grams of turkey or chicken, 50 grams of mix nuts, 1 table spoon of colza oil, a cup of coffee and a multivitamin capsule (proteins and fats)

10am : 50 grams of mix nuts (proteins and fats)

12:30am : 175 grams of salmon, 130 grams of vegetables, 1 table spoon of olive oil (proteins, fats and some low glycemic carbs)

16:30pm : a protein bar (proteins and carbs) or 2 big cups of chocolate milk (proteins and carbs)

18pm-19:30pm : training time (I just drink some water during training)

19:30pm : random dinner with my family, I only eat proteins and carbs (as clean as possible)

22:30pm : a can of tuna with 2 big cups of chocolate milk or 2 oranges (proteins and carbs)

I have specific goals for every type of training but my overall goal is to be able to give myself 120% in every training, every day! Unfortunately, this has not been the case for a while.

Now more specific goals for 2009 :

Ground game : I have to get more serious about this. I did not train very well this aspect of my game this last year. Technically I have improved a lot but physically and mentally I am not at my best level right now. I decided to join a new team in Brussels where I will train with some of the best fighters from Belgium. I will do my first training with them in January. I never care a lot about belt colors but I can make good blue belts tap when I am in my best shape. Now I want to get my belts and hopefully obtain a purple belt. My goal is to be able to make every purple belt tap.

The last three months I have also been doing some explosivity exercises found in the Hammer down strength article from Chad Waterbury : clap push-ups, jump box squat and jump shrugs.

Striking game : this is my strong point. I have a very good muay thai. I still need to improve my punching defense. I think I am going to focus myself on wrestling and strikes combinations in the next 3 months (strikes and takedown offense or strikes and takedown defense). My flexibility is not as good as it used to be. I also need to find a way to improve that (mostly for kicking).
In the last 6 months or so I ended every stand-up training with 5 min of burpees with the Tabata protocol (20 sec of exercise, 10sec of rest). I check after that if my heart rate can come down to 130bpm in less than a minute (right now I need 1min27 sec).

Physical training : I know my aim should be to be a better fighter and train only as a fighter but I still find myself wayyyy to small for somebody who is 1m80 (5 feet 9). When I started lifting weights I only weighted 65kg with probably 13-14% body fat. Now I am muscular but I weight only 73,5 kg with around 12% body fat, that?s not a lot!! I want to be big, muscular and lean but despite a lot of work and time and just cannot get to that. Maybe my love for MMA is getting in the way, maybe it is my nutrition, maybe I just have a bad genetic, I do not know.

This is where I need most help. I have a good work ethic and dedication but maybe I don?t do things like I should to get results.

This is my weight training right now :

Squat or deadlift (I alternate) : one set of 15 reps (as warming), 3 sets of 8 reps (and dumbbell pullover)
Close grip chin-up : one set of 15 reps (as warming), 3 sets of 8 reps
Barbell bench press : one set of 15 reps (as warming), 3 sets of 8 reps
Dips : one set of 15 reps (as warming), 3 sets of 8 reps
Barbell bent over row : one set of 15 reps (as warming), 3 sets of 8 reps
Military press : one set of 15 reps (as warming), 3 sets of 8 reps
A random abs exercice : 3 sets of maximum reps

Ok, I think I didn?t forget anything. Training is a very big part of my life. I love to train. I would really like to be at 120% in every training. I love to feel aggressive and powerful. People that train will probably understand that. Unfortunately I can?t get to what I want. This is why I am asking for your help now.

I would do a 3 day split if I were you.

Pull-push-legs

or

legs-push-pull

squat based leg days
bench press based push days
deadlift based pull days.

assistance work:
-rows, chins, curls, good mornings
-overhead press, other chest/delt/tri lifts
-leg press, hack squat, leg extention, leg curl, glute hams, calves

too many days with too much volume will lead to burnout IMO. Also, try the combat sports section. Hypertrophy while training for mma has got to be a school of it’s own.

If you’re training every day, your training volume is too high for you to gain weight. If putting on size is a priority, you will probably need to cut back on some of your non-weights sessions.

I thought it was “impossible” for me to put on weight until I stopped training 7 days a week. Psychologically it will be good for you too.

[quote]Sneaky weasel wrote:
If you’re training every day, your training volume is too high for you to gain weight. If putting on size is a priority, you will probably need to cut back on some of your non-weights sessions.

I thought it was “impossible” for me to put on weight until I stopped training 7 days a week. Psychologically it will be good for you too.[/quote]

I understand that but it is almost impossible to train seriously MMA without training every day. Either my stand-up or my ground game would suffer.

[quote]zephead4747 wrote:
I would do a 3 day split if I were you.

Pull-push-legs

or

legs-push-pull

squat based leg days
bench press based push days
deadlift based pull days.

assistance work:
-rows, chins, curls, good mornings
-overhead press, other chest/delt/tri lifts
-leg press, hack squat, leg extention, leg curl, glute hams, calves

too many days with too much volume will lead to burnout IMO. Also, try the combat sports section. Hypertrophy while training for mma has got to be a school of it’s own.[/quote]

Funny you mention a legs-push-pull split! I was thinking about that not long ago. I didn’t try it because with experience I think that my body responds better with more frequency.
I think that with my kind of body I need to train the same muscle group every three days.

[quote]Terry27 wrote:
Sneaky weasel wrote:
If you’re training every day, your training volume is too high for you to gain weight. If putting on size is a priority, you will probably need to cut back on some of your non-weights sessions.

I thought it was “impossible” for me to put on weight until I stopped training 7 days a week. Psychologically it will be good for you too.

I understand that but it is almost impossible to train seriously MMA without training every day. Either my stand-up or my ground game would suffer. [/quote]

Fundamentally untrue. While there may be some athletes who can get by training every day, at least one day of recovery is necessary each week. How in god’s name is your game going to suffer from one day off? I was in the same mindset you are when I was training BJJ and MMA. I had to train every day, twice a day if possible.

What I got out of it was a laundry list of injuries, constant overtraining, and severe psychological burnout, to the point that I’ve switched sports completely because I was so sick of it. Your game WILL NOT suffer from you giving your body the time it needs to recover.

Even if you genuinely feel that it’s absolutely necessary to train every day, it is not going to kill you to cut back for 6 weeks or so in order to gain the weight you need to be competitive.

Interesting stuff! Seems like you had a hard time for a while. What did you do to recover and come back to MMA? Did you change something in your diet and/or training routine?

I am not sure that taking a day off would be a good thing for me. I really hate a day without any kind of training.

Recently I changed my diet. I thought that my problem with gaining weight was lying there. I have probably more work to do with that subject.
And to be honest I also thought about juicing. I didn’t do it (mostly because I am scared of it) but it could be a way to gain weight easier.

Perhaps gaining mass and training MMA is just completely impossible at the same time.

PS) My english is probably horrible, sorry for that!

No, I haven’t gotten back on the mat since.

You need a day off. It will drive you crazy for the first week or three, but you’ll start to notice that you feel better rested through your training week. Right now you’re just pushing your way through fatigue–seek to manage it intelligently instead.

Gaining mass and training is perfectly possible, but you have to prioritize. Cut back to 4 or 5 days/week for six weeks, drink a gallon of whole milk per day in addition to your regular diet, and see what happens. Don’t make excuses or claim it’s “impossible.” At your height, you definitely need more weight in order to be competitive. Do you want to gain the weight or not?

This is how I train as well as train some of my fighters. To me it keeps me strong but does not take alot of excess time or tire me out to where I cannot function later on during the day.

Weight training:
Tues- Upper Body Push Pull
A1)Bench 5,4,3,3,3
A2)Rows 3X5
B) Kettlebell Clean and Press 3X6
C1)Dips 2X10
C2)Pullups 2X10
D1)Tricep pushdowns 2X15
D2)Curls 2X15

Thurs-Lower Body Push Pull
A1) Deads 5,4,3,2,1,1,1
A2) Box Jumps 3X6
B1) Front Squat 3X6
B2) Reverse Hypers 3X10
C) Kettlebell swings 3X20
Workouts should take no more than 30-40 min max. Keep rest in after supersets as low as you can.
Saturday- Full Body Bar Complex

Skill training
M,W, evening Striking
T,TH evening grappling
sometimes a light striking workout on Friday

You have to take time off if your body tells you to. You are not training 4 different body parts you are training one body and you must listen to it if you want to continually get better. May not work for everybody but it works for me. Hope it helps

As far as gaining weight, people who train need to go ape shit on calories. I read something from Xen Nova, who posts here, about putting some olive oil in your shakes. You can’t taste it and it’s good healthy calories to help you put on mass. (If you’re reading this Xen, thanks for the idea)

It’s working like a charm for me.

Also, you will PROBABLY need to cut down the volume to gain some muscle weight but I’d say you should go ahead and try it with your current volume first. People will be suprised what their body can do when you experiment and find out what you are capable of. Some people are just freaks and can handle crazy volume.

Sneaky weasel : I think training must be a pleasure. I mean, I have always been telling myself that the day training is not a pleasure anymore I will just stop everything. This is why I train every day. I consider my trainings a second life after work. I guess it is a bit like expressing another part of myself. I am not sure I make sense; it is a bit difficult for me to express this in english.

To get back to your answer maybe I should just try training 4 or 5 days/week using only weights.

Outlawmma : I like the way you train ! Did you gain some mass with that training? What kind of barbell complex do you do? I use to do Team Quest?s barbell complex : http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/team%2Bquest/video/x27krr_team-quest-grappling-workout_sport

Corrosion : I was also thinking about increasing my calories intake by adding some more fats in my first three meals (in the morning). I still need 2 or 3 weeks to see how my body reacts to my current diet. According to Mr Berrardi?s articles I need to eat a lot more to cover my calories need. But it is a bit confusing. I already have too much fat around the abs. Increasing the calories I eat will probably make me mainly fatter ? Isn?t it?

It does mostly depend on how you are eating currently. If your diet is not all there and you switch to a better one you can still lose bodyfat. I’ve found that body comp. changes for the better even with additional calories if you are eating clean.

Also, your metabolism adapts to more calories. It’s like a furnace, the more you add the hotter it burns.

As to your diet, if your goal is to get a 6-pack) I would ditch all the chocolate milk and maybe the protien bar too. After a week of adjustment (may feel a couple cravings and a little sick), you’ll feel fine getting most of your carbs from fruits, veggies and nuts.

Terry27
Thanks it has worked well for me in the past.
Mainly what I got was strong as heck and lean. I think you can use this type of training and gain mass by upping your calories some. As far as complexes go this is what I do.

Clean and Press X 5reps 135lbs
Front Squat X 5reps "
Bent Over Rows X 5reps "
Bench Press X 5reps "
Pullups X 5reps Bodyweight
Dips X 5reps Bodyweight
Straight Leg Dead X 5reps 135lbs
Curls X 5reps 115lbs
No rest in between exercises

Rest 90 sec repeat

Rest 90 sec repeat
Hope this helps. We also do a fight circuit as we get closer to the fight to really get in shape. You can e-mail me and I’ll be glad to outline it for you.

Corrosion : thank you very much for the advice. I really appreciate it! I read this article yesterday : http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/shutup_about_your_goddamned_abs_you_pussy_ . Now I am asking myself if I should just eat like a mad man, put on a lot of weight (and fats) like this article is suggesting or just adding 250 kcal every two weeks like John Berrardi is suggesting.

Outlawmma : your barbell complex seems harder than the one from Team Quest. I will definitely try this!

[quote]Terry27 wrote:
Sneaky weasel : I think training must be a pleasure. I mean, I have always been telling myself that the day training is not a pleasure anymore I will just stop everything. This is why I train every day. I consider my trainings a second life after work. I guess it is a bit like expressing another part of myself. I am not sure I make sense; it is a bit difficult for me to express this in english.

To get back to your answer maybe I should just try training 4 or 5 days/week using only weights.

[/quote]

I understand exactly what you’re saying. A day off (or even 2) every week WILL HELP you to maintain that enjoyment. I love to train, but it’s taken me a long time to learn that recovery is as big a part of the puzzle as the nature of the training itself. Your body will appreciate the rest, and your mind will benefit as well–there’s some research that suggests that your brain needs time and rest to consolidate new information and skills.

There’s no need for an all-or-nothing attitude as regards training to gain some weight. You can continue to train for your sport and to gain strength and size, but you need to realize that your body needs rest in order to recover and grow.

stop trying to gain weight. work on your ne waza, your jiu jitsu. 155 pound weight class is where its at.

[quote]Terry27 wrote:
Corrosion : thank you very much for the advice. I really appreciate it! I read this article yesterday : http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding/shutup_about_your_goddamned_abs_you_pussy_ . Now I am asking myself if I should just eat like a mad man, put on a lot of weight (and fats) like this article is suggesting or just adding 250 kcal every two weeks like John Berrardi is suggesting.
[/quote]

Many on this site will tell you to try the former. It works for some, but I would suggest trying Berardi’s method first, and if you do not see sufficent gains, try it the other way.

Now if your goal is strictly a six pack, without gaining anymore mass, you’ll just need to diet down.

It is very important that you tell us your current strength levels and how they are affecting your game. I understand from your post you’re not satisfied with your physique, but how is it affecting your fight-game?

WSFSB is a great mass gaining 3 day a week workout that has helped me put on 10Kg in the last 4 months or so.

Definitely recommend a day off per week. It doesn’t have to be a total day off though. Watch instructional videos, watch videos of yourself sparring.

Chart out options from different positions. review your performance against your goals, shop for the weeks healthy food and do any food prep that you need.

This will serve you much better than an extra day in the gym.